n 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: Romans 8:9, 11, 11 – “the Spirit of God dwelling in you…” “Spirit dwells inside of you…” “His Spirit dwelling in you…”
With the spiritual presence of God on the inside, we can be led by that Spirit. Romans 8:14 – “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.” 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 and Prophets.
There is a steady stream of thoughts inside the heart of human beings. Some of those thoughts have spiritual origin and some carnal: Romans 8:6 – “The thoughts of the flesh are death but thoughts of the spirit are life and peace.” 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 2:2).
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. Romans 8:16 – “for the Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit…” Aha! So it is probably more accurate to say: “I perceive that t