Why Be Guided by God’s Spirit?
“You are my God. Your spirit is good; may it lead me.”—PSALM 143:10.
1. Explain how an invisible force can guide a person.
HAVE you ever used a compass to find your way? A compass is a simple tool that can help someone to know in which direction to go. It has a magnetic needle that points toward the north. An invisible force called magnetism is what makes the needle move. For centuries, people have used a compass to guide their way when they travel over land and sea.
2, 3. (a) What powerful force did Jehovah use a very long time ago? (b) How do we know that God’s active force can guide our lives today?
2 There is another invisible force that is even more important for our guidance. What is it? It is the force we read about in the first two verses of the Bible. Genesis tells us what Jehovah did a very long time ago: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” We know that he used a very powerful force to create things because the Bible continues: “God’s active force was moving to and fro.” (Genesis 1:1, 2) What force was God using? His holy spirit, which is his active force. We are grateful that Jehovah used his holy spirit to give us life and to create all other things.—Job 33:4; Psalm 104:30.
3 We know that Jehovah used his active force to create us, but can this force influence our lives in some other way? God’s Son told his disciples that it can. He said that the holy spirit would guide them “into all the truth.” (John 16:13) What is this spirit? Why should we want to be guided by it?
WHAT THE HOLY SPIRIT IS
4, 5. (a) What wrong idea about the holy spirit do those who believe in the Trinity have? (b) How would you explain what the holy spirit really is?
4 Some people you meet in the preaching work may believe in what the King James Version and some other Bible translations call the Holy Ghost. Those who believe in the Trinity have the wrong idea, thinking that the holy spirit is a person equal with God the Father. (1 Corinthians 8:6) In 1833, Noah Webster published The Webster Bible, which he based on the King James Version. It is interesting to note that he used the words “Holy Spirit” instead of “Holy Ghost.” Webster did this because he knew that in the Scriptures these words did not mean “a ghost.”*—See footnote.
5 So, what is the holy spirit? A footnote at Genesis 1:2 in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures—With References says that the Hebrew word ruʹach, which is translated “spirit” at Genesis 1:2, in other verses is translated “wind” or words with a similar meaning. (Compare footnotes at Genesis 3:8; 8:1.) Even though we cannot see the wind, we can see what it does. In the same way, the holy spirit is invisible, but it can cause things to happen. The holy spirit is not a person. It is energy from God. He uses it on people or things to make sure that whatever he wants will happen. Is it hard to believe that such a marvelous force comes from the almighty God? Not at all!—Read Isaiah 40:12, 13.
6. What did David ask of Jehovah?
6 Can Jehovah continue to use his spirit to guide us in life? He promised David: “I shall make you have insight and instruct you in the way you should go.” (Psalm 32:8) Did David want to be guided by God? We know that he did because he prayed to Jehovah: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Your spirit is good; may it lead me.” (Psalm 143:10) We too should want to be guided by God’s spirit. Why? We will consider four reasons.
WE CANNOT GUIDE OURSELVES
7, 8. (a) Why are we not able to guide ourselves? (b) What example helps us to understand why we need God’s guidance in this wicked world?
7 The first reason why we should want to be guided by God’s spirit is that we do not have the ability to guide ourselves. To guide someone means to show him the right way to go. Jehovah did not give us the ability to do that for ourselves. And because we are imperfect, we make many mistakes when we try to guide ourselves. The 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.” (Jeremiah 10:23, The Bible in Basic English) And why not? God told us the reason through Jeremiah. Jehovah said: “The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate. Who can know it?”—Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19.
8 Imagine that someone has to hike through a dangerous place that he does not know well, such as a jungle or a desert. It would not be wise to go alone, without a good guide or a compass. If the person does not know how to survive in a place like that and does not know how to find his way safely, his life will be in danger. So, too, the person who thinks he can guide himself in this wicked world without allowing God to show him the right way is in great danger. Like David, we should pray for Jehovah’s help. He said: “Let my steps take hold on your tracks, in which my footsteps will certainly not be made to totter.” (Psalm 17:5; 23:3) How can we receive this guidance?
9. As shown on page 14, how can holy spirit guide us well?
9 If we are humble and willing to depend on Jehovah, he will give us his holy spirit to guide us. How will that active force help us? Jesus told 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) When we prayerfully study God’s Word, including Christ’s teachings, holy spirit will help us to understand Jehovah’s deep wisdom, so that we can obey him. (1 Corinthians 2:10) Also, at any unexpected turn in the road to life, God’s spirit will help us to know what to do. His spirit will help us to remember Bible principles that we have already learned and help us to understand how we can use them to make good decisions.
JESUS WAS GUIDED BY GOD’S SPIRIT
10, 11. What did Jesus expect holy spirit to do for him? How did the holy spirit help him?
10 A second reason why we should want to be guided by holy spirit is that God’s own Son was guided by it. Jesus expected to receive the help of holy spirit while he was on earth. He knew of this prophecy written about himself: “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.” (Isaiah 11:2) Life on earth would not be easy for Jesus. Just imagine how much he wanted the help of God’s spirit!
11 Jehovah’s words came true. The Gospel of Luke tells us 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, it seems that Jehovah gave him instructions and prepared him for what was going to happen. God’s active force influenced Jesus’ mind and heart. It guided his way of thinking and his decisions. As a result, Jesus always knew what his Father wanted him to do, and he did it.
12. Why do we need to ask for God’s spirit to guide us?
12 Jesus knew how important God’s spirit was in his own life, so he strongly encouraged his disciples to ask for it and to allow it to guide them in their lives. (Read Luke 11:9-13.) Why do we need to ask for God’s spirit to guide us? Because it can change our thinking and help us to have “the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16; Romans 12:2) This means that when we allow God’s spirit to guide our lives, we can think as Christ does and imitate his example.—1 Peter 2:21.
THE SPIRIT OF THE WORLD COULD LEAD US THE WRONG WAY
13. What is the spirit of the world? What does it cause people to do?
13 The third reason why we want God’s spirit to guide us is that without its guidance, we will be led the wrong way by the spirit of the world. Most people today are controlled by the spirit of the world. This is the powerful force that causes people to do the exact opposite of what holy spirit guides us to do. Instead of helping people to have the mind of Christ, the spirit of the world causes people to think and act like the ruler of the world, Satan. (Read Ephesians 2:1-3; Titus 3:3.) If a person allows himself to be controlled by the spirit of the world and starts practicing “the works of the flesh,” there will be bad results. This person “will not inherit God’s kingdom.”—Galatians 5:19-21.
14, 15. How can we resist the spirit of the world?
14 Jehovah gives us what we need 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.” Why? He continued: “That you may be able to resist in the wicked day.” (Ephesians 6:10, 13) Through his spirit, Jehovah gives us the strength to resist Satan’s efforts to lead us the wrong way. (Revelation 12:9) The spirit of the world is strong, and we cannot avoid it completely. But we can resist it. Holy spirit is even stronger, and it will help us!
15 The apostle Peter spoke of those who left the truth in the first century when he said: “Abandoning the straight path, they have been misled.” (2 Peter 2:15) We can be very thankful that “we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God.” (1 Corinthians 2:12) By allowing holy spirit to guide us and by using everything Jehovah gives us to keep our relationship with him strong, we can do what is right and resist the spirit of this wicked world.—Galatians 5:16.
HOLY SPIRIT PRODUCES GOOD FRUITAGE
16. What fruitage can holy spirit produce in us?
16 A fourth reason why we want God’s spirit to guide us is that it produces excellent fruitage in the lives of those who are led by it. This means that it helps them to show excellent qualities. (Read Galatians 5:22, 23.) Certainly, all of us would want to be more loving, joyful, and peaceable. We would all like to be more long-suffering and show more kindness and goodness. It would be good for all of us to have greater faith and show more mildness and self-control. These good qualities benefit us and those in our family and congregation. We have to continue to work hard to show this fruitage. There is no limit to how much fruitage of the spirit we need and can produce.
17. How can we work harder to show the fruitage of the spirit?
17 It would be wise to think about this: Do our words and actions show that we are guided by holy spirit and that we are producing its fruitage? (2 Corinthians 13:5a; Galatians 5:25) What if we find that we need help with some of the qualities that are part of the fruitage of the spirit? We can make more of an effort to be led by holy spirit to produce these qualities. We do this by studying about each of these qualities, using the Bible and our Christian publications. We should think about how we can show the fruitage of the spirit in our everyday life and then work harder to show it.* (See footnote.) We understand how much we need the help of the holy spirit when we see the good results of its guidance in our own life and in the lives of our brothers and sisters.
ARE YOU ALLOWING GOD’S SPIRIT TO GUIDE YOU?
18. What can we learn from Jesus’ example of allowing God’s spirit to guide him?
18 When God created the universe, Jesus was his “master worker.” So Jesus knew all about earth’s magnetism, the force that helps humans when they use a compass. (Proverbs 8:30; John 1:3) The Bible does not say that Jesus ever used magnetism to guide his way when he was on earth. But the Bible does say that God’s holy spirit was a powerful force in Jesus’ life as a human. He wanted to be guided by it. When the spirit directed him to do something, he accepted its direction and did it. (Mark 1:12, 13; Luke 4:14) Do you allow God’s spirit to guide you as Jesus did?
19. What must we do for holy spirit to guide us?
19 Today, God’s active force still directs those who are willing to be guided by it. How can you allow it to lead you in the right direction? Always pray to Jehovah that he send you his spirit and help you accept its guidance. (Read Ephesians 3:14-16.) Show that you want to be guided by God’s spirit by studying the Bible, which was inspired of God through his holy spirit. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) Obey the wise instructions in it, and then accept the direction of holy spirit. By doing these things, you show that you have faith in Jehovah’s ability to guide you the best way possible in this wicked world.
In the preface of his Bible, Webster explained why he used some words that were different from the words in the King James Version. He said that it would not be accurate to use a word if people understood it differently now from when it was first used in the King James Version or if it meant something different from what was stated in the original Bible languages.
To learn more about each quality that is part of the fruitage of the spirit, see the subject “Fruitage of God’s Spirit” and the heading “List by Aspect” in the Watch Tower Publications Indexes.
SOME WORDS EXPLAINED
▪ Holy spirit: Energy from God that he uses on people or things to make sure that whatever he wants will happen. It is also called his active force
▪ The fruitage of the spirit: A group of qualities shown by those who are guided by holy spirit. The qualities are: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, and self-control
▪ The works of the flesh: Bad actions of those who are guided by the spirit of the world. The actions are: fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, enmities, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these
DO YOU REMEMBER THE MAIN POINTS?
▪ How can holy spirit influence our lives?
▪ What are four reasons why we should want to be guided by God’s spirit?
▪ How can you allow holy spirit to lead you in the right direction?
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The holy spirit is a guide that we can always trust
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The spirit of the world causes people to think and act like Satan
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We have to continue to work hard to show the fruitage of the spirit
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Holy spirit was a powerful force in Jesus’ life
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God’s spirit operates on hearts and minds to move and guide them