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What Does It Mean to Be "Led by the Spirit"?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 | Comments (7)

In preparation for the Strange Fire conference in October, we will post a new Strange Fire media blog every week. You can always catch up with the latest audio and video clips at the conference media site here, or sign up for the RSS feed and have them delivered to you.

Today we’re going to hear from John MacArthur as he answers questions about what it means to be “led by the Spirit,” and if that is a temporary spiritual state for believers.

GTY Staff


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#3  Posted by Matthew Ens  |  Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 11:36 PM

The Holy Spirit convicts of sin?



to prove or declare guilty of an offense, especially after a legal trial: to convict a prisoner of a felony.


to impress with a sense of guilt.

I strongly doubt that the Holy Spirit whom lives within believing Christians would declare them guilty. Instead, He would lead us to repentance and declare that our sin was paid for by Christ's substitutionary atonement. A saved, not saved, conflict is not healthy for those who are resting in Jesus' work.

#4  Posted by Naomi Durocher  |  Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 2:13 AM

I am so eager for this conference. What a needed message to the evangelical church today! Praise God! Will it be broadcasted live at all like some of the past conferences have been?

#5  Posted by Jeremiah Johnson (GTY Admin)  |  Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 9:12 AM


I'm not sure I understand your argument. Are you saying the Holy Spirit doesn't work to inform and direct our consciences? That He doesn't employ our God-given internal warning system when we're sinning? I think you got stuck on understanding conviction only as a final declaration, but the Spirit does work through our consciences to, as your second definition put it, "impress with a sense of guilt" whenever we sin.

#6  Posted by Jeremiah Johnson (GTY Admin)  |  Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 9:17 AM


I'm glad to hear you're looking forward to it. We're still in the planning process regarding some aspects, including whether we'll be able to stream it live online. We might not have an answer until we get closer to the conference, but we'll be sure to let you know once we do.

And you can always check for the latest news and conference information.

#7  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Matthew, in addition to what Jeremiah said...

You affirmed the Spirit leads us to repentance. Repentance requires an acknowledgment of what one is turning *from*. Don't get hung up by the English dictionary which isn't at all striving to explain biblical words. In the Bible, conviction (sensing the guilt of sin) is the first step toward repentance.

In other words, conviction is like the pain sensors that tell you to take your hand off the hot stove. Praise God for such a Spirit-led conscience that protects us from falling deeper into sin!

#8  Posted by William Tantum  |  Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 9:37 PM

Matthew, adding on to what others have said,

Jesus made it clear in John 16 that it was going to be to the disciples advantage that He was going away, as He would send the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. Before the Holy Spirit was sent, man was incapable of seeing himself as a sinner in need of a savior. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can be quickened spiritually and our eyes opened to our utter wretchedness. Prior to the Holy Spirit's regeneration, we cannot see ourselves as God sees us, and thus the primary work that occurs is our sense of conviction.

It is after this conviction that we can accept, by faith, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is then that the Holy Spirit seals us, which is evident in our lives by our change in thinking and the outpouring the fruit of the Spirit. Once the Holy Spirit resides within us, He works to transform us and, as Jeremiah and Gabriel pointed out, He lets us know when we sin. This conviction occurs when we grieve the Holy Spirit.

Praise be to God that He tells us to come just as we are, but doesn't let us stay just as we were.

#9  Posted by James Pittman  |  Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 4:14 PM

Looking at the two places where being "led by the Spirit" occur it is clear that He leads the child of God to crucify the sinful nature (Galatians 5:17-24) or as Roamsn 8:14 says, "to put to death the misdeeds of the body." In other words, one of the most important aspects of His leadership is that He leads us into battle against the old sinful desires that still hang on (residue) while we are in this body.

He is our general in the ongoing battle of magnify Christ with our lives. What a call, what an honor, what grace!