Thoughts to Ponder

How do I know if it is God speaking or not?

I try to write about and speak out about things that God puts on my heart. I often know before I write a devotional that I am going to take some heat for it. That is okay as long as I am sure it is what God wants me to say.

What has bothered me about the responses I get is that people claim that the Holy Spirit is telling them to write me. Here are a couple of examples: The Lord has really laid it on my heart to send this e-mail to you... And: The Spirit is leading me to respond to a few of the points you made...

Here is my problem, if I feel that the Holy Spirit laid it on my heart to speak out about something and other people feel that the Holy Spirit laid it on their heart to tell me I am wrong, what is going on? I will tell you straight up that we both can't be right. God is not the author of confusion. (1 Corinthians 14:33 NIV) For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. The Holy Spirit is not going to tell me one thing and then tell someone else the exact opposite.

So how do we know who if anyone is really listening to the Holy Spirit? The very first way is to look at God's word and see if what you feel God is leading you to say or do is consistent with His word. Again God will not contradict Himself or His word. Second you should pray about it and ask God for confirmation. If what you feel God is laying on your heart is consistent with His word then you are on pretty solid ground.

Let me give you some examples. I have written about how I think that all the talk about self-worth and self-esteem is wrong. I have spoken out about some of the books which are highly recommended by Christians such as Search for Significance, which is based on self-esteem.

Here are some quotes from Search for Significance by Robert McGee: When Christ told His disciples, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32, KJV) He was referring not only to an intellectual assent to the truth but also to the application of truth in the most basic issues of life; our goals, our motives, and our sense of self-worth. Unfortunately, many of us give only lip service to the powerful truths of the Scriptures without allowing them to affect the basis of our self-esteem in a radical way. (Search for Significance page xi - emphases added) As you see the author uses scripture to try to show that God is trying to boost our self-esteem. Is this really the truth Jesus was talking about? I don't think so.

The principles and insights in this book have been gleaned from years of counseling experience and from the writings of many psychologist and Bible teachers. (Search for Significance page xii) How about taking principles straight from scripture?

God tells us that we are so significant to Him that He always keeps an eye on us. He manages to be so sensitive to our situation that He even keeps track of the hairs on our head. There is obviously nothing more important to God then our welfare. (Search for Significance page 8) This is the religion of self-esteem at its best. I must have missed something in my reading of the Bible, I thought what God cared about most was our obedience and His holiness and the honor of His Holy Name. He does love us and care about our welfare, but to place that as the most important thing in God's view is to twist the scripture. (Ezekiel 20:9 NIV) But for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations they lived among and in whose sight I had revealed myself to the Israelites by bringing them out of Egypt. Notice that God says He did what would keep His Name from being profaned among the nations. (Malachi 2:2 NIV) If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor my name," says the LORD Almighty, "I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor me.

Our desire to be loved and accepted is a symptom of a deeper need - the need that frequently governs our behavior and is the primary source of our emotional pain. Often unrecognized, this is our need for self-worth. (Search for Significance page 9) The Bible says that the human heart is deceitful above all things. Our deepest need is for God.

Whether labeled self-esteem or self-worth, the feeling of significance is crucial to man's emotional, spiritual, and social stability and is the driving element within the human spirit. Understanding this single need opens the door to understanding our actions and attitudes. (Search for Significance page 12-13) The Bible teaches that our actions and attitudes are the result of sin and our crucial need is for redemption. (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV) The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

So is self-esteem what is lacking in a person's life? Is self-esteem so important to the human spirit that God wants us to learn to love ourselves?

What does the Bible have to say about self-esteem? (2 Timothy 3:1-4 NIV) But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. {2} People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, {3} without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, {4} treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- Not very flattering as far as I am concerned.

People try to tell me that I don't understand, that I am dead wrong and that God wants us to love ourselves. I have shown where the Bible says in the last days people will be lovers of themselves along with a list of other sinful things. So where in the Bible does it tell us that we should love ourselves? The only thing that people have ever been able to show me is this verse: (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV) Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' {38} This is the first and greatest commandment. {39} And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' In order to claim this passage promotes loving yourself you have to take it out of context and twist it around. First of all Jesus states there are two commands not three. To love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor. He knows that you already love yourself so He tells you to love your neighbor the same way. If this was a command to love yourself it would be the third command in the list.

Now many people try to tell me that not everyone loves themselves, that many people hate themselves. I deny this and will let scripture speak for itself: (Ephesians 5:29 NIV) After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church- This is where theology hits the road, either the Bible is inerrant and therefore this statement is true, or it is not the inerrant Word of God and we have more basic problems then self love.

I won't try to defend God's Word, it is His Word and does not need my feeble attempt at defense, however, I do want to illustrate how this is true. I deal with a lot of people who are contemplating suicide. These are people who most people would consider to hate themselves. Yet the overriding thing that I see is that these people contemplate suicide as a way out of the pain and loneliness they feel. It stands to reason that if they truly hated themselves they would be happy about the pain and loneliness because they would want to punish themselves. They would not want to get away from the pain and suffering they feel they are enduring if they truly hated themselves. That is what Paul is saying, for a person to feed and cloth themselves is to show love for themself. That is not to say that people don't hate their life or their circumstances. Of course people hate the situations they are in and would like to change those things about their situations or about themselves. Think of a person you feel truly hates themselves and then go withdraw $10,000 from your bank account and give it to them. After all if they really hate themselves the last thing they would want is money. What good would it be to them?

Another thing that I have spoken out against and gotten flack about is the idea that some people should forgive God for the things they have held against Him. I have said in the past and I repeat now that I believe that is blasphemy and should be denounced. However, I received messages from people who again told me I don't know what I am talking about. I guess what they were really saying is that either I am not listening to the Holy Spirit or He is not telling me the truth about this. Here is what God has to say about the matter: (Job 40:8 NIV) "Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?" God did not take anything from Job and believe me He won't understand you forgiving Him of anything either. Here again we see that God does not answer to us: (Romans 9:20 NIV) But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'" These attitudes of forgiving God to clear the air all come from the religion of self-esteem.

The people who wrote me about forgiving God made statements to the effect that they were glad they forgave God, because now they have a closer relationship with Him. Notice they did not back up what they did with any scripture, because there is none. Notice what they did say is very subjective and unprovable. I will stand on what I believe God told me to say and what I believe His Word verifies; we have no right to do anything but thank God for His mercy and grace. We elevate ourselves or bring God down to our level when we have the audacity to forgive Him. This is the Lord Almighty we are talking about, creator of everything. How arrogant of us to think we can even stand in God's presence much less forgive Him of anything. He has done no wrong. Common sense should show anyone willing to think about it, that you won't get a closer relationship with God by elevating yourself to His level.

I have received the same types of comments about other programs I have spoken out against. Such as the Seven Steps to Freedom and Bondage Breakers. I contend that these programs tend to take the person's eyes off of Christ and put them on self and what human wisdom can do for them. Both of these programs have the same basic reasoning, you (the person) needs to do something to free yourself from the bondage you are in. Without coming out and saying so they (the programs) deny the power of Christ to free the person. Am I wrong on this count? Let's look again at what God's Word has to say, we will go back to the passage I quoted before but add the next verse to it: (2 Timothy 3:2-5 NIV) People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, {3} without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, {4} treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- {5} having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. Notice the words "having a form of godliness but denying its power."

Isn't that what these programs teach? It is not God's power, it is your authority and power by which you are freed. They teach that the person has to confront Satan with words, yet the Bible addresses that too: (Jude 1:8-10 NIV) In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. {9} But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" {10} Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals--these are the very things that destroy them. After reading that passage do you really think it is appropriate for people to verbally take control of Satan and berate him and command that he listen to them? When people do so, they are denying God's power to help them and elevating their own power. Now they will always say that they have the authority through Jesus name, but that does not change what God's Word says.

I am appalled that Christians, churches and Pastors will not take a stand against things which are clearly against the Word of God. I can only say that when a person or organization refuses to take a stand they too are denying God's power. Why else would they be afraid to take a stand?

I did a review of the book Experiencing God (which can be read here: http://www.behindthebadge.net/articles/a20.html) and in it I quoted many places where I felt the author had demeaned the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Here are just two such quotes: God used circumstances to reveal to Jesus what He was to do. Jesus watched circumstances to know where the Father wanted to involve Him in His work. (page 200) And He pursues a love relationship and invites Jesus to be involved with Him by revealing what He is doing. Jesus then makes the adjustment to do what His Father is doing. (page 68) These both tend to show that Jesus did not know what His purpose was on this earth and/or that He was not fully God. Now I understand that while in His earthly body Jesus put aside some of His attributes, but He remained fully God. Again, don't take my word for it, take His: (John 14:9 NIV) Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? And again: (John 10:28-30 NIV) I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. {29} My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. {30} I and the Father are one." Does that sound like Jesus couldn't figure out what His purpose was?

I shudder to think of what awaits people in authority who refuse to take a stand. I cannot and will not judge anyone, but I will throw out a question. Is not taking a stand for the authority of and power of Christ the same thing as denying Him? (Matthew 10:32-33 NIV) "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. {33} But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.

We see many things in the modern church which point to man's helping God with the problems of life. We see 12 step programs touted as the way to overcome addictions. What happened to the power of the cross where a person confesses his or her sin? Can't Jesus free you from sinful habits in just one step? Does He really need these man made steps to free you? Aren't we denying His power to change hearts and free sinners?

As normal I have digressed, but I feel that God has placed on my heart a burden to speak out boldly, no matter who likes it and no matter who listens. No matter how much disdain I have to put up with from those who don't want to hear I will continue to speak what I feel lead to speak.

You can know God is speaking to you when it is consistent with His Word and when you confirm it through prayer. If what you feel is not supported by the Bible, maybe it is just you that feels that way. God is consistent, He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Amen!

E-Mail Ralph

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