Expressions come and go. Some are really good and others aren’t so good. Some actually convey a message that is true. Some convey the spirit of the age. One of those expressions that is used a few million times a day is “God put it on my heart”. It may be completed by, “to do this particular thing.” Or “to tell you something he wanted you to know.” When I hear the second one my question is always, “Why didn’t he just tell me instead of fooling around with putting something on your heart to tell me?” How do I know you are reading what was put on your heart in the right way.
Truth is objective. It is based on something that is real and tangable. In Jesus’ prayer for unity he asked the Father to “Sanctify them through your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) Feelings of all kinds are subjective. Our feelings can be affected in all kinds of ways, but the fact I feel something strongly doesn’t always mean God is speaking to me. Satan may be putting things on your heart. Some times what we think is a revelation from God is only a feeling from our own mind.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 Paul has been discussing the appearance of the man of sin that was going to be revealed. He told the Christians in Thessalonica that the Lord wouldn’t come again until after the man of sin is revealed. He describes such a man of sin as one that decieves the people. He performs all kinds of signs that seem to indicate he has divine powers, but they aren’t for real. He said his working was according to Satan. “And with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth but took pleasure in wickedness.”
We are made in such a way that it is always possible for us to convince ourselves that something that we want to be true really is, thus convincing ourselves that God is speaking or leading us when He isn’t. Think about how strongly Saul of Tarsus felt that he was doing what God was leading him to do when he was fighting God with all his power. He thought God had put it into his heart to persecute Christians and destroy the church. To change his mind .iIt took the Lord appearing to him on the road to Damascas to confront him asking “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?”
Paul challenged us to “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” But how do you do that? To carefully examine a thing to see if it is true there must be a standard of truth that you will use to make the determination. That standard of truth in spiritual matters is the Word of God, the Bible.
When our feelings differ from what we can read in the word of God, the word should be the standard we accept. To trust one’s feelings or conscience more than the Scriptures is to make subjective feelings more trustworthy than the message of God revealed through His Holy Spirit.
Remember also that the heart is used to refer to our belief system “as a man thinks in his heart so is he.” It also refers to our faith. Paul wrote in Romans 10 that “With the heart man believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” In Acts 5 Peter asked Ananias, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit? You have not lied to men but to God.” In 2 Corinthians 9 Paul said, “As a man purposes in heart, so let him give, not grudging or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Does God lead us in different ways today? Yes, the Bible says that he does. In the model prayer Jesus said to pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” In Both Romans 8:14-16 and and Galatians 5 we are told that we are led by the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5 continues by describing ways the Spirit doesn’t lead such as according to the law and to perform the works of the flesh, such as immorality, theft, drunkeness and lying. Then he lays out the fruit of the Spirit. When the Spirit is leading he produces in us the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, and self control.”
The Spirit leads us through the message of Scripture, through open doors He puts before us and through spiritual gifts He gives us for service. He puts burdens on our heart by allowing us to see needs and opportunities and seeing how we could do something to make things better.
It is very wise to be doubtful that something put on your heart comes from God and to examine it enough to stay right.