Test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
Many terrible delusions have come from misapplication of Scripture. How can we know that we are hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit—the only Spirit of Truth—and not some other voice? I would suggest asking the following questions:
First, are your impressions consistent with Scripture? The Holy Spirit will never ask you to act in a manner that is in conflict with Scripture. The more you learn about God’s Word, as you grow in your faith, the more you will be impressed with the consistency of the scriptural message. For example, God will never lead you to marry an unbeliever or to do anything dishonest.
Second, does the insight make sense? Satan suggested to Jesus that He should jump off the highest point of the temple in order to let the angels catch Him. Jesus knew His mission, and common sense indicated that this was not part of it. There are some decisions in life that you will not need to pray about. The good common sense that God gave you, controlled by the Holy Spirit, should be sufficient to help you make wise decisions.
Third, is the insight sensible in the light of circumstances? If you are deeply in debt but you want to buy an expensive new car, it is very unlikely that God is the one telling you to make the purchase. Remember that our God is not a God of disorder and irrationality.
Fourth, do godly pastors, teachers, and counselors agree with the impressions you have received? It is quite important to seek wise counsel. I have done this countless times in my life, and I hope you will do the same. Surround yourselves with wise, mature believers; they will provide a spiritual “safety net” to help protect you from a poor interpretation of God’s will.
Finally, does the insight you have received generate deep, inner peace? This is the kind of peace the world simply cannot give. Running away from our circumstances may also generate peace—but only for a time. The kind of peace I am speaking of is not dependent on your circumstances. It is the supernatural peace that comes directly from God.
Application: Record the above five points on a small card and use it as a handy guide to test what may be future insights believed to be from God. Do not act upon passing just one point but try to find agreement on most or all of the five points.
Additional reading: 1 John 4:1-6.
By Bill Bright
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