In our congregations, where we
believe in the active gifts of the Holy Spirit, we often hear people say
with great enthusiasm, "God told me ... !"
What do we mean by such a statement? Can it be true?
It is possible through faith in Yeshua to receive the Holy Spirit living
inside of us: "... the Spirit of God dwelling in you ..."
"Spirit dwells inside of you ..." "His Spirit dwelling in you
..." (Romans 8:9, 11)
With the spiritual presence of God on the inside, we can be led by that
Spirit. "Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of
God" (Romans 8:14). This sense of inner leading can be a daily, if
not moment-by-moment experience.
This "leading" is a continuation of the experience of the prophets of
Israel (I Samuel 10:10-13, Joel 2:28-29) and a fulfillment of the prayer
of Moses that all God's people would receive the Holy Spirit and
prophesy (Numbers 11:29). Yet the New Covenant experience of
"indwelling" is more delicate, intuitive, internal, subjective and
normative than the prophetic interventions of God described in the Law
There is a steady stream of thoughts inside the heart of human beings.
Some of those thoughts have spiritual origin and some carnal: "The
thoughts of the flesh are death but thoughts of the spirit are life and
peace" (Romans 8:6). There is one stream of thoughts that comes to
our soul from our spirit, which is connected to the Spirit of God. The
other stream comes into our consciousness from the flesh, which is
connected to the world, which is influenced by evil spirits (Ephesians
When someone says, "God told me," he usually means: "I had a sudden clear
and pure thought that popped into my mind from my spirit, and I am
confident that thought is from the Spirit of the Lord." Since it is
awkward to say all that, people will simply say, "God told me." However,
it is imperative that we clarify ourselves often enough to avoid
misunderstanding. If not, it can sound to others that we are making an
exaggerated claim that God just intervened and dictated a message to us.
It was not that the voice of God spoke to you aloud, but that you had an
"impression" in your heart. "For the Spirit itself bears witness with
our spirit ..." (Romans 8:16) Aha! So it is probably more accurate to
say: "I perceive that the Spirit of God is bearing witness with my spirit
..." Saying something like this periodically might be less confusing than
just saying, "God told me ..."
The occasional clarifying of that point would add a touch of humility to
our statements. It would also help those who are new-comers. Perhaps it
could even help those who have seen mistakes and exaggerations in the
name of prophecy not to be offended to the point of rejecting the gifts
of the Spirit altogether.
The stream of thoughts inside us comes in the form of
3. Moral Conscience
Conscience Bearing Witness
This third type of message is an intuitive affirmation or warning, like a
traffic light showing: green - "go", yellow - "careful", or red - "stop".
"Their conscience bearing witness within them; their thoughts either
accusing or acquitting them ..." (Romans 2:15) Most people recognize
a flow of internal thoughts. The issue is to perceive if God is saying
something, and if so, how to interpret it.
The conscience is the part of our spirit which God primarily "bears
witness with". Therefore, messages of God always have a pure, moral
aspect to them. "My conscience is bearing witness with me in the Holy
Spirit" (Romans 9:1). You may indeed perceive a message from
God's Spirit, but don't forget it is being filtered through
your own spirit and conscience.
Whatever is influencing your heart will influence what you receive and
how you perceive it. In discerning the truthfulness of a prophetic
message, we must take that personal influence into account. We still
prophesy in part, not in perfection (I Corinthians 13:9).
Let us humbly ask forgiveness from those who have been "turned off" by
excesses and exaggerations, let alone outright lies and hypocrisy. Let
us go on to seek a purer and more accurate expression of prophetic gifts.