I've been sharing these last 4 weeks how to be determine if a teaching is the true and balanced Word of God. We determine if a teaching is 'the whole counsel of God' by asking these questions: Is it consistent with the character of Jesus? Is it consistent with the life/actions of Jesus? Can it be found elsewhere 2-3 times in the Word? Is it understood in context and in the culture of the day?
But what about something not found in the Word?
What if someone comes to you and says "The Lord told me..." and it doesn't sound right but you can't disagree with them because they said 'God said', yet you know it doesn't make sense and isn't wise but they aren't open to your opinion - what do you do?
What if someone tells you God told them they can quit their job because He will take care of them? What if someone says God told them not to take their medicine anymore, but you can see no change to their condition and clearly they are risking their health and life? What if someone says God told them not to take their sick child to a doctor?
What if someone told you God said so and so is going to be their spouse? What if someone is believing God for healing while continuing to abuse their body which caused the condition in the first place, yet they won't change their diet or lifestyle - and 'God said' essentially, they don't have to, for He will heal them anyway?
The answer doesn't sound spiritual
Jesus said 'Wisdom is justified by her children'. This means a wise decision will later be revealed to have been wise by the (children/results) of the decision. Luke 7:35
That means if someone is about to make a decision based on 'God told me' but what they claim He said doesn't seem scriptural nor wise but you can't turn to chapter and verse to prove it, the answer is to let them walk out their claim. That is difficult if you love them, to watch them suffer, but there is no other solution.
Letting them walk it out is taught by Paul: "Brothers and sisters, if anyone is overtaken in a trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness, considering yourself as you also could have been tempted. In doing so you bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."
"But if someone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Let each person examine his own life and actions, and then he will be able to rejoice within himself, for each shall bear his own load." Galatians 6:1-5
So we see two things at work here: In the first 2 verses it is about someone who sins and repents, and is surrounded by loving friends eager to renew their fellowship and friendship.
Next he talks about someone who won't repent, is set in their way, refusing to accept guidance from others. Let us examine what Paul says we should do for a person like that.
First, this person thinks more highly of himself than he should - 'thinks himself to be something when he is nothing'.
Second, is that they are self-deceived. In the Greek, this is 'phrenapatao', which means 'to deceive by fantasies', or as Vine's Dictionary of NT Words says, 'a sin against common sense'. James says this person is a hearer of the Word, but not a doer. My experience has been these people pick and choose which parts of the Word they will obey, and refuse to examine themselves in other areas.
Third, the verse says 'let each person examine his own work (life and actions). My experience has been that once a person thinks more highly of themselves than they should (pride), and become self-deceived, sinning against common sense by their fantasies, they lose desire to examine their lives and take responsibility for their actions.
One of the most common is the get-rich-quick mentality I've seen so many times through the years. Usually the person is either in debt and has been praying about a quick solution to get out of debt, or they want enough money to live on so they 'can do what I'm called to do' in the Lord. When a proposal comes to them, they invest money in it trusting the Lord has finally moved on their behalf.
It would take more than all my fingers and toes to count over 36+ years of walking with the Lord, of able-bodied men and women who have told me 'God told me to quit my job' or 'God told me I don't have to work anymore', and then after being brought to the edge of starvation, go back to work - without a hint of willingness to examine their life! No admittance they missed it, no teachability - they are still blaming the devil instead of looking in the mirror.
Fourth is that 'each shall bear his own load'. This is a word picture of a man carrying a load on his back - meaning if a person claims 'God told me', time will tell the tale. To him who is walking in wisdom and in balance, they will have rejoicing in themselves over what the Lord has done. To him who thinks he is something when he is nothing, he too has to walk that out and suffer the consequences.
When God actively resists His children
"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit to God, and then resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands (remove yourself from your prideful action) you sinners and purify your hearts you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up!" James 4:6-10
Pride - the only solution for pride listed in the Old and New Testaments is for the proud person to repent and humble themselves before God. If someone sins against you, you can ask the Father to forgive them and He will do it. But pride isn't something you can pray for a person to be delivered from, they must humble themselves and rid themselves of it.
You can pray they see their pride, you can pray the Father will deal with them about it, but you can't cast out their pride nor pray it away for them - only the proud can get rid of their pride, and the only solution presented in scripture is repentance.
The Father will actively resist a proud Christian. We don't want our Father actively resisting us. Know this: He will actively resist a person in a single area they are in pride and error, while in the rest of their lives be open and flowing. Many who don't realize this truth think that because He is blessing in one area of their life then the He must be OK with the rest of their life - but often that is not the case.
We have only to look at our children to see a natural example of this. We may 'ground' a child, taking away privileges from them for a time, yet in the rest of their lives our relationship with them is normal - they are our children, only in this one area have we resisted them (their pride).
In short, if a person tells you 'God told me' and you don't believe it is God, then let them walk it out. Be supportive, see if they are open to instruction, and if not let them walk it out. As Paul said, God is not mocked, He will render to them what they deserve. And if they are self-deceived they are in pride, and only they can remedy their own situation.
When you find someone who has a track record of saying 'God told me' and their life is one of productivity, peace, stability, then their 'children' - the results of their decisions - are obvious to be God. If you find someone who has a track record of saying 'God told me' but then nothing works out, or God suddenly seems to change His mind, or they are drifting yet aren't open to truth - they must walk it out. Often His grace will try to reach their pride another way, letting them have their way (though a tough route) for a season, before bringing them back to the place of need and hopefully, repentance and change.
Next week - another subject. Until then, blessings,