Nine ways the Holy Spirit guides his people
Intuition is a function of our human spirit. Intuition is like an impulse within the heart. It is not an audible voice, but it is an impulse. In Mark 1:12, we read that the Spirit drove or impelled Jesus into the desert. The Word “impel” is good because it describes an interior sensation.
Obviously, there are impulses that come from the body, the emotions and even from demons. However, if we are born again, we learn to differentiate all of these voices from the one that comes from the spirit. We must follow the impulse of the Spirit even if there is no logical reason to do so. If we follow the impulse, the results will come.
The witness of the Spirit
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, (Romans 8:16).
But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. (1 Corinthians 6:17).
These verses show us that God unites our spirit with the Holy Spirit, after we receive the new birth. The testifying of the spirit is a deep conviction that has no origin in any natural thing. Many times our mind rejects this conviction due to fear and insecurity. God speaks to us every day; however, we often are not listening, thinking that these thoughts are from our mind. May the Lord separate our soul from our spirit!
When the Lord testifies something in our spirit, the best thing to do is to check with other more mature Christians. If we still are not clear about the directive, it is best to go ahead and risk making a mistake. We will probably commit many mistakes, but we will be exercising our spirit and we will reach a point where we will have fine-tuned our spiritual senses. In the process of growth, it is normal that we miss it on occasion.
However, it is essential that we exercise our spirit to the highest level possible. God wants us to develop such a spiritual maturity that we can recognize His voice immediately and that we can respond immediately based on His Word (Proverbs 20:27). It takes time but it is possible to learn to discern as to whether such impressions or feelings come from the Lord or not, and to be sure of God’s will and intention in all that we do.
The peace of the Spirit
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… (Colossians 3:15)
Peace is the referee of our hearts. We are able to perceive our spirit in our heart through this peace. The referee is the judge, the one who decides. Imagine a football game; as long as everything is going according to the rules and there are no infractions, the referee’s whistle is silent. However, when there is an infraction of the rules, the referee blows the whistle and the game stops immediately. The players then look to the referee to find out what went wrong and what his decision is on the matter. As soon as he clarifies things, the game can continue.
It is the same way with the peace of God in our hearts. When things are flowing in God’s purpose, there is a deep inner peace in our heart. This peace should always be there. Paul says that God has called us to such peace. If by any chance, we lose this peace we will have to go back to the spirit to find out where we went wrong and why we have lost our peace. The Holy Spirit will quickly show us where we erred so that we can correct the situation, thereby restoring our peace.
The conscience of the spirit
The fourth way is to follow the conscience of the heart. Before we do anything, we should not consult the mind, but the life of God within our heart. If our spirit becomes agitated, we should stop what we are doing. When our heart is at odds with God, we have a sensation like nausea. It is a sensation in the middle of the stomach, in the bowels. This feeling always comes when we enter a direction that God does not approve.
Walking in the Spirit is not a matter of right, wrong, good, or evil. There are two paths before us: the path of the tree of knowledge and the path of the tree of life. Walking by the tree of knowledge is to walk in the flesh. Those who walk in the flesh are the ones who walk merely by following moral criteria. Those who walk by the tree of life don’t ask whether it is a sin or not, if it is good or evil, right or wrong, they ask whether it is the will of God or not.
We should not do anything that upsets this life inside of us, even if it seems good to the mind. If the life within us rejects it, then we should also reject it. God rejects many things that are not sinful in themselves.
We should not teach new Christians laws of right and wrong, but stimulate them to discern the leading of the Lord through the life in their spirit. If we are too quick to instruct others about what is right or wrong, we are robbing them of precious opportunities of learning to walk with the Lord on their own.
Being a Christian does not mean being led by a code of conduct or by a number of rules and morally correct social customs. Being a Christian implies being led by the Holy Spirit of God. Our goal is not simply to be good people, but to be people full of God and led by Him.
The Written Word of God
The Bible is our most trustworthy guide and it is possibly the easiest means by which God leads us. Listening to the inner voice of our spirit is a subjective experience thus it is more easily conducive to misinterpretation. We can easily be influenced by our emotions or personal desires. Therefore, we need to submit experiences of this nature to an objective and fail-safe scrutiny. The Bible is exactly that. It is not influenced by our emotions or preconceived ideas. Therefore, it is much more trustworthy. We should approach it with openness and honesty of heart, since we also run the risk of imposing our own interpretation on it and “making” the Bible, say anything we want it to say. We must possess integrity of heart when we approach the Word of God. People will often purposely look for a biblical passage that supports what they want to believe. This “twisting” or manipulation of Scripture can bring harmful consequences.
When you feel a certain direction or impression in your spirit and you are not sure that it is the voice of the Lord, submit this impression to God in prayer. Ask Him to confirm or refute it through His Word. Inevitably, once you have done this, a Biblical verse or passage related to the subject will catch your attention. It is amazing how God can make His Word apply to so many different circumstances and situations. God gives His direction through His Word in unusual ways.
The Spirit of God contradicts His Word. The Holy Spirit would never ask you to do something that the Bible condemns. He would never guide you contrary to the clear principles expressed in the Bible. However, it is common for Him to guide us contrary to our preconceived ideas some of which we easily confuse with Gospel truth.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)
When God speaks to us, He will certainly confirm His direction through a more mature member of the church body. We should submit our impressions to more mature members of the body of Christ to be sure that we are on the right path. It is a good idea to place such issues before a group of mature believers and if there is a response of unanimous peace, then you can be sure that the Lord is confirming the direction you have received.
The Bible says “…in a multitude of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14) and “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22). Do not expose your doubts to someone who cannot help you. Seek out advice from spiritually mature people who have an approved record of accomplishment. Asking for advice from spiritually immature people will only bring more confusion and uncertainty. Go to the people whose lives prove that they are in God’s will, people who have experienced success in their Christian life because they were able to hear God’s voice directing them in their own life’s circumstances.
Circumstances and Divine Providence
When God tells you to do something, you can be sure that he will start opening doors so that you are able to do it. If he is guiding you in a specific area, then His provision will become available to you in that area. David says,
The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; (Psalm 37:23).
If you passively wait for a revelation, you may wait forever. If you start moving and end up going in the wrong direction, the Lord will tell you and give you a course correction. The Holy Spirit is inside all Christians and He wishes to guide us in the ways and purposes of God. Therefore, whenever we start out, with a sincere desire in our hearts to walk in God’s ways, the Spirit will give us direction. As you start moving in harmony with the will of God, circumstances and provisions will fall into place around you, providing you with certainty and confirmation of God’s blessing on your endeavor.
God gives prophecies to confirm something He has already confirmed to you in your spirit. We must always be careful with apparent prophecies that tend to initiate something rather than confirm something that is already in our heart. If God wants to tell you something, He will speak to you first, in your own spirit. Later on, He may confirm it to you through a prophecy, which will serve to confirm and establish what He has already told you. Never do something simply because someone “prophesied” that you should do it. Get your own personal direction from God first.
Prophecies are not infallible. The human element involved in giving the prophecy makes them fallible. The Spirit, who gives them, is perfect, but the people that declare them are imperfect. Many Christians revere prophecies as if God Himself had spoken from heaven. However, it is not God that is speaking directly but men speaking in the name of God. If these people really speak from the Spirit, great! Their words will edify, exhort and console the church (1 Corinthians 14:3). Sometimes unfortunately, prophecies can originate from the mind of the person rather than from the mind of God, or prophecies can be influenced by the insertion of personal thoughts.
Because of this every prophecy should be judged to assure that it really is a word of the Lord before it is received and put into action (1 Corinthians 14:29). To summarize:
Judge prophecy by the Word of God. The Word of God must judge every prophecy first. If a prophecy is not in perfect harmony with Biblically expressed principles, we must reject it.
Judge prophecy by what God has already shown you in your own spirit. If it does not testify and confirm what you have already received from the Lord, then do not accept it.
Judge prophecy by the wisdom of the church. If a group of Christians is present when the prophecy is given, then we should hear the group’s judgment. What is the general opinion concerning it? Do the Christians in the group agree that this is truly a word from God?
- Never go to a prophet for a consultation. God knows your name, your address and your telephone number. If a prophet really has something from God for you, God will send him to you. The practice of consulting prophets is of a pagan origin. Spirits of divination to give a word to the person who came for a consultation has used many prophets, under pressure. Personal prophecies have ruined many innocent lives because people acted upon them instead of on the true direction of the Spirit.
The basic way that God intends to lead His children is by the spirit. The Holy Spirit that resides in our spirit speaks the will of God to our human spirit. However, the Word of God shows us that there are also extraordinary ways for God to lead us. One of them is prophecy, but there are three other ways:
Dreams – It is unquestionable that God speaks to us through dreams. He did so with Joseph, Daniel, Mary’s husband Joseph, and with Paul. God is the same and he still guides and edifies us through dreams. Some principles need to be clear, however. The first is that if you do not know the meaning of your dream, and then do not go around looking for someone to interpret it. If God wants to speak to you, He will do it through clear and comprehensible ways. If you do not know the meaning of a dream, forget about it, or tuck it away for future reference.
The audible voice of God – Do not seek spiritual experiences. Do not ask to see or hear anything. This longing for new and different experiences can be a foothold for deceiving spirits. Having said that, it is still true today, that God can speak audibly to His children.
The Ministry of angels – God can send an angel to speak to you, but this angel must confirm the Word of God and the Gospel, and confess the Lordship of Christ. We must be wise in these issues as there are also demons disguised as angels of light. Paul says in his Letter to the Galatians; even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8)