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How to be led by the Spirit
by Tom Brown

…those who are led by the Spirit of God are son of God.
—Rom 8:14

One of the greatest benefits of our redemption is the privilege of being led by the Spirit of God. Children of God can be expected to be led by the Spirit of God. One of the greatest needs is to have the wisdom of God to make the right decisions. This comes through being led by the Spirit of God.

Do you think that your life would be much better if you made decisions based on the leading and guidance of the Spirit of God? Proverbs 4:11,12 says, "I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble."

Wisdom is making decisions today based on knowing what will happen tomorrow. Wisdom will bring many wonderful fruits into your life. It will promote you and bring you honor and advance you in rank, dignity and position. Wisdom will keep you safe from harm or injury. It will help bring desired changes. It will bring the flow of God’s blessings in your life, and it will cause you to see the power of God in your life through the gifts of the Spirit.

All these fruits are borne in your life through wisdom. Wisdom enables you to make decisions based on hindsight rather than foresight. How is this possible? It’s possible because the Spirit of God knows the future, and He wants to let you know the future course you are headed on.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13)

The Holy Spirit will guide you…and he will tell you what is yet to come. Isn’t that great! 

You don’t have to be in the dark concerning your future. The Holy Spirit will guide you based on what is yet to come.

The Holy Spirit uses your spirit

Let us look once again at Romans 8:14:

because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

How does the Spirit of God lead us? It is one thing to say that the Spirit leads us, it is another thing to know how the Spirit leads us. The following verses tell us how.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. (vs.15-16)

Notice that the Spirit himself testifies with our spirit. The Holy Spirit speaks to our spirit. Our spirit then echoes the voice of the Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit uses our own spirit to lead and guide us. Proverbs 20:27 confirms this:

The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly. (KJV)

The word candle means lamp. Back in Bible days, a lamp was the instrument used to guide someone along a dark path. The Bible is saying that God uses our spirits to guide us in our lives. Another scripture backs this up.

But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding. (Job 32:8)

It is not the mind, which gives man understanding. It is the spirit in a man. You see, Job’s friends used their minds to try to enlighten them regarding Job’s sufferings. They were dead wrong. In this passage Elihu explains the reason they were wrong. He says, "It is the spirit in a man…that gives him understanding." Not your mind, but your spirit. This is why Solomon wrote, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" (Prov 3:5).

Your own understanding comes from your mind, not your heart. He says to trust in the LORD with all your heart. Your heart is your spirit. Your spirit is the safe guide, not your mind. Your mind can get confused. Your spirit rarely can.

So being led by the Spirit involves two objects or personalities: the Holy Spirit and your own human spirit. It would do well for you to study both the Holy Spirit and your own spirit.

The Holy Spirit

First, let us briefly mention some aspects of the Holy Spirit—how He works, what he likes, what are His concerns. By getting to know Him better helps you understand what He is going to lead you to do.

For example, the Holy Spirit is "holy." He is not going to lead you to do something unholy. Forget about the Holy Spirit leading you to take someone else’s husband. He won’t do that!

Also, the Holy Spirit agrees with the Word. Not only is your spirit the lamp of the Lord, but the "Word is a lamp unto my feet." The Holy Spirit inspired the scriptures, so He won’t guide you in direct opposition to the Word. If you are in doubt, stay with the Word.

The Holy Spirit is also gentle like a dove. He does not push. If you feel pressured to do something you feel is the guidance of the Spirit, then you know to back off, because the Spirit does not push; He gently guides.

The Human Spirit

Since the Holy Spirit is going to use your own human spirit to enlighten you, you need to understand the function, operation and purpose of the human spirit. To understand the human spirit you must understand the three-fold nature of man. Genesis 1:26 clearly says that mankind is made in God’s image. Jesus said, "God is a spirit" (John 4:24). So if mankind is in God’s image and God is a spirit, mankind essentiality must be a spirit as well.

God is also a trinity. There are three personalities to God: the Father, the Son and the Spirit. Mankind is a trinity.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Thes 5:23)

May your whole SPIRIT, SOUL and BODY be kept blameless. Man is a three part being like God. There are three parts to man. It is important we do not confuse our spirits with our souls. The soul is the mind. The word for soul in the Greek is the word psuche, which we derive our word psychology from. Psychology is the study of the soul or the mind. Can you see how the soul has been the predominate feature of man? It is understandable that the soul is the main force of man; after all, man is an eternal soul. That is who you are. Your personality is comprised of your soul. After God breathed into man, "man became a living soul" (Gen 2:7, KJV).

The spirit part, which God breathed into man, is the part of man that is godlike. The god-side to man is his spirit. Tell me, which is more likely to be trusted, the soul or the spirit? Obviously the spirit is more trustworthy. The only people who can be led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God, because only they have reborn spirits. The only trustworthy part of the reborn man is his spirit. The soul is not completely reliable, because the soul needs salvation.

James writes to believers, "Wherefore putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21, ASV). The soul still needs saving, or else, James would not need to write to believers to save your souls. Sometimes we hear people say that X amount souls were saved, but really, the soul is in the process of salvation. The soul is the mind and personality. Can anyone of us really say that our minds and personalities are completely saved? Not really.

However, when we were born again, our spirits were saved. Our spirits is the part of us that has been saved. So becoming a child of God enables the Holy Spirit to testify with our spirit that we are God’s children. The Spirit does not testify to our minds. Our minds may not receive this testimony, but our spirits can.

Now you understand how vital your spirit is to hearing from God.

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