Ask Steve: The Holy Spirit’s Guidance









Question: Steve, how does the Holy Spirit guide Christians? What means or methods does He use?

Answer: Both the Old and New Testament give ample support that the Holy Spirit guides Christians. This was even the promise of Christ to His disciples in the upper room (Jn 16:33) on the eve of His crucifixion. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit guided believers by speaking to them (Acts 8:29) and even doing miraculous deeds of miracles, signs, and transportations (Acts 8:39-40) to accomplish His salvific purposes. However, the role of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life today is that He sanctifies them with the word of God and leads them to carry out His desires (Galatians 5:16-26). He grants Christians the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and various gifts for serving in the ministry (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).

The Holy Spirit guides Christians in that He reveals certain truths to God’s people and illumines them so that they can understand His desire. God the Spirit does this by means of His word (John 14:26), which is found in Scripture. It is through Scripture that the Holy Spirit enlightens Christians and guides them to accomplish God’s will. Without the Holy Spirit, a professing Christian can never really be guided or convicted to do God’s work properly, no less fully understand the meaning of Scripture and have it applied to their lives.

The means, or methods, that the Holy Spirit uses to guide Christians is: 1). using the Bible and ministering its word to the believer’s heart, and 2). Bringing strong internal impressions and convictions upon a believer, sometimes in correlation to what the believer has learned in Scripture (Rom 8:14).

Scripture is the only means by which God uses to instruct people concerning His will and is therefore sufficient (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:19-21). God does not work in competing ideological systems to bring out His salvific and sanctifying work in a sinner’s life. This includes other religions, psychology, rational thinking, personal opinions, “prophetic” revelations, etc. Lost sinners must turn to Christ alone for salvation, and feed on His word alone in order to grow in faith, battle temptation, find healing, and do the will of God in all matters of life.

In terms of the strong internal impressions and convictions, the Holy Spirit is said to use a method of filling the believer with Himself. Being Spirit-filled is another way of saying that a Christian is led by the Spirit or putting on the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:10; 16). The person who is led by the Spirit allows the word of God to dwell richly in his heart. So the Spirit guides primarily through the illumination and application of the Scripture to the believer’s life. Certain internal impressions, which are not explicitly stated in Scripture, are issues that are more along the lines of Christian liberty and personal choice than moral imperatives from God’s Word. In such cases when Scripture is unclear (ex. who to marry, where to go for missions, which ministry to serve in), the Spirit will usually make an impression upon the believer’s life by a general set of guidelines, including: 1). Spiritually profitable (1 Cor 10:23), 2). Glorifying to God (1 Cor 10:31), 3). Stumbling block (Rom 14:13). This, along with a general sense of holy interest or desire for a certain course of action (Ps 37:4), constitutes the sovereign work of God in a believer’s life toward a purposeful end, and the means that the Holy Spirit uses to guide the believer.


Recommended Resource: The Holy Spirit by Charles C. Ryrie