Bible calls us to be “led by the Spirit”. Does this
mean God will make all important decisions for us, or that he
will miraculously teach us the truth by his Spirit, or that
we won’t sin any more? Actually, none of these. Read on
to find out what it means to be led by the Spirit.
Paul instructs us to live by the Spirit, to be led by the
and to have the Spirit of God living in us. In doing so, we
not give in to our human desires but will show the fruit of
Spirit which pleases God.
1. What does it mean to “live by the Spirit”?
Is it something
we do ourselves or does it require God’s power?
2. After baptism, we continue to experience temptation. So
how are we no longer controlled by the sinful nature (v8)?
3. Is there any difference between the Spirit of God and the
Spirit of Christ in v9?
Led by reading the Bible
One way we are led by the Spirit is through the Bible, the
word of God. It was inspired by the Spirit, and if we follow
its instructions, it can lead us in godliness. As Paul wrote,
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching,
rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that
the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good
work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Remember, the word translated “God-breathed” is
the word for Spirit. See page 37. The Spirit leads us when we read the
and follow it. Through it, God’s Spirit guides us, changes
and leads us towards his kingdom.
The word of God is not a lifeless book; it is described as “living
and active” and “at work in you who believe”. Hebrews 4:12 In the Bible, God tells us what he requires of us, and what spiritual values
we must develop. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 The Bible provides encouragement, examples
and advice about how to develop godliness.
Led by answered prayer
Another way we are led by the Spirit is through answered prayer.
When we pray for God’s strength, or his guidance, we
are asking God to lead us by his Spirit.
1. Gideon was led by the Spirit when he asked God for guidance
in attacking the Midianites. Judges 6:36-40
2. David was led by the Spirit when he asked God to deliver
him from Saul who was trying to kill him. e.g. 1 Samuel 23:9-14 It may have been
at that time that he prayed
me from my enemies, O LORD, for I hide myself in you. Teach
me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
3. The apostles were led by the Spirit when they drew lots
after praying God would help them choose a replacement for
Judas. Acts 1:23-26
Because the Spirit is God’s power, whenever we ask him
to help us, we are asking to be led by his Spirit.
Led by the Spirit dwelling in us
God also promises to lead us by his Spirit, by it “dwelling
in us”, helping us and strengthening us. We read about
this in Romans 8. Paul also described it as “God who
works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
Philippians 2:13. See also Hebrews 13:21 Similarly, in Galatians we read:
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the
desires of the sinful nature. . . But if you are led by the
Spirit, you are not under law.. . . But the fruit of the
Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. . . Since we live
by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
These verses teach that God, through his
Spirit, works in us to help us and strengthen our efforts,
and assist us in becoming more godly.
Jesus described it as being like two oxen “yoked together”.
Yokes: In Bible times, carts were pulled by oxen. When two oxen were used, they were joined together by a wooden beam called a yoke. This helped them keep in step and not head in different directions.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I
will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from
me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find
rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is
light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus, through the Spirit, is pulling with us and helping
learn. He doesn’t do it all for us, but we aren’t
on our own
either. We need to “keep in step with the Spirit”
if we are to
receive Jesus’ help.
We must put aside our sinful desires and aim for spiritual
values. Then God, through his Spirit, will strengthen our efforts,
assist us in becoming more godly and lead us in renewing our
The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen
you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so
that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
To the believers in Colosse he wrote:
We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to
fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual
wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that
you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him
in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in
the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power
according to his glorious might so that you may have great
endurance and patience. (Colossians 1:9-11)
In both prayers, he was asking God to send his Spirit to dwell
in them and strengthen them.
The outcome, or fruit, of this work of God’s Spirit
is the development of spiritual characteristics in us. This “fruit
Spirit” includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
How we are not led
Unfortunately, many people have misinterpreted the scriptural
passages on this subject and drawn some incorrect conclusions. The Bible does not say that the Spirit will teach us
truth so that we do not have to read the Bible. Nor does it
teach that the Spirit gives us any additional revelation,
the Bible. Nor are we promised that the Spirit will give us
miraculous powers, as it did to many believers in the first
century. See Chapter 50. Spirit
• We are led by the Spirit when we read God’s
and allow it to influence our minds and our actions.
We are led by the Spirit when we pray for God’s help
guidance and receive it.
We are led by the Spirit when God strengthens us and
helps us develop spiritual characteristics known as “the
fruit of the Spirit”.
1. A variety of ways of seeking God’s will have been
The high priest was to use the Urim and the Thummim which
were placed in the breastpiece attached to his ephod. Exodus
(b) Gideon asked for a miraculous sign. Judges 6:36-40
(c) David consulted the ephod of the high priest. 1 Samuel
(d) Saul hoped for revelation by “dreams or Urim or
prophets”. 1 Samuel 28:6
(e) The apostles drew lots. Acts 1:23-26;
Discuss these methods.
Proverbs 16:33 Are they all valid ways of seeking God’s
will? Which are still able to be used today? Which
methods have you used?
Many people claim that the Spirit “speaks” to
them in their
mind, prompting them to do things. Do you think such
claims are valid? Why?
1. Read Romans 5:5; 2 Timothy 1:14; and Titus 3:5-6. What
are these verses teaching us?
Find out about the Urim and Thummim which were used
for seeking God’s will in Old Testament times. On what
occasions was it used? How do you think it worked?
• Balancing the book by Len Richardson (published by
author, 1990). Chapter 18: “The work of the Holy Spirit”.
8. The Spirit of God
32. Jesus: Son of God and Son of Man
50. Spirit gifts
51. The fruit of the Spirit