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                        "THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD"

                     The Leading Of The Holy Spirit

INTRODUCTION

1. The Scriptures speak of the Christian being led by the Holy Spirit...
   a. Those led by the Spirit are the sons of God - Ro 8:14
   b. Those led by the Spirit are not under the law - Ga 5:18
   -- So it is important that the Christian be led by the Spirit of God

2. How does the Spirit lead the Christian...?
   a. Is it by the Word of God only?
   b. Is through feelings, impressions, visions, dreams, etc.?
   -- There is much confusion as to how the Christian is led by the
      Spirit

3. Conflicting ideas on this subject is one reason for much religious
   confusion...
   a. Many justify their beliefs and practices saying, "The Spirit led
      me to this..."
   b. Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, non-Pentecostal, all claiming
      to be led by the Spirit
   -- Yet the Spirit of truth (Jn 16:13) does not lead people into
      confusion - cf. 1Co 14:33

[How then does the Spirit lead?  Here are some thoughts regarding...]

I. HOW THE SPIRIT LEADS THE CHRISTIAN

   A. THE SPIRIT LEADS BOTH EXTERNALLY AND INTERNALLY...
      1. "The leading is both internal and external. To whatever extent
         the Holy Spirit by its indwelling strengthens the human spirit
         to enable it to control the flesh, to that extent the leading
         is internal; to whatever extent the motives of 'the law of the
         Spirit,' when brought to bear on the heart in the New
         Testament, enlighten and strengthen, and so enable it to keep
         the body in subjection, to that extent the leading is external.
         The leading, then, consists of the whole of the influences of
         every kind exercised by the Holy Spirit on the human spirit,
         enabling it to keep the body under. - David Lipscomb and J.W.
         Shepherd, A Commentary on the NT Epistles, Vol. I, Romans,
         p.149 (commenting on Ro 8:14)
      2. "But what kind of "leading" is here meant--an occult, internal,
         inexplicable leading, or an external, explicable one by the
         truth?  Before replying, let us ask, who are led?  Certainly
         not the unconverted, but Christians.  In those led, then, the
         Holy Spirit already dwells. What kind of leading then is it?
         I answer, both internal and external.  To whatever extent the
         Holy Spirit by its indwelling strengthens the human spirit, to
         enable it to control the flesh, to that extent the leading is
         internal.  To whatever extent the motives of the gospel, when
         brought to bear on the mind in the written word, enlighten and
         strengthen it, and so enable it to keep the body in subjection,
         to that extent the leading is external.  The leading, then,
         consists of the whole of the influences of every kind, spent by
         the Holy Spirit on the human spirit, in enabling it to keep the
         body under.  More definitely than this it would not be wise to
         attempt to speak." - Moses Lard, A Commentary on Romans, p.264
         (commenting on Ro 8:14)
      3. "The Spirit leads both externally and internally.  Externally,
         the Spirit supplies the gospel truth as set forth in the New
         Testament, and the rules and precepts therein found are for the
         instruction and guidance of God's children.  Internally, the
         Spirit aids by ministering strength and comfort to the
         disciples in his effort to conform to the revealed truth and
         will of God." -  J.W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton,
         Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians and Romans, p. 361
         (commenting on Ro 8:14)
      4. "...Christ most likely refers here to an influence of the
         Spirit, over and above that which it exercises through the word
         of truth and the ordinary workings of Divine providence; an
         influence, by means of which it helps our infirmities (Ro
         8.26); strengthens us with might even into the inner man (Ep
         3.16); and enables us to bring forth abundantly in our lives
         the fruits of 'love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness,
         goodness, fidelity, meekness, and temperance' (Ga 5.22,23)."
         - Robert Milligan, The Scheme of Redemption, p.283 (commenting
         on Jn 7:38-39)
      -- Note the distinction made between an external and internal
         influence by which the Spirit leads;  now let's take a closer
         look at this distinction...

   B. THE SPIRIT LEADS EXTERNALLY THROUGH THE WORD...
      1. The Word is the instrument used by the Spirit to instruct and
         convict...
         a. The Spirit was sent to convict the world - Jn 16:7-11
         b. The Spirit guided the apostles into all the truth - Jn 16:
            12-13; cf. Ac 20:27; 2Pe 1:3
            1) What the Spirit revealed, the apostles received and
               preached - 1Co 2:9-13
            2) What they received, they wrote that we might understand
               - Ep 3:3-5
            3) Thus the early church continued steadfastly in the
               apostles' doctrine - Ac 2:42
         c. Thus the Word is the "sword" (instrument) used by the Spirit
            - cf. Ep 6:17
      2. To resist the Word is to resist the Spirit...
         a. As when Israel resisted the inspired word given through
            prophets - Ac 7:51-53
         b. As when we resist the inspired word given through apostles
            - 1Co 14:36-37
      3. When one sets their mind on the things of the Spirit (i.e., His
         revealed Word)...
         a. They will live according to the Spirit - Ro 8:5
         b. They will experience life and peace - Ro 8:6
      4. When one walks in the Spirit (by heeding His Word)...
         a. They will not fulfill the lust of the flesh - Ga 5:16
         b. They will be thus led by the Spirit - Ga 5:18
         c. They will so produce the fruit of the Spirit - Ga 5:22-25
      -- Do you desire to be led by the Spirit?  Then let Him lead you
         through His Word!

   C. THE SPIRIT LEADS INTERNALLY THROUGH HIS INDWELLING...
      1. By strengthening the inner man...
         a. God is at work in the Christian - Ep 3:20
         b. Even as we are working out our own salvation - Php 2:12-13;
            Php 4:13
         c. The instrument by which God strengthens the Christian is His
            Spirit in the inner man - Ep 3:16
         d. By His indwelling Spirit, we are able to put to death the
            deeds of the body - Ro 8:13
         e. In this way the Spirit likewise leads us - Ro 8:14 (cf. Ro
            8:11)
      2. In conjunction with the Word...
         a. When we make effort to heed the Word, the Spirit aids us
            1) Supplying what strength we may need
            2) So that which is produced may rightly be called the
               "fruit" of the Spirit
         b. To illustrate, consider the development of a Christ-like
            character
            1) Peter reminds us of the need for diligence on our part
               - 2Pe 1:5-10
            2) Paul explains these qualities produced are the "fruit" of
               the Spirit - Ga 5:22-23
      -- Do you desire to be led by the Spirit?  Then let Him strengthen
         you as you obey His Word!

[The Spirit leads both externally (via the Word of God) and internally
(via His strengthening).  But there are some misconceptions about the
Spirit's leading that we should be careful to note...]

II. HOW THE SPIRIT DOES NOT LEAD THE CHRISTIAN

   A. THROUGH FEELINGS, INTUITION...
      1. Many people believe their feelings or intuitions are "leadings"
         of the Spirit
      2. Yet the Spirit did not lead people through such subjective
         means - cf. Ac 16:6-7
         a. If Paul and his companions had been led by their own
            feelings, they would have  gone to Asia or Bithynia
         b. In some audible or visible way, the Spirit forbade them
      3. Much religious confusion is the result of failing to note this
         distinction
         a. People appeal to "feelings" to justify their beliefs and
            practices
            1) The heart (emotions, feelings) can be a deceptive guide
               - Pr 28:26; Jer 17:9
            2) What may "seem" to be right, may not be right - Pro
               14:12; e.g., Ac 26:9
         b. Rather than appealing to the Word of God, the sword of the
            Spirit
            1) God is not the author of confusion - 1Co 14:33
            2) He has provided an objective standard by which to know
               the truth - 2Ti 3:16-17
            3) That standard is the Word of God, not one's feelings
      -- Don't let feelings of the human spirit keep you from following
         the teachings of the Holy Spirit!

   B. THROUGH VISIONS, DREAMS...
      1. Yes, God did at one time reveal truth through such means
         a. As exemplified in the example we just considered - Ac 16:
            9-10
         b. As part of the Spirit's work in being poured out - Ac 2:17
      2. But this was part of the process of revealing and confirming
         God's truth
         a. Along with signs, wonders, and miracles - cf. He 2:3-4
         b. Which confirmed whether such visions or dreams were from God
         c. Which was a temporary process, finished when God's Word was
            complete - 1Co 13:8-10
      3. Even when such dreams and visions were used by God, tests were
         provided
         a. Such as whether it was in harmony with God's revealed Word
            - Deut 13:1-5
         b. Such as whether the dream came to pass - Deut 18:20-22
      4. The Scriptures warn against the danger of being led astray by
         dreams
         a. They can be vanity - Ec 5:7
         b. They be the tools of false prophets - Jer 23:25-32; Zec 10:2
         c. They can be the product of our imagination - Jer 29:8
      -- We have God's Word fully and completely revealed; let it be
         your guide, and not the dreams and visions of others or your
         own!

   C. THROUGH ENLIGHTENMENT...
      1. In order to understand the Word
         a. Many believe that they need the Spirit's leading to
            understand the Bible
            1) Based upon a misapplication of 1Co 2:14
               a) Concluding one cannot understand the Bible without the
                  leading of the Spirit
               b) Which leads to much religious confusion, because
                  everyone claims the Spirit led them to this
                  interpretation or that one
            2) The context is contrasting the apostles with philosophers
               a) Philosophers cannot know God's will simply by wisdom
                  - 1Co 1:18-20
               b) The apostles have received God's will by the Spirit
                  - 1Co 2:6-14
            3) The "natural man" is simply one who does not have the
               benefit of the Spirit's revelation, whereas the
               "spiritual man" is one like Paul who did!
         b. The Spirit has revealed God's will to us through the
            apostles and prophets
            1) When we read their writings, we can understand! - e.g.,
               Ep 3:3-5
            2) When we read the apostles, we can know! - e.g., 1Jn 5:13
         c. We don't need the Spirit's help to understand what the
            Spirit Himself reveals!
            1) We simply need to have good and honest hearts - e.g., Ac
               17:11
            2) We can certainly pray that God help us to be free from
               preconceived ideas so as to be completely open to His
               Word - e.g., Ps 119:18
         -- Let the Spirit's Word, revealed that we might know and
            understand God's will by a simple reading and contemplation
            of it, be your guide!
      2. In order to be led to new truth
         a. Many believe the Spirit is leading His church into new truth
            1) Based upon a misapplication of Jn 16:13
               a) Believing the Spirit is still guiding us into new
                  truth
               b) Which leads to much religious confusion, as people say
                  the Spirit tells them to now accept homosexuality,
                  leadership of women in the church, etc.
            2) The context is the work of the Spirit in the lives of the
               apostles
               a) Jesus is preparing them for their work as apostles
                  - Jn 16:1-7
               b) Together with the Spirit, they would be witnesses - Jn
                  15:26-27
               c) The Spirit would aid them in this task, reminding them
                  of what Jesus taught, revealing the rest of what Jesus
                  wanted them to know - Jn 14:25-26; 16:12-13
         b. The Spirit led the apostles into "all" the truth, just as
            Jesus said He would
            1) Paul had received the "whole" counsel of God - Ac 20:27
            2) Peter had received "all things" that pertain to life and
               godliness - 2Pe 1:3
            3) Jude said the faith was "once" (lit., once for all)
               delivered to the saints - Jude 3
         c. The Spirit fulfilled His work of revealing and confirming
            the truth
            1) With the aid of inspired Scriptures, we have what is need
               to be "complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work"
               - 2Ti 3:16-17
            2) Those who claim to be led by the Spirit to new truth,
               need to back up with the same sort of signs, wonders and
               miracles the Spirit used to confirm the apostles!
         -- Let the "sword" of the Spirit be your guide, not the
            pronouncements of human councils, synods, or individuals who
            claim to be led by the Spirit, but unable to prove it!

CONCLUSION

1. It is a wonderful blessing to be led by the Spirit...
   a. As He guides us through His revealed Word
   b. As He strengthens us through indwelling our bodies

2. It is a blessing to know...
   a. That we have a Guide to direct us as we live in this world
   b. That we have a Helper to strengthen us as needed

3. But this blessing is only for those...
   a. Who become the sons of God - Ga 4:6; cf. Ac 2:38; 5:32
   b. Who are willing to set their minds on the things of the Spirit
      - cf. Ro 8:5-6
   c. Who are willing to diligently work out their salvation - cf. Php 2:
      12-13

Are you willing to be led by the Spirit?  Then walk in the Spirit by
heeding His Word and praying that the Father strengthen you by His
Spirit in the inner man!
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