. . . they shall mount up with wings as eagles . . . Isaiah 40:31

The Witness of the Spirit

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

One of the things that believers struggle with in their lives is in their effort to be led by and guided by the Spirit of God. In the scripture reference above from Romans 8:14, we can see that God’s children are supposed to be led by His Spirit.

But how does this happen? How does that take place on a day-to-day basis? There are several ways that a person can be led by the Lord, some more common and some less common. We will look at some of the ways people were led by the Lord in the Bible and then focus in on one main way that New Testament believers should seek to be led by Him.


Part of the promise made in Peter’s message on the Day of Pentecost had to do with visions and dreams.

Acts 2:16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
Acts 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

It is not unscriptural that believers in the last days should prophesy, dream dreams, and see visions. In multiple cases in the Bible there are those who had dreams, such as in the case of Jacob as he travelled from Beersheba toward the town of Haran, as he fled from his brother Esau.

Genesis 28:12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
Genesis 28:13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;

So, in the dream the Lord spoke things to Jacob concerning the blessing that God would bless Jacob with, and gave him an assurance that the Lord would be with him in his journeys.

Instances of being led by dreams can also be found in the New Testament as well. Joseph, the husband of Mary, was led by a dream to take his family and go into Egypt.

Matthew 2:13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

Joseph received clear direction from the Lord about what to do in that very serious and dangerous time in his life.


There are also times when believers were led by visions, which occurred on many occasions in both the Old and New Testaments.

Acts 16:9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
Acts 16:10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

Paul knew or at least he “assuredly gathered” what he was supposed to do based on a vision he had in the night. He felt strongly that he and his team were to go over to Macedonia and preach the gospel. Yet on another occasion the Bible tells us that the Spirit forbade Paul to go into a certain place.

We may also recall another time when Peter had a vision of a sheet being let down from heaven containing various kinds of animals.

Acts 10:10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
Acts 10:11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
Acts 10:12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
Acts 10:13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

The meaning of this vision became clear to Peter as he went to the house of Cornelius who had invited Peter to come because of a vision he himself had seen. The meaning of the vision Peter had concerning the animals was that it was acceptable to the Lord for Peter to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. The good news of the gospel was for them as well as for the Jewish people.

The Inward Witness

These ways of being led by the Lord, such as dreams and visions, are still experienced in our present day to some extent. But the Lord has given to us a way of being led by Him that was not available in Old Covenant times. And this way of being led by Him is the primary way that He leads New Testament believers in Christ. And it’s called the witness of the Spirit.

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Romans 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Here the Bible tells us that the Spirit itself or Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. Some have referred to this witness of the Spirit as the inward witness. How do we know that we are born of God and part of His family? We know it because the Spirit of God confirms it to our heart. We just know that we know because of the inner assurance that we have. Can you prove it? No, but the inner confidence is still there. And you cannot talk a believer out of it. This is a spiritual or supernatural phenomenon that exists in the life of the regenerated or born-again human spirit because of the presence of the Spirit of God within a believer. He, the Spirit of God, witnesses to this reality of being born of God because He is the Spirit of truth. He bears witness to truth.

John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

The Spirit of truth is sent into the believer’s life to lead and guide him into all truth. He bears witness with our spirit, our heart, concerning divine truth. And that’s the primary way, the predominant way that the Lord leads New Testament believers.

The Check of the Spirit

As we look at and ponder the steps of our path, there may be times when we don’t feel comfortable with proceeding in a certain way or doing a certain thing or entering a certain agreement, or some other thing. This is what some refer to as a check in the Spirit.

Acts 16:6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,
Acts 16:7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

How did Paul know that the Spirit forbade them or that He would not allow them to go into certain places? He knew it by and inward check in the Spirit. You might say he was checked about it and did not have peace in his spirit. You may hear people say sometimes, something told me I shouldn’t go over there, but I went anyway, and it turned out bad. Some might even call this check of the Spirit an inner premonition or even an inward intuition.

The Peace of God

On the other hand, we may sometimes feel a sense of inner peace about doing a certain thing or moving in a certain way when we are asking the Lord for direction. And that inner peace is often the witness of the Spirit bearing witness that we are moving in the right direction. Of course, we are not invulnerable to making mistakes in our decisions, but the more we cultivate this ability to move with the witness of the Spirit and avoid things we feel inwardly checked and uncomfortable with, the more we can learn to find the direction that He would have us go. He is leading by His Spirit.

Galatians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

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