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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Holy Spirit and Us

Don Stewart :: How Does the Holy Spirit Guide the Believer?

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How Does the Holy Spirit Guide the Believer?

The Holy Spirit and Us – Question 20

The Holy Spirit is called the “Comforter” or “Helper” by Jesus. Indeed, He both helps and comforts us when we need Him. We are also told that the Spirit of God guides or leads believers into God’s truth. It is important that we understand how this happens. A number of observations need to be made.

God’s Spirit Guides the Believer

The Apostle Paul emphasized that it is God’s Spirit that leads, or guides, His children. He wrote to the Romans

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God (Romans 8:14 NLT).

We are guided by the Spirit of God.

God’s Guidance Keeps Us from Sinning

If a person lives under the control of the Holy Spirit they will not fulfill their sinful desires. Paul wrote to the Galatians.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16 ESV).

Thus, when the Spirit controls us we do the things which are pleasing to Him.

Paul then gave the Galatians these encouraging words.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:25 ESV).

The Spirit of God will guide those who have believed.

It Was a Sin Not to Have the Guidance of the Spirit

In the Old Testament, the Lord made it clear that the nation had to consult Him for guidance. The prophet Isaiah recorded Him saying.

“Destruction is certain for my rebellious children,” says the LORD. “You make plans that are contrary to my will. You weave a web of plans that are not from my Spirit, thus piling up your sins” (Isaiah 30:1 NLT).

According to this verse, these believers were sinning by not allowing the Holy Spirit to guide them. Thus, when we refuse to allow the Spirit of God to guide we are sinning.

Unbelievers Have a Spiritual Blindfold: They Cannot Be Guided

The Bible reveals to us that Satan has put a spiritual blindfold over the minds of those who do not believe. They are not able to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote the following to the Corinthians.

But if, in fact, our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. Regarding them: the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4 HCSB).

Once a person trusts Jesus Christ, the satanic blindfold is removed and the Holy Spirit begins the work of illuminating the meaning of Scripture to their newly believing mind. This helps them better understand the things of God.

Thus, it is clear that the Holy Spirit does guide the believer in Jesus Christ. The issue now concerns how He directs us. What does He do to guide us?

He Guides in a Number of Different Ways

We find the guidance of the Holy Spirit comes in a number of different ways. They include the following.

The Holy Spirit Guides the Believer into Truth

Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would come and guide the believer into all truth. John records Him saying.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come (John 16:13 ESV).

God’s Spirit is the Spirit of truth. He will lead us into the truth.

The Holy Spirit Allows Believers to Understand the Things of God

The Apostle Paul wrote that we are able to know the things of God through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He put it this way.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God (1 Corinthians 2:12 NKJV).

We can now have a better understanding of the things of God because of the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

The Holy Spirit Leads People Where to Go

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit guides the believer in their personal lives. We are told that Philip the evangelist was guided by the Spirit of God to preach the good news to the Ethiopian eunuch.

And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot” (Acts 8:27-29 ESV).

He shows us where we should go.

The Holy Spirit Sets People Apart for Ministry

The Holy Spirit spoke to the people at church in Antioch. He told them to set apart two men for the ministry. The Book of Acts records the following.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus (Acts 13:2-4 NIV).

Believers have been set apart to do God’s ministry.

The Holy Spirit Sometimes Stops the Plans of Believers

Later in the Book of Acts, we read of the Holy Spirit actually stopping people from going to Asia. Scripture says.

They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia (Acts 16:6 NASB).

This teaches us that God may sometime stop our plans because He has something better in mind. We must always be aware that this may occur.

The Holy Spirit May Guide into Difficult Circumstances

We find an example of the Holy Spirit leading the Apostle Paul into suffering and jail. The Book of Acts records it in this manner.

And now, as a captive to the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me (Acts 20:22, 23 NRSV).

Therefore, it is possible that the Holy Spirit, for reasons known only to God, could guide believers into areas where they will suffer and be persecuted.

We know that God’s ways are not our ways. The prophet Isaiah recorded the Lord saying these important words.

“My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT).

God’s ways are different than ours. We must always respect this. Often He will work in ways in which we did not expect or imagine. However, He always knows best.

In sum, we can say that God’s Spirit will guide the believer in Jesus Christ if we allow Him to do so. There are a number of ways in which He does this. Consequently, we need to be aware of the various ways and means by which He will guide us.

Summary – Question 20
How Does the Holy Spirit Guide the Believer?

We all need spiritual guidance. The Bible says the Holy Spirit guides those who have believed in Jesus Christ. In fact, the Bible says that it is a sin to reject the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is He alone who can guide us on the right spiritual paths.

However, the Bible says that Satan has put a spiritual blindfold on those who have not believed in Jesus. They have no spiritual guidance. But once a person becomes a Christian that blindfold is removed. At that time, the Holy Spirit can then guide those who have believed in Christ.

From the New Testament, we find that He guides Christians in a number of ways.

First, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide the believer into all truth. The Spirit of God leads believers to the truth of God. This truth is found today in His written Word, the Bible.

He also guides believers in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He helps us understand the deep things of God. These are truths we did not previously understand. These truths will help us form a deeper relationship with Christ.

Scripture also says that the Holy Spirit leads people where they are to go. The Bible gives examples of the Spirit guiding the steps of people.

We are told that He sets people apart for the ministry. He gifts certain people to do His work.

Sometimes, He even stops the plans of believers. This is because He has a better plan for us. We must allow Him to stop us from doing certain things so that we can be placed in a better situation.

In one instance, the Holy Spirit led the Apostle Paul to a situation where he would suffer and be persecuted. This was under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Thus, we see that the Spirit will indeed guide us but He will guide us His way, not ours. We must, therefore, submit to Him for that guidance. We should not attempt to guide ourselves.

Can a Person Impede the Work of the Holy Spirit? ← Prior Section
How Does the Holy Spirit Work with Spiritual Uncertainty? Next Section →
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