The Inward Witness
The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart (Proverbs 20:27). For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Romans 8:14) The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16). Everything God does for the believer starts within. He enlightens us in our spirit. Guidance doesn’t come from the outside, by circumstances, but from within, from an inner prompting in our spirit. Paul called that inner prompting the Spirit bearing witness with our spirit. So we can call it the inward witness. Gideon put out a fleece to confirm the will of God. Putting out a fleece is when we say, Lord if you want me to do this, then show me this outward sign. Let me illustrate. In 1981, after I graduated from Bible School, Susan and I took a trip to our hometown for a visit. I desperately wanted to be in ministry, and we had planned a meeting with her previous pastor. Here’s how I prayed, Lord if you want me to come and help him as his associate pastor, then have him ask me when we meet with him. I was actually asking the Lord to give me a sign that would show me his will. We met with the pastor, and sure enough, he asked me if I wanted to be his associate. Thrilled, I said yes, believing this was God’s plan. But inside, I felt funny and awkward about it. I just didn’t feel completely right about it. But because it seemed as though my prayer was answered, I pursued. We moved to my hometown, and spend nine miserable months out of the will of God. In asking for an outward sign, I did what Gideon did, I put out a fleece. I should have listened to the inward witness, but I chose to believe the outward sign instead. I learned a life lesson through this, and have never again put out a fleece to determine the will of God. Don’t look for an outward sign in finding God’s will. Look within, to your own spirit, and to the inward witness. Ask yourself, how do I really feel deep inside about this matter. It may take some time to sort it out, but that inward witness, that sense that this seems really good or it may be a sense that I’m not so sure this is right, is the primary way God leads New Testament believers today. Gideon didn’t have the Holy Spirit within to bear witness with his spirit. He had to rely on outward things. Never ignore your deepest inner promptings. Take time to get quiet so that you can sort out your deepest thoughts and desires. The inward witness will never lead you astray. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite scriptures that I apply to this inward witness. Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed (Proverbs 16:3- Amplified).