We see in the Book of Acts the LORD places much importance on being led by the Spirit of God in ministry and for guidance in all situations in life. If we learn how to truly hear from God we can: navigate through all deceptions & confusion and walk in truth; discern between true & false prophecy or predictions; make right life choices; be alert to either dangers or opportunities before us; and know what ministries areas to be involved in or help support.
Even for Internet sites, the media, churches or the many claims made in some You Tube videos that could be true or complete falsehood, He is here to lead us into all truth. There are other important issues in doing this such as correct bible doctrine, following the word of God, prayer, obedience etc, however this teaching is purely about the aspect of being led by the Spirit.
A.) FOUNDATIONS FOR BEING LED
1. Our connection to God
– We are a spirit, we have a soul, we live in a body (1 Thess 5, 23)
– If we are to connect with God we must worship him in spirit and truth, as God is Spirit, and he is wholly true (John 4, 23-24)
2. Led by the Spirit of God
– Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Rom 8,14). This is for born again believers
– Guides us into all truth, Our helper and comforter, the greater one in us (John 14, 15, 16)
– God for us, with us, and in us, and has qualified us to be ministers of the new covenant in the Spirit
3. What else can we be falsely led astray by?
‘Stiff necked uncircumcised in heart & ears, always resisting the Holy Spirit’ Acts 7,51
– Our flesh, our self, own desires
– Our unrighteous judgments, ambition and pride
– Demons, delusions, wounds, lies & heresies
– The world, peer pressure, opinions, mans wisdom, human ideals
– Traditions of men, denominationalism
– the Media, sensationalism & hype
– Good ideas, but not God ideas
– Human compassion, particularly in ministry
– Fear of man, and other people’s opinions
– Fearfulness rather than faith
B.) HOW HE LEADS US
There are at least 6 ways that the Spirit of God leads us. Some of them are very subtle and some are very spectacular. They are all from God, but the KEY to not missing God is to understand the subtle very well and not be distracted by seeking the spectacular. They are all Supernatural means, but the subtle is common & easy to miss, the spectacular is rarer but harder to miss.
1. The Inward Witness
This is the PRIMARY WAY, the main way that God leads us by His Spirit. Although not easy to describe, the inner witness is not a voice, but rather an inner feeling, confirmation, check, red or green light, a peace or disturbance witnessing for or against, it is the Yes or No of God given by the Holy Spirit to our spirit. Many people often say “God said this or that” many times a day, but this is very unlikely. In most cases they are hearing their own soul and getting deceived, as the most common way is not a voice but a supernatural witness.
In my personal experience am I led by the inner witness most of the time. So it is far more profitable to focus on learning to discern God in this area.
– “It is the Spirit bearing witness with our spirit …” (Rom 8, 16)
– “now when they had gone through phrygia and the region of galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the spirit did not permit them.” (Acts 16, 6-7)
– “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us …” – (Acts 15, 28)
– “now after these things, Paul resolved in the spirit …” (Acts 19,21)
– “Paul advised them saying ‘sirs, I perceive that the voyage will end in injury & much loss” (acts 27,10)
– “and let the peace of God rule in your hearts” – (Col 3, 12)
– the unction/anointing teaches us – (1 john 2, 26-27) (Prov 20,27) (John 14 & 15)
We see from the words in bold that it is very subtle supernatural communication and therefore requires us to be humble, sensitive, prayerful to not miss God. The inner witness comes to us many times a day in given situations as He guides us, even without asking, and it also comes in prayer times as we ask the Lord directly to confirm answers to issues.
It is for every Christian, including a prophet. They have particular gifts for ministry, but they also need to hear from God for themselves about many things the same as other Christians.
2. The Voice of God
This can come as a still small voice as in Elijah’s case on the mountain (1 King 19,11-13), or as a clearer stronger direct voice, which is hard to miss.
– “and the Spirit said `go up and join his chariot`” (Acts 8,29)
– “and the Spirit said to them ‘behold three men are looking for you, arise and go, and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them'” (Acts 10, 19-20)
– “The Holy Spirit said ‘Set apart for me Saul & Barnabas for the work to which I have called them'” (Acts 13, 2)
A key sign of the last days outpouring of the Spirit since the day of Pentecost is dreams & visions (Acts 2, 17). Although these are more spectacular and hard to miss, they may require us going to prayer to obtain the inner witness confirmation or clarity of what they mean.
– “For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, When deep sleep falls upon men, While slumbering on their beds, Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction.” (Job 33, 14-16)
– “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” (Acts 16, 10) + (Acts 18,9)
There are 3 different levels of visions:
– A Vision in the spirit: in which God allows you see & hear into the spirit realm; “Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, ‘Ananias’. And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” So the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go to the street called Straight’ …” (Acts 9,10-16)
– An Open Vision: like watching on a big screen: “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ …” (Acts 9,3-6)
– A Trance: in which you interact in the vision such as happened to Peter … ‘he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again ….’ (Acts 10, 10-16)
5. Messages delivered by Angels
This is a suspicious & controversial way to the fearful who are more concerned about deceptive `angels of light` rather than hearing from God. But lets remember that some very important messages were delivered by Angels such as the virgin birth message to Mary, and some end times messages given to Daniel etc. Just ensure it completely lines up with the word of God.
– “an angel of the Lord said to Philip “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down to Jerusalem to Gaza” (Acts 8, 26)
– “Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid… (Acts 27,21-26)
6. Prophets, or another believer
The Lord may speak and led us through a Prophet using the gift of a word of Knowledge, word of wisdom, or a prophecy. And also through our brethren by an anointed word or prophecy, for we are one body with many members. We will need to confirm the word by the inward witness & that it is Biblical. A prophet’s message is often corrective and it is therefore important that it is received by faith. His truth may expose us to requiring vital corrections & changes, but these are to be embraced not rejected through fear, remembering God is leading us in His will
– “And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.” (Acts 11, 27-29)
Finally, all of these ways and anything we hear MUST line up with truth of God’s word in the Bible – as anything truly from the Holy Spirit always will. So stay in the word of God, prayer, good fellowship, right doctrine, and really learn & seek Him to be more & more led by His Holy Spirit. All Glory to God!!
~ Whoever has an ear to hear let him hear what the Spirit says
to the churches, Rev 3, 22 ~