In the first part of this message, we looked at several reasons why we need to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. We will now look at how the Holy Spirit leads and learn about the primary way He leads his people: by the Inward Witness.
What is the Inward Witness?
Of this way the Holy Spirit leads us, the Bible says:
The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. – Romans 8:16
This form of leadership by the Holy Spirit is called the Inner or Inward Witness because the Holy Spirit confirms certain truths, steps we are about to take or direction we need by giving us peace in our hearts or withdrawing peace from our hearts about the issue. This method of God’s leading is the primary way by which God leads his children. The above scripture shows us that this is how the Holy Spirit confirms in our hearts that we are his children after new birth. The same way the Holy Spirit reveals this to us is also the primary way the He leads us in our daily walk with Him.
The Inward Witness in Operation in Scripture
Most times, God doesn’t send an angel with divine message or give us a spectacular spiritual experience while giving us his divine direction. Rather, we just have an unshakable “knowing” in the pit of our stomachs. The man of God, Kenneth E. Hagin describes it as an inner signal; like a traffic light. When its red, we know its not time to move and when its green, we know its time to go.
An illustration of the inward witness in operation can be seen in Acts 16:
“Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the Word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.” – Acts 16:6-7
This passage of scripture gives us a clear example of how the Holy Spirit led Paul and his team as they journeyed from place to place to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Although the passage does not specifically mention how the Holy Spirit forbade them from preaching the Word in Asia, we get some understanding of what most likely happened in the second verse. It says that they assayed to go to Bithynia; in other words, they were about to go there when the Holy Spirit “suffered them not”.
We see another example of the operation of the Inward Witness in the life of Apostle Paul:
And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. – Acts 16:16-18 (emphasis added)
Apostle Paul and his associates were met by a young woman who said the “right” things; she told everyone that they were servants of God and had brought the message of salvation. It is interesting to note that the the Bible says she did this for many days. So initially, even the Apostles did not realize that she had a spirit of divination in her. The Bible then says that Paul was “grieved” in his spirit and knew that her motivation was produced by a spirit of divination. This is a clear example of the Inner Witness and the gift of Discerning of Spirits in operation.
Recognizing when God is leading
Believers today are led on a daily basis in this manner but do not realize that the Lord is leading them. Are you “grieved” in your heart about some step you are about to take? When you think about that decision, do you have peace in your heart or are you unsettled within? If we do not know that this is how God leads, it can be very easy to miss God’s direction. How many times have we heard “something” tell us to do things and passed it off as our own thoughts only to realize that we really should have listened?
The Holy Spirit leads us in such a gentle manner that we may miss it if all we ever expect is the spectacular. Such gentle promptings are so easy to ignore and yet firm enough to get our attention even for the briefest of moments, so much so that we remember later that we did have a prompting about the issue later.
The issue is most of us are in too much of a hurry most times to pay attention and seriously consider what we sense in our hearts; much less to act on it. If we will take the time, slow down and pay attention to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and see God lead us by the Inward Witness.
David Adeniji is the Founder and President of The Behold File, a teaching ministry founded in 2003. The Behold File provides a platform through which the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of men to see Jesus so they can be changed to be like him.