By Rev. Kenneth E. Hagin
Too often, we seek guidance every other way except the way God said it was to come. We judge by our physical senses, but nowhere in the Bible does God say He will guide us by our senses. Or, we often look at things from a mental standpoint. But God said, “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord…” (Prov. 20:27), which means that God will guide us through our spirit.
Man is a spirit being. He has a soul, and he lives in a physical body (1 Thess. 5:23). But he is a spirit being because he is made in the likeness of God. Jesus said that God is a Spirit (John 4:24).
There is an outward man and an inward man. The outward man is not the real you. The outward man is only the “house” (body) you live in. The inward man is the real you.
Before we can understand how God will guide us through our spirit, we must first find out what the spirit is. This inward man—or as he is called by Peter, “the hidden man of the heart” (1 Peter 3:4)—is the spirit of man. When the Bible speaks of the heart, it is speaking of the spirit, the inward man, or the hidden man. This is the real man. When Paul says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature . . .” (2 Cor. 5:17), he is talking about the inward man, the real man. You certainly didn’t get a new body when you were born again, but the real you, your spirit, became a new man in Christ.
People tend to be more body-conscious than spirit-conscious. We need to reverse the order and become more spirit-conscious. Until we become more spirit-conscious, we will not be able to understand what God is saying to our spirit. Spiritual things will be indistinct. But the more spirit-conscious we become, the more real the leading of the Lord will be to us.
We need to think of ourselves as a spirit being, possessing a soul and living in a body. Many times people uses the terms “spirit” and “soul” interchangeably, leaving the impression that they are the same. But they are not.
A man’s spirit—the innermost man, the real man—receives eternal life and is born again. But his intellect and emotions, which comprise the soul, still have to be dealt with. They are not born again; instead, they must be renewed.
Paul speaks about the renewing of the mind in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind . . . .” This is a process. The epistle of James was written to Christians. Yet in the first chapter, he said, “. . . receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able TO SAVE YOUR SOULS” (James 1:21). Our soul must be renewed, or restored, by the Word of God.
Our spirit is born again; our mind is to be renewed; and Romans 12:1 tells us what to do with our body. Paul said, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).
Paul said in Romans 6:13, “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin . . . .” After you are born again, your body is going to want to keep on doing the same things it always has done, but Paul said not to let it. The man on the inside, the inward man, has become a new man in Christ. Let this inward man dominate the outward man.
This man on the inside—the spirit man through whom God will deal—has become a new man. The old things that were in the old man are gone now. Spiritual death was in there. The nature of the devil was in there. Hatred and lying were in there. But now the love of God is in there. Now the nature of God is in there. This is the man who is to be the dominant one. We are to listen to him, because it is through this man—our spirit man—that God will guide us.
The inward man has a “voice” which we call the conscience, intuition, inner guidance, or the inward witness. As a born-again believer trains and develops his spirit, this voice will become clearer. His spirit will become a surer and surer guide. One thing that has held back the Christian world as a whole is that we are more physical-conscious (body-conscious) and more mental-conscious (soul-conscious) then we are spirit-conscious. We have developed the body and soul, but we have left the spirit of man almost untouched. Your spirit can be educated just as your mind can be educated. Your spirit can be built up in strength and trained just as your body can be built up and trained.
With a person who has never been born again, his spirit is unregenerate. His conscience would permit him to do just about anything. But when you have the nature and life of God in you, your conscience won’t permit you to do just anything.
It is your spirit, not the Holy Spirit, which condemns you if you do wrong as a Christian. The Holy Spirit does not convict of sin. Jesus said the only sin the Holy Spirit will convict the world of is the sin of rejecting Jesus. It is your own spirit that knows the very moment you have done wrong.
Notice in Romans 8:16, Paul said, “The Spirit itself [or Himself] beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Too many times people think that this witness he is talking about is a physical something. It isn’t. The Bible does not say the Spirit bears witness with our bodies.
Feeling is the voice of the body. Reason is the voice of the soul or mind. Conscience is the voice of the spirit.
If we go by feelings, we are going to be in trouble!
People say, “I felt like the Lord heard me.” It makes no difference whether you felt like it or not. If the Word of God states it, it is true. And since God said He hears and answers your prayers (1 John 5:14–15), He does!
Base your faith on the Word; not on your feelings. Romans 8:16 does not say that the Spirit bears witness with our bodies or with our feelings. It says, “The Spirit itself [Himself] beareth witness with our SPIRIT . . . .” The Word and the Spirit agree. The Holy Spirit will take this Word and witness to your heart.
It is not for us to tell the Lord how to lead us. In the Bible we see how at times some received guidance through a vision. We read where others received guidance from an angel who appeared and told them certain things. However, such occurrences didn’t happen every day in these people’s lives. They occurred once or twice in the entire lifetime of some of them. Too many times when God is trying to bear witness with our spirits—trying to guide us—we won’t listen, because we want something dramatic, such as a vision or an angel.
Sometimes people don’t want to take the responsibility themselves and become more Spirit-conscious and to yield to the leading of the Spirit, yet that is where the responsibility lies. It is a lot easier to put if off on the Lord and say, “Lord, if You want me to do that, then You just open the door. If You don’t want me to do it, then You shut the door.” It is easier to do that than to wait on God until you know the answer on the inside of you. And sometimes it takes times of waiting to hear this inward witness.
We can get so busy physically and mentally that spiritual things become indistinct to us. It is easier to get quiet with your body than to get quiet with your mind. You can make as much noise with your mind as you can with your hands and feet! Sometimes when you try to sleep, though your body is relaxed, your mind is still noisy. It is still churning with the day’s activities, ideas, plans, or worries and anxieties about the future.
Here is an area in which praying in tongues is a great advantage. “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful” (1 Cor. 14:14).
While praying, has your mind ever wandered to other things? It used to take me an hour, sometimes, to get my mind quiet, but now I have found the best way is to pray in other tongues. When you pray in other tongues, your mind grows quiet. Once it is quiet, you become more conscious of your own spirit and of spiritual things.
When praying in other tongues and worshipping God, your spirit is in direct contact with God, who is a Spirit and the Father of spirits. Your prayer language doesn’t come out of your head, but out of your heart.
If we would train our spirits, we would know inside with a “yes” or a “no” just what to do in every area of life, even in minor things. We spend practically our entire lifetime in the mental and physical realms. Many times, we’ve developed our head, or intellect, at the expense of our heart. The knowledge of our intellect has taken the throne in our life. Our spirit, which should guide us, is kept locked away in prison, so to speak, and it is not permitted to function.
Whenever we receive any kind of leading or guidance, we can know whether it’s from God by determining whether or not it’s in line with His Word. When the Spirit of God moves, He always moves in line with the Word. If it’s not in line with the Word, it isn’t the Spirit of God. The Bible is inspired by the Spirit, and if it is the same Spirit Who is speaking to you, it is going to be in line with the Word.
Remember that the Bible says there are many voices in this world. In my travels, I have met people who claim to have heard some kind of voice. There are some very dear people who have gotten off track by following voices. There are many voices in the world (1 Cor. 14:10). We are not to accept anything without examining it in the light of the Word.
God does communicate with us through our spirit, but it isn’t a matter of listening to voices. It isn’t a matter of praying to hear something. If He speaks to us, all right, but if He doesn’t, we have His Word for godly guidance, and we can walk in the light of it.