How the Spirit Leads You—Spirit vs Flesh

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:4, KJV)

How the Spirit Leads You Spirit vs Flesh

Have you ever wondered why it is not always easy to tell if it is the Holy Spirit that is leading or the flesh? This article will discuss a crucial truth to help you understand how the Holy Spirit leads us: the Spirit and the flesh work in similar ways within us.

Paul presents two opposing ways of living: walking after the flesh and walking after the Spirit. This can be understood as being led by the flesh versus being led by the Spirit. To comprehend how the Spirit leads us, we must first understand how the flesh guides us, as it is more familiar and tangible.

The flesh refers to our human nature and natural way of being and living. Think about this: what influences your actions, words, and decisions? Naturally, we are led by our flesh every day, controlled by our feelings, desires, and what we believe is best for us. For instance, if we want to do something but a trusted person advises against it and we believe them, we change our course. This is how we naturally live as humans.

The Spirit leads us in ways similar to the flesh. The Holy Spirit will influence your desires, feelings, and thoughts, guiding you to know and act upon the things of God. While some thoughts may seem like your own, they can be from the Spirit. Both the flesh and the Spirit use your thoughts, emotions, or desires to guide you, which is why it can sometimes be challenging to discern if a thought or feeling is from the Spirit or just you. Furthermore, the Spirit primarily uses the Word of God in our hearts but can also use people, dreams, or circumstances to guide you.

To be led by the Spirit, you must grow in your intimacy with Him and learn to discern His leadings in your heart. Think about this for a minute: do you know there are thoughts or desires you have, or dreams you have had that are from the Spirit? Maybe you just do not realize it. So some of you may already sense His leadings but do not recognize them as the Holy Spirit. The only way to know for sure is to get to know Him personally, so you will recognize His thoughts, feelings, and desires. This will help you discern if a dream or a word of knowledge from someone is from Him.

The Spirit is waiting to lead you. Understand how He works in you, discern His voice in your life, and follow Him.


Are you led by the flesh or by the Spirit every day? Need a clue? When we are bitter or condemn other Christians or ministers, for example, we can be sure the flesh is leading us.

Apply the Word

Let this truth sink in: the Holy Spirit is in you, in your heart, in your mind, feelings, and will. He works in you, primarily using His Word and other people around you, to lead you. All He wants is for you to know His voice and then surrender to follow Him. Put these truths to work.


Ask the Spirit to open your understanding to know these truths and your will to yield to His leading always.

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