Reading the following verses, it appears to me that there are some requirements that must be met by us before we can be sure that it is always God who leads us. King David shared his own experiences with us as he said,
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. (Ps 25:9-14)
If we have been humbled by God to see the wretchedness of our old nature, we will no longer trust in ourselves. Instead, we might have realized where our old ways continually lead us. In fact, turning away from God by choosing to not listen to Him always leads to sin. David knew that God does not forgive us because we deserve it. No way, He forgives sins because of His great love for sinners, for His name’s sake, so that HIS name might be glorified, not ours. However, God’s steadfast love does not take His inherent righteousness away and therefore He does not want to see us remain stuck in our old and sinful ways. If we do not keep an open ear to His gentle nudges, He will let us leave Him for a certain time until we have eaten enough of the bad fruit we had sown by doing so. God who is patient will wait until we turn back to Him again with a humble heart and, hopefully, equipped with a fear of Him that casts out the desire to sin. The Book of Ecclesiasticus tells us in the first chapter,
1:25 The root of wisdom is to fear the Lord: and the branches thereof are longlived.
1:26 In the treasures of wisdom is understanding, and religiousness of knowledge: but to sinners wisdom is an abomination.
1:27 The fear of the Lord driveth out sin:
1:28 For he that is without fear, cannot be justified: for the wrath of his high spirits is his ruin.
1:29 A patient man shall bear for a time, and afterwards joy shall be restored to him.
Oswald Chambers’ thoughts on how God guides us are pretty practical and easy to understand. As for the progress of our spiritual journey he wrote the following.
At first, we want the awareness of being guided by God. But then as we grow spiritually, we live so fully aware of God that we do not even need to ask what His will is, because the thought of choosing another way will never occur to us. If we are saved and sanctified, God guides us by our everyday choices. And if we are about to choose what He does not want, He will give us a sense of doubt or restraint, which we must heed. Whenever there is doubt, stop at once. Never try to reason it out, saying, “I wonder why I shouldn’t do this?” God instructs us in what we choose; that is, He actually guides our common sense. And when we yield to His teachings and guidance, we no longer hinder His Spirit by continually asking, “Now, Lord, what is Your will?”
If we have been transformed to the effect that we automatically perceive His will regarding our everyday choices, we will also be able to see how wonderful the ways are He has led us. We know that God’s ways cannot be predicted and that He loves to surprise us in order to, yes, to make us happy, or rather, joyful. It is quite evident that we will only be inclined to glorify God and His wonderful doing in our life if we let Him guide us. In those cases where we obstinately keep up our old habits, the thought of glorifying God for His unfathomable ways will never occur to us. Instead, we will be either proud of ourselves if something turned out the way we expected or we will end in despair when we realize that our choices led to adverse circumstances. In any case we should always seek God’s will for the future. However, if we have become proud most of the times, God needs to humble us in order to draw us back to Him. And if we find ourselves desperate, it is very difficult to pull yourself out of such an emotional pit and to begin to trust in God again. But He who is faithful will help us no matter what.
As for glorifying God in all circumstances that have been ordained by Him, I guess you might have assumed it already, it is the new creation that was born from above that alone is able to do this. Our old Adam nature will never do. As for these deliberations, compare T. Austin Sparks’ devotional below where he brings this point home to us.
My little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you. (Galatians 4:19 ESV)
The profaning of the Lord’s Name, and the taking away of His glory, is the inveterate habit and course of the old creation nature. Should you see any of the old creation getting into the realm of the things of God, what is the result sooner or later? That man takes the glory, and dishonors God. Is not that the tragic, dark story of “the Church”; man in his old creation powers and life pressing into the things of God, and making a name for himself? The Church has been the happy hunting ground of men for reputation, position, influence and all such things. The flesh always does that. It takes God’s glory away, it profanes God’s Name. In order that that might not be so there must be a new creation, where all things are of God…. I see the appalling state of things today amongst the Lord’s people everywhere; death, weakness, limitation, defeat, failure, inability to stand up, to go on; and, without being critical, censorious or judging, you have to come to the conclusion as you speak with so many, that the measure of Christ is pathetically small. Sometimes when you speak about the Lord to people, who have borne the name of Christian for many years, they gape at you as though you were talking a strange language.
Let us ask the Lord that, so far as we are concerned, there may be an increase of Christ in every way. Let us seek grace for any fiery furnace in the light of the explanation, that it is neither what is of Christ that is being tested in us, nor any good within ourselves, but that what is not Christ should disappear, that it should be Christ, only Christ. At last this universe will know nothing but Christ. He will fill all things, and that will be a great day! May He be fully formed in us.
By T. Austin-Sparks from: The Essential Newness of the New Creation – Chapter 2