Have you ever felt like you were being led to do something for a reason you can't explain?
Ever had an idea that seemed to pop into your head from nowhere?
If so, have you asked yourself where these thoughts come from?
If you are in Christ (see Gal. 3:27; Eph. 2:10-13; Rom. 6), I believe that these thoughts are often from the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes these thoughts can be small, such as feeling led to go talk with a certain person, and other times these thoughts can be big, like relocating to another region of the country or the world.
Other times our thoughts may not be from GOD at all, but may actually be our own ideas.
In the first century church, the Holy Spirit worked in very special and unique ways, and when He did so, there was no doubt that it was GOD who was behind what was happening.
For example, when the Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus to the apostles in Jerusalem in Acts 2, all who were present heard the sound of a violent wind and there were tongues of fire resting on each of them.
Everybody who saw this knew that this is not normal.
The apostles were immediately able to speak in other languages and heal sick people. This was awesome and undeniably supernatural.
For whatever reasons, GOD decided not to continue working in this obviously-miraculous way.
Consider what the apostle Paul told the Corinthians regarding the coming end of these miraculous gifts:
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
(1 Cor. 13:8-10 NIV)
These statements are excerpted from the middle of a long discussion on the miraculous and non-miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit.
I believe this completeness Paul mentions did come and that is the reason why we do not witness the types of amazing miracles described in the book of Acts today.
Regardless, the Scriptures are clear that the Holy Spirit:
- Is given to every child of GOD (Acts 5:32; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19).
- Helps in our weakness (Rom. 8:26; Eph. 3:16).
- Leads us (Rom. 8:14).
- Is our guarantee—our "down payment" (2 Cor. 1:22; 2 Cor. 5:5; Eph. 1:13).
- ...and so much more.
Let us make no mistake: Even today, we are very much called by and led by GOD.
But how do I recognize when GOD is calling me or leading me to do something?
Since the Scriptures don't give us a formula to know definitively when GOD is leading us to do something, here are some tips for determining if it's Him:
- Ask Him to make His will clear.
Ask GOD if He's leading you to do a particular thing. If you're uncertain what He might be leading you to do, ask Him to make it plain to you. Tell Him of your desire to follow wherever and whatever He's leading you to.
- Is the nature of what you are considering consistent with Scripture?
Does it align with the character of GOD's heart based on the Scriptures?
If not, 100% of the time it is not from GOD.
For example, I can confidently say that GOD is not going to lead you to divorce your spouse, go into debt, or commit some form of sin against Him. I know this because it violates His character. 1 John 4:1 says to test the spirits to see whether they are from GOD.
While the specific context involves Jesus coming in the flesh, a general application may be made that any spirit that is against GOD's character and revealed word is evil.
- When possible, avoid making a hasty decision.
Give GOD time to reveal what He wants you to do. Again, ask Him to make the path plain to you.
- When you must make an immediate decision, pray and make the best decision you can.
(I'm primarily talking smaller matters here, not major life decisions.)
From my experience, I've learned to trust my "instinct"—the voice in my head, which I believe is the Spirit working in me.
I've started making a consistent effort to "jump" when I feel led to do so, and I have yet to regret doing it. I believe this is part of exercising our faith. I believe this is involved in fulfilling 1 Thess. 5:19-22, which says:
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.
(1 Thess. 5:19-22 NIV)
For most of my life, to this point, I've either ignored or suppressed that voice when I felt led to do something.
I believe this is a major way in which we quench the Spirit. I've chosen to live differently now, believing the promises of GOD about how the Spirit works in me. Proceed carefully though. Our instincts are not infallible.
- Seek counsel from trusted godly friends.
Especially when making those big decisions, it's important to run them past someone else and pray for GOD to give you good advice through those people.
I'm curious what your experience has been.
I want to learn from you.
How do you discern whether something on your heart is from GOD?
Have you been guilty of quenching the Spirit?
If so, what did you do to quench Him?
Have you learned how to avoid quenching the Spirit? If so, what did you learn?