As we discuss values and where the Spirit is leading my tendency is to want concrete plans. What does God want me to do today? Tomorrow? What is the specific plan? Sometimes God is very specific, but other times he is much more general. This morning we’re going to look to few different passages and see how the Spirit leads us.
We’ll start in Galatians
“16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[e] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Gal 5:16-26)
What does it mean to be led by the Spirit? Sometimes we’d just like God to bless the plans we have already made without him. Other times we’d like him to write in the sky a nice tidy schedule for us. Usually he does neither, yet the Bible does give us a path forward.
As we see in the passage from Galatians there is a clear distinction between the life of the Spirit and the life of the flesh. The life of the flesh is marked by the feeding of sinful desires and a pervasive pursuit of those things. The life of the Spirit is marked by the fruit of the Spirit. The Bible explains this as the difference between an old life and a new life in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). These two different lifestyles lead to totally different results.
When we want to be led by the Spirit, we choose to follow the Spirit and we find ourselves being led by him. The Spirit leads us to a lifestyle of fruit and the lifestyle of fruit of the Spirit leads us to him. “Life by the Spirit is neither legalism nor license – nor a middle way between them. It is a life of faith and love that allows a person to be led by the Spirit.” This lifestyle is both a choice and a submission. We are led and we choose to follow. The soldier chooses to join the military and then gives everything in unquestioning obedience to the mission. Likewise, this is the call of Christ. “…since believers have been made alive by the Spirit, they must follow. Indeed, they are to get in line with him or keep in step with him.” The Holy Spirit is always present and always moving.
So, what does the Spirit lead people to? Let’s look at a passage in the gospel of John.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-15)
Primarily the Spirit leads people to truth. “…”all truth” is the communication about and from Jesus. The Spirit is the agent between the Son (and Father) in heaven and believers on earth.” The truth the Spirit leads people into is the person of Jesus. When people follow the Spirit, they inevitably draw closer to Jesus. In short, in the simplest terms, the Spirit leads people to Jesus.
How can we be led by the Spirit? Live a lifestyle of obedience to God – the result will be the fruit of the Spirit. Remove yourself from a lifestyle gratifying your desires or sinful fulfillment. Everyone makes mistakes, but a consistent, wilful disregard of Jesus and desire to sin will gradually lead away from him.
Be an assertive disciple and a submissive follower of Jesus. Some people in the gospels ran after Jesus just for a chance to see him, touch his robes or have a word with him (blind beggar-Mark 10:46-52, Zacchaeus – Luke 19:1-10). Others ignored him and hoped he would stop upsetting their worlds that didn’t need a saviour. It sounds surprising, but not everyone wants a saviour. If you want to be led by the Spirit, aggressively chase Jesus down and then willingly submit to him.
It’s not so much about a 5 year plan for your life, rather it’s about following the One who will lead you where you need to go.
Spirit lead and help me follow.
 Barker and Kohlenberger III eds, Expositors Bible Commentary Abridged Edition: New Testament, 1994, pg 739
 Barker and Kohlenberger III eds, Expositors Bible Commentary Abridged Edition: New Testament, 1994, pg 743
 Arrington and Stronstad eds, Life in the Spirit New Testament Commentary, 1999 pg 94