by Pastor Tim Burt
I woke up early one morning and wished I could have gone back to sleep. I was feeling really tired. Renee and I had just finished a week-long conference that had meetings morning and night. When I went to bed I was over-tired and it made me feel restless. When I woke up that next morning, I lay there for a minute and thought about where my day needed to go. I thought about my first meeting of the day.
I could easily postpone that meeting one hour and get an extra hour of sleep. I quickly rebuked that thought. I knew there was much I needed to accomplish and God was comforting me reminding me that His grace would strengthen me through the day as He had, time and time again!
Think about what our lives would be like if we did only what we felt like doing. Many people try to live that way. Before I had prayed to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I leaned in that direction. My life was focused on pleasing me. That doesn’t mean I was mean or didn’t do nice things for people. I often did, but my life was mostly focused on me. If I woke up tired, I plotted to call in sick or make up some lie or excuse as to why I couldn’t come in. Lying and manipulating to get my desired outcome didn’t seem evil. It was the way of the world. It seemed to me like everyone did that. That was my excuse. Everyone else did it why couldn’t I? That was a season of life where I let my feelings or selfish desires guide most of my steps.
God created us as a three-part being made up of our spirit, our soul (our mind and emotions), and our body. Until you understand that, you’ll never fully understand yourself or how God leads you!
We see this in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV) “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely…your whole spirit, soul, and body…” There are times in your life when your mind and emotions want to lead you and there are times when your fleshly desires (your body) selfishly wants to lead you. And then there is your spirit led by the Holy Spirit, who should be leading you.
When I gave my life to the Lord, His Holy Spirit became the guiding force in my life. I was now seeing life through God’s eyes. As I studied and learned God’s Word—the Bible, my heart and perspective changed. I learned that people can follow one of three leading desires within them. First, people can make the decision to follow the leading of what their flesh wants. Many do and the results are obvious—lives that are out of control from the extremes of obesity or chemical or sexual abuse, to the negative habits that people deep down despise because they know they are wrong.
Secondly, people can follow their soul which is their mind and emotions. The problem with that is, our knowledge and understanding are limited to what we know. Honest people will admit that in the big picture of life, their intellect is grossly overrated and limited. I’m not saying there aren’t people who are intellectually intelligent. But talk to an intelligent person who is berated by their boss, or to one who has lost a child to a drunk driver, or has been stricken by cancer, and they will tell you their intelligence didn’t resolve their issues. Our understanding is limited and also has a great ability to deceive us into thinking we can figure everything out and solve every problem. That couldn’t be farther from the truth! We shouldn’t always trust our judgment. We need God’s help and leadership in discerning and making appropriate decisions!
The problem with our emotions and feelings leading us is that they are far too unstable to depend on. They can be easily triggered and spin out of control from being tired or weary, offended, or from being discouraged. You can’t trust them when anger or hate or rage, is part of the mix. Our emotions often become exaggerated and can lead us astray when we are confused or afraid. Letting our emotions lead us through life will eventually lead us astray.
Thirdly, we can follow after and be led by the Holy Spirit. Our spirit led by the Holy Spirit is whom God wants us to follow. He is to be the leader of ourselves over our fleshly desires, and over our mind and emotions. If we’ve given our life to Jesus, then the Holy Spirit lives within us. John 14:26 NKJV says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” The Holy Spirit will lead your spirit in the Father’s will just as He led Jesus on the earth.
In Luke 5:4-5 (NIV), we read that Peter had just finished fishing all night and without success. He was tired and exhausted and had just finished cleaning his nets. Suddenly Jesus tells him to go out into the deep and launch his nets. Peter’s tired flesh and his intellect and his emotions were screaming but he kept them under control before Jesus. He just said in as nice a way as he could muster, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” If Peter had gone by his intellect or his emotions, well you could figure out what his response would have been. This is a perfect picture of how we yield and learn to follow after the Holy Spirit. Peter yielded to the Lord. Upon obeying Jesus, there were so many fish that Peter and his men could hardly pull them in—their nets were breaking, and they needed more help. That is the blessing and our motivation for learning to let our spirit-man lead our flesh, our mind, and our emotions. The result will be spiritual growth and maturity, blessing, and the learning of how to lead yourself.
Our intellect and our emotions are a gift from God when we use them in cooperation with the leading of God’s Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “We live by faith, not by sight.” This means that we don’t let our intellect lead our steps. Our intellect thrives on what it sees. We don’t let our emotions lead our daily path as they are too often a roller-coaster reacting to the circumstances of the moment. They have great potential to lead us astray. We’ll use both of them daily, but our spirit led by the Holy Spirit is the engine of our train. We position our hearts to listen to our spirit as it is led by God’s Holy Spirit. Our soul is our mind and emotions and is connected to the train engine which is our spirit-man. Our body which lusts after any and everything it likes should have the least input into our decisions and is the caboose of our train. That is the order God has established so that we can be led by His spirit!
He’ll speak to us through the Word of God as we read His Word, or through other sources that teach His Word, or through His Holy Spirit bringing the Word and direction to our remembrance. If you would remember that what you need to know, God already has the answer to, you’d be more motivated to ask God to lead you in everything in your life. He desires to lead us and wants to help us succeed and be blessed. If we learn to lean on Him, ask, and listen, He will lead us and tell us where and how to cast our nets! And this is what it means to be sanctified wholly, spirit, soul, and body.
Romans 8:14 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God.”
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In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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