Well, lots of ways.
* We know it by the Spirit’s testimony in our hearts (Rom 8:26).
* We see the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Gal 5:22-25). Paul could not more plainly say that these things come about due to the Spirit’s work in us —
(Gal. 5:22-26 ESV) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Notice that the Spirit produces heart-changes. This is not about Five Acts of Worship or how to use the church treasury. It’s about the core of who we are, our character, our passions, our desires. And these are far more important to God than whether we comply with some imagined handbook on how to do the assembly. He wants us to “will and to do” his will. He wants us to actually desire what God desires.
* We cry out to God as Abba!
(Rom. 8:15 ESV) 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
We love God as a three-year old loves his father. He doesn’t have to be commanded on threat of a spanking. He loves his Daddy because he can see his Daddy’s love for him in his Daddy’s eyes. He feels the love of his Daddy when he’s tucked in at night. It’s unfeigned, natural, and deep in the core of who he really is. And his Daddy doesn’t have to write a book to make it so, but he might.
Ninth, here’s the great paradox at the heart of Christianity. We cannot love God or worship God out of fear. If we only worship or love because of fear of hell, then our real motivation is self-love. We are afraid for ourselves, and so we try to learn to love the person terrifying us.
But with the Spirit, our hearts are changed to truly love and to truly worship. It’s not feigned in order to get something (self-love). We learn to love selflessly. By the Spirit.
(Gal. 5:18 ESV) 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
“Led by the Spirit” is yet another Exodus allusion. If the Spirit leads us as the Israelites were led by a column of smoke and fire, we no longer need a map. The Spirit is enough. But where does the Spirit lead? To rules about church names and structures? Or into the arms of Jesus? To deeper faith? To greater reliance on prayer? (So now we see something of what it means to pray in the Spirit.)
To wrap up (getting sleepy), the Spirit changes us to serve, submit, sacrifice, and even suffer as Jesus does. It helps us have the heart of Jesus. And thereby obedience is no longer about fear of hell but having a passion to do what pleases God because we so love God — and that’s so much better. We internalize the commands as part of our essential character rather than trying to please God by seeking out silences to obey on penalty of damnation.
I’ve tried it both ways. I much prefer the Spirit-led way.
None of this contradicts the scriptures. Nor does the Spirit create new revelations that require writing down new scriptures. It’s not like that. We tend to confuse the fact that the Spirit inspired the scriptures with this being the only way the Spirit can work — but that is far too narrow an understanding of the Spirit’s work in us. And far too narrow an understanding of what God wants from us. He wants far more than obedience. He wants our hearts. Circumcised by the Spirit to want to live as Jesus lived.
Does the Spirit work through the Scriptures? Absolutely. Only through the Scriptures? Of course, not. Sometimes it’s through a sermon. Or through a word from a friend. Or from experience. Or in prayer. It could be a sunset that reminds you that God loves you so much that he painted the sky just for you.
Does it replace the Scriptures? Obviously not. The Spirit inspired the Scriptures.
Does this mean the scriptures are not enough? Yes. They are sufficient for what God designed them to be. But they aren’t God. And they don’t replace the personal work of God the Spirit in each of us.
(2 Cor. 3:1-6 ESV) Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. 3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
This is surely built on the contrast found between Deu 10:16 and 30:6 covered earlier. The letter is good and holy and from the very breath of God. But it only brings death unless we have the Spirit so that we can love God as we should.
(Deut. 30:6 ESV) 6 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.