“Now when they [Paul and his companions] had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them” (Acts 16:6-7, NKJV).
Wow! Such clear leading! Lately I’m asking myself why that should be so startling. Maybe that’s the “intended” Christian life, rather than the “usual” Christian life. There’s plenty of evidence in the Bible that the believers’ need of the Holy Spirit is constant, and that His oversight is also constant. Surely His guidance extends to every believer, and we can learn to better hear Him and obey Him when we, like Paul, make it our “determined purpose…[to] know Him” (Phil. 3:10a, Amplified. Emphasis mine).
Under the Spirit’s leading, we may be redirected geographically, as in the case above, or mentally, or spiritually. I think we can all recall times of traveling the wrong way, clueless and enjoying the scenery, when we suddenly got the distinct impression—much more explicit than the input of the conscience—that we needed to return to the high road. Where’d THAT come from? Certainly not from Satan, the liar. And certainly not from ourselves. If the Word confirms that our path was wrong, and if the “voice” informed us of the right direction, then we had an encounter with the Holy Spirit.
It took quite a while for me to understand that I need the Holy Spirit; I never heard much about Him in my early church years. It’s taking much longer to comprehend that “God [has granted me] to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16, NKJV).
“May God forgive me that I have allowed self and the flesh and the will to have the place that God wanted the Holy Ghost to have.”
–Andrew Murray (1828-1917), South African missionary and minister