Q&A: Inward Leading of the Holy Spirit

Inward Leading of the Holy Spirit

What do we mean by an "inward leading" from the Holy Spirit?

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Answer

When we speak of an inward leading of the Holy Spirit, we're not speaking of something like like something that would compete with Scripture. This is, you know, the Spirit can lead us through Scripture, but sometimes the Spirit also leads us in personal ways. For example, in Romans chapter 8 and in Galatians chapter 4 the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we're God's children, so reminding us that we belong to God. Romans 5:5 in the context God's love is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, pointing to the cross, so reminding us that God loves us. Romans 8 and Galatians 5 speak directly of the leading of the Spirit but especially in the context of moral empowerment, leading us to do what's right and not to do what's wrong. The book of Acts tends to emphasize more especially power for evangelism, so in Acts 8:29 the Spirit speaks to Philip and says, "Run up to this chariot and let this person know in other words, about Christ. In chapter 10 the Spirit tells Peter to go down and meet with these Gentiles who have come to see him, so again, crossing barriers to bring people the gospel. The Spirit can lead us in evangelism. Nehemiah speaks of a plan that he had. He says, "God put it in my heart," and so we can also speak in those terms. Or the psalmist saying, "God, please lead me in your ways." Sometimes the psalmist might not even know how, like in the language of Proverbs, God is ordering the psalmist's steps. But the idea is that we're trusting God to lead us and guide us, even in our personal lives.

Answer by Dr. Craig S. Keener

Dr. Craig Keener teaches New Testament studies at Asbury Theological Seminary.