Being in the Lord's presence may lead to a holy nudge from Him, a feeling that you must do something. But is a "nudge" always holy? No. For many years, I have shared an acrostic that helps one know if their "nudge" is holy—that is, truly from God. Ask yourself the following five questions. You must be able to answer yes to all five to be sure you are not being led astray:
- Providential. Does the door open, or do you have to knock it down?
- Enemy. What do you suppose the devil would have you do?
- Authority. What does the Bible say? Is there anything in Scripture that would prohibit what you feel? Answer: No. Is it biblical? Yes.
- Confidence. Does your confidence increase or diminish at the thought of doing this? This is very important, for when you lose your confidence, something has gone wrong.
- Ease. What do you honestly feel in your heart of hearts? This is where integrity must rule. To quote Shakespeare's Hamlet: "To thine own self be true."
Paul told us to do what makes for peace (Rom. 14:19). God will never lead us to do what causes us to lose inner peace. Here we look into one of the most precarious and delicate but important subjects to be examined when it comes to interpreting the presence of the Lord: the issue of guidance.
"How do I know the will of the Lord?" is one of the most frequently asked questions I have heard in my 60 years of ministry. How many times have we heard people say, "God led me to do this," "'The Holy Spirit told me to say this" or "God has given me a word for you"?
There have been a number of times I have for certain felt a "holy nudge" that turned out to be from the Lord. But there have also been times when I have felt a strong nudge to do something that proved to be of the flesh, not the Holy Spirit.
An impression may come into our hearts to do something, but does that mean it is from God? After all, the heart is deceitful above all things and incurably wicked (Jer. 17:9). How can we trust what comes into our hearts?
There are three possible origins of a nudge: the flesh, the devil and the Holy Spirit. How to know the difference is the big question. All my life, I have sought to know when it is the Holy Spirit; when it is only me feeling something—the flesh; and when it is Satan giving me an impression. Among the daily petitions on my own prayer list is: "Lord, help me to perceive quickly what is of the flesh, the devil and the Holy Spirit and to accept only what the Spirit warrants." But the fact that I pray that every morning does not guarantee I will be led of the Holy Spirit all day long. This is another reason we should watch and pray—in that order—when it comes to guidance.
In other words, we should have a good knowledge of the Bible, a solid theological foundation and a genuine openness to the direct and immediate witness of the Holy Spirit. That will help us "watch." We must keep our heads screwed on!
So what do you do when you feel something in your heart? Can you trust it? The answer is that you must be very, very careful. You may be right. You could be wrong.
Jeremiah, a godly man who stood alone in his day and was even accused of treason by his fellow Jews, knew not to trust his heart. (See Jeremiah 17:9.) How did Jeremiah know he had gotten it right? That is not an easy question for us to answer. We know he got it right because history and Scripture vindicate him. But why was he so willing at the time to stand alone? For one thing, Jeremiah was willing to go to the stake for what he prophesied—and virtually did.
So let me ask you. Would you go to the stake for a "nudge" you feel? I don't want to be unfair, but if you would not go to the stake for what you feel, you should seriously question whether your nudge has its origin in the Holy Spirit.
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Adapted from The Presence of God by R. T. Kendall, copyright 2017, published by Charisma House. This book challenges you to examine your relationship with God, seek His presence and understand His ways. The author teaches you how to develop a sensitivity to His presence so your love for Him and relationship will deepen and grow. To order your copy click on this link.
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