How do we know we’re being guided by the Holy Spirit?

I’ve met many people who say the Spirit is telling them what to say and what to do, but how do they know it’s the Spirit guiding them and not their own thoughts, ideas and motives?

Is it even possible to know if the Spirit is guiding us? Yes, Galatians 3:2. Paul’s asking a group of Christians when they received the Spirit. But why would he ask such a question if they had no clue what he was talking about? Well, of course they knew. As soon as they’d believed the message about Jesus Christ, they’d experienced the Spirit kick in, and from that moment on they’d trusted the Spirit to guide them, verse 3. And not surprisingly either, because obvious miracles had begun to happen to them, verse 5. Oh, they knew when the Spirit was guiding them all right; there was clear evidence they could point to, and Paul knew it. That’s why he could ask them when they received the Spirit. He asked because he knew they knew.

The writer of Hebrews is just as blunt. Why on earth, he wonders, would Christians revert back to their old selves when they’ve “tasted the heavenly gift” and “shared in the Holy Spirit,” Hebrews 6:4? They knew what it was like to be guided by the Spirit. They’d tasted it, shared it, and personally experienced “the powers of the coming age,” verse 5. They had all kinds of evidence of the Spirit at work in their lives. So they knew, too.

When the Spirit guides it’s obvious. Once we’ve “been enlightened” and “tasted the goodness of the Word of God,” Hebrews 6:4-5, and we’re hanging on to the message of Jesus Christ for dear life, Galatians 3:1-2, 5, then, guaranteed, we have the Spirit’s guidance, with obvious miracles to prove it.

But what obvious miracles? All those listed in Galatians 5:16-26, for a start. The Spirit will happily deal with all the junk in our lives that wrecked our relationship with God and ruined our relationships with people. He’ll happily replace it with lovely qualities instead, the obvious fruits of which will be great relationships with God and people. And we won’t need the law to keep us in line anymore (verse 23) because the Spirit is “crucifying our sinful nature,” verse 24.

So let the Spirit guide, because what we need and long for is what the Spirit does for us. Ever so gradually and ever so gently the Spirit “transforms us into the likeness of Christ with ever-increasing glory,” 2 Corinthians 3:18. It is SO gently, though, that we may think the Spirit isn’t guiding us, but if we’re hanging onto the message about Jesus Christ, the Spirit is at work, guaranteed, Galatians 3:1-5.

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