It’s called “being led by the Spirit” and is wonderfully laid out for us in chapter eight of the Book of Romans. The thrust of the teaching is this: set your mind on the things of the Spirit and you will be empowered to live in accordance with God’s desires for your life. Partnered with this resolve there needs to be an equally strong resistance to the sinful nature which competes daily for our minds’ attention. The contrast in results is stunning: “sin and death” versus “life and peace.”
Thankfully, the deck is massively stacked in our favor. You are not controlled by the sinful nature but by the Spirit… if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who lives in you. (Romans 8:9-11) Daily partnership in the process is the key to keeping our advantage.
Therefore brothers, we have an obligation, but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. If by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. You received the Spirit of adoption, and by him we cry “Abba Father.” (8:12-15) Even though this is MY obligation, I do it “by the Spirit”, drawing power from the spiritual turbine within me – the Spirit of son-ship (adoption).
I’ve seen many people in the counseling office, sincere believers that really want to be Spirit led, but they fail to pursue the plain, obvious mandate of putting to death their sinful inclinations. When the thrill of being led by the Spirit reduces the width and breadth of vision to only things glorious and positive, the results will be lacking a depth of purity. Remember our obligation: cut the nerve of your instinctive actions by obeying the Spirit. (Romans 8:13, J.B.Phillips Translation)
A great companion to Romans eight is First Corinthians chapter fifteen and the theme of “natural body and spiritual body.” The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. Just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. (15:44-49) Every new creature in Christ is a miracle and proof positive that the last Adam indwelling us, is indeed a life-giving spirit! Yet we are not completely free from the pull of sin’s gravity.
Jesus described the kingdom of God as “forcefully advancing” and “forceful men lay hold of it.” (Matthew 11:12) The sin nature also packs a forceful advance, and all around us a culture is laying hold of it. A true father in the Gospel, writing in his later years, warns us: If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
We have an internal compass, guiding us away from the deceitful luster of the world. It’s the internal mediation of the Holy Spirit, leading us to walk in freedom, abiding in Father’s love, doing the will of God. This is, life and peace.