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Hindrances to being
Led By The Spirit

Jesus said that ONLY those who worship Him in Spirit are acceptable to Him.
Paul wrote about the necessity of being led by the Spirit. Are you so led?
Here are some tips to help you and explain more about this wonder.

Never forget what Jesus said:

The hour... now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him MUST worship in spirit and truth (Jn 4:23, 24).

As I mentioned in Newsletter 21, it’s not optional, it is essential to be led by God’s Spirit and for your worship to be Spirit-led:

For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Rom 8:6).

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit (Rom 8:5).

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he is not His (Rom 8:9).

Are you His? Do you have evidence to show it?

That evidence is not just belief. There are many Christians who believe in Christ, who believe they have His Spirit, and who think that they are going to heaven when they die. But, a number of them are deceived. They have deceived them- selves that, because they are ‘pretty good’ people and have lived ‘pretty good’ lives, that they are worthy of such a future.

I wouldn’t be so sure! Remember what Jesus said of those with such a mentality in Luke 18?

He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous... (Luke 18:9).

Jesus then went on to point out by that parable that your good impression of yourself can be an illusion. So, how can you be sure that you will receive salvation? This is the test:

The Spirit itself is testifying together with our spirit that we are children of God... If so be that we are suffering together (Rom 8:16,17, Concordant Literal New Testament).

It’s by the Spirit!

The assurance is something that comes to your spirit from the Spirit of grace, and it comes when you share in the sufferings of Christ. It’s not when you feel good about yourself. It’s not when you are comfortable in your little lifestyle, or when you’ve got what you want, or when you prophesy a lot or heal the sick or do a lot of ‘works for Jesus’.

It’s a matter of faith, not of feelings or works. And that faith comes via the Spirit. In fact, the feelings can be a delusion. There are many people who feel good about themselves, but who are not yet headed for the Kingdom of God. Why? Because they have not taken the first step to being willing to bear the sufferings of Christ in order to become like Him.

That’s the key – being willing to suffer with Him (Phil 1:29; 1 Pet 4:13). And it’s not just any suffering, or suffering for sin’s sake. It’s suffering in the course of overcoming sin, or making a willing sacrifice (Rom 12:1) so that your nature can be changed from man’s corrupted sinful nature (what it has become under Satan’s influence in this evil world) to the wonderful pure nature of God.

The Effort Needed Against Sin

Helena was given a dream recently about this very transition and what it takes to make it:

15th May 2003. She saw a young woman and the struggle she had. She was attacked by her father who wanted to rape her. In order to prevail, she had to exert terrific effort and resolve to remain pure and undefiled. She withstood him, but only with all her strength!

Meaning: The father in this dream represents the evil influences of unconverted family and the world around us, into which we have been born. The young woman depicts the Church or those whom God has called to become His Bride.

After this scene, the dream also conveyed some numbers which are highly symbolic. Helena saw an item for sale for £13, reduced to £7.

Meaning: This portrays, numerically, our transition from the evil in Satan’s system (represented by 13), and how God can use it for His purposes, so that we want the good and perfect will of God (7) in the end.

In overcoming sin, it requires every ‘ounce’ of effort on our part. Not that we overcome by our efforts! It’s not that, at all.

But our willingness, or yearning, or desire – which is shown by the effort we put out against sin – is the magnet which draws God into the situation to help us.

Most sins are committed because people either want to sin, or willingly comply with it. They don’t resist it, because they are not bothered about the issue. Unconverted people don’t care. To them sin is a joke or something of no consequence. But to God, it’s no joke! It’s the most serious issue there is! It’s the difference between life and death – for eternity, for you!!

If you want sin, He can’t accept you to be with Him for the rest of ‘time’.

Incredibly, there are Christians who just don’t care! They think that they are going to inherit eternal life while they carry on doing what comes naturally, and just letting themselves lapse into sin, or giving in to temptation, out of habit, carelessness, or sheer laziness! They are utterly deluded! God will not give you eternal life while you don’t have His mind towards sin.

If you think that you will get into the Kingdom of God without making every effort you can to muster your will against sinning, you are deceived!

But when you perceive sin as despicable – as God perceives it – then you can be more assured that His Spirit will find a home in you, and He will help you in your struggles against it.

You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin (Heb 12:4).

When Jesus agonised in the garden before His ordeal of crucifixion, He sweated drops of blood (Luke 22:44). This is a known medical fact that can occur in times of extreme stress, so it’s not fictitious or exaggeration.

Do you know what was His greatest agony? It wasn’t just the premonition of the horrific torture he would have to endure to pay the price of our sins. It was the thought that if He made one slip-up, harboured one evil thought against those who were going to brutalise Him, that such a sin would cause us to forfeit what He was about to purchase for us! He could not afford to fail! His love was so great for you and me, but so too was His awareness of the inexorable price of sin!

That could not be waived! If He sinned, just once, He would have lost the ability to redeem us – to buy us back from death.

Jesus resisted ‘unto blood’ against sin. What about you? What’s your view of sin? That it really doesn’t matter much? That you can drift along and take things easy, spiritually-speaking?

Success in Overcoming

The ‘formula’ for success in overcoming is to put out all your effort against it – even to the degree that you are willing to die, to shed blood – in order to resist it. Then, God gives you the help via His Spirit to do the rest which you cannot do. What you are unable to do (because sin is a spiritual issue and you need His spiritual help to resist it and overcome evil spiritual desires), He will do for you. He knows what you need. He’s just waiting to see whether you really want His righteousness (Matt 6:33).

Too many don’t. They only care for things of the flesh, so that’s what He lets them have – until they are sick of it all!

When they have had their belly full of sin – the allure of the £13 garment – then He can turn things around for them and make it easier for them by ‘reducing the price’ to £7. God has paid what we could not. He makes His perfection available to us through His Spirit when He sees our willingness and love for what He holds dear.

There is nothing more endearing to Him than your attitude of yearning for spiritual purity. SPIRITUAL DESPERATION is what it takes! Then God pulls you through.

You want His Spirit? You want to be led by Him? You want His power in overcoming?

You can have it! But you’ve got to be desperate! You’ve got to want what He wants, not what you want.

Merlin Carothers relates the story of his own conversion, and of how God required something of Merlin’s grandfather in his character:

Grandmother was a sweet old lady, and I thought a great deal of grandfather, but going to visit them was still an ordeal I avoided whenever possible. They made me nervous. Grandmother always found an opportunity to talk about God.

‘I’m doing fine,’ I’d say. ‘Don’t worry about me.’

But she would insist: ‘You need to give your life to Christ, Merlin.’

It bugged me more than I wanted to admit. I hated to hurt Grandfather’s feelings, but I didn’t have time for any of that religious stuff. I’d just begun to live!

One Sunday evening shortly after I’d come back from Germany, I went to see Grandmother and Grandfather. I quickly realised I’d made a mistake. They were getting ready to go to church.

‘Come with us, Merlin,’ Grandmother said. ‘We haven’t seen you for so long; we’d love to have you come.’

I squirmed in my chair. How could I tactfully get out of this one?

‘I’d like to,’ I said finally. ‘But some friends have already asked if they could come pick me up.’

Grandmother looked disappointed, and as soon as I could get to the phone I began calling everyone I knew. To my dismay I couldn’t find anyone who was free to come pick me up.

It was getting close to church time, and I couldn’t say to my grandparents: ‘I just don’t want to go.’

At the zero hour I had no choice. Off we went together.

The church service was held in a barn, but everyone there seemed to be happy. Poor people, I thought, they don’t know anything about real life out there in the world, or they wouldn’t waste an evening in a barn.

The singing began and I picked up a hymn book to follow the words. I at least had to look as if I was with it.

Suddenly I heard a deep voice speak directly in my ear.

‘What – what did you say?’ I whirled around to find no one behind me.

There was the voice again: ‘Tonight you must make a decision for Me. If you don’t, it will be too late.’

I shook my head and said automatically, ‘Why?’

‘It just will be!’

Was I losing my marbles? But the voice was real. It was God, and He knew me! In a flash I suddenly saw it. Why hadn’t I seen it before. God was real; He was the answer. In Him was everything I’d ever searched for.

‘Yes, God,’ I heard myself mutter. ‘I’ll do it; whatever You want.’

The service went on, but I was in another world. This was crazy, but I knew God!

Grandfather was in deep thought beside me. I didn’t know it then, but he told me later. He was carrying on his own battle with God. For years he’d been smoking and chewing tobacco. Forty years of addiction to the weed had him hooked pretty good. Many a time he’d tried to quit, but had been seized with violent headaches and soon was back to chewing and smoking heavier than before.

Now he was sitting next to me in the meeting making his own commitment. ‘God, if you’ll change Merlin, I’ll give up my chewing and smoking even if it kills me.’

No wonder Grandfather nearly collapsed when I went forward at the end of the meeting to make public the decision I’d made during the singing.

Years later I was by his bedside when his time came to die. He looked up at me and smiled, ‘Merlin,’ he said, ‘I kept my promise to God.’

That Sunday night I couldn’t wait to get home and read the Bible. I wanted to know God, and I read hungrily page after page. I had a wonderful feeling of excitement inside. It was even better than jumping off an aeroplane with a parachute. [Merlin Carothers was in the army.] That night God had reached down inside me, and I was changed into a new being. I felt as if I was standing on the threshold of exciting adventures the likes of which I couldn’t even begin to imagine yet. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was still alive; the God who parted the Red Sea and spoke through a burning bush and sent His Son to die on a cross – He was my Father too!

I could suddenly understand what my earthly father had tried to tell me. When he was 36 years old he was confined to a bed for the first time in his life. Three days later his heart stopped. The doctor was there with an injection, and my father’s heart began beating again. He opened his eyes and said: ‘That won’t be necessary, doctor. I am going to leave now.’ He raised himself up in bed and looked around the room with a radiant glow on his face.[1]

‘Look!’ he said. ‘They are here to take me!’ With that he lay back and was gone. My father had known Jesus as his personal Friend and Saviour. He had been ready to go. (From Prison to Praise by Merlin Carothers, pp 20-22.)

Merlin’s grandfather – who had been hooked for 40 years with an addictive craving for nicotine – had to come to the point of relinquishing what he wanted, in the flesh. That sinful selfish desire had to go, and be replaced by a spiritual yearning for the things of God. When he was willing to die to self, God came in.

The willingness to die to selfish desires gives you the resolve to overcome. Then God helps you.

Are You Prepared To Die?

The problem with so many Christians in the West is softness – not just physical softness, but spiritual softness. They have little commitment. Many of them are not willing to die for their beliefs.

Too many have been fed self-centred theology. They have come to Christ for what they want. They think God is there to bless them, end of equation. They look on religion as a one-way street.

But, as I said earlier, the ‘secret’ to success in overcoming in your spiritual life is whether you are willing to suffer for Jesus’ sake.

If you truly have faith in God to heal you, you put yourself in His capable hands. That means you will probably have to endure pain and suffering for a while until He steps in to deliver you. But many Christians’ ‘faith’ is shallow. When the pain kicks in, they reach out – not for God, but for the medicine bottle or the pain killers. Their faith evaporates, and they run to the doctor to ask for a shot of morphine or whatever.

Faith in God can either be strengthened and deepened through trials, or destroyed. It depends how you react to them. If your motive is selfish, you are best to go to the doctor, because God can’t help you when all you want is to carry on in your self-willed lifestyle and gratify yourself.

But if your commitment is one of death to self, so that Jesus can live in you, He will heal you.

I have put my trust in God to restore my broken and decayed teeth. They are full of holes – many of them from dentists’ blunders 30 years ago when I knew no better than to follow the tradition which I was taught. Now, with only the remains of my molars, I am waiting for God’s healing. After I put my complete trust in Him for them to be restored (when I was going through a very painful toothache), about three years ago, He gave me a dream in which He promised to totally restore them and ‘touch’ me at the same time. (Dream given 16th July 2000, recorded in Newsletter 11, p 21.)

You can stand on God’s promises. They are sure. He wants you to be equally reliable, too. If you are too self-indulgent, He will allow things to occur to ‘toughen’ you up, spiritually speaking, as He showed in the following dream:

10th May 2003. M. 1) Re-doing a soft bit of plaster.

I had done some plastering high up (over a large doorway) on the outside of a wall (external plastering with sand and cement is called ‘rendering’). It was still softish. I thought that was because it had not had time to fully set, even though it had been done a few days previously. When I put my hand on it and leaned against it, my hand sunk in and left a mark. I discovered that the render in this place was on top of polystyrene, hence the reason the render was still soft and my hand left an indentation. Perhaps the mix was too weak at 6:1, so I re-did the small patch in a stronger mix of about 3:1.

A 3 to 1 mix of sand and cement is very durable. It’s so tough that it can withstand very severe weather conditions for a very long time. But some Christians appear OK on the outside, yet what God sees on the inside is not OK.

If what is inside you is like polystyrene – without strength and reliable density – how can God rely upon you? You don’t really trust Him; you trust in whatever gets you what you want – and usually the sooner the better!

In the above dream, I leaned on this render and it caved in. Some people are like that – totally unreliable. They cave in when pressure comes. Their faith wavers. They relinquish their faith in God, because they look to the physical. God doesn’t seem to be running to their aid quick enough, and so they start to disbelieve that He will.

When Yun – a zealous Chinese Christian – was imprisoned for preaching Christ, he found himself in a cell with another brother whose faith was wavering. Suddenly, Yun felt the Spirit stirring him within. He began to scrape his fingers on the rough stone wall of the cell until blood came. He inscribed the shape of a cross on the wall using the tips of his painful fingers as the brush and his own blood as the ink. He exhorted the brother not to lose heart, but to be strong and resilient.[2]

Yun was tough because his commitment was total. He was fully committed to Jesus, not to himself.

Self-indulgence and self-centredness erode such pure faith. They are hindrances to being led by the Spirit.

If you want to succeed spiritually, you have got to be tougher on yourself. God was saying in the dream that certain people need to ‘toughen up’. If you are soft on sin, you need to be firmer and harder on yourself.

Jesus paid with His lifeblood to deliver you from sin. He wrote His opinion of sin with ALL his blood, not just with half a pint as Yun did. Have you yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin? Or are you still selfish?

You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin (Heb 12:4).

Sin’s Hindrances

Sin is the most central issue for us as followers of Jesus. Jesus came to show us how to vanquish it. But many believers want to believe the lie that Jesus has done it all for us. In one sense He has. He paid the price of all sin on the cross. And He enables us to overcome by the power of His Spirit living in us. But that does not mean what many take it to mean – that their battle is all over just because its outcome is already determined.

Too many take the sloppy approach to sin and don’t care. They won’t be in the Kingdom of God. Notice it:

He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Rev 21:7,8).

Do you realise that what all these sinners had in common is that THEY DIDN’T CARE ABOUT SIN?! They treated it lightly. They had a big ‘sin pile’ in their personal lives, but ignored it and carried on pleasing themselves.

Some of these people will undoubtedly be ‘Christians’ who have believed the lies of easy salvation – “all you have to do is to believe in Jesus.” The liars who taught them such heresies will be in the fire of destruction, too!

Notice also what heads the list – cowardice and unbelief. I bet you don’t view these two sins the way God does!

So, briefly, here are some other hindrances to being led by the Spirit:

1) Pride.

It’s ironic, but we have known people who have done very little in their lives, yet who have a high opinion of themselves. Pride is having a high regard for one’s own qualities or merits. You can have pride about almost anything, but the core of it hinges on self. It’s a subtle form of self worship.

Many religious people are proud, which is why Jesus addressed this problem in Luke 18:9-14. Their pride, however, may be well hidden.

2) Arrogance.

Similar to pride, arrogance rears its ugly head more outwardly. Presumptuousness is its chief ally. We have seen this very often! 

Many people criticise us for the job we are commissioned to do for God. Arrogant people detest prophets! God detests their arrogance.

3) Fear.

If you read Matthew 25:25-26, you will see God’s appraisal of those who bury the Holy Spirit and don’t use it. He calls them wicked and lazy! These are Christians – “many who are called” – but they don’t really care about sin. They let their ‘sin pile’ grow, while they continue down the same old road to get what they want. While they pamper themselves, fear holds them back from doing what they should. They don’t please God.

4) Contentment with self.

Remember Job? He had to lose everything before he could be delivered from this one. (See Luke 12:15 for a spiritual tip about wealth.)

5) Complacency.

This is intertwined with the last point, and often with all the others too. All those listed in Rev 21:8 were complacent about sin. It took them to utter ruin. If you are to avoid it, you need to be like Jacob, who was prepared to suffer to receive his reward from God (Gen 32:25). Are you?   

Malcolm B Heap, July 2003

[1]   What awaits us after death is explained in The Near-Death Experience (£1.00) and with full biblical support in Life After Death (£1.00).

[2]   Many other accounts of heroism and complete commitment to Jesus, and of Jesus’ response, are narrated in Lilies Amongst Thorns by Danyun. This book is available from Christian booksellers; it is NOT available from Midnight Ministries.

Copyright: Midnight Ministries, PO Box 29, Aylesbury, HP17 8TL, UK