There is a lot packed into that word governed that must be pulled out and examined. What does it mean to be governed by the Holy Spirit? It includes the following seven steps, and each come in their proper order:
1. Born of the Spirit
This is where it all begins for “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (Jn. 3:5). The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, reveals our need for a Savior, draws us to Christ, enables us to call upon the Lord, and seals us with salvation. Apart from Him, we are blind, deaf, and dumb to the things of God, for “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).
2. Filled with the Spirit
The remarkable difference in the disciples before and after Acts Chapter 2 is faithfully recorded in Scripture. The fact of the matter is: you can follow Jesus for years without being filled with the Holy Spirit, just like His first disciples did. But they were always limping along, not fully understanding, not completely seeing, not really hearing what Jesus wanted to show them. It took the Holy Spirit filling them before they could really begin to “get it.” This accounts for the spiritual dullness of most people still trapped in Churchianity: they’re trying to follow Jesus without the infilling power of the Holy Spirit. Scripture has already shown us it doesn’t work; that’s like trying to run a marathon with asthma. We must “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).
3. Taught by the Spirit
Man can only teach us so much. The Spirit of Truth is a Teacher, and He is sent to show, reveal, and teach us things beyond the comprehension of mortal men. Many things that Jesus wished to teach His disciples had to wait because they could not receive it without the Holy Spirit there to assist. “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” (Jn. 14:26). The Holy Spirit’s favorite method of teaching is to put us in difficult circumstances. Read the Book of Acts and you see rapid growth and development of the Ekklesia. Even the apostles are learning and growing. How do we account for it? Their learning didn’t take place in a private mountain retreat or monastery, it happened in the trials and tribulations and enemies and circumstances. The Holy Spirit uses angry mobs, lonely prisons, and desperate situations to teach us things we won’t learn in a classroom.
4. Adjusted to the Spirit
The Holy Spirit is not interested in filling our mind with interesting Bible facts and doctrinal trivia. The purpose of being taught by the Spirit is to be adjusted to the Spirit – that is, to give up our own stubborn way and come around to doing things God’s way. This adjustment is usually uncomfortable and often painful. But this is how spiritual growth and maturity occurs. If we are not willing to take what the Spirit has taught us and then submit ourselves to it, and be adjusted by it, then we will go the way of those who are “ever learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the Truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). The Holy Spirit withdraws and will show us nothing beyond the last point of disobedience. We are the most taught and preached-to generation in the history of the world but we are the least willing to be adjusted by truth when we hear it. If we will learn to quickly obey and apply what we are taught then we will make rapid progress.
5. Led by the Spirit
When a person is willing to be adjusted by the Spirit then they can be led by the Spirit. How can the Spirit lead a person that resists Him and refuses to be adjusted? It isn’t possible. Yet how easily and flippantly people pronounce, “This is how I am led!” as if that should settle all argument. Words may deceive but the fruit doesn’t lie. If everyone who claimed to be led by the Spirit were actually being led by the Spirit then the world would be a lovely, wonderful place. The truth is: carnal, fleshly Christians can’t be led by the Spirit because they won’t be taught by the Spirit or adjusted to the Spirit. Carnal people are led by their flesh, their emotions, and their feelings. You can fool others, you can even fool yourself, but God is not mocked. You cannot ignore the Spirit’s teaching, refuse the adjustment that the teaching is intended to make in your life, and then claim you’re being “led” by the same Spirit you just disrespected. Only those who are adjusted to the Spirit can truly recognize His voice and be led by Him.
6. Inspired by the Spirit
When a person arrives to this point they have learned to originate nothing, but to wait for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They are under the government of the Holy Spirit from that point forward. The Spirit governs their speech and their actions. They no longer rely on the flesh. They no longer relish the praise of man, nor fear the criticisms of man. They are stirred by the Spirit of God, and they offer no resistance to His Spirit. They can be trusted with greater revelation and with the corresponding responsibility for handling it wisely, as a stewardship for the Ekklesia.
7. Kept by the Spirit
The Holy Spirit continually ministers life, light, love, grace, mercy, and peace to those who are wholly submitted to His Government. The inner man is strengthened and renewed day by day. Rivers of living water flow from within. The spiritual fruit bears evidence of a life submitted to Christ: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control are witnessed in ever- increasing quantity. The battles are great, but His grace is greater, and His power is perfected in weakness. They are kept by the Spirit – reserved for His use, set apart for holy purposes, sealed, anointed, and empowered.
The critical junction is the willingness to apply what the Holy Spirit teaches, and a readiness to be adjusted to His Word and His Way. When the Spirit whispers, we must be quick to say, “Yes, Lord; Your servant is listening. What would You have me to do?” Then, we must be quick to obey. There is no limit to what God can do in and through a person who is unreservedly committed to His Government.