By Elizabeth Prata
I’ve been writing lately about how the constant barrage from female so-called Bible teachers claiming “God told me,” known as direct revelation, is building a foundation of sand rather than on the rock of biblical sufficiency. I’ve said many times not to accept someone’s claim of direct revelation. If they teach that, avoid the teacher.
But it does beg the question- HOW does God lead? We know He does. We know the indwelling Spirit in believers illuminates the scriptures, leads us in the path of holiness, and convicts us of sin. He is involved. But how?
I was asked this good question: “How do I respond when someone says ‘God laid it on my heart?’ “
First, understand that God, rather, the Holy Spirit, has a ministry of illumination. He brings light to your mind when you study the scriptures. He reveals wisdom and understanding to your mind, transforming it to a likeness of Jesus’ mind. When you read the Bible, then meditate on the scriptures, then apply them to your life, it is the Spirit sustaining you in this process. When you are reading the Bible another day and bazinga! something suddenly makes sense from something you read before, that is the Spirit’s illumination. When you are in a situation and bazinga! You suddenly know what to do based on a biblical principle, that is the Spirit illuminating the word to your mind.
When you feel something laid on your heart that convicts you, something you feel bad about, like harsh words, or a sin, or wounding another person, or even a secret sin- that is the Spirit ‘laying on your heart’ a conviction to repent.
The Spirit DOES ‘lay on our heart’ illumination and conviction. That is His ministry to our conscience and our mind.
If you feel ‘God laid it on my heart’ to tell someone a foretelling prophecy, or to move the family to another city, or to change jobs, or to drop out of college, or to take a trip, etc, well, that’s just your own decision making. You’re attributing your own personal decision to the Spirit, which is dangerous to do. We can’t put words in His mouth He didn’t say.
Here is an article excerpt explaining-
How can I know the will of God? First, I need to realize that God’s revelation has been “once for all delivered” (Jude 3), which means no further revelation will be made. Second, I need to accept that God’s revealed will in His Word is complete and all-sufficient (2 Tim. 3:16-17), supplying me with everything I need to live and to serve God (2 Pet. 1:3). Third, I need to admit that if I believe God laid something on my heart, then someone else has an equal right to claim that God has laid the complete opposite on his heart, and who is to say who is “right” and who is “wrong”? That’s why God’s Word is the perfect, complete and final standard in all things (John 12:48). ~Source
We might feel an impression to do something, or have a feeling, or follow a leading, but we cannot know specifically that it is the Spirit impressing or leading in that particular instance. Here is Phil Johnson of Grace Community Church, speaking to that issue after the Strange Fire Conference held some years ago:
“The Bible is perfectly sufficient, and that means someone’s personal impression based on a dream or a vision or a voice in the head has no place in the church’s teaching ministry. Those things have no legitimate authority over the conscience of any believer. We are to order our lives by a more sure word of prophecy, namely Scripture.” ~Phil Johnson
So to the question at hand: The following was asked at The Strange Fire Conference, answered by Phil Johnson:
Q. How do we distinguish between the legitimate prompting of the Holy Spirit and our own thoughts or will?
A. While God can prompt us to think or do something, He has not given a clear and objective mechanism to identify when He is doing that. Since no one can identify with absolute certainty the source of the impressions he experiences, he must not ascribe authority to them or rely upon them as direction from God. John MacArthur gives good advice on that point in this downloadable audio. Mistaking a personal impression for divine guidance can lead us far astray from God’s will and may cause serious problems in our lives. ~Phil Johnson
Q. How should a Christian respond to what he thinks might be a leading of the Holy Spirit?
By comparing the impression with the objective, authoritative revelation God gave us—the Scripture. So, does the thought you are having agree with biblical theology? Is the action condemned or condoned in God’s Word? Will that choice ultimately bring glory to God? As you answer these questions in light of biblical teaching, you can know whether you are walking in the will of God.
Look for the word “decided” in the New Testament. Paul decided to do this or that, decided to go here or there. He legitimately received direct instruction from the Holy Spirit, the canon was not written yet. But Paul also decided to do things. We do not leave our decision making faculties behind when we become a Christian.
So, ladies, if it is something you want to do and it’s aligned with the scriptures in principle, you do not have to say “God laid it on my heart.” That’s unnecessary. Just say, “I decided…” God’s will for your life is to obey Him where there are explicit commands and to obey Him to the best of your interprtation where there are implicit concepts. In between, just decide.
Ligonier: The Holy Spirit’s Ministry