Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! Your Introduction to the Good Shepherd! Part 1
(ver 1.4) This is Part 1 in a series of basic Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. I have taught one introductory lesson to this series that you might want to start with and it is called “Recognizing the Voice of God“. There are many Christians in the world who do not understand spiritual things in the degree that is necessary to allow God to direct them into truth, peace, safety, prosperity and health. Of course because they do not understand how God speaks, they assume God is in control of everything that happens in their life. So when positive things do not happen to them, they often conclude that it must be the will of God for them to be experiencing these negatives. Or some think that it is just God’s way of teaching them, testing them or correcting them. There are more erroneous doctrines in some churches than there are Bible based doctrines. Jesus looked at the Pharisees and said “Your traditions have made the Word of God ineffectual and worthless”. That was my paraphrase of a verse in the N.T. that actually says:
Mar 7:13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
We can look up the Greek Word definition for the word translated as “none effect” and see that it means to invalidate. It was a common practice of religious people in Jesus’ day to take the Word of God and to add to it or to replace it with their own rules and manmade doctrines. Whenever you do this according to Jesus you invalidate God’s word. Do you understand how foolish that is? Yet people still do it today in almost every church denomination. Teaching things that are not found in the Bible gives people the wrong impression that what is happening to them right now is the will of God for them. They can pray about it and ask God to do something, but if it does not change things that they are facing, they simply think that it is up to them to stay humble and to accept it. After all you just never know what God has in mind? The ways of God are just so far above ours that we cannot comprehend them. That is what many churches teach. That is also a very poor reality to endure when it is not what God said in the Bible at all. I believe God says His Church will go out victorious and not defeated. So you have to decide very fast, what does “victory” mean to you? Does it mean poverty, sickness, depression, despair and sadness? I believe these are the signs of being defeated and not of victory. I never saw a victorious sports team fall down in agony and despair. They are always jubilant and shouting with great happiness. Yes, we will all have none of these negative things when we get to heaven, but who says we are to endure them now in the mean time? These are the doctrines of men that are taught in many churches that ignore God and the Bible. I call it a “Mother Theresa” Christian philosophy. I do not mean to criticize Mother Theresa, but people who look up to her as an example for Christianity; I have a major problem with them. Sure it looks good to many on the surface, a woman going around the world feeding the poor and the hungry and she does not own even a good pair of shoes herself. That is an extreme religious concept not found in the Bible, to do without so that others can have. If everyone would suddenly become Christians, we would all be homeless and shoeless people. She gives away all of the good shoes to others and takes only what others do not want. That is just not what Jesus did and Jesus was our example and not mother Theresa. I like what Jesus says to us:
Joh 13:15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Jesus said to us that He has set before us an example to follow. Therefore we need to learn what Jesus did and did not do in order to learn what this example is that we are supposed to be following. People have tried to say that Jesus owned nothing and that He gave away everything and these are two erroneous doctrines of men that promote the poverty Mother Theresa mentality. Do you recall that Jesus had a man of His 12 disciples that carried the money purse? Judas was the treasurer and there was so much money in the bag that he could take some of it out and people would not notice it was missing. Then when Jesus was crucified, His robe that He was wearing was so valuable that the soldiers gambled over who would possess it. They refused to rip it up into pieces because it was a seamless fabric construction. These were the types of robes that were worn only by wealthy men and the rulers of the country. That is why they wanted it as a complete garment piece. Neither of these two stories fit the Mother Theresa philosophy of poverty. When Jesus saw that the crowd was hungry in the Gospels, what did Jesus do? Did Jesus give away all of His food to feed them? No that is not what Jesus did. Jesus sought for what the crowd had to give him to bless and then He multiplied that to feed everyone. Someone in the crowd had to give first or no one would have eaten. These are just some of the examples that Jesus gave us to follow. When was the last time you saw a Mother Theresa do any of these? If you say never, then she was NOT following Jesus’ examples.
What God do you serve? Are you serving the God of the Bible or the God of someone’s religion? I’m sorry if I’m offending anyone today that is not my intention. Today’s subject is being led by the Spirit of God and we need to learn how to do this if we are to understand that a Mother Theresa type of God is not the God of the Bible or the Jesus of the Bible. Let me give you another example of what Jesus said:
Mat 11:5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
Here is Jesus speaking to the people of Israel and proclaiming He is anointed to change their current circumstances and situations around. Jesus specifically names three diseases as being cured. Then Jesus says the dead are raised up to life and finally He ends the verse with the poor have the Gospel proclaimed to them. What is this Gospel? The Greek Word translated as “gospel” literally means “Good News”. What is good news to a poor man? This is really not that complicated, but people twist the word of God to say things that it does not say. First, look back at the context of what is said about the sicknesses and the diseases. Isn’t every diseased situation turned around 180 degrees to the opposite of what they had. The blind now see! The filthy lepers are now clean! The deaf can now hear. The dead are made to live. But, all of sudden we want to say the poor are not made rich. I will tell you very plainly that if every other situation is turned completely around, that means it applies to every situation named. If you do not do this you are being selective in your interpretation of the Bible. I believe that according to this verse God says that “you should not be living in poverty”. Uh oh? I’m sure I’m going to hear about that from somebody who disagrees with me. Maybe after you learn how to be led by the Spirit of God, you will see that He will lead you from where you are now to where you should be. I am also not preaching that you will become a millionaire or a billionaire. That is not what I am saying, I am just saying there is a great deal of room for improvement and God will help you turn around to get there if you learn to listen to Him. So much for my introduction, let’s get into being led by the Spirit of God:
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Here is my foundational scripture for this entire series of lessons. This verse is a conditional verse. In other words it is valid for only those who qualify for it. It clearly tells me that not everyone is a son of God; only those that have chosen to be led by God are His children. To be led by the Spirit of God, means many things to many people and few people actually understand the concept of being led. First let me say if you can be led, you can also choose not to be led. Uh oh? We have a major problem developing for people who teach predestination and fatalism. People who teach these erroneous doctrines obviously ignore or explain away verses like these in the Bible that are clearly conditional statements which convey human responsibility and accountability as being the determining factors to if they qualify to be called a son of God.
The concept of God leading His people brings to mind many other subjects that are related. The concept of a shepherd leading his sheep comes to my mind immediately. We should know that in the book of John the tenth chapter that Jesus calls himself the “Good Shepherd” or the “Shepherd” approximately four times. You need to read this chapter in its entirety if you have not done so recently. The shepherd concept is the concept of how God leads His people with His Spirit. A shepherd will always lead the sheep by going before them with his staff and calling to his sheep to follow him to the green pastures or to the still waters (Ps 23). This is a directly related subject to how the Holy Spirit will speak to you to ask you to follow Him. In order to know that God leads, you must first recognize the fact that God speaks and then that He speaks to you. Wow, that is a tough concept for many Christians. There are literally hundreds of times recorded in the Bible that God is said to speak directly to a man. You can see God speaking to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah and on and on I could go. I guess people are struggling to think that God still speaks today and that God will more specifically speak to them. I am here to tell you today that if you are a born again Christian, God will speak to you in order to fulfill His word. God promises to lead His people and He does this with His voice. But, do not jump to the wrong conclusions that this was or is with an audible voice. We will get to that later in this series.
Joh 10:4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
Here is a basic confirmation for what I just taught you. This verse tells you exactly how God will lead you. God will go before you and guide you into the path that you need to go by speaking directly to you. If you are His sheep, then Jesus says you will know His voice and be able to recognize it. So if you have never heard from God, I would check to make sure that you are one of His sheep first. How do you know you are one of His sheep? There is a specific requirement in the Bible and that is for you to follow. I have a webpage dedicated to knowing you are His so if you do not know for sure you can know for sure today by reading and following the instructions given. Then determine if you are listening to hear His voice. When you learn to recognize His voice you can begin to follow Him because you will associate God’s character and His ways to His voice. People will only follow Him if they want to follow Him. This is the major problem with why many Christians are not being led; they do not understand the character or ways of God. If God was not good, or was not loving, or was not feeding them and protecting them, then why would anyone want to follow Him? Many churches teach about a God of judgment and condemnation and thus people are reluctant to be led by someone who is out to cause them to have cancer or cause them to be poor or cause them to do without even the basics of life. Maybe I should have taught on the character of God first, but hopefully for most of my readers they already understand the goodness of God.
Today’s lesson is just the introduction to the subject of God still leads and how God leads His people. God leads by a Sheepfold principle of Shepherd management. God will speak and show the way, but God will never force you to follow. Wow, that is so important I want to say it again. You have a choice to make to whether you follow or do not follow Him and His voice. That further means that you have the choice to either hear, or not to hear His voice. That also means you have the responsibility to understand that He will lead you, then to learn to recognize your shepherd’s voice, to know His character, His ways, His intentions and His love for His sheep. It is only then that you will be trusting and willing to go blindly walking behind Him to where He wants to take you. Faith and trust are two key factors to being led by the Spirit of God. God may not tell you where you are going, He may just say follow me. If you trust Him you will listen, obey and follow. If you do not trust Him then you have a greater problem of not knowing Him.
Here is my Top 10 list of things to learn from the basics of today’s lesson:
- The Spirit of God always leads His people.
- God uses a Shepherd Guidance principle to lead His people.
- God will go before His people and show them the way calling them by name.
- People are responsible to listen for their Shepherd’s voice. In other words you do not know exactly what will be said or when it will be told to you until you hear the directions.
- People are responsible to know and to recognize His voice.
- People are required not to follow the other voices that do not come from the Shepherd.
- People are responsible to obey and to follow His voice.
- People will only follow a Shepherd when they trust that He will not hurt them.
- Thus we as Christians walk by faith and not by sight based upon our trust in His Word.
- God may not tell you where you are going so you must follow Him by using your faith and trust in only Him.
As you can see from my list, God places the majority of the responsibility of what people do to be led by the Spirit upon us, the sheep. You can always count on God’s faithfulness and His goodness to lead you, but after that it is all up to you if you choose to follow Him. God will not tie a rope around your neck and drag you behind Him. That is a manmade doctrine of predestination. Once saved always saved is another concept that does not fit with this shepherd and sheep analogy taught by Jesus. The responsibility of following the Shepherd is always placed on the sheep and not the Shepherd. God is not going to use sheep dog angels to keep anyone from straying away from the flock. Any sheep can walk away from the flock and follow the voice of any stranger at any time. Any sheep can be deceived and devoured by the wolves while they are not within the safety of the protecting Shepherd. These are God’s words and not mine, if you do not understand them you can pretend to stay in your man made doctrines and hope that you have not already been deceived into following a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I would suggest that you learn to listen for the voice of the “Good Shepherd” and begin to follow Him instead of your manmade doctrines.
I’ll end this lesson with a warning. You do not seek for voices to lead you. That is not what I am saying. There are many spiritual voices in the world that can lead you down many different wrong paths that end in destruction. Your number one goal is to get to know your Shepherd by reading in His word to find His character. When you see the moral fiber of God is goodness and love you begin to see that His ways are different than Satan’s ways. Jesus said that “Satan has come to kill, steal and to destroy you”, but then Jesus your shepherd said “I am come that you might have life and that life more abundantly”. One voice is death and the other is life. This is what God said in Deuteronomy “I have set before your life and death, blessing ad cursing, therefore choose life that you and your seed may live”. You are therefore not seeking for a voice, you are seeking for the giver of Life and He will speak to you. There is a major difference in what you seek and who you seek. If you seek first the Kingdom of heaven, Jesus said all these other things would be added to you. So you are only seeking to know the Good Shepherd, His love, His Mercy, His Compassion, His Grace and His Power. When you seek Him then He will speak to you and you will learn His voice. Spend time in the Bible and study to learn His Marvelous Ways. Spend time in prayer to know Him personally, then Be Still and know that He is God to listen for Him to speak. Until next time, God Bless You!
If you would like to continue reading in this series, you may go to “Part 2“.
Posted on June 26, 2011, in Bible Basics, Bible Study, Understanding and tagged Bible, Christianity, Church, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Knowledge, Satan, Truth, understanding. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.