I grew up in a spiritual environment heavy on the religious spirit, (which I also call religious attitude,) meaning there was a lot of “strive to do what is right, and then consider yourself righteous, and God will say ‘well done my good and faithful servant’ one day a long time from now.”
At some point, I learned God speaks to us individually, and wants daily relationship with us.
Not being deprogrammed from the religious attitude yet, I realized this can be dangerous, (if not for the grace of God.)
The “do what is right” part was now influenced by any thought in my mind that I thought might have come from God.
God’s Grace for the Misguided
I believe many of those thoughts were from God, but I started to realize that many were not.
Fortunately, God protected me, I believe because He gives grace to those who are humble, like any good father protects His young from hurting themselves. God also uses all things for good for us too (Romans 8:28), so I think He helped refine my character through diligently seeking Him over things I considered carnal.
I think I also wasted a lot of time.
“I no longer call you servants, but friends”
Now, He has revealed that He does not want a slave or a robot, but a relationship with a child in relationship with a loving Father, a son being prepared as royalty, and a friend of Jesus. This is a dramatically different way of looking at things.
Now, I love a well-oiled command structure to advance a noble cause, but even when God’s kingdom is like that (and maybe some people never see it that way,) the commands are not as in a cold-hearted relationship-less earthly army that crushes the soul of its robotic soldiers — rather the cry of the Holy Spirit’s compassion for the lost can be felt, and the joy of Jesus receiving His inheritance. The question is not is my soul so crushed that I will accept any command, but rather, do I love the cause of the kingdom I am in and the King I live for enough to heed His direction and empathize with the King’s desire, and carry His cause in my heart?
The “I Love You More Than ____” Test
Love never fails. It covers a multitude of sins.
I came up with the “I love you more than” test when trying to convince myself to do what is right. Do I love God more than I love going 110km/h in a 100km/h zone? Oh snap! I do. So I slowed down. (I don’t always do this anymore, but it seemed a miracle that I did this at the time for as long as I did.)
Now, if I hear a potential instruction from God in my head, I know that I am still being deprogrammed from:
- religious attitudes and
- an orphan/slave mentality, and
- fear masquerading as obedience and wisdom.
That’s a lot to be deprogrammed from! Since it’s always good to consider what you’re going toward rather than just what you’re trying to stop, I’ll mention how I’ve been seeking to live instead:
- freedom from condemnation for not being perfect (as in perfectly matured, living as Christ would)
- living as a friend of King Jesus, in relationship with Him, in loving concern of the kingdom of God, and as a son who the Father yearns to entrust responsibility and creativity to
- living in perfect love that casts out all fear, trusting God (inside relationship with Him) more than my own understanding.
In light of these three points, if a sort of idea appears in my mind that due to my conditioning I think may be from God, I have two tests:
Test 1: The Obedience Love Test
The first test is:
“God, I love you more than not doing _____.”
And if I feel the love of God, in response to my authentic love, I stop here, and do it. I then know in my mind, emotions, and spirit that my offering of obedience is acceptable and I can do it in joy of pleasing Him, even if it’s something I wouldn’t normally want to do.
Test 2: The Trusting Love Test
If test #1 isn’t clear, or I feel like starting with this one, I offer God something like this:
“God, I know I struggle with being guilted into doing things like _____ that appear righteous on the surface but are not righteous to you, and I love You and trust You enough to not do this.”
Then, if I feel a release and freedom from God, I know I was right in suspecting it would have been an empty act, and I promptly forget about it and enjoy my newfound freedom!
Is your life submitted to God? If not, you could be in danger of the consequences of disobedience, and missing out on the rewards of obedience. It’s not worth it!
Are you not sure whether something is the leading of the Holy Spirit, or just a religious idea? Maybe one of the two tests above can help!