Prophetic-School: Prophecy & The Mind
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Originally from: <Mgerner@aol.com>
Originally dated: Fri Nov 6 12:45:00 1998
This is a one-off teaching I have sent out previously on the new-wine list
regarding the use of the mind. I think it could be helpful to some on the
prophetic list, particularly those coming into the prophetic from a more
logical rather than inspirational mindset.
SCRIPTURES ON THE MIND
Michael Gerner email@example.com
Originally posted to new-wine on 15th August, 1995 Amended 6 November 1998 for prophetic-school.
It can be difficult for many of us who come from an intellectual background to understand the proper use of our mind when moving in the prophetic, either when ministering or when receiving.
Should we expect God to bypass our mind? Should we empty our mind to enable God to fill it? (I do not advocate this by the way.) Or is there a better way?
In this document I have put my thoughts and scriptural perceptions on the proper use of our understanding. Discussion and further clarification is welcome from those who wish to comment.
May the LORD bless you all!
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT USING OUR UNDERSTANDING?
The key reference:
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
The Bible doesn't say switch off your mind. It does say, don't rely on it. Rely on God instead. From the heart.
When having an encounter with the Holy Spirit, the issue is not whether or not one should use one's mind. The issue is TRUST. Are you going to trust in your own understanding or are you going to use your understanding to the point where you can say, "Right Lord: now I'm trusting You." And then trust in HIM and in His faithfulness.
And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if [he ask] a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall [your] heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:9-13)
When we ask Him, the Father is going to give us the Holy Spirit. Not something evil. If we truly trust God, then we can rely on Him to fulfill His promises.
OBEDIENCE FROM THE HEART, NOT INTELLECTUAL UNDERSTANDING
So often we have the wrong picture of God and what pleases Him. If our religion is based on an attitude of obeying His commandments and then He'll be pleased, then it becomes vital in our belief for us to use our understanding. Why? Because we think we need to understand His commandments in order to obey them in order for Him to be pleased with us. So we analyse the Bible with our understanding and spend much time praying with our understanding to achieve that end.
But Christianity is radically different from that. God redeemed us not to become rule followers but to become HIS CHILDREN.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: (John 1:12)
This is a whole different ball game. How many of us, when we were children, completely understood what our father was doing? Or even what he wanted us to do? The dynamic is different. Far from relying on our understanding, we rely on our father's character. We don't throw away our understanding but we go BEYOND it, into the realms of trust. When he says, "Jump, my child, and I'll catch you", then we can use our understanding to analyse so far:
"Well, Daddy has told me the truth in the past so I guess I can trust him. And I know he loves me so I guess he really doesn't want to let me fall."
But ultimately we decide to jump based on trust. Sure, our little analysis has helped us. But the final decision is based on how much we trust our Father in our heart.
In effect we end up following the rules, but now not from striving. For now obedience springs out of love, not out of intellectual understanding. And God's power rests within us to accomplish this.
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)
THE LIMITATIONS OF OUR THINKING
For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55)
How can we hope to fully understand God's thoughts or God's actions? Of course we can't.
So how come we get so upset when something happens that we don't understand? Why is that so surprising to us? Could it be because we are trying to base our relationship with God on intellectual understanding, so that if something breaks that understanding we think that our relationship is threatened?
When our understanding is broken, then we have a choice. We can either say, "I don't understand that. That can't be God". Then we reject the prophecy or word and retreat to the (artificial) safety of our comfort zone. Or we can say, "My understanding is imperfect. But I trust you Lord. Please help me to understand better that which I need to understand." Ask Him to show us the truth about what is happening.
That's not rejecting our understanding (we're not turning our mind off). But it is giving our understanding its proper place - subordinate to trusting the LORD. We're asking Him to increase our understanding and we're not limiting Him to what we can understand.
And do you know what? Pray a prayer like that and the LORD will answer it! The Holy Spirit will come and guide you into all truth.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (John 16:13)
Incidentally, that also includes showing us when something is false and not really from God. So that we can separate the wheat from the chaff. Which leads us on to testing...
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)
There are a battery of tests we can apply, including:
- is it in line with scripture? (Deut 4:2, 2 Tim 3:16-17)
- does it advance the kingdom of God? (Luke 11:14-20)
- does it bear good fruit? (Matt 7:15-20)
- does it glorify Jesus? (John 6:13-14)
- does it fulfil prophecies? (Amos 3:7)
- is it confirmed by inner witness? (1 John 2:20)
- and many more!
Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)
Testing is good and we're told to do it. That's not quenching the Holy Spirit. But there comes a point when we've tested something to the point where it passes these God-given tests: then we have to decide to go for it and trust the LORD. If we stay locked into "test mode" then we miss the blessing. But if we miss the "test mode" then we can get deceived and end up believing a wrong spirit. So to enter into God's blessing we need BOTH: we need to TEST and then we need to TRUST.
And by the way testing for different people takes a different length of time and goes through different phases. It depends on personality, responsibility, and experience (amongst many other things).
Personality - the type of person who thinks a lot before acting tends to take longer over testing than those who rush in faster.
Responsibility - if the decision you make about a particular item (be it manifestation, doctrine or whatever) is going to effect a whole church because you are the pastor then you're probably going to be a whole lot more careful than the Christian with no church responsibities other than the general ones for all Christians.
Experience - if you've had a bad experience in the past, this will make you more cautious and testing will typically take longer. On the other hand, if you've been trained by good experience then the process will be faster.
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14)
One final example of testing. Remember when Jesus came to the disciples walking on the water and they were scared stiff? Matthew 14:22-33 relates the incident.
And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
Jesus sends the disciples on their way and they obey. They encounter problems and no doubt are struggling along as best they can.
And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
When things are dark, suddenly Jesus appears, demonstrating His power over natural circumstances, in a way contrary to what they could ever have seen before.
And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
The disciple's reaction to this strange manifestation is fear.
But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
Jesus speaks to reassure them. But there is still some doubt, for Peter uses the "if" word...
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
Here is Peter's test of the apparition, to see if it really is Jesus. Perhaps not the type of test one would normally use to test if something is of God or not, but that's the one Peter chose.
And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
Jesus took the test and Peter accepted that this was Jesus. At this point Peter stopped testing and started trusting: he moved out in faith.
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
Things got a bit rough and, as Peter took his eyes off the Lord and began to think with fear, he fell back from his supernatural walk with God into the realm of the natural man.
And immediately Jesus stretched forth [his] hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
Jesus rescued his beloved disciple and, when in the ship, brought calm and tranquility. A new revelation of His true status was gained by the disciples.
This is a lovely picture of the transition between TESTING and TRUST when walking with the Lord.
DOES GOD BYPASS THE MIND?
Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. (1 Corinthians 14:20)
We need to use our mind. God gave us our mind for us to use it in the expression of our love for Him:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment. (Mark 12:30)
But SOMETIMES God works in and through us in ways which bypass our understanding - for example, when speaking in tongues:
For he that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth [him]; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. (1 Corinthians 14:2)
Although we do not fully understand what is going on, we are actually built up by doing this:
He that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. (1 Corinthians 14:4)
For if I pray in an [unknown] tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. (1 Corinthians 14:14)
Even the great apostle Paul, who had great learning and who promoted the proper use of the mind (see 1 Cor 14:20 above) realised the importance of this spiritual ministry which bypasses the understanding and which ministers in the Spirit:
I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: (1 Corinthians 14:18)
A SUGGESTION FOR THE PROPER USE OF THE MIND WHEN GIVING OR RECEIVING MINISTRY
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Keep your mind upon Jesus! Don't empty it (nothing in Scripture promotes this as far as I know) but do use it properly to concentrate on Him. He can then transform us "from glory to glory". Don't be taken up with phenomenae or analysis but:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Take thoughts captive by the power of the Holy Spirit: allow the LORD to overcome any "stinking thinking":
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)
As we open ourselves to the LORD (having assured ourselves that this IS the LORD! - see "Testing" above) then we can allow our thoughts to be transformed:
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)
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