What does it look like to be led by the Spirit?

What does it look like for the Holy Spirit to lead in the Christian’s life?

From the onset, I believe it is helpful to define Biblically as it relates to human experience, the work of the Holy Spirit. In John 16:7-8, we see that the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgement. With this being established, in the life of the Christian, we are continually being conformed by God’s grace, to the likeness of His Son. We seek to obey the commands of scripture and live our lives in obedience to Christ. Being led by the Spirit is the antithesis to being led by the flesh (Galatians 5:17-18). When we are being led by the Spirit, it means that we are putting to death the ways of the flesh because the sins and desires of the flesh are against the Spirit. 

Being led by the Spirit is not a passive or mysterious leading or “subjective feeling,” but rather an active, ever-present fight in the life of the Christian. Some believe they are led by the Spirit by the dreams they have as they believe that God is trying to tell them something or that they saw a butterfly flying in a certain direction and that’s “how they knew God was leading them” vs. the Bible. Unfortunately, this subjective, experience-based reliance leads to many misunderstandings of what it looks like to be led by the Spirit. Therefore, Bible study and prayer time is critical. 

Thankfully, we as disciples of Christ are not left to human subjectivity and confusion, we have God’s Word as a lamp to our feet in a world of darkness and sin. The Spirit will always use the Word to guide us.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105, NKJV).

If we need direction in our life, the best way is to fill our heart and mind with God’s Word. This will increase our trust in God, and we will no longer live in fear of the “what ifs” of life but rely solely on His divine providence to overshadow every step we take. As we study the scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate truth to us, we learn to rest in God’s sovereignty, trusting He is in control and will care for every detail, give you wisdom, and help you resist the temptation of the flesh. 

Father God, I need direction in my life. I often want some type of external, tangible evidence or sign that will give me the answer or show me the way. I know You have called me to walk in the Spirit and not the flesh. I trust that the Holy Spirit guides me by the Truth that is found in Your Holy written Word. I repent for looking to signs, omens, and dreams, which are subjective, and build my life upon Your Word that is a strong foundation that cannot be shaken or changed. Give me a hunger to study the scriptures so that I may know You and Your will and walk in wisdom to make righteous decisions that please only You. Please strengthen my faith and trust in Your sovereignty so that I can rest in knowing that Your providential hand leads me every day even when I cannot always see it or understand it. Thank You for Your Word that is a light to my path and lamp to my feet so I can see the narrow way clearly that You are calling me to walk on. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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Asking the Holy Spirit to Teach Us

In high school, I was gifted a Bible when I became a member of my new church. I was so excited to start reading it and learn more about God, but as time went on, I became more and more intimated by its pages. Where do I begin? Do I start in Genesis and just read through it beginning to end? Do I need to spend time memorizing what I’m reading? What does this word mean?

These thoughts circled my teenage mind, and I was so hesitant to even dive in for fear that I wouldn’t understand what I was reading. It didn’t take long for schoolwork and all of the extracurricular activities I was involved in to crowd out any down time to make space to read my Bible. Soon enough, that Bible would find a permanent home on my bookshelf, left untouched. I hate to admit it, but the intimidation and distractions would follow me all through college as well. When I was stressed out, I would glance at my neglected Bible and randomly open it and try to soak up some hope for my weary soul.

Although I heard the gospel as a teen, and was a professing Christian for six years, it wasn’t until after I graduated college that God granted me genuine repentance from my sin and rebellion and gave me the faith to fully surrender my life to Christ and trust Him completely. One Sunday, I stepped foot in a church service for the first time in a few years, and I believe I was born again that day, as the reality of offending a Holy God and my desperate need to turn to Jesus, take up my cross, and follow Him overwhelmed me for the first time in my life. After that moment, my whole world changed, and I suddenly had a deep desire to read my Bible and obey God. I look back and see the difference between my high school and college days was that I was trying to understand what I was reading without the help of the Holy Spirit. Once I became born again at the age of twenty-two, I was given the gift of the Holy Spirit- Jesus describes Him as a Comforter as well as a Helper and Teacher in John 14:

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26, ESV).

As born-again believers, when we open the pages of scripture, we are not left on our own to understand what we are reading. We have a Helper and a great Teacher, the Holy Spirit, to guide us in our pursuit of growing in the knowledge of the Lord. He illuminates the truth to us over time and will bring what we have read to our remembrance. This is why it is so important to consistently be reading our Bibles, so that we can store what we are studying in our hearts. The Bible is a gift from God to help us in our daily lives- to be able to learn of God’s ways and learn who God truly is so that we can grow closer to Him and worship Him rightly. 

I have to admit that I sometimes still struggle with intimidation and distraction when it comes to reading my Bible, but after walking with the Lord for over ten years now, I know that I am not left alone on this journey. I have a Helper who guides me into all truth and supernaturally helps me understand the words I am reading- words that are spirit and life (John 6:63). He is always with me and I can always ask Him for help.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Not only does He convict me of my sin when I daily fall short, He is my ever-present Help in time of need who also guides me into all truth. I admit that I need help understanding your Holy written Word. Holy Spirit, will you give me a hunger to daily read the Bible? May You supernaturally illuminate what I am reading and give me the ability to comprehend what I am studying, not just for head knowledge, but to help me know You in a deeper way so that I give You the worship You deserve. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Live Not By Feelings

A few years ago, after lovingly warning a friend of the dangers of a particular false teacher she was going to see at a conference, she got offended with me and said something along the lines of “Don’t you think I have discernment?? I have the Holy Spirit! I will be able to discern or sense conviction if something’s not right??”

In this instance, my friend was putting an emphasis on what she believed the Holy Spirit was telling her by how it made her feel at the time and calling it discernment and conviction.

Beloved, that is not how we as Christians are to live. We are to walk in the Spirit and the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16) which is found in the Word of God. Relying on our feelings means we are putting our confidence in our flesh, and our flesh will only lead us away from righteousness and God’s truth. Since the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), it can lead us astray if we rely on or try to follow its sometimes emotional leadings. 

If the Word of God has spoken on something, you have been convicted. You don’t need to wait to feel conviction to obey, you have been led by the instruction of God-breathed scriptures to obey. We must search the scriptures to be able to learn how to walk in God’s ways.

Studying the Bible is how our mind is renewed and how we are sanctified as believers. We cannot walk in righteousness by how we feel if something is right or wrong and call it conviction.

I am sure there are ways I am accidentally or unknowingly violating God’s perfect law even though I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit- I still wrestle with a sin nature even as a believer. I must abide in Christ and die to self daily. We abide in Christ through faith by abiding in His Word by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. Faith in Christ comes by hearing the Word of God after all:

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word [k]of Christ”

(Romans 10:17, NASB).

Since we cannot fully depend on our feelings to determine if something is sinful or not, we also cannot depend on our feelings to determine if something is true or false either.

In regards to discernment, are you testing against scripture?  That is where we gain knowledge to be able to test all things and judge righteously. We must make sure everything we are hearing preached in the name of Christ lines up with His Holy written Word.

Friends, if I were just to depend on feelings, I would be wrong quite a lot. As believers we do not “sense it in our spirit”…that’s called human intuition.

intuition

nounSave Word

in·​tu·​i·​tion |  \ ˌin-tü-ˈi-shən   , -tyü-  \

Definition of intuition

1a: the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference

b: immediate apprehension or cognition

c: knowledge or conviction gained by intuition

2: quick and ready insight

We don’t rely on intuition; we walk in the Spirit, dear ones. 

Unless you are testing what the Holy Spirit is guiding you into by God’s Holy Word, you can’t be certain you aren’t being misled by Satan.

“No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

(2 Corinthians 11:14, NASB).

Let us stand firm upon God’s Word and trust He has given us all we need in it for life and godliness as we lean upon the help of the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth that conforms us day by day into the image of Christ. 

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