(Somewhat related to At what level of detail does God lead His children?)

Here, I am going to make a couple assumptions.

  • The person has the Holy Spirit in them.
  • The person follows the Holy Spirit's leading at all times (or as much as they can).

Now, what I'm wondering is: does the Holy Spirit ever say something like, "Up to you"?

What is the Scriptural justification for the idea that the Spirit will explicitly give the Christian a choice (instead of a mandate) when the Christian asks for guidance?

2 Answers 2


If we look at Pauls life, he had a call to preach the Gospel. But I think it's safe to say that within that call he had a big freedom. He used the brain God had given him to plan his journeys:

Acts 20:13-16:

We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had made this arrangement because he was going there on foot. When he met us at Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene. The next day we set sail from there and arrived off Chios. The day after that we crossed over to Samos, and on the following day arrived at Miletus. Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost.

But there where other situations when the Holy Spirit intervened in Pauls plan.

Acts 16:6-9:

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”

I would argue that this also applies to us. God has a great plan for all of our lives. But that doesn't mean that he always care about all the details. Some people like repairing cars, so they make the decision to work with that. But within that context, the Holy Spirit leads them to speak to customers for example. But for other people God intervenes in their plan and call them to do something else.

But maybe I read to much out of these texts ;)

  • (+1) For some good old fashioned common sense. Maybe throw some of that wisdom to answer my question. Without a direct copy and paste that is.
    – Mike
    Jul 8, 2012 at 11:46
  • how do you know it is the holy spirit telling you something and not the environmentally programmed subconscious? Jul 10, 2012 at 21:32
  • @GregMcNulty That's a whole other question. But you could start a new question if you want to. Hint: The Holy Spirit can lead in different way. If for example two different ppl that don't know each other tells you something very specific they think the Spirit want's to tell you. You have no reason to suspect that it's your "environmentally programmed subconscious". Jul 11, 2012 at 5:37

Even in great distressing situations God does not always immediately answer.

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” (Mathew 15:21-23).

Yet in this case the silence was only used to bring out the great faith of the inquirer. Is it not possible that God does the same thing with us but over a longer period with less distressing situations? Job 19:7 seems to say the affirmative to this question but again his position was very distressing. What about David who struggled so deeply with this issue as a type of Messiah:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. (NIV Psalm 22:1-2)

But in day-to-day worries, I think God usually answers by lifting our cares away and giving us wisdom:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (NIV 1 Peter 5:7)

When it comes to the details obviously God does not lead a person to decide if it God’s will to brush his teeth, or other detail like that. God’s will is very wide open; he may even leave your career to you. To marry, or not to marry, is even your choice. The Bible is filled with ‘God’s perfect and detailed will’ and it is very hard for us to live it. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. He wants us to use our 'brains' in devotion to the service of others in love. Is there any other ‘will’ of God? Do we really need to seek Him in prayer to find out what that is?

Having said this I am very insecure about a lot of things without at least making a quick prayer before proceeding. I have made too many mistakes saying things, I wish I had not! I even pray before sending emails at work, as I often get caught up in the flesh and need to check my attitude before responding to politics.

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