Led By the Spirit -- By: Jim Elliff

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 03:2 (Spring 1994)
Article: Led By the Spirit
Author: Jim Elliff

Led By the Spirit

Jim Elliff

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Rom. 8:12–14, emphasis mine).

It is patently obvious from the above passage that every true Christian is led by the Spirit. But here God does not mean anything more or less than that work of the Spirit which is notably moral. It is the Spirit of God who guides the believer into loving obedience to God, engendering distaste for the flesh and love for the pure; empowering against the flesh and toward our spiritual obligations. Therefore, if we make it mandatory (as these verses certainly do) that every real Christian has the experience of being led by God, we are decidedly not requiring anything mystical in that leadership at all. I know of no Christian who does not have this moral guidance, though there are many pretenders. The writer of Hebrews asserts its nonmystical nature when he reports that God has said: “I will put My laws in their minds and write them on their hearts” (8:10b, emphasis mine).

Even the statement of Christ in John 10:27 (“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me”) is an explanation of the assumed communion between the believer and Christ unto obedience. He is not saying that every believer has a life of mystical invasions by God, but rather is speaking of the normal experience of any believer in living fellowship with Christ as that which promotes following Him in explicit obedience. I do not mean that the work of the Spirit is not supernatural, but that it is not required to be unusual and direct, as if circumventing the mind and the reasoning process.

This moral leadership of the Spirit is again seen in Galatians 5:16–18 where Paul speaks of the conflict between flesh and Spirit, ending with this: But if you are led by the

Spirit, you are not under law. This leadership is distinctively moral and not a bit mystical. Therefore I think that the believer who does not have a long list of mystical experiences of guidance to report must take heart. He is not forgotten by God, nor is he a second-class Christian in any respect, but is one of those who is an authentic follower of God. But is this all we are to know in terms of guidance?

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