Being Led of the Holy Spirit

Being Led of the Holy Spirit

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John Edmiston

Stage 6 – Being Led of the Holy Spirit

Romans 8:14  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Luke 4: 1 Then Jesus returned from the Jordan, full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.


Once we walk in the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit, then we are led by the Spirit. Being led by the Spirit is having the correct spiritual intuition about what to do next.

You cannot lead someone who is asleep in a LazyBoy armchair!  You can only lead someone who is already up and moving. Once we start walking in the Spirit we need to go somewhere; and it is then that we need to be led by the Holy Spirit.


In all the above verses the word for “led” stems from the Greek word “ago” (long O at end) which means both to “lead” and “to drive” so the Spirit-led person can be both led by the Spirit as in “guided”, or driven by the Spirit as under a powerful external impulse.


This intuitive leading of the Spirit shows us what to do in a few different ways:

a) He directly tells us what to do e.g. “go up to this chariot” for Phillip the evangelist

  1. b) He forms a godly driving impulse within us e.g. compassion and we are driven by compassion to do the will of God that is right in front of us e.g. Jesus healing distressed people.
  2. c) The Spirit provokes us from within to do something e.g. as Paul observed the idols in Athens.
  3. d) The Holy Spirit creates a compelling intuitive idea within us e.g. that we must preach the gospel to a tribe in South America.
  4. e) The Spirit may speak to us through Scripture giving us a godly value or biblical principle that solves the problem of what to do next e.g. to turn the other cheek when provoked.
  5. f) We may have an experience that the Holy Spirit sheds light on, in such a way that we say “Aha, this means that” which shows us the next thing to do e.g. Moses at the burning bush.
  6. g) We may have the Holy Spirit lead us through an angel, a prophecy, a word of wisdom or even through the sermon on Sunday morning; so that we sense that it is God directing our path.
  7. h) The Spirit may speak to us through the wise counsel of a mature Christian, or even through a book like this, so that we sense that the right path has been shown to us.

This guiding intuition is formed within us as we are filled with the Spirit and with the Word, as we pray, as meditate on Scripture, and as we listen for the voice of God in the Christian conscience. We have our senses trained by use to discern good from evil (Hebrews 5:14).

Hebrews 5:14  But solid food is for the mature — for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil.

Even Jesus was led by the Spirit (Luke 4:1 above). So if Jesus could not “figure it out for Himself” and so direct His own life, then neither can we. The sons of God live by the rules of Heaven and are led into all righteousness by God Himself.


The following verses show how totally dependent Jesus was upon guidance from God:


John 5:19 Then Jesus replied, “I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way.


John 5:30 “I can do nothing on My own. I judge only as I hear, and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.


John 8:28 So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing on My own. But just as the Father taught Me, I say these things.


John 14:10  Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own. The Father who lives in Me does His works.


So being led of the Spirit is not just getting spooky ideas in your head. It is giving up your own stubborn will for God’s will and then relentlessly following wherever God’s will leads. Jesus did nothing on his own. He did not give in to the desire for autonomy that is part of the selfishness of the flesh.

The flesh wants to do its own thing. The flesh does not want to please God. The flesh just wants to please itself.

When the Spirit leads us, we are led out of the zone of the flesh and into the place of testing our desires, just as Jesus was tested in the wilderness. Jesus survived the temptation in the wilderness not because He was tough, but because the Spirit was constantly leading him!

Those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God. In the wilderness the Devil kept saying “if you are the Son of God” and hitting at precisely the point of His sonship.  Jesus proved that He was the son of God by always following the Spirit and never following the Devil.

So being led by the Spirit is an essential part of the Christian life that demonstrates that we are truly children of our Heavenly Father because we always listen to Him.

Now, in recent years, being led by the Spirit has got a bad reputation. Charlatans and mystics and followers of dreams and visions and prophecies have put subjective experiences in first place and relegated Scripture and conscience to the last place.

Let me say it straight out, being led by the Spirit is not that mystical most of the time. Being led by the Spirit can be as simple as giving back extra change that you were mistakenly given at the supermarket. You do not need a dream or a vision or a voice in your head to do that, you just do it because the desire of the Spirit is for you to be honest and faithful and you just do it automatically.




The Holy Spirit is our omnipresent Teacher in the midst of the situations of life so that we do not need a priest or a Rabbi to know what to do, rather our conscience and our spiritual intuition immediately tells us what to do:

1 John 2:20,27  But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things…. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.


This means that as we journey through life, from circumstance to circumstance, God’s anointing (the Holy Spirit) will teach us everything we need to know and to do. For instance:

  • You are led by the Spirit when “something” tells you to slow down when you are driving too fast on the freeway and you do so.
  • You are led by the Spirit when your conscience tells you to apologize to someone and to forgive someone even though you do not want to, and you obey.
  • You are led by the Spirit when you read His textbook the Bible, and you read about turning the other cheek and you realize that you need to do that, and you do it.
  • You are led by the Spirit when you feel deep compassion and go out of your way for someone and later you ask yourself “why did I do that?”
  • You are led by the Spirit when you read what the Bible says about the fate of the lost and you decide to start sharing the gospel more often.
  • You are led by the Spirit when you read the Sermon On The Mount about money and possessions and you realize that living more simply might be a great idea!

From time to time, this may involve dreams, visions, or words of knowledge but they are the exception and not the rule.

When the Spirit is leading you, life becomes much more transparent and clear and you have a deep inner sense of what you should be doing next and why you are doing it.

Life becomes filled with meaning and purpose. God is in charge. You have handed over the reins of your life to Him.

So we see that the sons of God are God-directed and are in a New Covenant with Him:

Hebrews 8:10-11  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. And each person will not teach his fellow citizen, and each his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” because they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them.


God instructs us internally by the Holy Spirit. His laws are written on our hearts. A new consciousness arises with us. We become aware of God’s will. We learn what God wants us to do and we do it almost by instinct (though we may struggle now and then).

So how do we know God’s will from the Devil’s temptation or from some random impulse going through our brains? Let’s look at some verses from James chapter 3:

James 3:13-18 Who is wise and has understanding among you? He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom’s gentleness. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t brag and deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.


  1. God’s will is pure, is never of the flesh and never panders to the ego or selfish ambition.
  2. God’s will is righteous, and does not engage in lies, frauds, shortcuts or temptations.
  3. God’s will is patient, and is not hurried, hasty or manipulative.
  4. God’s will is peaceful, and is never prideful, resentful, carnal, divisive or rebellious.
  5. God’s will is impartial and does not involve playing politics or engaging in favoritism.
  6. God’s will is merciful, gentle and reasonable and is never harsh, cruel or unyielding.

We can also add:

  1. God’s will lines up with the revealed will of God in the Bible.
  2. God’s will is full of wisdom and has the ring of truth about it.
  3. God’s will is sober, humble, and real and often looks like hard work and common sense.
  4. God’s will helps other people to become like Jesus.
  5. God’s will tends to fit in with His previous work in your life and with your gifts and abilities.
  6. God’s will is generally open to being checked out and verified and stands up to some basic tests of feasibility, reasonableness, purity and sound doctrine.

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever had an experience where you were sure that God was leading you to do something? Did you do it?
  2. How does God lead us to do things that will improve our Christian character?
  3. Can you think of some examples of God leading people in the Bible?

How would your life be different if the Lord always led you?

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