When Recognizing God Gets Confusing

Supernatural Confusion

The Bible warns that there can be times when prophets accurately foretell the future and even though it happens exactly as prophesied, the message is not from God. Again this seems frighteningly confusing but it turns out to be straightforward.

    Deuteronomy 13:1-3, 5 If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ďLet us go after other godsĒ (which you have not known) ďand let us serve themĒ; you shall not listen to the words of that prophet, or to that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. . . . That prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death, because he has spoken rebellion against the Lord your God . . .

As clearly stated in the above Scripture, these miraculously confirmed false prophecies involve the call to worship other gods. You donít have to a genius to conclude that no matter how supernatural it is, if it is a leading to become involved in a false religion, it is not from God.

Davidís life hung by a thread. King Saul had mustered the nationís entire army to hunt him down and kill him. It was a terrifyingly deadly game of predator and prey. By an amazing set of circumstances David found himself not just once, but on two separate occasions, ideally positioned to easily and safely strike Saul dead. In a single stroke he would not only save his own life, but gain the throne, as God had promised. So astounding were these opportunities that on each occasion Davidís trusted friend concluded that it had to be an act of God (1 Samuel 24:4; 26:8). Yet, no matter how supernaturally the circumstances seemed to have been orchestrated, David was not fooled. The Holy Lord would never lead David to murder the Lordís anointed. David needed neither to be Einstein, nor a supersaint to figure that out. What had seemed confusing was not so difficult after all.

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Safeguards Against Deception

Scripture insists that people have entertained angels without realizing it (Hebrews 13:2). The supernatural touches us far more often than we realize, with both God and his spiritual enemies speaking through the most unlikely people.

Since the Bible is uniquely authoritative, one might think that the perfectly safe way of knowing that something is from God is through the Bible, but not even this is true. You will recall that the devil on two occasions quoted from the Bible in his attempt to fool Jesus into sinning. In each case, Jesusí response was to quote another Scripture, thus proving that the devilís twist on the Scripture he quoted was actually inconsistent with divine revelation. The Bible is always right, but this is by no means true for every interpretation of the Bible.

Occasionally, you will have difficulty distinguishing between the devilís voice and your own thoughts. This is because the devil is the deceiver. He often speaks sweetened evil in our minds and tries to con us into thinking it is our own thoughts and desires. If we are likely to delight in what initially seems a legitimate excuse to sin, we are particularly vulnerable to deception. If, however, we are committed to denying ourselves and clinging to Christ, we are safe. Jesus revealed that our willingness to do Godís will is a critical factor in determining whether we are granted the divine discernment to know whether a revelation is from God.

    John 7:17 If anyone desires to do his will, he will know about the teaching, whether it is from God, or if I am speaking from myself.

This is consistent with:

    Psalm 25:14 The friendship of the Lord is with those who fear him. He will show them his covenant.

Ezekiel 12:2 says that it is because the people are rebellious that they have ears but do not hear.

I would hate to be a child again. In what to a little child seemed random fits of selfishness, my loving parents would decide that I must not do dozens upon dozens of things I longed to do. And so many things I vehemently did not want to do, they insisted that I do. What often made it so infuriating and made me feel unloved is that so often there seemed no sensible reasons for my parents asserting their will and apparently stealing from me my legitimate rights and pleasures. Likewise, as adults we do not mind obeying God when we see the love and wisdom in his decisions. It is a very different matter when he asks of us something that seems nothing but a senseless restriction. But whatís the point in having a God if he doesnít guide us away from dangers we donít understand or canít see? And why should God bother to reveal his will to us if we wouldnít trust his wisdom enough to obey him? For him to tell us when we have no intention of obeying would only increase our condemnation. So if we are to hear from God, our eagerness to obey is a critical issue. So if we are to hear from God, our eagerness to obey is a critical issue. At the end of this series is a link entitled Enjoying Godís Will for You. If you have not already done so, I urge you to read it when you come to it.

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Donít you find it astounding that Jews can meticulously study the Old Testament and not realize that in it God is telling them over and over that Jesus is their Messiah? Scripture says this inability to know what God is saying will remain in place until one Ďturns to the Lordí (2 Corinthians 3:14-16). In other words, God can speak to us, like he speaks to Bible-reading Jews and we can completely miss it and fall into deception unless we repent of our sin, dump our know-it-all attitude, and seek God. We earlier mentioned Jesus rejoicing in the way God hides vital revelation from the Ďwiseí and reveals it to Ďlittle children.í Obviously, if they were really wise, they would know. The very beginning of Romans speaks of those who, claiming to be wise, became fools and fell into spiritual deception. When we think ourselves smart or spiritually knowledgeable we are in grave danger.

    John 9:39-41 Jesus said, ďI came into this world for judgment, that those who donít see may see; and that those who see may become blind.Ē Those of the Pharisees who were with him heard these things, and said to him, ďAre we also blind?Ē Jesus said to them, ďIf you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ĎWe see.í Therefore your sin remains.

    1 Corinthians 3:18-19 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone thinks that he is wise among you in this world, let him become a fool, that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ďHe has taken the wise in their craftiness.Ē

ĎDonít be wise in your own eyes. . . .í warns Proverbs 3:7.

    Proverbs 3:5-7 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and donít lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Donít be wise in your own eyes. Fear the Lord, and depart from evil.

Again, we read:

    Psalm 25:9 He will guide the humble in justice. He will teach the humble his way.

The proud are so smart that that they donít need God to guide their decision making. They reject guidance. You canít tell a proud person anything.

The humble person, however, even when he or she is definitely hearing Godís word, such as when reading the Bible, has the prayerful, dependent attitude of the psalmist who, not once, but repeatedly, prayed to God for understanding of the Scriptures he was reading (Psalm 119:18,19,125,144,169). A humble person doesnít dare rush off in impatience like King Saul who couldnít wait for Samuel. The humble wait, even when God seems to be taking too long. Neither does the humble person act like the Israelites binding themselves to an agreement with the Gibeonites without bothering to consult God (Joshua 9:14-16). To them, it seemed so obvious that the Gibeonites were from a distant land that there was no need to check with God. The humble might be highly capable but they never forget that in everything God is greater. They trust God, not their own abilities.

Besides the devilís deception, there will also be times when you have difficulty distinguishing between the Lord and your own thoughts. ĎThe heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?í (Jeremiah 17:9). However, there is a further reason for our difficulty and this one is thrilling: you and God are one.

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If you are interested in pursuing this subject I draw your attention to the link The Thrilling Mystery of Hearing from God at the end of the main page you have been reading. The above is an extract from that web series.


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