To that part of the Church who professes to hear the Holy Spirit, and who claim to be having visions and receiving prophecy, I offer my greetings and sincerest wishes that the Lord is and remains with you. Those who truly listen to the Holy Spirit are of great value to the Church, as are those who receive visions and prophecy. You are guides to the Church; a light in the darkness. But, as one who professes to teach, you are also charged with a greater responsibility, and held to a higher standard, as well. therefore, it is imperative that you be absolutely sure you are listening to the Holy Spirit and not a demon because, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, truly, I tell you that a great many of you who claim to be listening to the Holy Spirit are actually following the voices of demons. But worse than this, by sharing the voices of these demons and giving them credit for being the Holy Spirit, you not only risk your own eternity, but you run the very real risk of leading countless others astray, as well. So it is to warn you and to remind you of how Scripture says we can guard against being deceived that I address you now. I beg you, please, lend me your attention for a few moments and finish reading this letter.
Again, I want to make sure you understand that I write out of an agape love for you and every member of the Body of Christ. I do not claim special revelation or enlightenment. I am no different from any other disciple of Christ who is trying to cling to Christ’s Gospel as He and His Apostles preached it. But, sadly, this puts those of us clinging to the True Gospel at odds with those who have been deceived, yet claim they are being led by God. My brothers and sisters, I do not want to see any of God’s children destroyed because they have been deceived by Satan and his demons, so please, understand that this letter is a call to be on guard and to make doubly sure that you are hearing God’s voice and not that of a demon.
With that having been said, I am here to tell you — beyond any and all doubt — that a great many of those claiming to be following the Holy Spirit are following the voices of demons. How do I know this and what makes me so confident that I can boldly make such a charge? I read the Word of God and I follow His instruction. This is how and why I can know that I am correct when I say that many are following demons. The problem is this, my friends: too few of us bother to read God’s Word for ourselves. As a result, the greater part of the Body of Christ has grown ignorant. Otherwise, they would know these words:
1 John 4:1-6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Testing the Spirits
4 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Now, it is an easy thing to swear that the voice you hear is the Holy Spirit, and then tell others that if they do not listen to you, they are not of God. I have had several friends tell me that I need to pray and ask God for guidance because I questioned the things they told me the Holy Spirit said to them. My friends are not alone, and I have sympathy for them because I know they mean well. They sincerely want to do God’s will, and many actually read the Scriptures, but they do so with the wrong attitude or heart. They are looking to use Scripture to affirm the ways of man, and not trying to search Scripture to learn the ways of God. This is why these sincere and well-meaning people proclaim their messages from whatever voice they hear, but never realize that they cannot possibly be hearing the Holy Spirit because the things they teach conflict not only with each other, but also with the Scriptures.
God does not change: He is constant as the Norther star. Nor is God a God of confusion. His Holy Spirit will not contradict Scripture, nor will Scripture contradict the Holy Spirit:
John 16:13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
But the things I hear these many well-meaning believers saying contradict with each other. One says this person is ‘The Antichrist,’ but another says no, it is another man. One says the Holy Spirit told him America will be judged this September, but another says no, the Holy Spirit told them it will be in two years. Still another says we will be raptured this year, and that we can know it is true because the Holy Spirit told them so, but then another says they were told that it will be at a later time. How can the Holy Spirit be telling so many different believers so many different things and still be of a God who neither changes nor confuses? The answer is it cannot, which means these sincere believers are not hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. They are either listening to themselves, or to demons, but not to God.
Then there are those who spread false teachings. We have women claiming they can hold the position of priest. This is not allowed anywhere in the Scriptures. Others tell us that Christ would approve of homosexual marriage, but the Scriptures record that Jesus taught just the opposite. Still others tell us that God is love, and that love means we must accept people — as well as the way they live. Again, Scripture tells us God is love, but it says God is agape love. Instead of accepting people and the way they live, agape love means we are to correct them and show them their sin. This is the exact opposite of what many claiming the name of Christ are teaching today, and yet, if we question these people, they will react violently — telling us it is we who have to pray and seek forgiveness from God because we have questioned the legitimacy of the message from the Holy Spirit they say they have been given.
NO! My brothers and sisters, it is not we who must seek the Lord for guidance when we hear a message we know is contrary to Scripture. Instead, we are called to correct that message and rebuke the person teaching it. We are called to stand up for the Word of God, and for Christ’s Gospel, but also to do so with an agape love and the patience of Christ. But this means you and I must know the Scriptures, and hold a Godly understanding of them. This requires we read the Scripture, search them, study them — the whole time praying and even fasting as we hound God to give us His understanding. This must be constant and sincere. We must never let up because Scripture says this will be rewarded. If we do what Scripture tells us in these matters, God has promised He will grant our requests: we will find Him and He will give us His wisdom –to the level we can understand it. So we must know God’s Word so that, when we hear a false teaching, we will not only recognize that it is false, but we will be able to explain to others why it is false.
So I will leave you where I began: with a message of warning born of an agape love for each and every one of you. Before you tell others that the Holy Spirit has given you a message, or what this message is, be sure that you have tested it against God’s Word. If you find contradiction between God’s Word and the message you received, your message is wrong. Do not listen to it. But also, do not try to twist God’s Word to validate the voice you hear. If you have questions, seek the guidance of an elder. And if a brother or sister calls you to make an account for your message using God’s Word and you cannot reply, do not attack this brother or sister. Instead, listen to Scripture and accept correction with a humble and grateful heart. To be sure, test the correction as well, against God’s Word, but if it is sound, accept it and silence yourself for the voice you heard was not of God.
In these times, my friends, it is more important than ever that God’s people present a faithful and true witness. We must not allow our zeal for the Lord to harm the faith of lesser believers, or to turn away a lost soul who might otherwise have listened and received the Gospel of Christ. Therefore, if there is any doubt — any doubt at all — that the voice you hear may not actually be that of the Holy Spirit; if you cannot immediately think of the Scripture that relates to or supports the message you receive; then I would caution that it may well be better to remain silent. Remember, Paul tells us it is better to remain silent and still than to do something you know to be allowed and harm another in the process. Caution, my brothers and sisters. Caution, please.