Learn to be Led by the Holy Spirit

Romans 8:14 says, “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

Every believer in Jesus can learn how to be led by the Holy Spirit instead of by their physical senses and circumstances.

“Learn to be Led by the Holy Spirit” is the third of four thoughts on how we can better prepare our hearts to hear from our Lord. Portions of the following were adapted from Kenneth E. Hagin’s book Following God’s Plan for Your Life.

Notice that I said learn how to be led by the Spirit. Knowing how to be led by the Holy Spirit does not come naturally right after a person accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior. Just as sheep have to learn to recognize the voice of their shepherd, so we have to learn to recognize the voice of our Lord.

The first thing we need to learn is that God leads us through our spirits.

John 4:24 says that God is spirit. He is not a physical being. And He’s also not a intellectual cloud or “God Conscience” somewhere in the cosmos like many new-agers believe. Therefore the primary way He speaks to us is through our spirits instead of through our carnal flesh and mind.

And to further back this up…

1 Corinthians 2:11 (NASB) says…
For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.

And Proverbs 20:27 (NASB) says…
The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all the innermost parts of his being.

Both of these passages tell us that it’s our spirit that really knows what’s going on inside us and it’s through our spirit that the Lord communicates to us.

Let’s take a look at (learn about) three of the main ways God leads us so that way we can better recognize His voice when He communicates to us.

1. The first and foremost way God leads us is by an inner witness.

Romans 8:16 (NASB) says…
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.

The inner witness (also translated as testifies) is like an inner knowledge of agreement. It’s when you just know that something is right. People sometimes call it a hunch or an impression.

Usually specifics (like exact words or images) are not conveyed with the inner witness but somehow you know exactly what it means.

Romans 8:16 tells us that it’s with this inner witness that we know we are saved — we just know that it’s true because the Holy Spirit gives us that inner knowledge of agreement. And it’s with this same “knowing” that God can and wants to lead you.

2. The second way the Holy Spirit leads us is through the inner voice or “still small voice.”

The main difference between the inner witness and the inner voice is that the inner voice actually has a voice.

1 Kings 19:11-13 says…

11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

There are three Hebrew words make up the phrase “gentle whisper“:
dĕmamah- whisper, calm, silence
daq- thin, small, fine, gaunt
qowl- voice, sound, noise; lightness, lighthearted

Combining these Hebrew words gives the impression that this method of communication is very light and airy, easy to be drowned out.

Also notice that in verse 11 it says “the Lord said” but in verse 13 it says “a voice said.” I believe it was written this way to clearly show us the distinction between the inner voice and the Lord’s more direct voice (which we’ll talk about next.)

Many Bible teachers suggest that the inner voice is actually the voice of your spirit which we call our conscience. The idea is that just as your physical body has a physical voice, so your spiritual body has a spiritual voice. And although we cannot hear our spirit voice with our physical ears, we can hear it through our conscience. Although the Bible does not clearly explain how the inner voice works, it is clear that there is a distinction between it and the Lord’s more direct voice.

Usually when the inner voice speaks it actually conveys real words with coherent thoughts, not vague impressions like the inner witness.

3. The third way God leads us is through the authoritative voice of the Lord.

Although usually the authoritative voice of the Lord will not be audible, sometimes it can be.

Acts 9:1-7 says…

1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.

In Saul’s experience, the authoritative voice of the Lord was audible because the men with him heard the sound. This voice was very clearly the Lord’s as Jesus declares in verse five.

The inner witness, inner voice, and authoritative voice of the Lord are the three main ways God speaks to us. There are other ways also but these three are used most of the time with most people.

So know that we know about them, how can we develop them? How can we recognize the inner witness and inner voice so well that they are more clear than another person’s voice talking right next to us? As I meditated on that question the following three things came to mind:

We need to…

  1. Ask for forgiveness for anytime we may have grieved the Holy Spirit.
  2. Ask God to restore our sensitivity to His Spirit.
  3. Act immediately in faith when we sense His inner witness, inner voice, or authoritative voice.

Yes, you will make mistakes and not “hear” correctly from time to time but that’s how we learn. Just like it took years in the physical world for you to learn how to communicate with perfect listening and speaking skills, so in the spirit world it will take a while before we can correctly discern our Lord’s voice from all the others in this world.

But as you “practice” (acting immediately in faith when you sense what you believe is His voice) it will become easier.

Just remember that we have this promise that we can know our Lord’s voice.
John 10:4
[The shepherd] he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

9 Responses to “Learn to be Led by the Holy Spirit”


  1. 1 Carmel

    Well written article.

  2. 2 Fort

    Good, concise and clear teaching!

  3. 3 Dawit Negassi

    Dear sir/madam

    I have found your article to be very help full which fills the vacuun i had in my spirituality.

    May God bless you

  4. 4 Travis Summers

    I highly enjoyed this teaching. The Lord spoke into my spirit today at work to study on being led by the Holy Spirit, and as I sat down at the computer tonight my head started to hurt and I heard in my spirit “put your glasses on then take 2 ibuprofen.” As I went on with my study I realized the headache was gone. God is so good. My main issue though is allowing Him to led me in those things this flesh doesn’t want to be led in, when I want to do what I want to do. I’ve made alot of choices by not acknowledging Him first that have me in a tough place right now, but through this lesson and others I want to learn how to let Him be my guide! Thank you for this awsome teaching!

    Your sister in the Lord!

  5. 5 Travis Summers

    This teaching was truly a blessing to me. Very encouraging uplifting amd knowledgeable. I want to be Spirit led!

    Your sister in the Lord!

  6. 6 Travis Summers

    This teaching was very enlightening!

    Be Blessed!

  7. 7 Ed C

    Concise simple straight and Helpful.

  8. 8 Ron M

    I think the major way the Holy Spirit leads God’s people is through the Word of God. This would seem to me to be the authoritative voice of God with occassional times when God speaks audibly.

  9. 9 Pauline

    Hi!
    I would like to say i was LED to this website, as I embarked on a search for this kind of nourishing material.
    Something wonderful happened some days back, which proves that the holy spirit does speak. I was in my bedroom one day, when a cockroach ran across. Initially i dismissed it, because, it was obviously faster than i could catch it, so i let it go. Immediately i heard in my spirit “that thing will enter into your hand bag”-Again, i discredited it- how on earth could it get into the particular bag i took to work, with plenty other bags t hide in, i banished the thought &went to sleep. In the morning, as i was getting dressed to go to work, the Holy spirit told me clearly- ”empty your bag before you leave this house”! aah! i was already running late but i took time to empty my handbag- Lo & Behold, the silly thing was sitting comfortably inside my bag all through the night!! I was so so grateful to God for saving me from embarrassment- I know its a funny story, but i would have been the laughing stock of the day, if the insect had frightened me at the office, maybe right before my boss!

    Even little things matter to GOd! I Love Him!!

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