In an earlier article I mentioned that after a long day at the office I enjoy spending time in my wife’s presence because of the sense of contentment it allows. A close relation with the Holy Spirit is similar. In other words, one of the key ways that the Holy Spirit leads us is through a sense of peace or the lack of peace concerning a decision. I find that the Spirit of God will guide me in this fashion when I’m faced with a situation that I need to deal with. As I prayerfully consider the different options before me, the Holy Spirit will give me a sense of peace about the direction I should go and a very evident lack of peace concerning that route I should avoid. This is something different than the typical human anxiety or confidence we all experience when we are trying to make a decision. Instead, it is a peace that passes understanding. Indeed I have been led to follow God through difficult situations that in my own human understanding I would have avoided at all costs.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record I need to point out once again that the only way you can develop a relationship like this with the Holy Spirit is through spending copious time in the Word and in prayer. This is because we require the objective standard of God’s Word in order to differentiate between the voice of God and our feelings. I have encountered far too many Christians who are led by their emotions (or worse), and believe that they are being led by the Holy Spirit. Most of the time this is obvious because they are doing something that is in violation of God’s revealed word. The Holy Spirit would never do that. In fact I had one fellow tell me that he had “evolved beyond the need for the Bible” and was guided solely by the impulse of the Holy Spirit. I did not hesitate to tell him that he was not being guided by the Spirit of God but by his own emotions – or a demonic force. His day to day behavior provided ample evidence of that fact. In short, the Holy Spirit never leads us to turn our back on the revealed Word of God.
The Holy Spirit also leads by placing certain circumstances in our path which cause us to put the brakes on long enough to earnestly seek the Lord’s face. For instance, suppose you’re shopping for a new car and happen upon a vehicle that you believe is just what you are looking for. Because you feel comfortable with the thought of purchasing that particular automobile you proceed with the paperwork only to find that some glitch develops which holds up the deal (Cf. Acts 16:6-8). At that point you would do well to lay the situation before the Lord. This kind of obstacle is sometimes used as a means of directing us in a godly walk.
As your relationship with the Holy Spirit deepens you will find that you are increasingly presented with choices that appear to be equally appropriate for your life (Cf. Acts 21:10-14). In other words, neither the right hand nor the left seems to be the more godly course of action. It may be that God is moving you into a deeper maturity where you are not presented with just one “right choice.” Instead you are presented with the opportunity to determine which action will enable you to maximize your ability to serve in the kingdom of God. This is the time for long walks with the Lord communing in the Spirit, thinking through the consequences of either choice and asking that the mind of Christ be manifest in your life.