One of the numerous and wonderful workings and effects of the Holy Spirit, as discussed last week, is his guidance or leading. There are four passages in the Bible which mention it in the New Testament. First, John 16:13-15, where Jesus stated that the Holy Spirit who was to come was to guide or lead the disciples into all truth and tell or reveal to them what was yet to come. Second, Rom.8:14-16, which marks the sons of God as those who are led by the Spirit. Third, Gal.5:17-18 which points out that the guidance of the Spirit is quite different, and in fact contrasted to the guidance of law. The guidance of the Spirit is not in letters or stereotyped. and fourth, Luke 4:1, which provides the only passage in which the verb “to guide” or “to lead” is used in a practical way in relation to the Spirit and a man. Jesus, as man, was full of the Spirit, and then, was led by the Spirit.
It is the leading of the Holy Spirit that can keep a Christian from stumbling or derailing and it takes hearing and heeding the words of the Holy Spirit to be led by him. The Holy Spirit speaks basically in the Bible which entails that hearing the Holy Spirit speak actually means ascertaining from the Bible what is God’s revealed will, the paths he forbids and the ways that are pleasing in his sight. With regard to the daily life decisions, plans and actions, the consideration should be whether they accord with the provision and injunctions of the Bible. The Bible supplies us with an unerring chart by which to steer through the dangerous sea of life. It has all the instructions we need for every problem, every emergency we may be called upon to face.
However, we are to frankly acknowledge that the bible is obviously indirect in some issues and the Holy Spirit has continued to guide and speak to us in various other ways which include: prompting, impression / feeling, messages, enlargement of spirit, dream/vision, conscience, circumstances, experience, counselling and people’s opinion. But anyway the Holy Spirit chooses to speak or lead us does not contradict the Bible. The voice of the Holy Spirit has some distinguishing marks which include consistency with the Word of God, incompatibility with the flesh and stimulation of spiritual growth.
The voice of the Holy Spirit can be hindered/obstructed by communication gap with God, 1-way communication with God, loud/busy life and doubt
I will like to summarize and conclude by borrowing some words from Alan Redpath’s Victorious Christian Faith (1984: 39, 40):
“All fruitful service for the Lord begins and continues with hearing accurately what the spirit is saying. Now, hearing the voice of God has very little to do with the outward ear. The Lord has many ways of getting His message through to those who are willing to listen. He speaks, of course, through His word, yet the word without the Spirit is dead, and an experience of the Holy Spirit that is not based on the word is dangerous. But when the word is linked with the spirit, that’s dynamite!
…Each one of us must learn to be silent to our own plans and to all our preconceived ideas about how the Holy Spirit should work. Too often we refuse to believe that the Lord can work in any way that is different from the way He has always worked. Only prayer and meditation lead to Holy Spirit enlightenment, for that is God’s way of revealing His will to a surrendered life.”
The Ven. Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.