Words can be used equivocally, that is they can be defined a number of ways. In fact phrases can be as well. Some can take on brand new meanings, this is what happens with many novel teachings in Christianity. Many times we become convinced of something and then we set out to prove it Biblically. The phrase “led by the Spirit” or “Spirit led” has become a doctrine in search for prooftexts.
Apply the logic
So using this logic, lets look at the phrase “Spirit led.” Does the Bible teach it? Why yes, it does, but it also all depends on what is meant by “Spirit led.” The Bible does not present it as a “feely” sort of thing. The Bible teaches that we need to be Spirit led, but in a totally different definition of how we usually hear it used.
Bible case for Spirit led
So let’s unpack the correct and biblical case for this concept and how the Bible defines the phrase. First, here are two passages, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). And second, “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18). These are the only two places that say we are to be Spirit led. (There are others places that talk about some being Spirit led (i.e. Jesus), but maybe we will talk about those another time.)
Now what does it mean?
OK, so we do know that the Bible teaches that we are to be Spirit led, so what does the Scriptures mean by the phrase? Well, remember one of the first principles in reading something? Yes, read in context! Let’s do just that.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God (Roman 8:1-14).
Read through the text again and note the bolded items. These lead up to the phrase “led by the Spirit.” If one will note, the passage is talking about sin and how if we are Spirit led, we will not live after the “flesh” or unrighteousness.
Well, what about the other passage?
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another (Galatians 5:13-26)
Now I think we are seeing the picture, if we are Christ’s, we are dead to the flesh. Being Spirit led is walking in the Spirit which is two fold, not having the fruit of the flesh and second we will have the fruit of the Spirit. Both sides are defined between these two passages.