1e. Leads & Guides

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True Christians Receive the Spirit:
How Does the Spirit Guide Christians Today?

Later on in this lesson we will look at the warnings given in scripture about false teachers, false Christs (people claiming to be the Christ), and false spirits.  It is extremely important for each Christian to be able to distinguish between being truly led by the Spirit...as opposed to being led astray by false teaching or false feelings or emotions.

By looking at how the Spirit of God has led people in both the Old Testament and New Testament, you will be better able to distinguish whether you are being led on the right path today.  Although we may never know the exact ways in which the Spirit is involved in a Christian's walk with the Lord, included below are a few scriptures that give us a glimpse of how the Spirit is involved with God and Jesus in leading us:

I. How has the Spirit Led in the Past:

A. The Holy Spirit as a Guide in Old Testament Days:

In Section 1 of this lesson, we learned how the Holy Spirit guided God's children prior to the events on the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. The impact of the Holy Spirit was not having people shake or to roll on the floor...or to speak in languages that no one could understand.  Instead, the Holy Spirit was given to them principally to tell them what God wanted for them, and to help them as they worked with God to lead the people:

"And Thou didst give Thy good Spirit to instruct them, Thy manna Thou didst not withhold from their mouth, and Thou didst give them water for their thirst." Nehemiah 9:20 (NAS)

"Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God; let Thy good Spirit lead me on level ground." Psalms 143:10 (NAS)

"And as for Me, this is My covenant with them," says the LORD: "My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring," says the LORD, "from now and forever." Isaiah 59:21 (NAS)

"And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances." Ezekiel 36:27 (NAS)

'As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!' Haggai 2:5 (NAS)

"And they made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts." Zechariah 7:12 (NAS)

B. The Holy Spirit as a Guide In The Time of Jesus and His Apostles:

Before the New Testament books and letters were written and compiled, the early church was guided by the words of Christ that people had heard directly...and also the words of Christ as delivered through the apostles and close disciples.  The writers of the New Testament were reminded of the teachings they had received from Jesus and also were directly inspired by the Lord through the Holy Spirit, as they indicate in their later writings:

"For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread..." 1 Corinthians 11:23 (NAS)

"But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24 (NAS)

"If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment." 1 Corinthians 14:37 (NAS)

"For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ." Galatians 1:12 (NAS)

II.  How Does The Holy Spirit Guide Us Today?

Let's look at the New Testament scriptures that talk about the ways in which the Holy Spirit guides us today. 

A. Through the Bible - The Word of God:

The Holy Spirit reminded the writers of the New Testament of Jesus' words and instructed them as they wrote. In addition, the writers received instruction through the Spirit:

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NAS)

"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 said to you."  John 14:26 (NAS) Note:  Jesus is not speaking to a large assembly of His followers.  This is when Jesus was speaking with His apostles and closest disciples during the last supper.

"It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven-- things into which angels long to look." 1 Peter 1:12 (NAS)

"Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so." Acts 17:11 (NAS)

"...for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. " 1Thessalonians 1:5 (NAS)

"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 (NAS)

"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:17 (NAS)

B. The Instructions From the Holy Spirit Cannot Contradict God's Word:

The Holy Spirit does not speak on His own initiative.

Jesus says "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come." John 16:13 (NAS)

Jesus himself did not speak on His own initiative.

"I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." John 5:30 (NAS)

"Jesus therefore said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me." John 8:28 (NAS)

"For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me."  John 12:49-50 (NAS)

"Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works." John 14:10 (NAS)

What Jesus and the Holy Spirit have delivered from God, as it is written in the Bible, is unchangeable:

"For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard..." Hebrews 2:2-3 (NAS)

"But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8 (NAS)

C. What happens if another spirit, or another teacher tries to lead us away from what it says in the Bible?

"But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons..." 1 Timothy 4:1 (NAS)

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." I John 4:1 (NAS)

D. What happens if another spirit, or another teacher appears to perform signs and miracles, but yet they are teaching things that are contrary to what the Bible teaches?

"For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance." Jesus said in Matthew 24:24-25 (NAS)

"...for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order, if possible, to lead the elect astray." Mark 13:22 (NAS)

"For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness..." 1 Corinthians 1:22-23  (NAS)

"But He (Jesus) answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Matthew 12:39-40 (NAS)

"And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty." Revelation 16:13-14 (NAS)

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'" Matthew 7:21-23 (NAS)

E. What if I have a strong feeling, or influence that is leading me away from the truth contained in God's word?

Christians must seek the truth...and to love the truth; ignoring deluding feelings or influences:

"...and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth." II Thessalonians 2:10-13 (NAS)

F. Led by the Spirit or by the world?

This a decision that each Christian makes throughout their life based on the deeds they choose to practice.

There are four scriptures in the New Testament that have the phrase "led by the Spirit." Two of the scriptures refer to Jesus being led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted (Matthew 4:1 and Luke 4:1). The other two scriptures are in Romans chapter 8 and Galatians chapter 5, as follows:

1.  Christians are to decide whether or not they are going to set their minds on the things of the Spirit...or on the things of the flesh (the world).  Christians are to decide if they will be separated from the deeds of the body (to put to death these deeds):

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:5-8 (NAS)

"So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh--for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." Romans 8:12-14 (NAS)

2.  Is a Christian going to live in immorality and sin, or is the Christian going to walk in a different direction...walking in the Spirit?

"For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another." Galatians 5:13-26 (NAS)

According to the scriptures above, being led by the Spirit does not appear in the text as a mystical, miraculous, emotional experience.  Rather, being led by the Spirit is described in scripture as involving us in an understanding of the difference between the path of sin and the path of righteousness...and helping us choose to walk the right path and seek after the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, etc.). 

A person that is not being led by the Spirit is described by scripture as one who involves him or herself in choosing to walk in the path of the world; pursuing things such as immorality, impurity, sensuality, and idolatry.

I Will Put My Spirit Within You and Cause You to Walk in My Statutes:

"And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances." Ezekiel 36:27 (NAS)

Are you willing to be led by the Spirit according to the teachings of Scripture?

We will now look at specific ways that the Holy Spirit helped the apostles and disciples in the New Testament days:

2. The Spirit Was Given to the Apostles & Certain Disciples in those days:

a. To guide them in what they said. What to Speak
b. To cast out demons. Cast Out Demons

Click on "What to Speak" below to continue...

Up 1a. Adoption as Sons 1b. Love Poured 1c. Help With Prayer 1d. Temple of Spirit 1e. Leads & Guides 2a. What to Speak 2b. Cast Out Demons 3a. Gifts To Remain 3b. Gifts That Fade