Here are two important questions for you to answer. First, at some time, have you heard the message that you must be born again? Undoubtedly, your answer is yes. So here is my second question: Have you ever had clear, practical, systematic teaching on how to be led by the Holy Spirit?
Your answers to those questions lay bare one of the root problems of the Church. Many people who have been born again have never been taught how to be led by the Spirit. They get into the Kingdom of God, and they stumble around and never move into their callings. Why? Because they have never received needed teaching on how to be led by the Holy Spirit.
My own inexpert summation of Church history is that for nearly twenty centuries we have been trying to find a system so safe we do not have to trust the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, there is no such system. And the riskiest thing you can ever do in the long run is cease trusting the Holy Spirit.
Religious leaders are afraid of anything they cannot themselves control. But anything that religious leaders can control does not have the power to do what is needed. Many people feel it is dangerous to rely on the Holy Spirit. In a certain sense, it is. You could draw wrong conclusions, for instance, and be wrong in your actions. It has happened before. But I want to tell you, it is much more dangerous not to rely on the Holy Spirit.
The Way to Spiritual Maturity
The new life is also one that is directed by the Holy Spirit. When you receive Jesus as your personal Savior by faith, you are born of the Spirit of God. You become a tiny infant in God’s family. But to grow up into a mature son or daughter in His Kingdom, there is a further process: being led by the Spirit of God.
Let’s look at just one verse of Scripture:
“As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)
In the Greek language, ‘are led’ is a continuing present tense, meaning “as many as are being continually led by the Spirit of God.” It is not something that happens in church on Sunday morning or when you kneel by your bed to pray. It is something that happens day by day, hour by hour and moment by moment. Those who are being continually led by the Spirit of God, they—and only they—become mature sons and daughters of God.
I had a tremendously powerful personal experience of the Holy Spirit when I came to know Jesus. Lying prostrate on the floor of an army barrack room in World War II, I experienced the power of God for well over an hour. It was a totally strange experience for me. My initial encounter with Jesus was also an encounter with the Holy Spirit and His power.
From then on, the Holy Spirit was always a reality to me. I studied about the Holy Spirit, I believed in the Holy Spirit, and when I became a preacher I preached about the Holy Spirit. I preached many, many times, “You must be born again of the Spirit.” Looking back, however, I have to say with regret that the Holy Spirit for me at that time was rather like an emergency vehicle. When I was in desperate trouble, I phoned for the ambulance. The ambulance always turned up and helped me, but my relationship with the Holy Spirit was spasmodic.
If Jesus could not do it without the Holy Spirit, be very sure that you and I cannot.
Part of the problem was that I was deeply immersed in religion. As we have seen, religion and the Holy Spirit do not blend well together. To remedy that, God permitted me to go through various experiences, all of which were designed—one after the other—to make me aware of my total dependence on the Holy Spirit.
As you read this, you may be going through frustrations, problems and heartaches yourself. You may be saying, “God, why?” One very probable reason why God has permitted these problems to come into your life is to show you that you need the Holy Spirit—every day, every hour and every moment. There is no other way to succeed in the Christian life.
The Holy Spirit is totally willing. We never have to coerce Him or cajole Him. The problem—if there is a problem—is always in us, never in Him. The Scripture says, “The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh” (Galatians 5:17). Basically, that means we simply cannot do the godly things we would like to do because of that built-in antipathy in our old carnal nature toward the Spirit. And so we have to learn not to be dictated to by our carnal nature. We have to learn to reckon our carnal nature dead through the death of Jesus on the cross. And we have to live for the Lord through the power of the Spirit.
Move Forward in Your Calling
If you want to succeed in your calling, if you want to take up the Kingdom assignment for which you were made, if you want to conquer adversity and evil forces of the enemy, the lesson I am teaching you is essential. You must be led by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus attributed His whole ministry to the presence of the Holy Spirit. He never took the credit for what He did. When Jesus was in the synagogue in His home city, Nazareth, He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah:
“And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’” (Luke 4:17–19)
If we wish to continue with that message and that ministry as we move forward in our callings, we are under the same condition as the Lord Jesus. It is only possible by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. If Jesus could not do it without the Holy Spirit, be very sure that you and I cannot.
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This article is taken from the book Called To Conquer by Derek Prince
Listen to Derek Prince's podcast series How To Be Led By The Holy Spirit to learn how you can be led by the Holy Spirit!