Help in Finding God’s Will
For Major Life Decisions

How to Avoid Deception

How to Find the Correct Bible Interpretation

By Grantley Morris

divine guidance?

This is for everyone anxious to discover God’s personal guidance, no matter what agonizing issues are involved. An early draft of the page was for those desperate to find God’s will about divorce and remarriage. This is a perplexing issue because there are so many conflicting opinions even among sincere Bible believers. As the page grew, however, it became obvious that it would be ridiculous to exclude people stewing over other life issues. The same spiritual principles apply to every difficult life decision. So you are the focus of this page, regardless of what issue you are seeking God about.

Divine guidance

Deception: It Can Happen to You

Don’t bury your head in the sand: it is frighteningly easy to fall into deception. Even more devastating is that anyone deluded is completely unaware of it. Those in the greatest danger are the ones who think it couldn’t happen to them. Those who murdered their Messiah were appalled that their ancestors had killed God’s prophets. They were certain they would never do such a thing.

The great apostle Paul wrote:

    1 Corinthians 4:4 For I know nothing against myself. Yet I am not justified by this, but he who judges me is the Lord.

Let these Scriptures chill your spine:

    Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weighs the motives.

    Proverbs 16:25 There is a way which seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

    Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?

    Matthew 24:24 For there will arise false christs, and false prophets, and they will show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the chosen ones.

    Matthew 25:44, 46 Then they will also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn’t help you?’ . . These will go away into eternal punishment . . .

    James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. . . . (NIV)

    James 1:26 If anyone among you thinks himself to be religious while he doesn’t bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart . . .

God's will?

Avoid Presumptions About God’s Will

If we are to truly hear from God, it is essential that we avoid the trap of blindly assuming that if it is contrary to our longings it must be God’s will. It is equally critical that we not go the other way and automatically assume that if it seems certain to make us happy, it must be God’s will for us.

Few Christians – maybe none – have walked with God for long without sometimes mishearing him because what the Lord was seeking to tell them was contrary to their expectations. Scripture insists that as the sky soars way beyond our reach, so are God’s ways far beyond our own (Isaiah 55:8). Yet still we unconsciously develop presumptions about God’s ways that seriously distort what he is seeking to tell us.

No matter how sincere, our preconceptions blind us to possibilities, without us realizing it. They have horrifying potential to send us spinning into delusion.

Mindsets, whether positive or negative, can dangerously cloud our perception of reality and of what people are really saying. For example, there are people whose tragic pasts have convinced them that they are unlovable. Some of them end up married to adoring partners and yet their mindset so blinds them that they continue to be convinced that they are not loved, no matter what extremes their partners go to in trying to prove love in word and action. In fact, many such people are so blinded to all the evidence that they deliberately act obnoxiously in an attempt to drive their loved one away because that seems less painful than what they consider the inevitable shame of being dumped. They can even be doted on by the most loving and most important person in the entire universe – Almighty God – and they still can’t accept it and, despite everything, they continue to feel utterly unloved.

A positive mindset can be just as dangerously blinding. With tragic consequences, young people can feel so invincible that they are certain that no warnings of danger apply to them.

So let’s briefly explore how mindsets can hinder us from hearing God’s voice and discovering his will for us.

Many of us fall into the rut of always expecting God’s will to be challenging, scary, painful. The Bible is dripping with evidence for this expectation. We are to love God more than any other person or thing. This can be divinely tested, as it clearly was for Abraham when he was asked to sacrifice his precious son. Jesus was continually asking people to give up everything to follow him. An entire book of the Bible is devoted to Job’s horrific test. We know God’s will for Jesus was terrifyingly painful. Jesus and the rest of the New Testament warn us to expect severe persecution. Scripture tells us to rejoice when trials hit, because they build character.

As if hundreds of Bible verses were not enough to make us expect the worst, many of us have the additional pressure of being prone to feelings of guilt, depression, inferiority, or pessimism. A friend of mine shares his experience, which is an extreme example of how preconceptions distort our ability to hear from God.

    I had an abusive father who only sent me to church to get a free baby sitter. I often looked at God as similar to my father. I stopped attending church when I was 13. I tried to be a good Christian for a while, but before long I plunged from being a good kid to being a mean spirited, hateful person.

    I tried numerous times to get back to God but each time I hit a wall of fear that was so unbearable that I felt compelled to turn away from God. I often told myself that this fear was God’s punishment for my gross sins and that it proved I was beyond forgiveness. I had a lot of bad thoughts about God that I had no control over. As a result, I often slipped into depression. I would then get on medication and return to my sinful lifestyle.

    It seemed the only way I could function was to eliminate God from my life. I did fine for a while. I got married and had a son. I got off drugs and alcohol. I even started a business. For the first time in my life I was finally happy. I thought I had completely erased my past.

    Then I began to think that all these good things were from God. I told myself, “It can’t be! There is no God!”

    “Why do so many people love God?” I puzzled, “He wants only to send everyone to hell.” Wondering if I had overlooked something, I explored a number of websites and learned a lot about God. I asked myself, “Why do I despise God so much?” Within a couple of days I was once again overwhelmed by fear. I told myself, “This fear is surely God again; I remember this from years ago.” I immediately cried and began repenting. I vowed that I would face my fear of God. I turned my back on everything evil in my life.

    I started reading the Bible but I was afraid that it would only confirm that I’m condemned. Before long, it felt like everything in the Bible somehow condemned me. My mother worried about my spiritual state and visited me a lot. I would often tell her, “Look, this verse right here proves I’m going to hell!” We would then go over it and discover its meaning was totally different. I couldn’t figure out why I could read something and get such a condemning message from it. I would often stop reading the Bible because oppressive fear would come over me.

    I bought a book about spiritual warfare. All was fine for a while, then even that book seemed to be condemning me and in despair I put it down. Eventually, I forced myself to open the book again. I re-read the condemning sentence I had underlined. To my surprise, I couldn’t find anything in it that could lead me to feel condemned.

    I began to notice that as I read, fear would sweep over me, causing me to throw the book down without finishing the sentence.

    I eventually learned that the fear and condemnation were not from God, as I had always thought, but were from the enemy. This discovery changed everything. I looked back on all the things in my life that I had considered were from God and realized that they were not from him at all.

My friend’s experience might be far more extreme than yours but any preconception you have about God and his will is just as capable of distorting what God wants to tell you, and, like my friend, wherever you look in the Bible and Christian messages you’ll find much to confirm your presumption – whether it is really there or not.

Most Christians who don’t habitually expect God’s will to be unpleasant, fall into the opposite trap. Again there is much scriptural encouragement for this view.

Abraham was renowned for his wealth; Isaac and Jacob enjoyed great material success; Job was very rich, Solomon was mind-bogglingly wealthy and many of the Bible heroes were kings.

A study of the Old Testament use of the word blessing is astounding. The way experts ascertain the precise meaning of a word is to find as many different occurrences of the word as they can and examine each context. Do this and you will discover that almost every time, the word blessing refers not to spiritual blessings but to material prosperity – many children, overflowing harvests, livestock breeding like there was Viagra in their hay (Scriptures).

The Bible is filled with promises of joy, God’s love for us, answered prayer, miracles, healings and victory.

    John 16:24  . . . Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.

    Psalms 37:4 Also delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Not only will God give you what your heart desires, he will (as stated in Philippians 2:13) give you desires that are from him so that the more you grow in your love for God, the more the deep desires bubbling within you will have been put there by God himself.

The obvious truth is that both sides of the coin – all the tests and pain and trials, and all the blessings – are in the Bible.

We can rob ourselves if we are not expecting earthly blessings. When Jesus walked this planet, many got their miracle from him solely because their faith that God will bless them fired them to keep pushing through all the obstacles.

On the other hand, there are dangers in expecting continual ease. Jesus warned us to count the cost. We find Barnabas and Paul “confirming the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith . . .” I’ve stopped mid-verse. So far there seems nothing different here from normal prosperity doctrine. But let’s read the entire verse to discover how they strengthened and encouraged them:

    Acts 14:22 confirming the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that through many afflictions we must enter into God’s Kingdom.

To embrace the full teaching of Scripture we must avoid both the mindset of always expecting God’s will to be scary and the mindset of always expecting God’s will to be deliriously easy and filled with more thrills than Santa Claus’ magic cave.

God’s will is always the best we could possibly experience and to settle for anything else is as smart as shaving with a chainsaw. But our long-term happiness and our short-term pleasure and ease are usually oceans apart. Our wonderful Lord wants our permanent happiness, not some sweet fizz that turns sour. We are so often like children wanting to sentence ourselves to a lifetime of gorging ourselves on no other food but chocolate and ice cream; having no idea that their conception of heaven on earth would slowly transmute into the opposite.

As God’s ability to see the future soars high above our own, so his knowledge of what will make us eternally happy is far above our guesses. Consequently, we need to look to God to guide us, and avoid presumptions.

Whether positive or negative, presumptions are dangerous because they can close our minds to things God wants to tell us and they can also cause us to seize what we suppose to be God’s will when it isn’t at all. To use marriage as an example, there are those who think to themselves, “I long to marry, so it’s probably God’s will for me never to marry,” or “There’s a degree of attraction between us but I wouldn’t want us to marry, so God probably wants us to marry.” Then there are others who tell themselves, “I love this person and feel I couldn’t live without him/her, so marriage must be God’s will.” In either case, one needs further confirmation of God’s guidance. We must confuse neither wishful thinking, nor confuse fear or pessimism with God’s leading.

Divine guidance?

How to Avoid Misinterpreting the Bible

Every Christian leader worth his salt – or to put it even better, everyone who is salt – stresses the vital role of the Bible in divine guidance. The necessity of verifying that any supposed word from God is thoroughly consistent with the written Word of God is so obvious that telling that to most of us is as superfluous as telling us to breathe. You’ll find this webpage crammed with Scriptures. What is seldom explained, however, is that unless our heart is right, a thorough Bible knowledge and deep reverence for the Bible will let us down – badly.

The devil used the holy Word of God to tempt Jesus. It was central to his plot to lure the Son of God from his divine mission. Scripture convinced devout Bible scholars that Jesus was a demon-possessed madman they should kill for the good of the nation. No doubt, it was also his knowledge of Scripture that played a role in firing up Saul to eradicate every trace of Christianity from the planet.

Bible knowledge is spiritual wealth. Give someone a million dollars and the vast possibilities range from using it to achieve enormous good, right through to destroying himself with it. Wealth – be it spiritual or material – tests a person’s character.

In a webpage for Christians agonizing over the morality of divorce, I briefly mentioned various Scriptural interpretations on the subject by sincere scholars. Rather than being enlightening, it was frustratingly confusing. Amazingly, however, it turns out that feeling confused and incapable of correctly interpreting God’s Word is a vital leg of one’s journey to hearing from God.

Those who suppose they have all the answers are the ones least likely to hear from God.

Ponder the implication of Jesus’ prayer:

    Matthew 11:25 At that time, Jesus answered, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you hid these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed them to infants. . . .”

Those who are wise in their own eyes are in grave danger of spiritual blindness and deception.

    1 Corinthians 3:18-20 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, “He has taken the wise in their craftiness.” And again, “The Lord knows the reasoning of the wise, that it is worthless.”

On the other hand, wondrous possibilities emerge for those with the humility to realize their “foolishness” – the natural human blindness to spiritual things – and their need of divine help in understanding biblical truth:

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

Even someone so spiritual and knowledgeable that he actually wrote part of the Bible, recognized his own need to pray for understanding of God’s Word:

    Psalms 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of your law.

The Lord intentionally makes his Word difficult to understand to shake us out of complacency and inspire us to passionately seek his understanding of his Word, like Jesus’ disciples who couldn’t understand his parables and so came to him for understanding.

An intellectual approach to the Bible, no matter how studious and informed, is never enough.

    1 Corinthians 2:14 Now the natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can’t know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Discerning biblical truth either takes us to the height of spiritual intimacy or we will drift into delusion, no matter how much, like the devout scholars in Jesus’ day, we think ourselves the epitome of orthodoxy.

Paul commented on how Jews could study the Old Testament with great thoroughness and still never realize that Jesus is the Messiah it prophesies. He put it this way:

    2 Corinthians 3:15-16 But to this day, when [the books of] Moses [the first five books of the Bible] is read, a veil lies on their heart. But whenever one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (Emphasis and explanatory text, mine.)

To know the will of God, it is not enough merely to know the words of Scripture, you must know the Author, being on the most intimate terms with him. To do the will of God, it is not enough merely to know the answer, you must be in spiritual union with the Answer.

Countless thousands of sincere, Bible-loving Jews longing for their Messiah rejected Jesus as their Savior because he did not match their Bible-based – yes, Bible-based – preconceptions. Much of their misunderstanding was due to confusing the Messiah’s second coming with his first coming, and much of that was probably because their longing to be delivered from hardship was greater than their longing to be delivered from their sin.

God made it so difficult to recognize Jesus’ true identity that when Peter made this discovery, Jesus exclaimed, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. . . .” (Matthew 16:17).

Here’s my poem. I hope it’s not too long for you:

    Spiritual concerns are spiritually discerned.

(Well, it almost rhymes.)

For proof of this great truth, we need go no further than this: evil spirits were far better at knowing who Jesus was, than were all the priests, spiritual leaders and Bible scholars combined. Demons knew in an instant what the best theological minds could not figure out about Jesus.

So a critical step toward finding the mind of God on any issue is to recognize that insights into spiritual matters will not be attained merely by the intellectual process of studying the relevant Scriptures and reaching one’s own conclusion as to what they mean. There must be a humble recognition of one’s dependence upon divine illumination of God’s Word. This naturally leads to fervent, faith-filled prayer for divine revelation but, as we will discover, there are additional heart attitudes to be mastered.

Divine guidance

Genuinely Want To Obey God

God loves you mind-boggingly more than you could possibly love yourself. Because true, godly love is utterly selfless, your best interest is God’s top priority. The infinite knowledge and wisdom of God make the smartest human decisions look like the guesses of a moron. If you combine all these facts and ponder their implications, it becomes clear that God’s will is the wisest thing you could ever do. Now combine this with Scripture’s famous truth: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalms 111:10; Proverbs 9:10 – Job 28:28; Proverbs 1:7; 15:33 are similar).

To fear God is to literally fear the consequences of disobeying the One who is Wisdom. Ideally, we should be so in love with God that fear doesn’t factor because God’s happiness means so much to us that we would rather die than sadden him. If we truly loved, to know we had disappointed the Lord would devastate us so much that something terrifying could not make us feel any worse. Nevertheless, there is genuine reason to fear disregarding the directions of the God of all love and wisdom.

In our relationship with God we are like electricians working on 100,000 volt transformers. We are perfectly safe, provided we act wisely. If you don’t realize the danger for Christian and non-Christian alike, you know little about the God of the New Testament and I suggest when you reach the end of this page you explore a link there about the fear of God.

    Psalms 25:14 The friendship of the Lord is with those who fear him. . . .

The Lord shares his secrets with those who would sooner tongue kiss rattlesnakes than disobey him.

    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.

Jesus is saying that to receive the divine revelation as to whether it is just a man spouting his own thoughts or God speaking, the critical factor is one’s willingness to obey God. An openness to God’s will – resolving to obey him no matter how unexpected and what the cost – unlocks our mind to let God in to give us the revelation we desperately need.

Note how the psalmist linked receiving divine revelation with a commitment to obey God.

    Psalm 119:34 Give me understanding, and I will keep your law. Yes, I will obey it with my whole heart.

    Psalm 119:145 I have called with my whole heart. Answer me, Lord! I will keep your statutes.

It is tempting to seek God, not because we want to obey him but because we are hoping to hear him say, “Yes, you can have what you want,” and if he says anything else we’ll ignore it. Such an attitude does not inspire the Almighty to speak to us. If we are not going to obey, the Lord telling us his will is not just God wasting his time; it increases our accountability and the severity of our judgment.

To paraphrase Jesus, if you seek first the kingdom of God all other necessities will be provided (Matthew 6:33). Although Jesus said this in relation to our physical needs, the principle surely applies equally to spiritual needs. If we put God’s glory foremost in our motives, he’ll give us the guidance we need.

biblical guidance?

Count The Cost

What would you think of a soldier who was expecting war to be so easy that he gets upset when he breaks a fingernail and deserts? When urging the crowds to count the cost before committing to him, Jesus spoke of a king going to war. To succeed in war one must steel oneself with the expectation that it will be tough.

Walking a tightrope might be easier than writing this webpage. Hopefully, from what I said earlier, you will understand how seriously I have failed you if I unintentionally foster a dread of God’s will. Just presuming that it will be unpleasant can cause serious problems. What makes the tightrope so precariously narrow, however, is that it is also my spiritual responsibility to steel you for the possibility that, although not guaranteed, God’s directions might occasionally seem unpleasant initially.

We need to long to do God’s will. And lest a closed mind causes us to mishear what God longs to tell us, we must be alert to all possibilities, which, of course, includes the likelihood that even in the short term God’s plans for us will exceed our fondest hopes. Nevertheless, much of Jesus’ teaching focuses on the cost, because he sought to instill in us the mental toughness required to be prepared for any eventuality. Without a willingness to embrace short-term pain for long-term joy, we Christians so easily fall into delusion. Should this happen we will be horrified when we face our Judge. Expecting to hear a “well done,” we would discover that despite all our prayer, good living, hard work and sacrifices we have missed God’s best and wasted our lives. We might make heaven but for all eternity we will suffer the loss.

Sometimes God’s answer is right in front of us, but we don’t recognize it because we are expecting the Lord to find some soft option to our crisis, when no such option is in his loving plans for us. Too often we overlook our Savior’s insistence that we take up our cross and follow the One who for the joy set before him dragged his cross to Golgotha where he was tortured to death.

Yes, Scripture says it was for the joy set before him that Jesus endured the agony of crucifixion (Hebrews 12:2). Our Savior said that doing God’s will was his food (John 4:34). It was prophesied of him that he delights to do God’s will (Psalm 40:7-8; Hebrews 10:5-7). Nevertheless, in the garden of Gethsemane we find our perfect Role Model sweating, as it were, drops of blood; hoping against hope for a legitimate way of avoiding God’s will. So let’s get real: if we are Christlike, there will be times when God’s will seems the most agonizing and undesirable option. At such times everything within us will seem to cry out against doing God’s will, and since we love God, we will be pressured to disobey and fool ourselves into thinking we are still obeying him.

God’s goal for us is to become champions. Could our goal sometimes be an easy few years, regardless of how much it eats into our eternal reward? The glory of Christ’s champions is, through him, to do things that seem impossible.

Jesus kept saying we must deny ourselves. Peter said, “ . . . since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind; for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (1 Peter 4:1). The parable of the sower refers to those who fall away when the going gets tough (Matthew 13:20-22). If, for the One who gave his all for us, we are unwilling to embrace severe hardship, the possibility of falling into self-deception will skyrocket when obeying Christ becomes costly. If so, instead of having ears attuned to the Spirit’s whispers we will have, to use Paul’s words, ears itching to hear what we want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3).

When writing of those whose “god is the belly”, Paul seems to be referring to people who thought they were Christians (Philippians 3:19). No matter how Christian they look, and how convinced they are that they are serving God, their real god – the one they serve and let determine the course of their lives and their eternal destiny – is not the wise, loving Lord, but their own passions and cravings.

    Romans 16:18 For those who are such don’t serve our Lord, Jesus Christ, but their own belly . . .

There are those who seem indistinguishable from Christians when they can have a cozy life while acting godly. It is only in situations where they cannot have both their own way and God’s way that their real god is exposed. Even then, they will be so desperate to have both their fill of ease and the temporal status and eternal comfort of being Christians that their minds will buzz with excuses and rationalizations to the point of utter self-deception. Despite putting their own interests foremost, they convince themselves they are serving the real God.

These good people can be so anxious to have both God and their sin that they become the most devout non-Christians on the planet. We each have the potential to end up so sold-out to God that we match the Jews who went to extremes in keeping themselves ceremonially pure while finalizing the murder of their Messiah (John 18:28). We could find all sorts of Scriptures to confirm the correctness of our actions, just like Satan found Scripture to prove the correctness of his arguments when tempting the Son of God to sin (Matthew 4:5-6).

Once a person decides he or she wants to sin, the human capacity for self-deception knows no bounds. It is not the slightest surprising to find gay churches, embezzling pastors and adulterous or even incestuous Christian leaders.

We could find ourselves following not our crucified Lord but Ananias and Sapphira; struck dead for thinking they were having the best of both worlds by being hailed for their devotion, while secretly indulging themselves ( Acts 5:1-11). The easy way leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14; Luke 13:24). If we want both our Lord and the easy life we can find ourselves with the throng on Judgment Day who will say, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we . . .” and will be stunned to hear those terrifying words, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22-23). As Jesus says:

    Matthew 7:21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Elsewhere the tragedy is described this way:

    Proverbs 30:12 There is a generation that is pure in their own eyes, yet are not washed from their filthiness.

In the words of the prophet:

    Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?

No wonder the psalmist prayed:

    Psalms 139:23-24 Search me, God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me . . .

spirtual deception

When Sin Sparks a Divine Communication Breakdown

Many of us suffer a love-hate affair with a particular sin. Our loving Lord is most patient when we genuinely want to be freed from it but have not yet discovered how to draw upon God’s power for total deliverance. The entire process is a rich, though frustrating, spiritual learning experience, which will cause us to grow, even though during most of our struggle we will feel that we are going backwards. A link at the end of this page will help you.

If, however, we are not struggling against our pet sin but want to keep it, divine patience will begin to wear thin. Until we repent, we can expose ourselves to the danger of a communication breakdown with the Lord.

    Psalm 66:18 If I cherished sin in my heart, the Lord wouldn’t have listened [to me]

    Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

That is what happened to King Saul. He had surrendered to sin (for instance, he was continually trying to kill David, who as Saul had been, was God’s anointed). The spiritual implications of Saul’s sins came to a head when he desperately needed to hear from God. Not surprisingly, given his behavior, the Lord was silent. In desperation, he added to his sin by turning to a medium for guidance, despite being so aware of the sinfulness of this that he himself had previously banished all mediums from the land. He died just hours later (1 Samuel 28:3-29).

We can do the same in one of two ways. The first way is to keep trying to find the answer we want, rather than the answer we know God has given. If the Lord gives us an answer, but not one that we want to hear, we can keep seeking Christian advisors until we find one who says what we want to hear and choose to believe it, despite knowing deep down that it is not God’s counsel.

There are things we should not pray about because we already know God’s will on the matter and praying simply means we are hoping for a response that is contrary to the God of the Bible. For example, if a Christian prays, “Lord, should I rob a bank?” he is not praying to the real God because he already knows the true God is opposed to stealing. If he receives the answer he wants, it will not be from the true God. Such a person is, of course, careering into deception. When we are genuinely confused, the Lord is most patient with us, but if we know the answer is staring at us in the Bible and we are asking simply because we don’t like the answer the God of the Bible gives, then we are on very dangerous ground.

The second way we can act like King Saul is to consult non-Christian spiritual guides, such as reading the stars, having our fortune told, or even some secular means that does not focus on the Bible and seeking God through Jesus, and encourages us to take a path contrary to the leading of the one and only true God.

Scripture says that God put a lying spirit into hundreds of prophets, causing them to entice the king of Israel into a war that killed him. Why would the God of truth do that? Because these were prophets of a false god whom the king chose to worship; not prophets of the true God (1 Kings 22:5-38).

The Bible even says that God can go to the extreme of letting prophets of false gods foretell a miraculous sign that actually happens, and it is God testing his people to see if they truly love him or will knowingly reject him in favor of false gods (Deuteronomy 13:1-3).

So to hear from God we must want God to wrench from our lives, not just the sins we hate, but the sins we love. And if at any time we have sought occultic guidance, we must repent and seek God’s forgiveness so that there is no blockage in our relationship with God.

spiritual Guidance

Look Beyond Human Advisors

The word of God often comes to us served up by people. The Lord loves speaking to us through people because he loves people and delights in giving the objects of his love the astounding honor of sharing in his great work.

We are part of a body. We need each other, and the Lord has very deliberately placed spiritual leaders and teachers in the body of Christ. These are helps that we dare not ignore. If what we believe to be God’s guidance differs from the views of respected leaders, it is strong evidence that we have misheard God. We must be ever so cautious about disregarding their views.

Nevertheless, as I have said elsewhere, your church and favorite Bible teachers might be excellent and have far deeper understanding than me, but does that make them infallible? I doubt if anyone on the planet has a one hundred percent correct interpretation of every aspect of the entire Bible. How then can you be certain that that fraction of a percent where your church or Bible teacher is incorrect does not include the very issue you are seeking God about?

No matter how wise and spiritual people seem, they, like you and me, can occasionally have their own blind spots and their own hidden pressures influencing their judgment. We must not be content to have blind faith in anyone, but must personally seek confirmation from our Lord.

Even when God’s counsel comes to us through people, it is our responsibility to ensure that God truly is the real source of our guidance. The Holy Book preserves for our instruction the instance in 1 Kings 13, where a young prophet let himself be persuaded by a more mature prophet who claimed to have heard from God. Though it was contrary to the younger prophet’s personal leading he chose to believe the more experienced prophet. The mistake cost the young man his life.

spiritual deception

Never Give Up

Jesus deliberately made it hard for people to understand his teaching. We see this in his parables. Although powerfully helpful to the few who got close enough to him to be given the key to their meaning, to everyone else most of his parables were little more than frustrating puzzles (Matthew 13:10-13). But Jesus even went beyond using parables in making things difficult for his listeners. He kept coming up with weird, even offensive, sayings such as, “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you don’t have life in yourselves” (John 6:53). This saying was enough for many of his disciples to leave him. He could have explained. He could have worded it differently. He could have avoided the subject. Instead, he used it to test them. The twelve, though as bewildered and as offended as the others, clung to Jesus. It was perhaps years later – after the resurrection – when it eventually made sense to them, but no matter how ridiculous Jesus’ teaching seemed, they stubbornly clung to the belief that Jesus had the answers they needed and that if they kept with him for long enough, he would eventually reveal what they needed to know.

God has not changed tactics. He still uses silences and Bible difficulties and offensive situations as challenges for us to rise to the occasion and prove that we believe that no matter what, the answer is found in Jesus and in him alone, and that if we cling to him for long enough, all that we need will be revealed.

We again see this in Jesus’ interaction with the Canaanite (Syrophenician) woman. She needed him. He gave her the silent treatment. Instead of giving up, she hounded him all the more. When she finally wrung a response from him it was worse than nothing. He insulted her and said he wouldn’t give her a thing. Still she hounded him and ended up receiving not only her request but Jesus’ high praise (Matthew 15:21-28). It turned out that despite not revealing a hint of it until it was all over, her persistence thrilled him. And when you receive the silent treatment, your determination to keep badgering Jesus because you believe he cares and will not remain silent forever, will likewise thrill him, gain you high praise – and you’ll hear from him as well.

It seemed to Lazarus’s sisters that Jesus had let them down by not responding immediately to their urgent plea for him to come and heal their brother. But they were wrong. (John 11:1-45). Jesus is always faithful and always cares and always has more ways of bringing good out of disaster than our powers of imagination could cope with.

To our great loss, it is usually suppressed from official biographies, but many – perhaps all – great men and women of God have reeled in agonized bewilderment at having been certain they had heard from God; only for circumstances to later prove they had been mistaken. Why God allowed it, I do not know, but what proved these people’s greatness is that after that sickening blow they staggered to their feet and kept pressing forward for God.

We sometimes feel sure God will answer a prayer a particular way and for some mysterious reason it doesn’t happen. It can be bitterly disappointing and defy all understanding, but we continue to believe in prayer. Likewise when it turns out that we had misheard from God, we need to continue to believe in God’s guidance and his integrity.

Cling to him. Whenever God communicates, whether it be through the Bible, through circumstances, or whatever, he usually whispers. The further we let ourselves drift from him, the more likely it is that we won’t catch everything he is saying and we will unknowingly fill in the gaps with what we suppose he is saying, thus exposing ourselves to danger.

bible answers

Keep Seeking

“Seek, and you shall find” said Jesus. And yet sincere, godly Christians have sought the truth about important spiritual issues come to opposite conclusions. This means that some must have stopped seeking before they truly found. They found perhaps half the truth and were content to stay there, rather than keeping open to the possibility that God still had more to show them.

the will of God

Don’t Let Your Feelings Drown Out God’s Voice

When we have already decided what we want God to say and anything else begins to seem unbearable, and – as always – we have a spiritual enemy who would love to trip us up, trying to discern God’s guidance becomes precariously difficult.

Try not to let strong emotions – passionate longings, pain, shame, fear, selfishness, or resentment – drown out the Spirit’s whispers. That’s a tall order when grappling with emotionally charged issues in which one’s feelings can rage almost uncontrollably. At the very least, however, you can be acutely aware of how strong yearnings for a specific answer greatly magnify the possibility of distorting your perception of what God is saying.

Do what you can – and pray that God will do the rest – to rein in your longings and bring your personal preferences as close to neutral as you can manage. I pray the next paragraph will sober your passions enough to save you from tragedy.

If, from heaven, you were to look back in time on what you currently think is the best option and, with everything revealed, you would still see it as the best option, then it is truly what your loving Lord wants for you. Remember, however, that millions of marriages turn out to be a most horrific mistake that scars and haunts people to their dying day. These people were once madly in love; desperate to marry the object of their passion because they are certain it would be heaven on earth. We can get it devastatingly wrong, not just with marriage, but with any other craving. When reality hits, our darling fantasies can so easily dissolve into nightmares. It is terrifyingly common to be intoxicated by an illusion. Likewise, we can dread things that eventually turn out to be a most wondrous opportunity that we dare not miss.

Paul Little rightly said that God’s will is the greatest good his infinite wisdom can devise. There is no greater security in the universe than snuggling in the center of God’s will. What is to be feared is every alternative to God’s will. Whatever God’s will for you is, you will spend eternity reveling in heartfelt gratitude to God for the perfection of his loving wisdom, and celebrating the ecstasy in having chosen it.

If you can absorb the truth of how good God’s will is and how secure it makes one, it will calm your spirit as you wait for him to speak. As the calming of a raging storm makes it easier to hear a conversation, so the calming of your passions and fears will help you hear the Lord.

spiritual deception

Wait Until You Are Certain

As I have said elsewhere, God loves drama. Often he waits until almost the last split second before giving us what we desperately need. That builds faith. It puts steel in our backbone, spiritually.

King Saul was chosen by God. He could have headed a royal dynasty, with his descendants ruling as king for untold generations. He lost it all because it seemed to him that things were so desperate that he could not wait a moment longer. In a panic, he acted hastily and paid for it for the rest of his life, and his descendents kept paying generation after generation. What he feared would not come soon enough, arrived just as he finished his rash act (1 Samuel 13:8-14). If only he had waited a few moments longer . . .

Don’t be like Esau; so driven to satisfy his craving that rather than endure the few unpleasant minutes that restraining himself would entail, he made the biggest mistake of his life. He thought every minute he denied himself would seem an eternity, but the real eternity was his never-ending regret over having sold his future for a mouthful of pleasure. He could never undo his devastating loss (Hebrews 12:16-17).

biblical deception

Avoid Complacency

John Wesley remained single, denying himself for 47 years. Finally, this man of God, overflowing with spiritual wisdom, decided to complete his happiness by marrying. So atrocious was his choice that his wife ended up a continual source of torment and shame. They ended up permanently separated.

No one ever gets so old and wise or so spiritual that he or she cannot make a devastating mistake.

If Solomon with all his wisdom and initial devotion to the Lord could make wrong marriage choices and drift away from God, there is simply no way to avoid spiritual disaster other than daily obedience and intimacy with God.

spiritual deception

Have A Real Need For An Answer

God often shares his secrets on a need-to-know basis. Those whose interest is little more than intellectual curiosity or so they can point the finger at others, are much less likely to receive divine revelation than those faced with the serious need to make a decision. “Call on me in the day of trouble . . .” invited the Lord in Psalm 50:15.

Divine guidance

The Answer Couldn’t Be Closer

The Almighty is moved by your need. For our eternal benefit he develops our faith by stretching it, but at the right time he will come through for everyone who yields to him and in faith waits for him.

Rather than try to give you my answers to whatever issue is bothering you, I have pointed you to the Answer. Better than having all the answers, when Christ dwells in you, you have the Answer.

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Not to be sold. © Copyright, Grantley Morris, 2005. For much more by the same author, see These writings may be freely copied provided this entire paragraph is included and it is not placed in a webpage, nor in anything that is sold. For use outside these limits, written permission is required. Freely you have received, freely give.

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