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Are we listening to God?
- Jacob Ninan
Unfortunately, many Christians do not expect to hear God speaking to them in their heart; they only read and try to obey what the Bible says. But God does speak to us, always in line with what He has already said in His word, according to need of the time. The God who spoke to the apostles (and 'ordinary' people like Ananias who baptised Paul and Cornelius the Roman centurion) speaks even now in our hearts (and sometimes through dreams and visions), to comfort, encourage, exhort, correct and guide.
But those who are expecting to hear from God directly are in for a shock because He is not the only one who wants to speak to us in this way. Satan (or usually one of his demons or deceiving spirits) also will speak to us, pretending to be coming from God (2Co.11:13,14), or quoting from the Bible as he did to Jesus (Mt.4:6). But he twists truths, omits parts of them, suggests falsehood and tries to lead us off on a tangent.
I want to use the example of what happened to Kenneth E. Hagin, sometimes called the father of the heresy called 'word of faith' which has now spread all over the world. According to Hagin, one day he had read the whole of the Gospel of Mark and was finally meditating on Mark 16 when his mind went blank. (He had been practising this going blank from his teenage years, believing it helped him to hear the Holy Spirit speaking.) This 'blanking of the mind' which is a part of yoga and TM is very dangerous because those who do that abdicate the control of their mind making it open for evil spirits. Hagin then heard a voice telling him to take note of the fact that Mark 11:23 mentioned three times about 'saying' and only once about 'believing', and that he should preach thrice as many times about saying as about believing. Hagin was gripped with this, and it started him off on what we see now as heresy.
If we heard anything like this, or it came to our mind, we should be thinking, "What! Certainly the Bible emphasises believing more than saying. Our salvation is by faith and not by saying. If we don't have faith, what use is there in saying? How can we interpret this verse like this? Etc." But possibly Hagin didn't think like this because He was under the assumption that it was the Holy Spirit who was speaking to him.
So, take it to heart, what we hear from preachers or as we read the Bible is not necessarily from God. Even if someone quotes from the Bible don't just accept it but question it honestly in the light of what the whole Bible teaches. Even godly Christians, including preachers, can be deceived. Even preachers who are not themselves deceivers (unfortunately there are many of them around) but who are sincerely seeking to believe and obey God can be deceived. Sincerity is not enough protection in the presence of ignorance. God warns us about this very specifically as we approach the end of days (1Ti.4:1). Yes, we must seek to listen to God, but recognise the possibility of deception.