Led by the Spirit

1. Essential principles of being led by the Spirit

The central thought

The basic principles of understanding how we are led by the Holy Spirit can be found in Romans 8:1-16.

The central thought is in verse 14: … those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons/daughters (hues) of God. (huios = mature, persons full of character & privilege.)

Relationship is central to being led, for we must know the one who leads us and have a personal relationship with Him.

The promise

The Lord God has promised that He will always be there to help and guide us as we seek to be led by Him. He will never leave us as children without a father.

(John 14:18-19 NIV) I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. [19] Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

The example given by Jeremiah instructs us:

i. the Lord thinks prosperity towards His people.
ii. He will listen when we pray.
iii. If we seek we will find Him

These three are conditional … It is to be “with all our heart”

(Jer 29:11-14 NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. [12] Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. [13] You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

How does the Lord fulfil His promise to be with us? “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirits that we are God’s children” Notice. The Holy Spirit gives us evidence (He testifies) AND He does this through our spirit.

(Rom 8:16 NIV) The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

The spirit of man

Humankind is made in the image of God. Each person is a triune being. God is Spirit.

(John 4:24 NIV) God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

In a similar manner, each person is/has a spirit. Paul describes as “I” that part of him that will depart and be with the Lord. This part of humanity is the inward spiritual person

(2 Cor 4:16 NIV) Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

Peter also speaks of the hidden person of the heart or the inner self. This is a way of speaking about the centre of the moral and spiritual nature i.e. humankind’s reborn spirit. (n.b. it is incorruptible)

(1 Pet 3:4 NIV) Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

This part of us is the “new creation.” The old has gone the new has come. This is the new and eternal creature in Christ. Eternal life begins when we are born again. It is NOW.

(2 Cor 5:17 NIV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Spirit, soul and body

Spirit, soul and body describes how we are made. The triune nature of humankind was created in the likeness of God who is also triune. These three parts of humankind are not the same. They are distinguishable.


i. When you pray in tongues your spirit prays, but your mind is not involved for this is praying with the spirit part of your triune nature.

1 Cor 14:14 NIV) For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.

ii. James 1:21. … welcome the word which implanted and rooted (in your hearts/spirits) contains the power to save your souls,” (Amplified)

In this Scripture James is speaking to “brothers” that is disciples who have experienced salvation. Why then do their souls (psuche) need saving, if they have been born again? (i.e. they have eternal spirits)

iii. The answer is that the mind or soul is to be renewed during our lifetime. This restoration is also suggested in Psalm. 23. The Lord seeks to restore the soul. We have eternal spirits but our souls (minds, personalities) are being transformed and renewed daily.

(Rom 12:2 NRSV) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

(Psa 23:3 NRSV) he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

iv. The body must be presented to God. Who presents it? We are to control our bodies and keep them under submission. In this way we are able to present our bodies in an acceptable manner. This does not mean suppressing our human emotions, needs and desires engendered by such basic drives such as hunger, sex and defence but rather that we guide them to behave righteously.

(Rom 12:1 NRSV) I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.(1 Cor 9:27 KJV) But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.

Three aspects of human experience

The human body:
-relates to physical things,
-is to be kept under control by us,
-is to be presented by us to God for use in His service, and
-will be resurrected and renewed at the Second Coming.

The human soul:
-relates to intellectual things and emotional life,
-is the place of the will, intellect, emotions and memory, and
-is being transformed and renewed by the Word of God into the image of His Son Jesus.

The human spirit:
-relates to spiritual things,
-has been born again to eternal life by the Spirit of God, and
-is directed by the Holy Spirit.

So one may say:


In a person who is directed and controlled by the Spirit of God through his human spirit all three work as one and harmony results.