After crossing the Red Sea, Moses led the Israelites in the wilderness and their first desert challenge is a great picture of the cross of Christ transforming the bitterness of life into sweetness.
As we grow in our understanding of the closeness and unity of our connection with the Holy Spirit, we become more aware of Him in our inner beings. We sense His leading more frequently because we are more attuned to His presence in our lives. An outpouring of the Spirit was promised in the Old Testament and we now live our lives as New Testament believers under that outpouring. Every believer is marked on the inside with the seal of the indwelling Holy Spirit and we are immersed (baptised)by Him into Christ. We are literally one in Spirit with Him.
Poured out [Tit 3:5-6 NIV] [Jhn 3:34 NIV] [Act 2:17-18 NIV]
Sealed [2Co 1:22 NIV] [Eph 1:13 NIV] [Eph 4:30 NIV]
Immersed [1Co 12:13 NIV] [Gal 3:27 NIV] [Col 1:26-27 NKJV]
United [Jhn 14:19-20 NIV] [1Co 6:17 NIV]
God knows exactly the level of our confidence in Him. He won’t lead a child of God into situations that He knows are beyond them. However, our view of ourselves might be considerably different! All we need to do is to keep trusting and to keep following. We were never meant to figure out our own way through life but rather to go through life following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Very often we respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading with enthusiasm but, if we take our spiritual eyes off Him look at the circumstances around us, we can lapse into fear and feel like we are sinking. We start the Christian life simply by accepting that Christ has paid the price for all our falling short. We are to continue the Christian life in the same way – by simple acceptance of His love and guidance by His Spirit inside us. We are to keep following……
The Spirit’s leading is perfectly calibrated to our spiritual strength level [Exo 13:17-18 NIV] [Pro 16:9 NKJV] [Jer 10:23 NKJV] [Mat 11:28-30 NIV]
Initial enthusiasm…[Exo 14:1-4 NIV]
…followed by fear[Exo 14:10-12 NIV]
Peter’s example[Mat 14:29-31 NIV]
Continue to follow[Col 2:6-7 NIV]
The way in which God dealt with the Israelites as a people group is a type of how He deals with us as individuals under the new covenant. The Lord set His Holy Spirit among the Israelites as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Under the new covenant, He has set His Spirit within us individually in our inner beings. Just as the pillar of cloud and fire was a guide and gave light to the Israelites, so the Holy Spirit within us guides and gives us light for our journey through the mortal life. The pillar of cloud and fire was the Israelites’ constant guide on their wilderness wanderings and, unless the cloud moved on, they stayed put. They would only set out if the cloud moved on and they would follow the cloud to the next place. They did not know from day to day what the cloud’s movements would be. So it is with the Holy Spirit, we cannot predict his direction but we need daily to tune our focus to His presence on the inside of us and pay attention to His leading.
Place – the Holy Spirit was set among the Israelites [Isa 63:11-14 NIV]
Function – guidance and light [Exo 13:21-22 NIV] [Psa 119:105 NIV] [Neh 9:12, 19-20 NIV] [Deu 1:33 NIV]
Focus – follow the cloud [Num 9:15-22 NIV]
Visibility – darkness or light [Exo 14:19-20 NIV] known but not seen – [Jhn 14:16-17 NIV] [Jhn 14:22-23 NKJV] light shines in our hearts [2Co 4:3-6 NKJV]
How do we connect with the Holy Spirit to know His leading, prompting and guidance? We need to quieten our hearts and minds to be in a position to focus. We need to remember that we are dependent on Him for His guidance – we don’t conjure it up out of thin air. We need to develop an awareness of His presence in our inner beings and learn to connect with Him and receive from Him. This can be summed up as:
- Be Still
- Be Dependent
- Be Aware
Be Still [Psa 46:10 NIV] 10 He says, “Be still [to slacken; cease; sink down; let drop; relax], and know [yada = know; be acquainted with; ascertain by seeing] [that I am] God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Be Dependent [Pro 3:5-6 NIV] 5 Trust [be confident, sure] in the LORD with all your heart and lean [support oneself; rely] not on your own understanding [knowledge]; 6 in all your ways [every aspect of your passage through life] submit to [yada] him, and he will make your paths [way/path through life] straight [smooth, right, pleasant, prosperous].
Be Aware [Pro 20:27 KJV] 27 The spirit of man [is] the candle [glistening; lamp; light] of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly [lighting up the inner hollow]. Look for the inward “lighting up” that comes from the Spirit. [Psa 77:6 NKJV] 6 I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate [ponder] within my heart, And my spirit makes diligent search.
Learning to recognise the inner witness of the Holy Spirit is a key part of our growth as children of God. Jesus highlighted the Holy Spirit’s role as His disciples’ teacher, guide and one who would make things known to them. Paul the apostle tells us to live our daily lives “in the Spirit” and to set our minds on the things of the Spirit. Our flesh nature will always oppose the Spirit and feeding our minds with biblical truth is the only way to keep the flesh nature subservient to the Spirit and to develop our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Jesus made it clear that His sheep really do hear His voice. The problem is that, even though we might hear, we don’t immediately recognise His voice. However, the more we focus our minds on the truth, the greater our ability to recognise His voice. The Holy Spirit communicates with us on the inside, through the inward witness, and it is possible to know the Spirit’s leading and guidance with absolute certainty.
1. How the Holy Spirit engages with us
He teaches and reminds us [Jhn 14:26 NIV]
He testifies about Jesus [Jhn 15:26 NIV]
He guides us into truth and makes things known to us [Jhn 16:12-14 NIV] [1Co 2:12 NIV]
He communicates to us internally (the inner witness) [1Jo 5:6 NIV] [1Jo 5:10 NKJV] [Rom 8:16 NIV]
He guides us [Rom 8:14 NIV]
2. How we engage with the Holy Spirit
Walk in the Spirit [Gal 5:16-18 NIV]
Set your mind on the things of the Spirit [Rom 8:4-6 NIV]
3. Knowing by the Spirit
Hearing his voice [Jhn 10:3-5, 16 NIV]
Hearing but not recognising God’s inaudible voice [1 Sam 3]
Characteristics of God’s voice – Old Covenant [1Ki 19:11-12 NIV] [Isa 30:21 NIV]
Characteristics of Holy Spirit guidance – New Covenant [Act 15:28 NIV] [Act 16:6-10 NIV]
Decision-making before Pentecost without the Spirit [Act 1:24-26 NIV]
Knowing with certainty in the Spirit[Act 20:22 NIV]
Extraordinary as it may be, it is a scriptural truth that every born again believer alive today has the very Spirit of God living inside them. In Eden, God breathed His own life into Adam to create the original spiritual connection between God and man. Infamously, that connection was lost as a result of the Fall but all was not lost for God promised that one day He would put His Spirit within people’s hearts. The New Testament makes it clear that Jesus Christ paid the price for the connection to be wonderfully restored through the Holy Spirit taking up residence and dwelling within every child of God.
- Breath of life – connection
- Loss of life – disconnection
- Promise of life – preparation
- Indwelling Spirit of life – reconnection