After the success of last night’s blog, I figured I’d write about the topic of being led by the Spirit tonight. This one is used far too often in a way that is not what the Bible means when it uses the term. The first usage of it is found in Mark 1 where it says Jesus was led of the Spirit to the wilderness. This, however, seems more forceful than anything else. I do not think we can find much here. The other usages of it come from Romans and Galatians.
Let’s look at the first one in Romans 8:
12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For 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, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Led by the Spirit is in the middle of this. However, where do we see anything about decision making? Where do we see anything about God telling us what we should do with our lives and having feeling being the indicator? Look all you want through that passage. It’s not in there. If you want to disagree, go ahead. Be clear on this though. I don’t want an experience. I want to be shown any exegesis I do is in error or another passage that I have overlooked.
Instead, what is Paul talking about? Paul is talking about how we ought to deny the sinful nature and serve the spiritual nature, which is the nature of God. If we are led by the Spirit, we are sons of God. That means basically that if you are X, then it is because of Y. So what is Y? Being sons of God. How can you tell you’re a son (or daughter) of God? Because you are led by the Spirit. That is in contrast to the sinful nature.
Thus, what is being said? Sinful people make bad decisions? Of course they do sometimes, but they can make good ones as well. It isn’t about decisions. It is about the way you live your life in general. If you are slaves to sin, you will please the sinful nature. If you are led by the Spirit, you will please the Christian nature. It is contrasting sinful living with righteous living.
How about Galatians 5?
16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
In this passage, living by the Spirit is equated with being led by the Spirit and is again put in contrast with the sinful nature. If you live by the sinful nature, verses 19-21 describes the results. If you are led by the Spirit, 22-26 describe the results. Notice this: There is NOTHING about personal decision making in the context.
Unfortuantely, being led by the Spirit is used to justify everything in churches. Churches will have conferences where they vote and each one is to vote as they feel led, but apparently, the Spirit can’t get his message across because the votes are different across the board. Did you ever consider that maybe you’re using your mind to vote?
Dave Ramsey, who hosts a radio show on Christian finances, several years ago had a caller who was getting ready to make a stupid financial decision. When Ramsey asked him why he was about to make that decision, he said “Well me and my wife just feel like God is leading us this way,” to which Ramsey answered “Bull!”
I loved that answer.
Friends. We can’t afford to be simply acting on our feelings. God gave us minds and he gave us the way of wisdom. It is a shame our culture has taken a biblical phrase and turned it to mean something it never meant and even worse, made a type of spiritual cliche out of it.
Let’s return to wisdom.