Five Ways God Directs Our Paths

There are five distinct Scriptural ways of how to know God's will for directing our lives.

  1. God reveals His Will in the Scriptures and the Scriptures are the director of all other revelations.
  2. The second way God directs us is through the inner witness. The Word of God is full of examples of the Holy Spirit speaking to the believer's spirit concerning God's direction for their lives.
  3. The third way God directs His people is through supernatural confirmation. Supernatural confirmation is very dramatic and noticeable. Confirmation cannot stand alone. It must be preceded by another form of direction. Then and only then can the supernatural event occur to confirm the direction that is already in our spirit.
  4. The fourth way God communicates His will to us is often overlooked and it is the witness of the Body of Christ. If a decision seems good to the Holy Spirit, it will also seem good to the church leadership (Acts 15:28).
  5. The last way God shows us His Will for our lives is through circumstances.

The Bible

Revelation of the Scriptures is set apart from all the other ways of knowing God's Will for your life. Of all the ways to hear from God, the Bible is first and foremost. The Bible is God's revealed plan for mankind.

(2 Pet 1:21) For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

(2 Tim 3:16-17) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, [17] That the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

God, Who inspired the Scriptures hundreds of years ago, has never changed and will never change His Word.

(Mal 3:6) For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.

(Heb 6:17-18) Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, [18] That by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

(Heb 13:8) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

(James 1:17) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Jesus summed up the whole matter when He said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away but My words shall not pass away." (Mat.24:35).

You may ask a question such as, "How is the Bible going to tell me who to marry?" Well it is for sure we cannot expect to open the Scriptures and have his or her name spelled out for us on the page. But, we can go to the Bible and find God's set of standards by which to choose a mate. For example, Second Corinthians 6:14 warns us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. This is a major dividing line. Many young people have married unbelievers, hoping to change their spouse by conversion after the marriage. Almost always, their hopes are crushed and the believer of that marriage is doomed to "Hell on earth" in the marriage.

(2 Cor 6:14) Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

We must be well grounded in the Word of God. When we have God's Word hidden in our hearts, it will keep us from sin.

(Ps 119:11) Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!

Jesus said the Holy Spirit would bring that Word to our remembrance. (John 14:26) But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

And it will indicate whether or not a thing is God's Will for our life.

(1 John 2:27) But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

The Bible is God's written Will and Plan for mankind in general, for you in specific. It can be applied to every question life has to offer, but it must not be treated as some kind of spiritual "good luck charm." Misapplied Scripture is what got Adam & Eve into trouble.

No, the Bible will not tell you whether or not to buy a new car. But, you can read the passages on money, stewardship of material things, and how we are to provide for our families, and we begin to see that the Bible does have some things to say concerning whether or not to make the purchase. The Scriptures lay out a general pattern for life and as we move in the general flow of God's plan we are then able to see the specific path we are to take.

Unfortunately, many people are begging God for personal specific direction for their lives yet they are not even following the general instructions that God has laid out in His Word for the Body of Christ as a whole.

There are two Greek words that are translated "word" in English. One is logos which means the general idea behind a thing. Our English term "logic" comes from "logos" and it is easy to see the connection. The logic of any study, or reasoning, is the general principle behind it. The other term, which refers to a specific spoken word, is the Greek word rhema. This term refers to God's individual direction for each person for each decision of his life. It is important to live in the center of God's logos word so that He can speak to you with His rhema word. The Bible reveals enough general principles of His Will to keep us so busy that we need very little rhema direction. In fact, we often find that God simply takes the logos and confirms to us that this is His rhema for us.

Of all the ways to hear from God, the Bible is first and foremost. The Bible is God's revealed plan for mankind.

The Inner Witness

The second way God directs us is through the inner witness. The Bible has many examples of the Holy Spirit speaking to the believer's spirit concerning God's direction for their lives.

Sometimes He tells us to go ahead with our plans. (Acts 11:12) Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man's house.

Sometimes He has us change our plans. (Acts 16:6-7) Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. [7] After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.

Other times the Holy Spirit says, "Here's the plan." (Acts 13:2) As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

It is very important for us to have an open communication link with the Holy Spirit. Being able to hear Him so He can direct us in the minor decisions as well as the major decisions of life and ministry. The ability to hear the Spirit's voice in our inner man is not something that comes quickly. It must be developed.

Hosea told us that we can know the Lord if we follow on. (Hosea 6:3) Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, Like the latter and former rain to the earth. Jesus told about sheep who hear His voice. (John 10:2-5) But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. [3] To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. [4] And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. [5] Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.

(John 10:14) I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. It is interesting that He used the term "sheep" and not "lambs." He is indicating that a growing process is necessary before we will have the ability to recognize His voice every time.

Some voices on the telephone need no introduction because you know the voice from repeated conversation. We can learn the voice of the Holy Spirit through repeated prayer and meditation of the Word. When we give as much (hopefully more) time to God as we do the Telephone, TV, and magazines and newspapers, we will never have to mistake a deceptive voice for the inner witness of God.

We must know the difference between God's voice in our spirit and the voice of mammon. We must know the difference between the voice of a mountain and the faith of God. Relying upon the inner witness is absolutely necessary for a victorious Christian life. The inner witness is God's Spirit speaking to our human spirits with information that our finite minds have not calculated.

In order to mature in faith and become effective instruments in God's hands so that we will be in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing, it is necessary for us to learn how to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit as well as recognize the inner witness of our spirits.

We find that God frequently attempts to speak to His people by means of the voice of His Spirit in order to give them direction, but since they have not been taught how to discern His voice He is often accused of being silent.

Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice... and they follow Me" (Jn. 10:27). How can they follow Him if they cannot discern His voice? Jesus didn't say that He would shout down from heaven to direct them, but He did promise to speak to them by His Spirit, which would come be with them: Howbeit when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you in all truth (Jn. 16:13), and he shall teach you all things (14:26).

Many Christians are waiting for God to give them a revelation through a vision or prophecy concerning His will for them, not realizing that He is already trying to communicate His will to them by His Spirit within them. If they would spend a little more time in His Word and in prayer, and be willing to be still before Him, then they would begin to discern His voice and hear Him speaking inwardly to their spirits.

The inner voice of the Holy Spirit is the voice of God speaking directly to your spirit in order to guide you and teach you concerning a matter at hand, weather you have been praying about it for a specific answer or not.

God enables us to know His will regarding a matter or question which concerns us, by means of a witness within. This is an inward knowing in your spirit that a certain plan or decisive action on your part, or some teaching, or revelation, for example is right or wrong. You see, when you become a Christian, not only are you the temple of the Holy Spirit, Who abides within to speak the direct revelation of God's will to you (Jn. 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:10-13), but you also have, by virtue of the new birth, a new heart to discern spiritual things yourself, and know the will of God intuitively by your own spirit (1 Cor. 2:14-16). You have received an anointing that abides in you and teaches you all things (1 Jn. 2:27).

So, if you are praying about a decision you must make and you begin to feel uneasy about it, or you have a sense of uncertainty, or have a heaviness in your spirit, DON'T go ahead. It is the inner knowing (or "appraisal" NASB) warning you of something bad or wrong. If, on the other hand, you feel there is a positive confirmation in your spirit and you have an inner peace (Col. 3:15) to go ahead in the matter. The inner witness in your spirit is informing you of God's will to go ahead with the decision or plan.

The inner witness is an inward knowing of good or bad, right or wrong, it is what we call the conscience. The inner voice of the Holy Spirit is God speaking by His Spirit to your spirit-man. We must realize that the inner witness and the inner voice of the Spirit are not merely some "feeling" we have about a matter. They have nothing to do with the five physical senses or the emotions of the soul. I am talking about two things that by-pass the mind and intellect. God's will revealed to you by the inner witness (inward knowing) or the inner voice of the Holy Spirit may at times be completely contrary to your feelings, emotions and logic. Feelings and emotions can easily deceive us or confuse us if we rely upon them.

The mind is a battlefield. Your soul (mind, will, emotions) is the place where the enemy attacks, but he cannot get into your spirit, where God's Spirit resides, if you beat him on the battlefield. Your enlightened spirit and the voice of God's Spirit on the inside will always guide you correctly if you will listen to them (Jn. 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:10-16; 1 Jn. 2:27).

Occasionally I will have to cancel an appointment that I have hastily accepted either because of the urgency on someone else's part or based on my own feelings. When this happens, the more I think and pray about it, the more burdened my spirit becomes, and the less I want to go because I begin to realize that it is not God's will for me to go. I have to call and cancel. I will not go just to have integrity with that person or group. I would rather have integrity with God.

Other times I will receive an invitation to speak and I already know that it is God's will. The Holy Spirit has already told me that the person will ask me to come on a certain night to teach and I already have the appointment made with God before it is confirmed in the person doing the inviting. It is a real blessing to be in tune with the Spirit and sensitive to His voice within.

Being yielded to the Spirit is the secret to being "fruitful in every good work." When we are completely yielded to Him, and sensitive to His voice, then we can always move with Him, fulfilling God's plan. We don't have to waste precious time planning and scheming, or running all over the place hoping that we are doing God's will and fulfilling His purpose. God doesn't want you to spend all of your time trying to find out what His will is for your life, He wants you to spend all of your time doing His will in your life.

Supernatural Confirmation

The third way God guides His people is through confirmation. Supernatural confirmation can be very dramatic and noticeable. Confirmation cannot stand alone. It must follow another form of direction. Then and only then can the supernatural event occur to confirm the direction that is already in our spirit.

In Genesis there is a great example of supernatural confirmation. When Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac, the servant asked for a sign from God that he was making the right choice. Rebekah fulfilled the sign when she volunteered to water the servant's ten camels. It would have taken 300 gallons of water, but Eliezer was not acting on this miracle alone when he chose Rebekah. He was acting on what God had given back in Canaan. (Gen 24:4) but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac.

The journey back to Mesopotamia was more than 500 miles (800 km), and the servant was forbidden to allow Isaac to accompany him, even with the likelihood that a prospective bride would not wish to make the long trip to Palestine to meet Isaac.

Eliezer prayed a very specific prayer in Gen. 24:14 and God answered him miraculously, but he had already acted out his faith by making the long trip without Isaac, The supernatural confirmation was after he had carried out the instructions from God, through Abraham.

Many people in the church today are seeking signs and prophecies as directives for their lives; yet, every Biblical example of a miraculous intervention in the course of nature was only the "confirmation" of a previous direction already clearly received from God.

Gideon's fleeces (Judges 6:36-40) were only a confirmation of what God had already said to him. (Judges 6:16)

Agabus' prophecy that Paul would be bound in Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-11) came as no new revelation; Paul had already received the inner witness weeks before. (Acts 20:22-23)

The Bible nowhere directs believers to chart their lives by prophecies or signs; on the contrary, the signs are to follow the believer rather than the believer following the signs. (Mark 16:17) Notice that the Bible says that these signs "confirmed" the Word that had been spoken.

Yes, God can, and He does send supernatural confirmations at the point of major decisions in life. But, if the supernatural events are not confirmations to what He has already said in our hearts, we must not move!

(Acts 21:10-11) And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. [11] When he had come to us, he took Paul's belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'"

Paul is on his last mission trip. As he was going back to Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit was prophesying over him at every stop on his way. In every city, the same word came forth: when Paul arrived in Jerusalem, the Jews would bind him hand and foot and turn him over to the Gentiles for persecution. But, on this stop, as soon as the prophecy was given, all the people in the room said, "Paul don't go to Jerusalem." Here is the gift of prophecy, a supernatural confirmation, of the will of God in Paul's life, but the people added to it with their own advice. This one reason why confirmations cannot stand alone; they may have a certain amount of the Spirit mixed with human elements as well. Prophecy must not stand alone, it must confirm what God has already said. The one prophesying is flesh and is not purely spiritual, but God is Spirit.

Paul did not go unwarned but, he went being able to tell the difference in true prophecy from the Lord and what was clearly the people's personal desires for him.

God will many times send the confirming signs in the form of dreams and visions.

The Witness of the Body of Christ

The fourth way God communicates His will to us is often overlooked and it is the witness of the Body of Christ. If a decision seems good to the Holy Spirit, it will also seem good to the church leadership.

(Acts 15:28) For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:

Circumstances

The last way God shows us His Will for our lives is through circumstances.

Not Mine, But Thine... One Step at a Time



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