The Lord Told Me
It is not uncommon to hear Christians relating how God has spoken directly to them––meaning that they have heard Him through their own personal spiritual awareness. Common phrases include ‘The Spirit led me’, ‘God has laid this on my heart’ and ‘The Lord spoke to me’. There is nothing wrong with this as such––but at the same time it ought to be recognised that the moment we step away from the clear and undeniable directions of God’s Word we are in perilous territory. How do I know for sure that the Lord has told me to do such and such a thing, or go on such and such a journey? Is there not at least the possibility that I could be deluded––even deceived? It is even worse when I impose what I think God has told me on the consciences of others. Yet despite this, Christendom is full of examples of persons who have found themselves in disastrous circumstances by listening to “foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing” (Ez. 13: 3).
If I say ‘The Lord has told me that we ought to do this’ I immediately remove the right of any to call into question my proposal in any shape or form. Who would dare contradict the voice of the Lord? Certainly Paul says “do not lightly esteem prophecies” but he also goes on to say “prove all things” (1 Thess. 5: 20, 21). John urges us to “prove the spirits, if they are of God” (1 John 4: 1). We ought not, therefore, to accept anything at face value. Things must be tested. Now we know that the Bible is the truth (see Dan. 10: 21; 2 Tim. 3: 16), and thus if my ‘impression’ of the Spirit’s leading runs clean contrary to that Word, then clearly my ‘impression’ is false––the Lord has not spoken to me. Of course there are innumerable matters of our daily lives for which it would be difficult to find chapter and verse. In these circumstances I must qualify my words. I ought now to say ‘I think or I believe the Lord has told me’ and to be extremely loath to impose my thoughts on others. The Bible is infallible, but I am not. Even the apostle could say “I enjoin, not I, but the Lord” in relation to one matter, but in relation to another “as to the rest, I say, not the Lord” (1 Cor. 7: 10, 12). He thus carefully distinguishes between the clear word of the Lord and his own personal conviction. It would be a mark of spirituality on our part, and safer for us all, if each one of us followed the same path.