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How to be Led by the Spirit III
The New Testament Way of Guidance
by Tom Brown

Through the years people have tried many ways to find Godís will. Under the Old Covenant, the people tried a Urim and a Thummim (see Numbers 27:21), which was a device used, perhaps, like lots, to determine Godís response to a question answerable by "yes" or "no." It reminds me of the Crazy Eight Ball. Do you remember this toy? You asked the Eight Ball a question, then you shook it and waited for the answer; it might answer, "yes", "no", "maybe", "try again", etc.

Others, under the Old Covenant, simply throw sticks down and wherever it landed close to someone, the person was chosen. This is how the Apostles picked Matthais to take Judasís place (see Acts 1:26). Remember that the Holy Spirit had not yet filled the Apostles when they chose this method of picking the next apostle.

Perhaps the favorite method of ascertaining Godís will was through putting out a fleece. Gideon did this.

Gideon said to God, "If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promisedólook, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said." And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dewóa bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, "Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew." That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew. (Judges 6:36-40)

Since Gideon put out a fleece, others have tried doing the same thing. They might say something to this effect, "Lord, if you will cause this person to propose marriage, then I know it is Godís will for me to marry him." The trouble with this method is that the devil may inspire the wrong man to propose.

"Yea, but I asked God to make sure only the right one would propose!"

However, God is not bound to follow the Old Covenant. He has provided a better covenant of guidance for us. Many who have put out a fleece have been fleeced!

I realize Abrahamís servant prayed a similar prayer to find a spouse for Isaac. He asked God to cause the right woman to ask him to give water to his camels. When Rebecca did, the servant knew that God had answered his prayer. He was convinced Rebecca was the woman for Isaac. I know sometimes fleeces work, but you must understand this servant did not know God personally, and, consequently, was forced to use this method of finding Godís will. It doesnít work all the time.

I remember hearing Kenneth Hagin say that back in the early days of his ministry, he asked people who had ever put out a fleece to fill out a survey explaining their fleeces and the final outcome. He said fifty percent of the people who put out a fleece said that it turned out good, the other fifty percent said it didnít work out goodóthey made the wrong decision.

Donít you believe God has a better method than a fifty-fifty chance of discovering Godís will? Yes! Of course people will say the fleeced worked for them, but others will say it didnít work for them. I want something which works every time.

Iíve seen it not work. I was talking with this girl about giving up her adulterous relationship with a married man. I tried every way to persuade her. I gave her scriptures after scriptures. One day as we talked about this situation, she said to me, "Tom, I thought a lot about what you said to me, so I prayed and asked God to show me if my relationship with this man was wrong. I prayed, ĎLord, if you donít want me to see this man anymore, then donít let him call me up.í Do you know what happened, Tom? Just then the phone rang, and it was him! I knew, then, it was Godís will for me to be with him."

How can you reason with this kind of logic? Yet many Christians have done the same thing, maybe, not in dealing with moral issues but with simply issues of guidance, and they have made wrong decisions.

A Better Way

The Bible clearly shows a better and sure way of discerning Godís will.

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. (Gal 5:18)

Notice the clear contrast between being led by the Spirit and being under the Law. You canít have both. The Spirit will either lead you or you will be led by the way the saints under the Law were led. As we have seen, the Spirit did not lead the saints under the Old Covenant; they were led by "Urims and Thummims", "lots", or "fleeces". You should not follow these methods.

The Old Covenant saints had to depend on these methods because they had not yet been born again, nor had they received the Holy Spirit. Remember Romans 8:14, the sons of God are led by the Spirit of God. No one until Pentecost were called "sons of God" in the sense of being born again. God has provided the leading of the Spirit for His sons and daughters. We have a better way! Look at the inadequacies of the Old Covenant.

O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." (Isa 30:19-21)

God had led the children of Israel through adversity and affliction, but he has a better way for us. This way is the voice of the Holy Spirit saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Yet, you hear many Christians say, "I learned so much from these tests and trials. I have learned Godís will by going through the wilderness."

Can you see that many believers are living beneath their privilege of being led by the Spirit? They are, unfortunately, being led by the bread of adversity and the water of affliction. Sure, you can be led that way, if you want, but God has a better way for you. He does not want you to go to the "School of Hard Knocks." He wants you to register with the "School of the Holy Spirit."

The Holy Spirit will lead you to avoid adversity and affliction. He will guide you up a better pathóa path of blessings, not afflictions.

Why can we avoid eating and drinking the bread of adversity and the water of affliction? We can avoid these because our teachers will be hidden no more. The Holy Spirit, the great Teacher, has been sent to guide us on a more perfect path. This is a better way.

Many believers remind of a little train engine that I got when I was a little boy. Back in those days, we didnít have remote control cars. My train simply had a little on and off switch on the back. When it took off it just went straight until it bumped into a wall or furniture or was ready to go off curb. When it bumped into something, it turned around and went another direction. The obstacles dictated the direction of my train. Thatís the way many Christians live their lives.

They go along the road without the direction of the Spirit, and when they bump into something hard, they learn to go another way. They learned the hard way. Is that the way you have been living?

Here you are going a certain direction. For example, a man asks you to marry, you say yes. Later you discover the hard way that he was the wrong man for you. You could have avoided all that hardship, if you would have listened to the Spirit. Isnít that right?

Maybe you are a motivated man. You are given an opportunity to make lots of money. It looks good, but deep down in your heart you hear the Spirit say not to take the opportunity. But you ignore Him and take it; later you lose much money and peace of mind. Now you know not to do it, after you ate the bread of affliction. God has a better way.

In the next article we will discuss Godís voice, and how to tell when He is speaking to you.

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