Are you a Christian who is secretly wondering how other believers around you are ‘led by the Spirit’ or ‘know God’s will’ for their particular lives, all while feeling like you did not receive the secret decoder ring upon conversion? I have good news for you. This is how:
That’s my left hand, pointing at my Bible, on my ottoman, in my family room. And realistically, this could be the end of this blog post right here. That’s it. It really is that simple and straightforward.
I hear professing Christians all the time say things like “I’m waiting to hear from the Lord” or “I am listening for the Spirit’s leading” or “I am not sure that is God’s will for me”. Imagine any combination of words around the idea that God gives specific revelation to individuals that is mysterious and ill-defined, and that it is intuitively known how to acquire said information, and you will have a sense of what I am getting at. It must be intuitively known, because I’ve never heard a consistent and precise explanation of the steps one takes to find out this special knowledge. That is because all of these mystical, experience/feelings based ideas are just that: ideas. They are not biblical truths but rather modern superstitions that are widely accepted and held up as a sacred cow that cannot be questioned.
I am having none of it. Nothing makes me more furious and simultaneously breaks my heart than to see a fellow believer discouraged because they have been taught the error that there is some sort of secret and undefined way of hearing from God or intuitively knowing His will for them, outside of scripture. Folks, that just is not so. I know it is incredibly popular to think that our feelings and intuition play a major part in our understanding of spiritual truths, but that simply is not supported or found in scripture. Which proves my point: if one reads and knows their Bible, they would know that the quasi-mystical mysticism that has infiltrated the evangelical world is FALSE. That’s right, I said it. If you find your hackles raised reading this essay, then I implore you to turn to the Bible and using scripture, prove what I am saying wrong (rightly handling the scripture by using proper hermeneutics, of course).
To my discouraged and intimidated brother or sister in Christ I say this:
Read your Bible. You have the Holy Spirit indwelling you, which you received upon belief in Jesus as the Son of God who died for your sins (Titus 3:5-6). It is His explicit ministry to help believers understand the Word (John 14:26; 16:13; 1 John 2:27). Pray and ask Him to help you understand and rightly apply the Word, and then read it. Are there things that you read that bring conviction of sin in your life? That is the work of the Holy Spirit. Confess those sins, repent and receive forgiveness! Are there commands that you can obey like putting others needs before your own, serving others, sharing the Gospel? Do it!
Some believers find it helpful to have a study Bible that has notes at the bottom of each page, offering explanation of passages. I sometimes use this one: The MacArthur Study Bible, but there are many good study Bible’s on the market. The ESV study Bible is also good and reliable. If there is a passage in the Bible that is confusing or you just don’t understand, I recommend listening to a sermon on the passage. Grace to You has many sermons and you can search by Bible address to find one on the passage you want to hear.
2 Timothy 3:16 tell us that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;“. Do you want to know God’s will for you? Read your Bible. Do you want to be led by the Spirit, the same Spirit that inspired the Scripture? Read your Bible. We do not receive direct, personal revelation from God anymore; the canon is closed. But as Paul told us in his second letter to Timothy: all scripture is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness. The Bible is sufficient for all of your needs. But you have to put in the time to read, understand and apply it. There is an impatient tendency to want to just whip open the Bible and find a one line verse for every issue and problem we have. It doesn’t work that way. Comprehensive understanding increases over time as we are in the Word daily reading and meditating on God’s eternal truth. The more familiar you become with what God has said, the better equipped over time you will become at deducing the Biblical response to life’s challenges.
Be encouraged! You can do it!
Soli Deo Gloria!