Led by the Spirit Refs
The 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.

Romans 8:1-17

Paul instructs us to live by the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit, and to have the Spirit of God living in us. In doing so, we will not give in to our human desires but will show the fruit of the 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 related to the word for Spirit. See page 37. The Spirit leads us when we read the Bible and follow it. Through it, God’s Spirit guides us, changes us, 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

Rescue 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. (Psalm 143:9-10)

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. (Galatians 5:16-25)

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 us 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 minds. 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. (Ephesians 3:16-17)

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 of the Spirit” includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, 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 the truth so that we do not have to read the Bible. Nor does it teach that the Spirit gives us any additional revelation, beyond 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 gifts

• We are led by the Spirit when we read God’s inspired word and allow it to influence our minds and our actions.
• We are led by the Spirit when we pray for God’s help or 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 used in the past.

(a) The high priest was to use the Urim and the Thum­mim which were placed in the breastpiece attached to his ephod. Exodus 28:30
(b) Gideon asked for a miraculous sign. Judges 6:36-40
(c) David consulted the ephod of the high priest. 1 Samuel 23:9-12
(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?

2. 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?
2. 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 the author, 1990). Chapter 18: “The work of the Holy Spirit”. 7 pages.

8. The Spirit of God
9. Prayer
32. Jesus: Son of God and Son of Man
50. Spirit gifts
51. The fruit of the Spirit