How many times in your life have you felt sure that God was leading you to do something only to have it turn out horribly and for it to become obvious that it wasn’t really from God at all? It is pretty common to hear folks in church talk about how God has led them in particular directions. it may be an age thing, I’m not sure, but I’ve been around the block more than once and the truth is I’ve had people declare that God or the Holy Spirit has led them to do some horrible things that obviously didn’t come from God. One that stands out was a man who had left his wife and children to move in with another woman. He sat across the desk from me in my office and declared that this was from God. He had been praying about it and God was leading him to leave his family and small children to go to the other woman who made him feel more needed. When I was unconvinced that this was really from God and said that he was being led by the devil instead, he became quite upset.
it is certainly possible to believe God is leading us in a direction when it isn’t God at all. Think about something God tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason, God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” It is interesting how this fits with I John 4:1-3 after John had told the people that one way they could know they were right with God was by the Holy Spirit given to them. But immediately he turned to say, “But test the spirits to see whether they are really from God, for many false teachers have gone out into the world and there are many adversaries.” He pointed out that these false teachers were really antichrist because they were teaching that Jesus didn’t really come in the flesh at all.
The Holy Spirit is at work in our lives and in our world. He leads us and guides us. He opens doors for us and helps us in our weaknesses. He strengthens us in the inner man so Christ can dwell in our hearts through faith. God is constantly at work in the lives of His children to guide them in the right way. But, Satan is also extremely active and what is often amazing to us is that Satan often works in the heart of a Christian by offering something that looks very much like what God offers. He leads us away from the right way with counterfiets that are so close to the real thing it takes God to show the difference. When we lose our love for the truth and for what is right that leads to our salvation God will send us a STRONG DELUSION or WORKING OF ERROR so that we will BELIEVE THE LIE AND BE CONDEMNED.
Think of a great man of God as an illustration. His name is Abraham. God had promised him a son through which he would produce a great nation and bring the Messiah into the world. But he is 85 years old and his wife is 75 and God’s promise still hasn’t been fulfilled. Sarah thought of a way to help God out on his promise. If Abraham would just go in and have sex with Hagar, Sarah’s maid, she would have a son but it would belong to Sarah since it was her idea and Hagar is her slave. Abraham thought about it and it sounded good to him. He went in to have sex with Hagar. She became pregnant and had a son. Everything seemed good. Now Abraham would have the promised son. The problem was, it wasn’t from God. Sarah had bought into the delusion and her idea would cause her problems for years to come. But move on down several years. At 100 Abraham and Sarah have a son. She was 90 and had the son they named “laughter” or “Isaac” in Hebrew. When he was a young man, Abraham’s pride and joy, Abraham had another leading from God. It was to “Take your son, your only son, the son you love and make him a burnt offering to me.” Now think about it, which of the two leadings from the Spirit seems more right or holy or from God to you. Imagine getting a revelation from God to murder your son and make him an offering to God. He knew it was from God so he got up early the next morning and took Isaac to travel to Mt. Moriah where he would tie Isaac to the altar and raise the knife to kill him before God stepped in and told him to take the ram in the bushes to make it an offering to God. God was proving to Abraham that nothing was to stand between him and God, not even his prized son.
So, how can we know if an urge, an opportunity or a leading is really from God or if it is a strong delusion leading us away from God? How can we TEST THE SPIRIT TO SEE IF IT IS FROM GOD?
Will it lead to the truth of God being held close and followed? All kinds of signs may come from the devil or the man of sin. But Satan never exalts truth that leads us to obey God fully.
Will it exalt Christ in the world? Too often our moves exalt some person or group instead of Jesus.
Will it lead to our accomplishing the mission of making disciples in the world who are obedient to the teaching of God and who go out to make more disciples in the world?
Will it lead me to a closer walk with God?
We ought to pray all along that God will lead us in the way He wants us to go and to give us a heart that is totally devoted to Him. Jesus told his disciples to “Watch and pray that they wouldn’t enter into temptation.” It is vital that I have a heart so totally devoted to God that when I do realize I’ve been led in the wrong direction I am quick to make it right and set myself back on the right course with God. It is vital that we “Trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our understanding. In all our ways acknowledge Him and He will direct our steps.”
“God please lead me in the way You want me to go. Open my eyes and heart to Your will in all things and open my eyes and heart to see when a leading is counterfeit produced by Satan to look like the real thing but will only bring wrong living. Oh, God, forgive my missteps and guide my future one step at a time. Through Jesus I pray. Amen.”