So, last week, we began a new series on the Holy Spirit entitled “The Leading of the Holy Spirit.” In it, I explained that as we have most recently been covering the various types of the Holy Spirit, I came across another type of Him that “led” me to change gears and have us camp on this other important aspect of the Holy Spirit in our lives. So, we are “dovetailing” (pun intended) our most recent series with this new and very practical one on the Holy Spirit.
I explained last week that, in my opinion, being led by the Holy Spirit is one of the most important truths we can ever learn. Yes, it is an extremely practical and absolutely essential lesson that every believer should have a working knowledge of in their life. The reason is because the Holy Spirit lives in us to (among other things) lead and guide us into all truth—and this includes our daily walk. He will guide us into where to go, when to go there, etc., and I am persuaded that if we will learn to discern how He leads us, we will always be led into the perfect and complete will of God for our lives.
Church, far too many Christians walk like the world walks—and as a result are blindly groping around, trying to figure things out. But for a Spirit-filled believer, we don’t have to lean to our own understanding. We can trust in the Holy Spirit to direct our paths, hallelujah!
So, we began studying the leading of the Holy Spirit last week by looking at another type of the Holy Spirit that is less known in the Scriptures—the Cloud.
We began by looking at Number 9:15-18 and saw how the cloud was a source of direction for the children of Israel. Again, these verses read— “Now on the day that the tabernacle was raised up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the Testimony; from evening until morning it was above the tabernacle like the appearance of fire. So it was always: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, after that the children of Israel would journey; and in the place where the cloud settled, there the children of Israel would pitch their tents. At the command of the Lord the children of Israel would journey, and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud stayed above the tabernacle they remained encamped.”
First of all, we noticed how on the day that the tabernacle was raised up, that the cloud covered it. One could read this as to say, that after Jesus—the One who came and tabernacled among us (see John 1:14)—was raised up from the dead, the Holy Spirit was now made available to all who would be born again and become the Lord’s Tabernacles. But this can also show us the permanence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As Jesus said, He will abide with us forever! We see this in this passage—because verse 16 says, “So it was always…” So, no longer should we be praying “Take not your Holy Spirit away from me!” as David did. No, if He is there, He will remain there! As it is always! Glory to God!
However, we also saw that— “Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, after that the children of Israel would journey; and in the place where the cloud settled, there the children of Israel would pitch their tents. At the command of the Lord the children of Israel would journey, and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud stayed above the tabernacle they remained encamped.”
So, while the cloud remained present, sometimes it moved. And when it moved, the children of Israel moved. In other words, the children of Israel—a type of God’s people today—were led by the cloud, following it wherever it went. Therefore, since the Holy Spirit is the cloud to us today, we must learn to follow His lead—going where He tells us to go and staying where He tells us to stay.
And here is another important point to take away from this passage—as long as the cloud stayed above the tabernacle, they remained encamped: You see, while we certainly want to be led by the Spirit, sometimes He will tell us to camp somewhere for a period of time. In other words, while He is always leading us, that does not mean He is always moving us. Therefore, it is imperative that we learn to discern when He’s moving us to something new and when He’s wanting us to “camp” in the last place He moved us to.
Speaking of “camping,” last week, we “camped” on a point that I consider to be extremely important as it pertains to being led by the Spirit: Even though the children of Israel were being led by the cloud, this did not mean that they did not need “Moses.” No, Moses was an extremely important part of Israel’s direction and guidance in the wilderness. In fact, the vast majority of their generation did not enter into the promised land because of their lack of willingness to hear their leader, Moses. We have no record that they rebelled against following the cloud, but we certainly do see them rejecting the Word God delivered to them through His servant.
So, we saw that Moses was a a type of the Word of God—being the one who both received God’s Word for Israel and delivered it to them. He was also the one who delivered to them God’s law—His commandments, statutes, precepts, etc. And we saw that Moses wrote significantly more of the Bible than any other person did (The apostle Paul writing more books of the Bible, but much less words & verses).
So, the lesson we learned is this: Just as the cloud gave Israel direction of where to go and when to go there, they also needed God’s mouthpiece to keep them within the parameters of God’s will for their lives. And the fact is, because they had such a hard time receiving God’s directions through Moses, they were unable to possess their Promised Land. This teaches me that while the Holy Spirit dwells within us to lead and guide us, we do not need to make the mistake of putting Moses outside of our proverbial camp and only being “Spirit-led.” Why? Because the Spirit of God never will operate contrary to the Word of God. They always agree! Amen?
We looked at Second Peter 1:16-21 and saw how the Apostle Peter called the Scriptures “the more sure word of prophecy.” Yes, even over the supernatural experiences he had on the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter said the “more sure” thing is the written Word of God. And why? It is because the devil operates in the supernatural too. Therefore, some seemingly supernatural experience we have could easily be the devil masquerading as an angel of light.
This is such a huge point, my friends! If Peter said that his experience with the Lord Jesus Himself was subordinate to what is written in the Holy Scriptures, and if Peter said that the prophecies recorded in the Word of God are more of a sure thing than this particular experience, then we had better not let any experience we ever have or any “prophecy” we might receive be more convincing to us than what is written in God’s Word.
Now again, I am certainly not trying to downplay the importance of hearing from God in other spiritual ways. His supernatural methods of leading and guiding us still are extremely relevant and necessary today, but my point is that we are never to just blindly follow a spectacular experience just because it was supernatural. No, we should always measure every experience we have by the Word because the Spirit of God will never contradict the Word of God.
Likewise, this does not mean that being led by the Spirit is less important than the Holy Scriptures. Both the Word of God and the Holy Spirit are extremely important and work together to lead us into all truth. Yes, we have the Holy Spirit living within us—the voice of God—to lead us and guide us, but we also have the “map”—God’s Holy Word—that spells out to us the direction we are to take. We have the map (i.e. the Word) and we have the One who drew the map to interpret it for us (i.e. the Spirit). This, my friends, is a fail proof method! There is no excuse for us not always being led out of harm’s way and always into triumph!
So last week, in regards to hearing from God and being led by the Holy Spirit, I made the point that just as the Holy Spirit helps us to understand what God’s Word is saying, God’s Word is how we can more accurately discern the leading of the Holy Spirit on the inside of us. We learned this by looking at Hebrews 4:12 which reads— “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
So, we learned that His Word is living and life-giving. It is not just any old book. It is alive and, therefore, is able to give life! It is also active and working. Therefore, the Word works. Amen? So, I likened the Bible to a diamond or prism—because when the Holy Spirit shines His light on a Scripture, it can be a beautiful thing in our sight. However, if the Word of God is looked upon with no “light” (i.e. no faith and no Holy Spirit), its beauty will not be fully realized.
But the truth we took away from Hebrews 4:12 is that His Word also has the power to divide between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and discern between the thoughts and intents of the heart. Friends, this is so huge!
How many of you have ever said either— “I am not sure if what I am hearing is God or if it’s just me!” or “I am confused as to whether this is God leading me to do this or if it is just my own desires.”? If we were all honest, we’ve all had these thoughts. Well, we learned last week how to better know the answer to this: The Word of God is the thing that helps divide between those thoughts of “Was that just me and my emotions or was that a Spirit-inspired idea?” In other words, like Moses was there to show the children of Israel how to discern all of these supernatural experiences like the cloud, the Word of God is able to discern between what is just our own thoughts and what is a spirit-inspired intention. What I mean by that is, when we put God’s Word at a place of importance in our heart, it will help us distinguish between when what we are hearing on the inside is God’s voice or another voice.
We looked at Psalm 119:11 where David said, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You”? We saw that just as “sin” literally means to “miss the mark,” the Holy Spirit was telling us that when we hide God’s Word in our hearts, we can keep ourselves from missing it!
In other words, God’s Word abiding in our hearts gives the Holy Spirit so much more to work with! As we hide His Word in our hearts through reading, studying, and meditating it, we are loading our heart with various truths to remind us of when we need direction and guidance from Him.
Church, God’s Word—the Lord Jesus Christ, whom Moses is a type of, says to you and I today, “Follow Me!” This is the first step into a Spirit-led life where that Holy Spirit cloud leads us into our Promised Land. Amen, and Hallelujah!
LED FROM WITHIN, NOT WITHOUT
So now that we have established ourselves in the fact that God’s Word is both what keeps us in the parameters of being guided by the cloud and what helps us to better be guided into all truth, let’s move on to seeing the other predominant way that the Holy Spirit leads you and I today.
Let’s look over at another description of the cloud found in the Book of Exodus: Exodus 13:21-22, says this regarding the cloud: “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.”
Notice that this pillar of cloud & fire (that God never took away, mind you) served the purpose of “leading” the way in the day and giving them “light” in the night. I don’t know about you, but this sounds like some New Testament Scriptures to me—verses that teach us how the son and daughter of God are to be led by the Spirit of God.
So, there is a point that is important for us to understand—even though the children of Israel were being led externally through a supernatural method, this is not the primary way that God leads His children today. No, if we are being led by the Holy Spirit then our direction is not coming from without; it comes from within! Therefore, no longer is the Lord primarily directing by the clouds in the heavens; today, the cloud is inside of us, leading us from within. Amen!
This is very important to understand because if we are waiting on the Lord to lead & guide us in external ways, we might be waiting a while. Why? Because they are few and far between. However, if we learn to look within, and discern the leading of the cloud within us, we can consistently hear from the Holy Spirit and be led on a daily basis by Him.
Let’s look at one of our primary examples of this in Romans chapter 8: Romans 8:14-17 says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
THE KEY QUALIFIER
Now, first of all, notice the context of these verses: It is the relationship between a son and his father. So herein lays a very good foundation to being Spirit-led. You see, when we start talking about being led by the Spirit, it is imperative that you and I are walking in personal relationship with God. Why? Because, as we will learn, the leadings of the Holy Spirit are very subtle and one can think that they are being “led” when in reality it is just their flesh, emotions, etc.
So, having a personal relationship with God is extremely important to being led by the Holy Spirit because if you are walking in the flesh, you probably don’t want to trust how you’re being led. Why? It is because you can very easily mistake one of these promptings as being the Lord when it is just your flesh or emotions.
We will get into this later, but when we are delighting ourselves in Him, it is easier to trust our desires as being from the Lord. That is why the Lord said in John chapter 15 that when we abide in Him and His Words abide in us, we can ask whatever and it will be done for us. This is because as we are whole-heartedly inclined towards the Lord, our desires will be more in line with His and we are thereby, praying according to His will. In other words, if we are not delighting ourselves in the things of God and are lukewarm in our relationship with Him, the desires of our heart will probably be the exact opposite of God’s will for us.
You see, we absolutely must be walking closely with the Lord and seeking Him for these divine guidance principles of the inward witness to work. But the bottom line is that we should always seek to be in a good relationship with the Lord above anything else regardless if this was a benefit or not. Having this close relationship with the Lord is the foundation from which all success comes in the Christian life, and this includes being led by the Spirit. If we try and build our Christian lives without this foundation, we are doomed for failure and will live extremely frustrated lives.
So, I would encourage all of us to pursue this communion with the Lord above all because a byproduct of seeking first the kingdom of God is that all these things will be added to us, including the ability to hear from God and be led by the Spirit—for it has everything to do with what we are talking about over the next couple of weeks.
HIS SHEEP HEAR HIS VOICE
But let’s go back to verse 14 and notice how the apostle Paul says that as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God: So, if this statement is true then what should never be words that come out of our mouth? “I have such a hard time being led by the Spirit … I wish I was led by the Spirit like so and so … etc.” No, this verse says that sons and daughters of God are led by the Spirit of God.
I have heard this time and time again from Christians—how they didn’t feel like they could hear from God and how they wished they could be more led by the Holy Spirit. When I hear this, what I want to tell these Christians is—If you are a “follower” of Jesus Christ, you are indeed “led” by Him! Yes, you do hear from God! How do I know this? From two passages of Scripture in John chapter 10:
Let’s look at John 10:3-4 where Jesus said, “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”
Notice the repetitive references to the Lord’s sheep hearing His voice and the sheep following Him. In these verses, Jesus is affirmatively saying that His own hear His voice and are led by Him. So, if Jesus—the Lord our God—says that we hear His voice, shouldn’t we come into agreement with Him and start believing that we hear His voice? Of course, we should!
But you will hear believers cite their own experiences saying, “But I don’t hear His voice! I have asked and sought to hear from God, but I just don’t hear anything.” This is when we must base our belief system upon the foundation of His Word. As the Apostle Paul said in Romans 3:4— “Indeed, let God be true and every man a liar.” In other words, if our experiences and testimonies conflict with what God said in His Word, then those things are a lie in comparison. Saints, God’s Word is absolute truth. So, if He says here that we hear His voice, then we hear His voice whether we feel like we do or not. This is one of the cornerstones of hearing from God and being led by Him—faith that we do and are!
You see, we get what we expect from God (based on what He has spoken and promised to us). Things that God has provided are only going to be fully manifested in our lives as we actively put our hope in those promises and mix our faith with them. Everything from our initial salvation to hearing His voice is fully realized through our faith and hope—our confidence and expectation of them. So, we need to start believing and confessing that we do hear from God, for He has said that His sheep hear and know His voice!
But someone might say, “Well, maybe I do hear something, but my big problem is that I do not know when what I am hearing is God or the devil, the Lord or myself.” I am glad you made that point because notice again what our Lord said: He said in verse 3 that His sheep hear His voice, but at the end of verse 4 He said that we know His voice! That means that not only do we hear from God, but we know when what we are hearing is God. And verse 5 of John 10 goes on to say, “they will by no means follow a stranger” because “they do not know the voice of strangers.”
But the general problem here is us. It is not that God is not speaking; it is us who are not hearing correctly: A good example of all of this is that just as there are signals being transmitted in the air all around us right now—radio frequencies and television signals—there are also spiritual messages being transmitted in the atmosphere around us right now. But how many of you know that it would be ridiculous for one to say that they don’t believe that there are these signals and frequencies in the room with us right now just because they don’t see or hear them?
So, regarding this example, you can tell some people this and they might counter by saying— “I don’t hear spiritual frequencies and I don’t see these spiritual signals.” Well, it might not be that it is the transmitter that is broken. It might be that the problem is with their receiver!
You see, all of these unseen programs are being constantly broadcast, but if you do not have a receiver of some sort, you will be oblivious to them and won’t see or hear anything. And it is like that with all of those spiritual realities we are promised exist. Friends, there is a spiritual world around us right now that actually is more real than this natural world we live in. Why? Because the spiritual world parented this natural world. All things were made by the things unseen (see Hebrews 11:3).
That’s what faith does: It believes that the things that are made were created by unseen things. This verse teaches us an incredible lesson—that the Word of God was the parenting force that created all the things which are seen. And, bless God, you can bet the bank that it still works this way today! God’s Word can bring to reality in the natural realm things that are already a reality in the spiritual realm. The mirror of God’s Word reflects what is seen in God’s world.
So, you see, it’s already there and we are not trying to get God to do something that He has not already done. No, we are simply positioning our receiver to hear and see what He has already done. Amen! And this certainly pertains to this promise of hearing God’s voice. But I personally believe that the reason that many people’s hearing of God’s voice is so fuzzy is because they simply have not learned how He is communicating to us.
So, as Romans 8:14 says, a son or daughter of God can expect to be led by the Spirit of God. But many will read this verse and say something like— “Oh, well, I better start being led by the Spirit of God so that I can become a child of God.” No, it is actually saying the opposite: It is saying that the by-product of being a child of God is that you are led by the Spirit of God.
Now I have heard some try to make a distinction here saying that being led by the Spirit requires great maturity—thus the reason Paul refers to the phrase “sons of God” like these believers are the grown up ones, but I disagree with this mainly because Paul uses the terminology “children of God” and “sons of God” interchangeably. In fact, you can look down at verse 16 and see where he uses the term “children” and in Galatians 3:26 says, “For we are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”
No, I see all of this as an excuse of why more people are not led by the Spirit. And whether you were just saved yesterday or 50 years ago, you can be led by the Spirit of God just the same.
In fact, I believe many baby Christians are able to be led better than Christians who have been saved for a long time because their hearts are more soft, pliable and sensitive to His direction—not being hardened by the constant friction of not walking in the light that they have.
But notice again that the Bible tells us that the sons (or daughters) of God are led by the Spirit of God—not can be led, not should be led, but are led!
This verse is basically equating “as many” who are led by the Spirit to “as many” are the sons and daughters of God. Therefore, if we are God’s children we are led just as if we are God’s sheep, we follow the Shepherd. So, again, we need to get into agreement with God and start believing and expecting to be led by the Spirit of God.
THE INWARD WITNESS
But let’s look back at our passage of Scripture in Romans chapter 8 and let me prove to you that you do hear from God and you are led by the Spirit (and this will also illustrate to you how God speaks to us and leads us today):
First of all, skip down a verse in Romans 8:16: It says that the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. Well, how do you know that you are saved and a child of God? If someone were to ask us how we know we are born again, our response would generally be something like— “I just know.” It is just a “knowing” that we have on the inside of us. This “knowing” is the Holy Spirit communicating with our spirit that we are the children of God. We just know it in our knower—and this “knowing” is manifested in different ways (which we will get into shortly).
Well, it stands that the same way He communicates to us that we are saved is the same way He will communicate to us to turn left, stop, go there, etc., right? He will communicate to our spirit— our inner man—and this is evident by just knowing something in our knower. Therefore, He will bear witness with our spirit on other things as well and these situations will be recognized as well by that same “knower.”
For example, after you got saved and received the Spirit of God, what happened when you did something wrong or were about to do something wrong (i.e. hurting someone)? You had no problem knowing/discerning that what you did was wrong, did you? Of course not! That was God speaking to you/ leading you. You just knew that you were wrong and did not necessarily need to know what the Bible said about it. Something just irked you when you did it.
This is something God just showed me: how is it that we can hear from God so clearly and precisely when we miss it, but yet it seems so much harder to hear Him when it comes to seeking direction? In other words, why is it we know God is telling us we are doing something wrong and it is so hard to hear from Him when we need to know what to do?
I believe this is the case because God’s desire is for us to look into His Word and find the general direction that we should be going. And once we begin to move in that direction, the Lord will keep us on our assigned path by correcting us when we are beginning to get off that path.
But my point is that you have no problem hearing from God when you miss it, so you do indeed hear His voice and are led by His Spirit. Therefore, His sheep do hear His voice and those who are sons of God are led by the Spirit of God.
So, how does the Holy Spirit lead us? Again, Paul answers this question in verse 16 when he says, “the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Now the following is an important point to understand: It is not just the Holy Spirit who is testifying to the fact that we are saved; our spirit is also witnessing to us that we are a child of God.
Romans 9:1 says, “I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit…” Have you ever told someone something that was not exactly the truth and then you just knew it on the inside of you after you said it? Man, often when I have done this, my conscience just smote me. Well again, that is how both our spirit and the Holy Spirit are bearing witness in us!
Now here in Romans 9:1, we have the same Greek word and it is indicating that Paul’s conscience was bearing witness along with the Holy Spirit. So, what Paul was saying in Romans 8:16 is that the Holy Spirit is bearing witness along with our spirit—indicating that our spirit is also testifying to the fact that we are God’s children.
So, we have a co-witness on the inside of us that will testify concerning what the Lord is saying to us—our own spirit & the Holy Spirit. Saints, this is a fail proof method for hearing from God because if you have two witnesses speaking up on the inside of you, you have a conviction. Doesn’t the Bible say that in the mouth of two or three witnesses let every word be established? Well, this is how we know the truth of what God is leading us to do—by these two witnesses.
Now, this week, I want to give you a few examples from the Scriptures how this inward witness manifests in us. In my experience, it is different for everybody. One person might describe this inward witness one way while another would describe it another way. I have heard people describe it as a thought, impression, and an idea. I have heard others describe it as a peace or an excitement they get. So, suffice it to say, this inward witness is manifested in a variety of ways—depending on the personality of the person and how they sense this kind of leading.
So, in conclusion, as promised, let me give you a couple of ways that this inward witness can be manifested in one’s life:
The first one (as we have briefly mentioned already) is a simple “knowing”:
Now, again, how do you know you are saved? You just know! You just know God is real! You just know heaven is real! You just know the Bible is true. You just know. You just know. You just know.
So, if the Holy Spirit is bearing witness with your spirit that you are God’s child, do you suppose He will bear witness with your spirit on anything else? You can bet your bottom dollar He can, and you can bet that He AM! Yes, the Holy Spirit communicates everything from your position as a son of God to what job you are to take. Amen! In other words, this is how He is communicating to you everything you need to know—through this inward witness. And this is totally Scriptural too …
First John 2:20 says, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.”
Now I know we like to make reference to the anointing as some separate grace associated with our gifting and callings, but the truth is the anointing is the Holy Spirit. Just as Joel prophesied concerning the Holy Spirit—He has poured out His Spirit on all flesh. What was God pouring? He was pouring out what was symbolized through anointing oil—the Holy Spirit who would come upon us! So now today, we all have the Anointing poured upon us—which enables these gifts to manifest in the Body of Christ.
But here, we see that the Anointing, the Holy Spirit, causes us to know all things and communicates those things to our spirit. Therefore, when direction comes, you will know it!
Did you ever wonder how in all of these testimonies of heavenly experiences how they just knew everyone’s name without being told? It was as if they would see someone and just know who that person was. Well, why is that? It knows! So, when these individuals visited heaven, they were not in the body. So, they were operating solely from their spirit—which knows everything.
So, if you are like, “Ehhh, I don’t know about that” or “Ehhh, I’m not sure why, but there is something not right about that.” Those “Ehhh’s” are oftentimes how the Holy Spirit is co-witnessing with our spirit to not do a certain thing. So, learn to obey those checks in your spirit promptly because oftentimes they are the Holy Spirit leading you not to do something.
Again, how many times have we all known we were supposed to do something or knew we were not supposed to do something, and we went against that “unction” and regretted it later? We have all done that. But this is where we need to learn to heed that “knowing” (i.e. those promptings and impressions).
However, those uneasy feelings can also just be your head trying to talk you out of what your heart is telling you to do. That is why we must first be honest with ourselves and humbly accept the correction and then practice being led through trial and error. We should do this on the small things like asking for direction on what route to take home from work or asking Him to help you find something that you misplaced. You ask the Holy Spirit things such as this and then wait till He bears witness with your spirit. Then when something just pops into your heart or you just “know” something, act on it! Sometimes you’ll miss it and sometimes you’ll hit it right on the head. Just learn from your mistakes and from your successes (even journaling everything down to the minutest detail like how you were feeling, the fears, etc. This would be wisdom) and you will grow in your ability to be led by your “KNOWER.”
You see, we don’t have to know everything; We just need to know the One Who does know everything! And when we learn to detect the “KNOWER” we will know everything we need to know.
THE DESIRES OF OUR HEART
But there are other ways that this inward witness is identified too. Let’s look at another way that it can be described—our desires.
You see, one of the ways which a born-again child of God might know they are saved is by their desire, hunger and thirst for the things of God. I mean, that is one of the ways many of us identified the baptism of the Holy Spirit, amen? When we were filled with the Holy Spirit, a zeal entered us and we desired the things of God much more than we did before. So, I see the desires of our heart as one way that the inward witness manifests in us. And again, this is Scriptural: Let’s look over at the 37th Psalm:
Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Now this verse can be interpreted in a couple of ways. The most common way is that as we delight ourselves in the Lord—seeking and desiring Him—He will give us the things we desire in our hearts. But there is another way to interpret this verse: It could be saying that as we delight ourselves in the Lord, we can trust that the desires that are in our heart are given to us by God. In other words, those desires that we have are God-given desires and are, therefore, His plan and direction for our lives.
Let’s compare that latter interpretation to John 15:7— “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” Here we see the New Testament counterpart to this promise in Psalm 37:4.
You see, Jesus was not teaching that if we just abide in Him and His words in us that we can ask for any flaky thing we desire and it will be ours. When we abide in the Lord and His Words abide in us there will be a transformation of our desires to where they conform with His desires, and when that takes place our prayers become effective, for they are in line with His will and will be prayed genuinely and fervently.
But the point is that as we are genuinely seeking first the kingdom of God—abiding in and delighting ourselves in our Lord—He will give us newly inspired desires that are in line with His will for our lives. Therefore, we can trust those desires as being from Him and follow them as being God’s direction.
SAFE OR OUT!
Finally, let’s move on to one final manifestation of the inward witness—Peace:
Colossians 3:15 says, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts…” It says in the Amplified Bible— “And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as an umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] …”
As evidenced by the Amplified Bible’s translation, the word “rule” that Paul used here literally describes a referee or umpire that is officiating something. Paul was saying that we are to let the fruit of peace be the umpire of our hearts, which means that it should call the shots in all of the decisions of our life. In other words, if there is not any peace in a decision we are going to make, then God is not in it. The Holy Spirit will let us know whether it is “safe” to proceed, or you are “out” of God’s will.
Someone might ask, “What does peace feel like?” I would say it makes you feel “at ease” on the inside. When you are in peace about something, you will know it! There will be an absence of confusion and frustration and you will just be at peace about a decision. Along these lines, keep strife and confusion out of your house at all costs. These can keep you from hearing clearly from God. When the Spirit of Peace has left, and the devil's confusion has entered, all manner of evil will come with it.
In fact, I would go as far as saying that all of the fruit of the Spirit are indicators of our spirit and the Holy Spirit bearing witness together on something. For example, not only will peace be calling the shots, but we will have joy (i.e. an excitement on the inside). Do you remember when Mary came to visit her sister, Elizabeth? And her baby, John the Baptist, leaped on the inside of her. That’s kind of what it feels like: you feel like leaping on the inside. Also, love is in an indicator that you are supposed to do a certain thing. Like Jesus was constantly moved with compassion, the love of Christ compels us to do certain things. So, follow after love, and it will be hard to miss it.
All of these things—that knowing, those godly desires, and the fruit of the Spirit—are good indicators that the Spirit of God is directing us. You never know what God’s people might do, but we always know what God will do - it’s written in the Word, and His Spirit bears witness to it. So, again, believe God’s Word which says you are led by the Spirit and pursue that good relationship of God. Then you can trust that as you are moving forward, doing what He has already told us to do in His Word, that He will guide you in every decision you make, and you will stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. Amen!