In my last post I said that we are not given the details about God’s plan and faith is more important than knowing every detail. Well, I wasn’t being 100% honest. A few people, very few, do actually get some God-ordained details about God’s will/plan. The problem is that many people claim they get this divine insight. “God spoke to me,” “God revealed to me,” “God…. me,” you get the idea. Basically, these folks are playing the spiritual trump card.
Wisdom says don’t take on a whole lot of debt to start a business. But God told me it was going to be okay, so I’ll do it. The Bible says don’t marry an unbeliever. God said this time was fine because we love one another so much. I like one kind of worship music over another. God revealed to me that mine is best, so you are wrong. What can you say to that kind of logic? You can’t say anything against “God said to me…” and there in lies the problem.
This “God said to me” attitude sets up people for failure. I can’t tell you the number of people who have come to me devastated that God didn’t keep his promise, or didn’t follow through with what he said to them. These people were certain which school God wanted them to attend, whom to marry, which career field God chose for them, that God told them their business would succeed, etc… But it didn’t happen like they knew it would or like God had told them. Because things didn’t go the way they knew they would/should they lacked trust in God or were disappointed with him.
These people weren’t let down by God. God never told them anything. God does not usually tell people his plan. Even when he does, as in the books of Daniel or Revelation, it can be, at times, a bit hard to understand every detail. 🙂 So, how do you know if God is speaking to you? First, you won’t have to ask. When God speaks it is never a casual conversation. Even when angels show up people fall down like they are dead. Paul was taken up into the third heaven, Philip was teleported to the Ethiopian man. If you have to ask yourself, “is this God talking,” the answer is almost always no. Second, it will not go against God’s Word. God will not give you license to commit a sin he has told everyone else not to do. Third, God gives more bad news than good when he talks to people. He came to visit Abraham to tell him about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Read the prophets, not many of those verses are quoted by motivational speakers.
Don’t confuse God speaking to you with a good feeling, certainty, or hope. Just because you prayed about something (which I HIGHLY recommend) and you go ahead with it doesn’t mean God spoke to you. My good friend Josh writes in his blog post, “So, the question is did God really speak to you … or is this just something you are passionate/excited about? There’s no shame in being excited about something. But it’s not very smart to baptize your excitement into a divine decree. Because, more than likely, you are like every other human … fallible. And you don’t want God taking the heat for your fallibility.”
If God does appear to you and tell you to do something, you better do it! If not, don’t pawn it off on God’s inability to follow through. You have freedom in Christ. Galatians 5:13-15 tells us that we shouldn’t use our freedom to sin or cause others to sin. Don’t use the phrase “God spoke to me” for those reasons either.
Here are two great books on the topic. Waltke’s book (Finding the Will of God?: A Pagan Notion?) is short and to-the-point. Friesen’s book (Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View) covers much more and is an in-depth study. Check them both out.