How does the Holy Spirit work in a Christian’s life? Is it by perceptions, visions or other means? You need to know.
[Steve Myers] Are you led by the Spirit?
Does that mean that the Spirit of God prompts you to buy that exact car, or directs you to take this specific job—or to say that particular thing, at just the right moment?
Many Christians only think along those lines.
Does being led by the Spirit simply mean receiving uncanny or mystical direction in order to make appropriate decisions in life?
Do you know how to be led by the Holy Spirit?
Now this is so critical, that without it—you’ll miss out on one of the greatest miracles of all.
Stay tuned to Beyond Today as we pose the question: “Are You Led by God’s Spirit?”
[Announcer] Join our host Steve Myers and his guests as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Steve] Exactly how does the Holy Spirit work in a Christian’s life? Is it a feeling or a sensation—or is there more? Is it even that important to be led by the Spirit? No doubt—it is critical.
Did you know that you cannot be a true Christian without it?
We’re told, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are [the] sons of God (Romans 8:14 Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
American King James Version×). So a Christian is defined as one who is led by the Spirit of God.
Notice how important it is: “But if anyone does not possess the [Holy] Spirit of Christ, he is none of His [he does not belong to Christ, is not truly a child of God]” (Romans 8:9 Romans 8:9But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
American King James Version×, AMPC).
Your Bible plainly states that if you don’t have God’s Spirit dwelling in you, then you don’t belong to Him. Without the power of the Spirit in your life you cannot have a relationship with God. Scripture tells us, “it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16 Romans 8:16The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
American King James Version×, NRSV). We certainly cannot downplay the significance of God’s presence in our lives.
He clearly sets the framework for the importance of His guidance. But what does it mean to be “led by the Spirit?”
Is it just feelings, impressions, visions or emotions? There can be confusion as to how Christians are led by the Spirit, but there doesn’t have to be. God’s Spirit is also called the Spirit of truth. So instead of misunderstanding and uncertainty, we’re told that the Spirit “will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13 John 16:13However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
American King James Version×).
So it’s essential for us to realize that God’s Spirit, it doesn’t drive us. It doesn’t drag us. It doesn’t push us around, or force us. The Bible says it leadsus. “Only those people who are led by God’s Spirit are his children” (Romans 8:14 Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
American King James Version×, CEV).
So we begin to see that the Spirit will not stop us from sinning. It doesn’t automatically prevent us from violating God’s will. It won’t coerce us to do what’s right. Instead, God’s Holy Spirit leads us. It guides our conscience—our minds. So we must then, be willing to follow.
But exactly how does God’s Spirit lead us? Let’s consider a few ways.
1. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin.
If we submit to God’s Spirit and allow it to lead us, it means that we’re changing the way that we think. If we yield to the Spirit, we try to think like God. We want to please Him and His Spirit is working with our mind. The apostle John describes it this way: “All who obey God’s commands live in God. And God lives in them. How do we know that God lives in us? We know because of the Spirit he gave us” (1 John 3:24 1 John 3:24And he that keeps his commandments dwells in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he stays in us, by the Spirit which he has given us.
American King James Version×, ERV).
If we allow the Spirit to lead us, God can influence us for the good. That can bring an entirely new perspective. What a contrast to the ways of the culture around us and our own human nature.
Jesus spoke about the vital difference it makes to be led by the Spirit. He said the Spirit can be our Helper. “And having come, that One will convict the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment—concerning sin, because they are not believing in Me” (John 16:8-9 John 16:8-9 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
American King James Version×, DLNT).
So we see God’s Spirit within us, working with our conscience—our thinking—helps us to recognize and choose to avoid sin. God promises when He 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” (Proverbs 4:11-12 Proverbs 4:11-12 11 I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths.
12 When you go, your steps shall not be straitened; and when you run, you shall not stumble.
American King James Version×).
Now that’s a powerful pledge from God to guide and lead us by His Spirit. It’s good to know that we can have the help of God—but each one of us has a responsibility.
The apostle Paul instructs us saying, “So then, my friends, we have an obligation, but it is not to live as our human nature wants us to. For if you live according to your human nature, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death your sinful actions, you will live. Those who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s children” (Romans 8:12-14 Romans 8:12-14 12 Therefore, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
American King James Version×).
Along with many other verses in the New Testament, that passage makes it obvious that walking by the Spirit of God is not just a matter of passive surrender. Being led by the Spirit is not an uninspired inactive condition. It’s just the opposite!
To have a life led by God’s Spirit is a life of effort. It’s a life of exertion. As we are led by the Spirit, we will be convicted of sin. So as true Christians, we’ll recognize sin in our life and have an ongoing, constant struggle against it. We’ll clash with the wrong ways of thinking and acting because life’s constant temptations attempt to lure us and to seduce us.
“I say be guided by the Spirit and you won’t carry out your selfish desires. A person’s selfish desires are set against the Spirit, and the Spirit is set against one’s selfish desires. They are opposed to each other, so you shouldn’t do whatever you want” (Galatians 5:16-17 Galatians 5:16-17 16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.
American King James Version×, CEB).
You see, if we claim to be a true believer and are not actively involved in resisting evil and striving to do what’s right—we can’t claim to be led by the Spirit. So a faithful disciple is not just an observer but “a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life so he can please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4 2 Timothy 2:3-4 3 You therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.
American King James Version×).
In other words, being led by the Spirit is ridding our lives of sin and conforming to the character of Jesus. Do you see that to be led by the Spirit of God, is the same as putting to death sinful actions? All who do so are called sons of God. So all who claim to be Christians must obey God’s law and be on a mission to put to death the deeds of the body by the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
To be led by the Spirit, first then means, the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin.
You’re convicted by sin and you’re growing in holiness. It’s battling sin and allowing God, through His Spirit, to rule over our lives. Now it should become that energizing force in our lives to produce the qualities of a true Christian.
Now here’s the tough question: Is your life producing the qualities of Jesus Christ?
What can God’s Holy Spirit do for us as Christians?
Well this question goes to the heart of our religious beliefs, because without the power of God’s Spirit we cannot have a close relationship with the Father, nor can we become His children. To help you better understand what the Holy Spirit can do for you, I encourage you to order your own free copy of The Power of the Holy Spirit. This study aid can help you learn much more about God’s awesome gift of the Holy Spirit.
We only have a limited number available in print. After that it will only be available online. But you can request it now and you can have your own personal copy by calling us at: 1-888-886-8632 or go online to BeyondToday.tv . Or you can get The Power of the Holy Spirit by writing to us at the address on your screen throughout the program [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254].
How can you be led by the Spirit of God? It’s so vitally important because without that Spirit, a person cannot fully understand God’s way.
He tells us: “But as it is written, ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-11 1 Corinthians 2:9-11 9 But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.
10 But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
11 For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.
American King James Version×).
Aren’t you ready for a deeper understanding of God and His plan for your life?
If you seem to be trapped in a rut that you just can’t get out of—it’s time for a new perspective. You see, those who aren’t truly spiritual can’t receive the truth of God. It’s hard to comprehend. In fact, they are “not able to understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14 1 Corinthians 2:14But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
American King James Version×).
Upon repentance, baptism and the laying on of hands; God’s Spirit can begin to work in us in powerful ways. In Scripture, the Holy Spirit is described as the power of God—His essence—it’s at work in us. And this divine power emanates from God, allowing us to be “led by the Spirit.” It’s given to us upon repentance, baptism and then the laying on of hands by a minister of God.
Now that brings us to point number two in our discussion of “Are You Led by God’s Spirit?”
2. The Holy Spirit makes overcoming possible.
When we have the power of God working in our lives, there is nothing too difficult for us. Romans 8:26 Romans 8:26Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
American King James Version×tells us that God’s Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. When we fully commit our lives into God’s hands and we dedicate ourselves to Him, we can be a new creation—a different, better person.
Later in the book of Romans the apostle Paul puts it this way: “And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2 Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
American King James Version×).
The Greek word used here for transformed, is where we get the word “metamorphosis.” Today we use it to describe that amazing change that a caterpillar goes through, as it becomes a beautiful butterfly. Now think of that in a spiritual way: It’s a representation of what happens to us spiritually when we yield to God and we allow Him to direct our thoughts. We can be changed from the inside out. Like that beautiful butterfly, we can become a new creation.
The Spirit of God leads us to choose a life of overcoming. You shouldn’t believe that God wants you to remain “just as I am.” He has called us to grow to be like Him. “Just as I am” is only the starting point to a whole different life. We’re told that “for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27 Galatians 3:27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
American King James Version×).
Have you seen growth and change in your life? Perhaps you’re not baptized—you should be. Scripture also teaches that at baptism a minister of Jesus Christ should lay hands on you in order to receive God’s Holy Spirit. Acts 8:17 Acts 8:17Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×verifies this: “then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.”
If you haven’t received the Spirit of God by the laying on of hands from one of God’s ministers, you should learn about it. It may be why you’re having a difficult time with spiritual growth. Are you exhibiting the fruit of God’s Spirit? “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×). So just as an apple tree produces apples, God’s Spirit produces a particular type of spiritual fruit in the life of a Christian. These traits should be evident in your life.
After all, God does expect us to change. He expects us to overcome. He expects us to grow. This can seem like an overwhelming task. Is it really possible? Yes!
You have a promise directly from Jesus Christ who says: “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26 Matthew 19:26But Jesus beheld them, and said to them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
American King James Version×). Paul spoke for all of us when he said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 Philippians 4:13I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
American King James Version×). Upon real Christian conversion, you are to “Let the Spirit change your way of thinking” (Ephesians 4:23 Ephesians 4:23And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
American King James Version×, CEV) then you can put on the character of Christ because the Holy Spirit makes overcoming possible.
That brings us to point number three in our discussion of “Are You Led by God’s Spirit?”
3. The Holy Spirit comforts and encourages us.
There’s no doubt, we live in a difficult, challenging world. Our personal lives can be a chaotic and confusing place. Stress, anxiety—they seem to be a way of life. Between the problems of the world and our own personal problems, we can feel out of sorts. Perhaps it hasn’t been that long since you thought, “I’m not sure what to do or where to turn.”
Through the truth of the Bible there is help for today and hope for tomorrow. Jesus Christ made an unbreakable promise. He said He would send special help to His followers. He said “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you” (John 14:15-18 John 14:15-18 15 If you love me, keep my commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
American King James Version×, NABRE).
Jesus described God’s Holy Spirit as an advocate, a comforter, a helper, an encourager. He used a word that the ancient Greeks used to describe a ship coming along side of the dock. It carries the meaning of being right there near, supporting, cheering someone on. In other words, God’s Spirit is sent as a comforter, which comes alongside us, to guide, support, help and encourage us.
True comfort and assurance come from the Spirit of God dwelling in us. We don’t have to be overly worried or discouraged about the future or what might happen. God’s Spirit gives us the assurance that whatever happens will work out for the good “to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose…What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:28-31 Romans 8:28-31 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
American King James Version×).
God wants to give us an outlook on life that’s hard to find in our world today. Even though at times it’s possible for a Christian to become down and disheartened—it’s through God’s Holy Spirit that we can begin to change our outlook and see life differently. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 2 Timothy 1:7For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
American King James Version×).
We can have the same comfort and help which God’s people had in the book of Acts.
In fact, I hope you’ll take the time to read the book. If you do, you’ll find it’s full of the stories of people’s changed lives and the impact they had on the world around them. Their lives were changed dramatically because they were led by God’s Holy Spirit. In fact, the change was so evident that they were accused of having “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6 Acts 17:6And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brothers to the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come here also;
American King James Version×). And it was by the dramatic and dynamic power of the Holy Spirit leading their lives.
Now the best part? The best part is that you can be led by that same Spirit too.
Would you like to learn more? I’d like to help you do just that.
In today’s program, I’ve covered several key benefits of God’s Holy Spirit. But, there is much more you can discover by requesting a copy of our free Bible study aid: The Power of the Holy Spirit. You’ll want to learn even more about how to be led by God’s Holy Spirit, so be sure to request yours today.
Now when you order your study aid, we’ll also send you a free subscription to Beyond Today magazine. Our bi-monthly publication is filled with articles that will help you better comprehend the many exceptional truths found in your Bible.
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Our topic today is “Are You Led by God’s Spirit?” To discuss this further, I’m joined by fellow Beyond Today hosts, Darris McNeely and Gary Petty.
Now one of the challenges I think is to actually visualize, how does God’s Spirit actually work in a Christian’s life?
Now how would you actually tell people, that here’s how it is?
[Gary] The apostle Paul said that we receive the spirit of power, love and sound mind. Now that’s very important because it’s God’s love, God’s power, God’s sound-mindedness that we receive. That means we need to see His power, His love, and His mind in us. Now, no one who has God’s Spirit is perfect yet, we’re all struggling. But we should be moving forward—the power to overcome sin, the power to see the world the way He does. His love flowing through us and this sound-mindedness that has to do with the fruits of God’s Spirit that Paul talks about in Galatians. So, we’re seeing the fruit of it. We are seeing the behavior. We are seeing what it produces in us and we see and know that that’s God doing that.
[Darris] I think you also mentioned key features when you were talking about the fact that it is a comforter and it encourages—two key thoughts that Christ spoke about when He was talking about the giving of the Holy Spirit before He died. And that flows from having that sound mind with God’s Spirit in us, which is Christ’s life within us, we are living a different life and that comes in and it does give us a comfort that we are God’s, that we belong to Him, and that sound-mindedness helps us to deal with the issues that can frustrate us in life, and get us to the point where we have the courage to move through the challenges that come with life. And, when we have those successes, we begin to understand a success, and that we have God’s Spirit and it gives us a confidence that we don’t have.
[Steve] Sometimes that seems to be a big challenge because often times people will be going through life and then they just can’t seem to get beyond a certain point. It seems like they run into a road block. So, how would you counsel someone that’s come to one of those road blocks in life?
[Gary] As a pastor, I get that question all the time. And in all honesty, I’ve asked that question of myself. I mean, we all face this: We know what God wants us to be and we’re not, none of us are there yet. There’s two things we have to think about. One is, is that God working in us is a process. It’s not an event where you just wake up one day and God’s Spirit is in you and you’re perfect. We have to develop or He develops in us the very character—or as you said the spirit of Jesus Christ—the life of Jesus Christ is formed in us. So we become Christ-like. So that’s a process and that’s a whole lifetime of dedication to living that.
And then, occasionally we have to ask the question—somebody may have done the sinner’s prayer and then he said, “Oh, I’ve got God’s Spirit. I read the little track. I gave the sinner’s prayer.” Well there’s more to it than that. We’re actually commanded to repent, be baptized and then have hands laid on us as you mentioned in the program. So, there are things we must do for God to complete the work that He starts in us. So sometimes the person needs to be counseled about: Did you repent? Were you baptized and did you have hands laid on you?
[Darris] I think it also comes back to the point that the Bible describes the Holy Spirit as bearing fruit. Fruit is born of love, of joy, of peace, of sound-mindedness, long suffering, patience—various qualities that are called the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians. And, you have to understand that that doesn’t happen overnight. Growth, change, transformation takes time.
Fruit is not born overnight. It first—the bud comes on, and then the small beginnings of the fruit, it matures through a season, usually a summer of time and then it is ready to be enjoyed. And you look back on your life at a certain point, after a few years, after a season and if God’s Spirit is there, if we have been yielded to that Spirit, being led by it, then we are going to see change in our life and be encouraged. But you may not see that overnight. You may not see it even within a few months or even a year or so. You have to almost look through a season of life to see that connecting the dots backward to understand that there has been change and growth. So don’t get discouraged. Don’t get frustrated.
[Steve] Now with that, there can also be another possibility. As you look at your life and it just seems to be stagnant. I want those things. I’d like those things. Maybe I’ve said that sinner’s prayer, and yet here I am. I am stuck. I can’t get anywhere. I look back and I don’t have those qualities, and is it possible it’s related to something that I didn’t do in the whole process? And I think it comes back to that idea of have I repented, been baptized and have hands laid on me? Now if I haven’t, what should I do? What would you tell someone who came to you and said you know, I haven’t had hands laid on me, what should I do?
[Gary] You know, I’ve had people call me, from not only my church or the churches where I pastor, but from other denominations and say, “you know I’ve been baptized, but I’ve just discovered laying on of hands. Does your church do that cause my pastor doesn’t?” And of course we go through that discussion of, you must repent. You must be baptized and you must have hands laid on you. Now that doesn’t mean there is some kind of magic in the pastor’s hands, but when you go under that water, it’s a symbol. God tells us to do this. Christ is the head of the Church. You die with Christ, as Paul said, to be resurrected. Your sins are forgiven. You must be baptized with the Spirit through the laying on of hands and then you receive God’s Spirit. To ignore that is to ignore specific instructions in the Scripture.
So yes, it is very important that if a person truly wants to be right with God—and you know, the thing is, is God’s Spirit leads and is with us and then God said He wants to be in. He wants to abide in us. So, God’s Spirit can lead somebody, but to be in us we are expected to go through the commands He gives us.
[Darris] There’s an example in Scripture of a group of people the apostle Paul came across in the city of Ephesus, who came to a realization, there was something lacking. And they were baptized again and then with the laying on of hands, it was evident by what took place that it was there. And so, sometimes you have to walk back and as Gary said, go back through the steps and see that. But there’s scriptural support to see that when it’s done right, even if it’s corrected, then God honors that and the Spirit is present.
[Steve] There’s so much to learn about what it takes to be led by God’s Spirit. I hope you’ll remember our free offers today including our Bible study aid: The Power of the Holy Spirit and Beyond Today magazine. Both are yours free of charge and they’ll help you better understand what the Holy Spirit can do for you. To order your free publications simply call us toll free: 1-888-886-8632 or go online to BeyondToday.tv . You’ll be glad that you did.
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[Steve] There is only one way that your life can be what God intended—one way for things to be different. One way to change. And that is by the power of the Holy Spirit.
God wants to lead you by His Spirit. He wants to help you discern between what’s true and not; what’s wise and what’s foolish; between what’s best and what’s just okay.
Now if your life has been lacking and if it seems like you just can’t get over that spiritual hump—if you’re ready to make progress in your life—now’s the time to turn to God in repentance.
If you’re ready to counteract the continual downward pull and the influence of this evil world, there is a solution. The time is now to more fully seek Him and be led by the Holy Spirit of God.
That’s our program for today. Don’t forget our free offers and be sure to tell your family and friends about us. Tune in again next week for another edition of Beyond Today and join me in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today I’m Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.
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