Why Be Guided by God’s Spirit?
“You are my God. Your spirit is good; may it lead me.”—PS. 143:10.
1. Illustrate how an invisible force can guide a person.
HAVE you ever used a compass to find your way? A compass is a simple device with only one moving part—a magnetic needle pointing toward the north. Because of an invisible force known as magnetism, the needle of the compass aligns itself with the magnetic field surrounding the earth between its poles. For centuries, explorers and travelers have used the compass to guide their way over land and sea.
2, 3. (a) What powerful force did Jehovah use aeons ago? (b) Why should we expect God’s invisible active force to guide our lives today?
2 There is another invisible force that is even more essential for our guidance. What is it? The one described in the opening verses of the Bible. Speaking of what Jehovah accomplished aeons ago, Genesis states: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” As he did so, he sent forth a powerful force, for the creation account adds: “God’s active force was moving to and fro.” (Gen. 1:1, 2) What was at work? Holy spirit—the dynamic force behind creation. We owe our existence to Jehovah’s use of this spirit to produce all his works.—Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30.
3 As living, breathing humans, should we expect God’s active force to have any further effect on our lives? God’s own Son knew that we should, for Jesus said to his disciples: “The spirit . . . will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13) How are we to understand what this spirit is, and why should we want to be guided by it?
The Nature of Holy Spirit
4, 5. (a) What do Trinitarians wrongly think that the holy spirit is? (b) How would you explain the true nature of holy spirit?
4 Likely, some of the people you talk to in the ministry believe in what the King James Version and some other Bible translations call the Holy Ghost. Trinitarians wrongly think that this is a spirit person equal with God the Father. (1 Cor. 8:6) It is noteworthy, however, that throughout The Webster Bible, an amended King James Version originally published in 1833, American lexicographer Noah Webster replaced “Holy Ghost” with “Holy Spirit.” Webster did so because he knew that in the Scriptures this expression did not mean “an apparition.”a
5 What, then, is the true nature of holy spirit? A footnote at Genesis 1:2 in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures—With References states: “Besides being translated ‘spirit,’ ruʹach [Hebrew] is also translated ‘wind’ and by other words that denote an invisible active force.” (Compare footnotes at Genesis 3:8; 8:1.) Just as wind is invisible but exerts force, so the immaterial, impersonal holy spirit is unseen but produces effects. This spirit is energy from God projected and exerted on people or things to accomplish his will. Is it hard to believe that such a marvelous force emanates from the holy Source, Almighty God? Not at all!—Read Isaiah 40:12, 13.
6. What significant appeal did David make to Jehovah?
6 Can Jehovah continue to use his spirit to guide us through life? He promised the psalmist David: “I shall make you have insight and instruct you in the way you should go.” (Ps. 32:8) Did David want that? Yes, for he appealed to Jehovah: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Your spirit is good; may it lead me.” (Ps. 143:10) We should have the same desire and willingness to be guided by God’s spirit. Why so? Consider four reasons.
We Are Not Qualified to Guide Ourselves
7, 8. (a) Why are we not able to guide ourselves independent of God? (b) Illustrate why we dare not try to find our own way through this wicked system of things.
7 First, we should want to be guided by God’s spirit because we are not capable of guiding ourselves. “To guide” means “to direct in a course or show the way to be followed.” However, Jehovah did not create us with the ability to do that for ourselves, especially not in our imperfect condition. His prophet Jeremiah wrote: “O Lord, I am conscious that a man’s way is not in himself: man has no power of guiding his steps.” (Jer. 10:23, The Bible in Basic English) And why not? Jeremiah heard God’s analysis of why we are impaired when it comes to directing ourselves. Speaking of the person we are inside, Jehovah said: “The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate. Who can know it?”—Jer. 17:9; Matt. 15:19.
8 Would it not be foolhardy for an inexperienced person to set off alone, without a skilled guide and not so much as a compass, hiking deep into an uncharted wilderness? Not knowing how to survive inhospitable conditions in the wild and not having the expertise to find his way safely to his destination, he would be putting his life in jeopardy. So, too, the person who thinks he can direct his course through this wicked world without allowing God to show him the right way is placing his life in grave danger. The only chance we have of traversing this system of things successfully is to make the same prayerful request to Jehovah that David did: “Let my steps take hold on your tracks, in which my footsteps will certainly not be made to totter.” (Ps. 17:5; 23:3) How is it possible to receive such guidance?
9. As depicted on page 17, how can God’s spirit serve as a sure guide for us?
9 If we are humble and willing to depend on Jehovah, he will impart to us his holy spirit as a sure guide for our steps. How will that active force help us? Jesus explained to his disciples: “The helper, the holy spirit, which the Father will send in my name, that one will teach you all things and bring back to your minds all the things I told you.” (John 14:26) As we regularly and prayerfully study God’s Word, including all the sayings of Christ, holy spirit will increase our comprehension of Jehovah’s deep wisdom, so that we can follow his will closely. (1 Cor. 2:10) Additionally, at any unexpected turn in the road to life, the spirit will show us the way to go. It will bring to mind Bible principles that we have already learned and help us to grasp how they apply in directing our next step.
Jesus Was Guided by God’s Spirit
10, 11. What expectation did the only-begotten Son of God have regarding holy spirit, and what did he experience?
10 A second reason why we should want to be guided by holy spirit is that God led his own Son by it. Before coming to earth, the only-begotten Son of God knew of the prophecy: “Upon him the spirit of Jehovah must settle down, the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of mightiness, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah.” (Isa. 11:2) Just imagine how eager Jesus was to receive the help of God’s spirit while residing in the environment that he faced here on earth!
11 Jehovah’s words came true. The Gospel record states what happened immediately after Jesus’ baptism: “Now Jesus, full of holy spirit, turned away from the Jordan, and he was led about by the spirit in the wilderness.” (Luke 4:1) There, while Jesus was fasting, praying, and meditating, Jehovah likely instructed and enlightened his Son about what lay ahead for him. God’s active force was at work on Jesus’ mind and heart, guiding his thinking and decisions. As a result, Jesus knew what to do in each situation, and he did exactly what his Father wanted him to do.
12. Why is it necessary that we ask for God’s spirit to lead us?
12 Knowing the value of the effects of God’s spirit in his own life, Jesus impressed on his disciples the importance of their asking for and being led by holy spirit. (Read Luke 11:9-13.) Why is that so necessary for us? Because it can transform our thinking, so that it resembles the mind of Christ. (Rom. 12:2; 1 Cor. 2:16) By letting God’s spirit guide our lives, we can think as Christ does and imitate his example.—1 Pet. 2:21.
The World’s Spirit Would Lead Us Astray
13. What is the world’s spirit, and what does it produce?
13 The third reason for wanting God’s spirit to guide us is that without it we could be led astray by the unholy spirit that is at work in the lives of most people today. The world has its own powerful, impelling force that foments a course totally opposite of what holy spirit can produce in us. Rather than fostering in people the mind of Christ, the world’s spirit causes their thinking and actions to resemble those of the ruler of the world, Satan. (Read Ephesians 2:1-3; Titus 3:3.) When a person gives in to the world’s spirit and takes up practicing the works of the flesh, grave consequences result, preventing him from inheriting God’s Kingdom.—Gal. 5:19-21.
14, 15. How can we succeed in resisting the spirit of the world?
14 Jehovah has equipped us to resist the spirit of the world. The apostle Paul said to “go on acquiring power in the Lord and in the mightiness of his strength . . . that you may be able to resist in the wicked day.” (Eph. 6:10, 13) By means of his spirit, Jehovah fortifies us to withstand Satan’s efforts to mislead us. (Rev. 12:9) The spirit of the world is strong, and we cannot avoid it altogether. However, we do not have to be corrupted by it. Holy spirit is even stronger, and it will help us!
15 Of those who forsook Christianity in the first century, the apostle Peter said: “Abandoning the straight path, they have been misled.” (2 Pet. 2:15) How very thankful we can be that we have received, “not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God”! (1 Cor. 2:12) With the help of its influence and by taking full advantage of all of Jehovah’s provisions to keep us on the right path spiritually, we can succeed in resisting the satanic spirit of this wicked world.—Gal. 5:16.
Holy Spirit Produces Good Fruitage
16. What fruitage can holy spirit produce in us?
16 A fourth reason for wanting God’s spirit to work within us is that it produces healthy fruitage in the lives of those who are led by it. (Read Galatians 5:22, 23.) Who among us would not want to be more loving, joyful, and peaceable? Who of us would not like to abound in long-suffering, kindness, and goodness? Who of us would not benefit from developing greater faith, mildness, and self-control? God’s spirit produces in us fine qualities that benefit us and those with whom we live and serve. Cultivating this fruitage is a constant work in progress, since there is no limit to the amount of the spirit’s fruitage that we need and are permitted to produce.
17. How can we cultivate an aspect of the fruitage of the spirit to a greater extent?
17 We are wise to take stock of ourselves to be sure that our words and actions give evidence that we are directed by holy spirit and are producing its fruitage. (2 Cor. 13:5a; Gal. 5:25) If we see that we need to cultivate some aspects of the fruitage of the spirit, we can cooperate with holy spirit to a greater degree in producing such qualities. We do this by studying each aspect as it is revealed through the pages of the Bible and discussed in our Christian publications. Thus we can discern how the spirit’s fruitage should be manifested in our everyday life and then work to cultivate it to a greater extent.b As we observe the results of the operation of God’s spirit in our own life as well as in the lives of our fellow Christians, we clearly see why we must be guided by it.
Are You Yielding to God’s Spirit?
18. How is Jesus a model for us in responding to God’s spirit?
18 As God’s “master worker” in the creation of the physical universe, Jesus knew all about the earth’s magnetic field, which humans use to navigate the earth. (Prov. 8:30; John 1:3) However, there is no evidence in the Bible that Jesus ever used that force to guide his way when he was on earth. The Bible does report that as a human, he experienced what a powerful force God’s holy spirit was in his life. He welcomed its influence, and when it impelled him, he yielded and acted accordingly. (Mark 1:12, 13; Luke 4:14) Are you of that sort?
19. What must we do for holy spirit to become the guiding force in our life?
19 God’s active force still operates on willing minds and hearts to move and guide them. How can you let it work upon you to lead you in the right direction? Pray constantly to Jehovah that he send you his spirit and help you yield to its influence. (Read Ephesians 3:14-16.) Work in harmony with your prayers by searching out the counsel found in God’s written Word, the Bible—a product of holy spirit. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) Obey the wise instructions it offers, and then respond eagerly to the leading of holy spirit. Act with faith in Jehovah’s ability to guide you properly through life in this wicked world.
a In the preface of his Bible, Webster wrote: “Whenever words are understood in a sense different from that which they had when introduced, and different from that of the original languages, they do not present to the reader the Word of God.”
b For a discussion of each aspect, see the subject “Fruitage of God’s Spirit” and the heading “List by Aspect” in the Watch Tower Publications Indexes.
Did You Get the Main Points?
• How can holy spirit affect our lives?
• What are four reasons why we should want to be guided by God’s spirit?
• How can we do our part to benefit fully from the leading of holy spirit?
[Picture on page 15]
God’s spirit was an impelling force in Jesus’ life
[Picture on page 17]
God’s spirit operates on minds and hearts to move and guide them