King David calls the Lord ‘my shepherd’ in Psalm 23, which indicates that he is allowing the Lord to lead him like a sheep would follow a shepherd.
All of us are created with free will. When we choose to call God our Shepherd we are choosing to allow Him to lead us. By acknowledging Him as our Shepherd we are saying, “I will only go where you lead me and nowhere else.” The Scripture says, “He leads me in the paths of righteousness…” The word ‘righteousness’ here has often been translated ‘straight’. So, He leads us on straight paths.
I don’t believe any follower of Christ would say that He ever would lead us on a path of sinfulness. When we as followers of the Good Shepherd decide to sin, we are no longer allowing the Shepherd to lead us. When a believer sins, it doesn’t mean they aren’t a child of God anymore, but it does mean they are not following where Christ is leading. When a sheep stops following its shepherd in the natural, it becomes vulnerable to attack by predators, or it can become injured and exposed to the elements.
The same holds true spiritually. If you aren’t allowing Christ to lead because you are following a strange path not set out by the Shepherd, then you aren’t allowing God’s wisdom into your life. You can get into terrible situations and then find that you wandered pretty far from the Shepherd of your Soul (1 Peter 2:25). The pathway of righteousness is the new life He gave you when He exchanged it for your old, sick, sinful one, and He wants to lead you on this new path called righteousness. Paul reminds the Ephesian church that they should no longer live in sinfulness like the people of the world who don’t follow Christ:
Ephesians 4:20-24, Living Bible
But that isn’t the way Christ taught you! If you have really heard His voice and learned from Him the truths concerning Himself, then throw off your old evil nature—the old you that was a partner in your evil ways—rotten through and through, full of lust and shame. Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better. Yes, you must be a new and different person, holy and good. Clothe yourself with this new nature.
Allowing the Good Shepherd to lead you may not always be the easy road, but as the Word says, it is the narrow one and the destination is – LIFE.
Matthew 7:14, NIV
But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.