The One Where I Irritate Charismatics and Cessationists

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Never underestimate your ability to mistake what you want, for what God wants.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalms 37:4

Well, not exactly. I think He will give you what you want (pray for) as long as He wants the same thing. I have discovered that sometimes God disguises what we want to make it look like something else. We think He said no to our request when in fact He said yes it just looks different than we expected. And have you noticed that He often doesn’t give us what we ask for when we ask for it? We can mistake wait for no.

All that to say, the more you want something the greater risk there is that you will fool yourself into thinking that what you want is what God wants.

I belong to what some would call the Charismatic stream of Christianity. My problem (it’s only a problem based on who you talk to) is that I don’t wade too deep into that stream. You see, I’m a poor excuse for a Charismatic. There are things I care more about than tongues, prophesy, casting out demons, physical healing, etc. I believe in all those things but I’m more interested in other things. I’m not going to tell you what those other things are because as soon as I do some of you will set me straight saying, “Hey…not fair. I believe in all those things and I’m a Charismatic.” I believe you, I really do.

But I start with Charismatics because we believe God speaks directly to us, kind of like whispering in our ear. Not an audible voice, although many would claim this and I’m not going to challenge their experience, but an inner voice, a thought that pops into our mind. It’s pretty much the same as how other thoughts come to us but with these thoughts we have the conviction that they are from God. So we say, “God told me…” Or, “Jesus said to me…” I’m probably over concerned that my membership in the Charismatic-club might be revoked so I want to say again that I believe this way of communication can happen but with this belief comes a certain risk. The risk is that you can mistake what you want for what God wants, or confuse getting an answer to prayer (or a “word from God” as Charismatics like to say) that agrees with your real, deep down desire for what God actually said, or didn’t say.

This isn’t only a weakness with Charismatic theology. One could be a Cessationist and fall into the same error. You might believe that God only speaks today through the Bible. You might want a new car and turn to your Bible for guidance. You flip through the pages and randomly let your eyes fall where they may.

“…and with one accord they came to him…” (Acts 12:20)

There you have it! Off to the Honda dealership.

Sorry.

The point is, which ever stream your standing in, never underestimate your ability to mistake what you want for what God wants. What you’re sensing might be wishful thinking, your imagination, poor hermeneutics, or…it could be God.

Here are four suggestions for limiting the likelihood of mistaking what you want for what God wants.

1. Be self-aware. Are you able to recognize or admit that if it were up to you you’d choose this, or that?

2. Pray honest prayers, something like, “Father, you know that deep down I want to buy a new car but if this is not your will for me please help me to see it.”

3. Get a second opinion. Is there anyone in your life that you can be honest with and who can be honest with you? Your best friend may or may not be the best choice.

“Dude, cool. Let’s both go down to the Honda dealership.”

4. Wait before acting. A good rule to live by, especially when it comes to decision making is, if you can wait, wait. There have been more than one time that I have wanted to buy something or do something but while waiting I reluctantly decided that it was not the right thing to do.

Never underestimate your ability to mistake what you want, for what God wants.

(Excerpt from Never Underestimate, by Dave Jacobs)