How can we recognize the Holy Spirit’s guidance?

How can we recognize the Holy Spirit’s guidance? by Compelling Truth

We know that the Holy Spirit was given to lead and guide and comfort us (Acts 1:5John 14:1626). But how do we know if the prompting we feel inwardly is from the Holy Spirit or just a product of our own thoughts? How do we discern between the influence of the Holy Spirit and the influences of culture, friends, and family? How can we really recognize the Holy Spirit’s guidance?

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. As such, He is one with the Father and the Son and speaks in harmony with them. God will not contradict Himself. The Bible is the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Therefore, the Holy Spirit will not contradict the Bible. As we meditate on the Scriptures, study them and read them, the Holy Spirit will speak to our hearts (John 16:12–141 Corinthians 2:6–16Psalm 1:1–3119:9). Furthermore, intimate knowledge of the voice of God is gained through exposure to what He has written, and we will easily recognize the Holy Spirit’s voice if we recognize it from reading the Bible.

Those who believe in Christ have been reborn in the Holy Spirit (John 3:3–8), and by that rebirth we enter the kingdom of God. Those who have trusted in Jesus Christ have the indwelling Holy Spirit who is with them always (Ephesians 1:3–14). We become new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). God works in our hearts and minds to transform us to be more like Him (Romans 8:29–30). This is the work of the Holy Spirit in us. The natural heart is “desperately sick” and deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). But in Christ our hearts become new (Ezekiel 11:192 Corinthians 5:17) even though we will still battle the flesh this side of eternity. This is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit in us and also something in which we actively participate (Philippians 2:12–13). We do this through regularly spending time in God’s Word, regularly spending time with Him in prayer, spending time with other believers who love and strive to follow God, and obeying God (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18Hebrews 10:19–25James 1:22–25). Much of God’s will is clear and evident. The more we obey the things we know God calls us to, the more we are sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The more we grow in faith and yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit, the more His voice is easily recognizable to us. The more we grow in our love for God, the more His desires become ours.

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We are also called to be “transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). Our minds are informed by the Holy Spirit. Worldly wisdom is often different from the true wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:18–31James 3:13–18Proverbs 3:5–6). Those who love God have the Spirit, who “searches everything, even the depths of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). Just as the thoughts of a man are only understood by that man, the thoughts of God are only understood by the Holy Spirit—believers can seek to understand the thoughts of God because we have “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). The Holy Spirit enlightens our minds and makes it possible for us to discern truth that the natural man cannot (1 Corinthians 2:14).

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