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The Leading Of the Spirit
Scripture: Romans 8:13-14; Galatians 5:18; Ephesian...
Track 2 of 4 in the Person & Work of the Holy Spirit series
Running time: 55 minutes, 31 seconds.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Romans 8:13-14 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.

When you hear the phrase that often times is used by many Christians, "led by the Spirit", what comes to mind? Have you ever experienced a situation when just knew it was the Holy Spirit telling what to do at that moment? Describe it for me. How did it work? Did you hear a voice? Did you get a feeling? How did the Spirit communicate with you?

There is one fact we all need to come to grips with, as Christians, as believers in Jesus, we are no longer at home in this world. Now I know we all realize this fact but it is an entirely different thing to live it. Too often Christians think they can play Christian in church on Sunday mornings and play like the world right after they leave for the next 6 days. That is what Paul was talking about in Romans 8, if you continue to live in the sinful nature, you will die. But we are no longer dead because the Spirit has brought us back to life and if that is true, then He is the one that leads us.

We need His leading. We live in a very dangerous world that no longer accepts who we are. The ways of the world should be foreign to us so we need His direction and protection as we live out each day on this earth. Jesus realized this about his disciples. That is why He prayed to God so the Spirit would protect them and lead them to do what was right. He prayed for their protection but what he prayed the most for was the protection of their hearts and the power to keep them from evil.

As a parent, what words of wisdom did you give to your children concerning their physical protection? What should they watch out for? How about their Spiritual protection? What wisdom or advice did you give them?

Every Christian needs to experience the desire to know and do the will of God. This is something very basic. If we are really a new creation, then knowing God and doing his will should be our greatest desire. But unfortunately too few know much about that. Under the old law, God protected Israel and he gave them a written code that governed their national life, their social life and their religious worship. But today you and I are under a new set of rules. We live under a new set of rules; rules that rest on a foundation called grace. With this grace comes the experience of freedom.

Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

That sounds really good but it can also be a scary thing and can lead to something unholy. Surely God doesn't intend for us to live without rules, right? There has to be "thou shalt nots" and "thou shalts"? If we don't have the boundaries, won't Christians stray off and lose their way? There has to be rules.

Why don't rules work? Why didn't the rules God set up work (10 Commandments)? What was wrong with them? Remember when we just discussed why God never intended for us to keep the 10 Commandments, why didn't He? In that lesson we learned that we were incapable of keeping the laws because we ourselves are imperfect. Quit trying because you really can't do it perfectly. But I want to dig deeper into this issue. Have you ever wondered why the law didn't really work? Wouldn't you expect something of God's to work especially when He Himself made it?

Open up to the gospels; I don't care where, just anywhere. There is a river of excitement that runs through all four Gospels. In every story stating with the birth of Jesus all the way to the end there is this expectation of something great, something real. Even the Old Testament gives us hints of it. It would have been hard to understand if you were under the old dispensation of the law but just the thought would have gotten your attention and wonder. Nicodemus sensed it. The disciples were sure of it. Anyone who was really looking was immediately attracted to it.

God didn't intend that his children be lead by an impersonal object. The Law was a thing. The people could hold it, it could be carried, it could be read. But the one thing the law and the people couldn't do was relate to each other. The law was not the real thing; it was something that was put there until the real thing came. It told us what we could or couldn't do. It was if a picture of God was given to us, but it was only a picture. It couldn't touch you, or hold you or even love you. When you cried or needed forgiveness for messing up, it couldn't comfort you. It was just a picture of God, it was not God Himself.

The Holy Spirit is God, the personal side of God who does love us, is there to comfort us and he is a real Person who we can relate to and have a real relationship with. He understands who we are but more important, He knows who we are becoming because He Himself has and is making us the way He wants us to be. No personal understanding of God will be possible without the Holy Spirit. It is His function to bring men into conformity with the plan and purposes of God.

Recognizing the Holy Spirit

This might sound dumb but how do you recognize someone? How do you know if the person you see is the person you think they are? How do you know if the influence you are yielding to is really the Holy Spirit?

Before a child of God submits himself to the leading of a spirit, he should make sure that he is yielding to the Holy Spirit. This is important because the Holy Spirit is not the only spirit in the world. There are many different spirits out there; all of them are wanting man's attention and yielding. Paul warns believers that there are powerful influences out there and it is easy for Christians to be fooled if they are not alert.

Ephesians 2:1-2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

As believers we need to have a sure way of trying the spirits, for not every spirit that speaks to us will be the voice of the Holy Spirit. An impulse, a desire, or an urge to do something seemingly worthwhile must seem the right thing but could be the suggestion of an evil spirit. The Bible clearly distinguishes between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

1 John 4:4-6 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

It is essential that one recognize and clearly identify the Holy Spirit before yielding to Him. God, in His Word has given us marks of identification in which you and I can know for certain that the Spirit is really the Holy Spirit. There are many voices out there contending for power and authority, how do we know for sure if it is really God and other spirits?

The Holy Spirit can be recognized by His consistency with the teachings of Christ - The Holy Spirit will never lead you to do something contrary to what our Lord taught. Always use the 100% rule. The Holy Spirit and Jesus are 100% in unity with each other. Satan knows how to lie and twist things. He is not 100% in line with God.

The Holy Spirit can be recognized by His agreement with the whole of God's Word.

2 Peter 1:20-21 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Holy men and women of God always spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. But what is crucial to know, they always, they never varied in teaching from what the Scriptures stated. True men inspired by the Holy Spirit always are consistent with God's Word. You can not follow, be lead by or even know the mind of the Spirit unless you feast daily in God's Word. When people go astray in their walk with God, that is the first place you should look when trying to restore them.

The Holy Spirit can be recognized by His unity. Paul pointed out the differences between the unity of the Holy Spirit with the confusion of other spirits in his first letter to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 14:32-33 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

This is something really important to understand; ten men, all guided by their own human spirits, can have pandemonium. But ten men all guided by the Holy Spirit will be in unity. What is the result of unity in the church, PEACE.

If the Church who is guided by the Holy Spirit suffers from confusion, disunity and the lack of peace within the body, what in your opinion is the source of the problem? What is the solution and remedy to fix the problem?

Acts 2:1; 46-47 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

I want you to see the significance of this passage of scripture. Not only were they together as a gathering, but the use of the Greek indicates they were together in one accord. It is to be noted that when the disciples did their part in unity, the Lord did his part and the church grew automatically and rapidly.

Have you noticed that our church doesn't do congregational votes? Why do you think that is? What does a congregational vote promote? How many times do you see the church in the New Testament voting? How did they make decisions on issues and how did they pick leaders?

Acts 1:14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

Acts 1:23-26 So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs." Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

The point to all of this is where there is contention, strife and disagreement among the brothers and sisters in the church, we may be certain that the Holy Spirit is not leading. Strife is Satan's strategy. You can be sure of this, the Holy Spirit will not work where the people are divided. Unity is a marked feature of a church that has the Holy Spirit. You can sing praises all you want, you can speak in tongues all you want, you can lift your hands all you want, but if unity is not evident and visible every day in the church, there is no Spirit present. They are counterfeit.

The Holy Spirit can be recognized by the way He exalts Christ.

John 15:26-27 "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

The Spirit always attracts men to Christ, never to Himself. The work of the Spirit is always to bring people to Jesus and to work in a way that produces salvation, justification and sanctification because all three of these create a perfect relationship with Jesus. If our work is not about winning others to Jesus, if our focus is not about exalting Jesus in all we do, then we have to seriously consider if what we are doing is Spirit led.

The spirit of man seeks to exalt man. That is a true test if what is going on in the church is right or not; one way to find out if a ministry is designed to exalt man, cross into someone's ministry territory. Most fights and disunity within the church usually come about when a ministry is designed to serve the servant, not exalt Jesus and attract others to Him. When you become upset because you didn't get the recognition you thought you deserved, that is when you need to step back and reevaluate why you are serving in that ministry. If it is not to attract others to Jesus, then what you are doing is not from the Spirit, but from yourself.

What is the difference between firsthand and secondhand knowledge? Which one is the best and most reliable? Which one is the easiest to get? How does a person get firsthand knowledge of something? Let me ask you, which knowledge of the Holy Spirit do you have, firsthand knowledge or send-hand knowledge? What are the dangers with only second-hand knowledge of the Spirit?

I hate to admit this but I really feel the church today really believes that what use to happen in the first century church no longer happens today. The reason for this is the church listens to a different spirit. It listens to the spirit of the world. In fact, the church, by how it acts knows far more about the spirit of the world than it knows about the Spirit of God. The early church had the victories it had because they listened to the Spirit of God. His leading gave them victory of sin and caused them to exalt Jesus in ways beyond our imaginations. But it is impossible to follow the Spirit if we don't know who He is.

Here are some questions you need to ponder this week:

Have you surrendered to do as God may choose?
Have you honestly sought to know God's will in your life?
Are you conscience of being subject to His will?
Do you read the Bible daily to allow the Spirit to speak to you?
Do you pray daily to allow yourself to listen to what the Holy Spirit has to say?
Jude 20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.

We have a personal God who loves us and wants us to know him intimately. That can only be done by listening and talking to Him. Only when we start to do that will we ever be in a position to let the Spirit lead us in our daily lives.