A question I have been asked numerous times is, “How do I know I’m following the Holy Spirit?” When asked this question, my heart is extremely excited. Most ask the question because their heart’s desire is to do the will of the Father. The desire springs from a purpose and plan God has for each of us and the question comes with a longing for God’s plan. It truly makes my heart glad to hear the question posed.
In the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul emphasizes to the Christians a freedom in Christ to live by His Spirit. He gives us rich insight in how the Spirit is seen and evident in a person’s life. How do we accomplish this? I’ll let Paul explain.
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking, and envying each other.” (Galatians 16-26)
These Scriptures are absolutely beautiful. To be filled with the Spirit and our fruit evident to all, is a gift from God. The Lord Jesus of Nazareth said, “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:15-20)
I believe we learn by examples. If you think back on your life, have you met someone who walked in the Spirit? Have you ever met a person you could honestly say was living out the Christian faith? I can. I choose to walk with people who have good fruit. Their witness, testimony, and ripe fruit is evident in their attitude, behavior, and integrity. I desire to be around people who are filled with the Spirit, who exhibit Christ-like behavior even in the most difficult trials a person can have.
I have met people who are very loving and kind. One of my precious friends has the gift of gentleness; everything she does is soft and easy going. In her presence there is immense peace and quietness. I have met those whose faith encouraged me to strife higher. Their testimonies of overcoming obstacles and horrific accidents is inspiring to say the least. I walk away from them determined to climb the highest mountain.
I have been in the company of those who have this infectious joy and happiness. If you’re looking for gossip, criticizing or slander, these people would be the ones who would find the best in every person. They open my eyes to see the root cause of why people behave the way they do and I walk away with a better perspective on trials.
These are the type of people I pursue. You know exactly which ones I’m referring to. They are the ones you call when you’re going through a problem. They are the ones you call when you need prayer. They are the ones you seek for godly advise. And they are the ones who will be there when you need them.
On the flip side, we also know the ones we could not count on. We know the ones we can call to get all the gossip, true or not. We know the ones we can call for a good time. We know the ones who will listen as we slander and gossip in “confidence”. We know the ones we can call for worldly pleasure and worry about the consequences later. Yes, in our hearts, we do know “worldly” people and Spirit filled people.
In the original question, the ones who desire to follow the spirit are usually filled with good intentions. They do desire God’s purpose and plan. They do want to do the will of the Father, but some of my answers have fallen on deaf ears. Remember the parable of the sower? “The farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” (Mark 4:1-8)
If you’ve never heard this parable, then you’re in for a treat. The parable represents spirit filled and shallow Christians. Jesus explained, “The farmer sows the word. Some people are like the seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like a seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But, since they have not root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like a seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it and produce a crop – some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.” (Mark 4:14-20)
Spirit filled Christians hear the word and receive it with joy producing fruit thirty, sixty, and hundred times what was sown in to them. They are fulfilling their purpose and plan joyfully. I can assure though, this was a learned process.
According to Jesus’ parable, the word is sown into everyone. Whether we choose to receive it and live by it is our choice. When our flesh desires what we like, think, and admire, then our fruit is stolen. When we suffer through trials and struggles, which we ALL will, how you conduct yourself during these challenges will be evident by your actions and character. Jesus said many would fall away because they have no root or the world’s tests would bring so much worry it will choke the word’s fruit.
When you meet a Spirit-filled Woman, she has gone through and faced trials of many kinds. But, the testing of her faith has produced perseverance. She has let perseverance finish its work in her so that she is a mature and complete woman, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4)
You will know her by her fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You will know her when she is the first person you think of for prayer. You will know her when she is the first person you seek for counsel. You will know her when she is the first person you call for encouragement. I know several woman like this. Believe me, I can count them on one hand, for in my life, they are far and few between. I have met far more fleshly woman than spirit filled.
So, when the question posed, “How do I know if I am following the Spirit?”, I look at their fruit. “A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:7-9) The Spirit filled woman has not given up. She has walked through, maybe at times running head on into test, trials, and storms, but has overcome them. She has peace that surpasses understanding. She confesses Scripture in accordance to God’s word, and she worships the Living God. She has cast down the flesh, and keeps her eye on things above seated at the right hand of the Father.
I desire above all else to be this Spirit-filled Woman. I hope this has encouraged you to seek, pursue and diligently follow the word. I pray this has touched your spirit to examine your fruit and the harvest you are reaping. May God strengthen us through Christ Jesus to be continually filled with His Spirit, running our race, and fulfilling our purpose.