Being led by the Holy Spirit is simply being obedient to God’s law. No more. No less. It’s very simple. But far too many people get hung up on the false teaching that “being led by the Spirit” is some mystical, ethereal experience. Let me be clear…it is not.
Being Led Is Not…
Too often people teach or understand being led by the Spirit as a very spiritual experience. In fact, being led is very practical and very simple. In many circles it is described as a special “anointing” or “sensitivity” or special “filling” of the Holy Spirit. This sounds spiritual, mystical, and very other-worldly. The problem is that it’s a false conclusion. This is not what the Bible presents when God tells us how to “be led by the Spirit.”
These false conclusions and teachings leave many people waiting for the Spirit to move them to action. The problem is this: He is waiting for you to move to action. Simply put, to be led by the Holy Spirit just means to be obedient to Him. When you are obedient to the law of God, you are being led by the Spirit.
Being Led Is…
Following the leading of the Spirit is simply obedience. Paul tells us in Romans 8:14 that “…all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” The way you know you are, in fact, a child of God (cf. John 1:12) is through your obedience to the law of God. How do you know this? Because Paul says as much in the immediate preceding verse.
Romans 8:13 says, “[if you are living] by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body.” It should be clear that “being led by the Spirit” and living “by the Spirit” are functionally the same thing. What is the evidence of these? You are “putting to death the deeds of the body.” What are these deed? Well, some Paul has described in Romans 1:18-32 in identifying those who reject God and suppress His truth. But there are other lists as well.
- 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
- 2 Corinthians 12:20
- Galatians 5:19-21
The point is that the law of God is where we find those things both to do and to avoid. It is interesting that Paul makes a similar argument and statement in Galatians 5:16-18.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.”
Recall that “walking” consists of our daily action and behavior. Our walk is the same as our conduct. Following the leading of the Spirit simply means our conduct is consistent with the Spirit. More specifically, with His inspired Word (2 Peter 1:21). Notice Paul says “if you are led by the Spirit” and then in the next verse gives the list of what not being led by the Spirit (i.e. being led by the flesh) looks like. It’s so plain it’s scary.