|John 7:17-18 |
17 If any man desires to do God's will, he will know whether my teaching is from God, or if I speak from myself.
18 He who speaks from himself [speaking his own words] seeks his own glory;1 but he who seeks the glory of the One who sent him, that man is true, and there is no unrighteousness in him. [If you are not specifically sent, and if you are deciding with your brain what to say, you are speaking from yourself and seeking your own glory. To be seeking God's glory and not your own, you must first be sent and then only speak words heard from the Spirit immediately before speaking. Jesus only spoke words, judged, and performed works as He was ordered by God. If you are speaking and/or working for God without being specifically ordered in each and every word and action, you are essentially claiming that your own words and deeds are superior to what Jesus' would be if he made his own decisions about what to say and do.]
1 He who speaks from himself [speaking his own words] seeks his own glory; A man speaks from himself by speaking from his carnal mind, speaking what he thinks would be good to say; instead of speaking words supplied by the Spirit. Even Jesus did not judge, speak, or act without the Spirit's specific prompting. As Jesus said:
Until you can only speak words heard from the Spirit at the moment before you speak, you are not fit to minister. If you speak from your carnal mind things about Jesus or God, they do not reach the heart of your listener. Instead you are speaking from the nature of death, and you are scattering because you are not gathering with Him. First, you must be sent to specific person(s) that only the Lord knows are prepared to hear; then however true your words are, unless they are spoken with His Spirit in control of your mouth, your words do not reach the heart of your listeners; such words are idle (non-edifying), and we shall give an account for all non-edifying words that come out of our mouth. Words spoken from the Spirit are commanded and heard immediately before opening our mouth to speak; we are not to add any of our own words at any time when sent to speak to others. Jesus said, "Take no thought how or what you will answer or what you should say; for the holy spirit at that moment will teach you what to say." Luke 12:12. From the Word of the Lord within:
Jesus has given us several warnings about speaking words not first heard at that moment from the Spirit:
If Jesus, as great as He is and was, would only speak the words He heard from the Father; then how much more should we be careful to speak nothing about God or Jesus unless we hear the exact words to say at that moment. If you are not specifically sent, and if you are deciding what to say, you are speaking from yourself and seeking your own glory. To be seeking God's glory and not your own, you must first be sent and then only speak words heard from the Spirit immediately before speaking. The disciple is not above his master, but everyone who is perfect [purified, restored to the spiritual image of God, specifically authorized, and perfected] will be like his master, Luke 6:39-42; the Master sees everything to do and hears everything to say before speaking. If you are speaking and/or working for God without being specifically ordered in each and every word and action, you are essentially claiming that your own words and deeds are superior to what Jesus' would be if he made his own decisions about what to say and do. Anyone without perfection, not having been sent, and speaking without God providing his words to speak, is a blind guide seeking his own glory, your admiration of him, and/or your money.
Before George Fox had entered the second stage of perfection and the kingdom, for about three years he was sent on limited, specific assignments by the Lord. But he only did what he was specifically told to do, exactly when he was told to do it; he then returned to his residence and continued waiting on the Lord. Plus, he was sufficiently perfected that he was able to preach, debate, and pray with words supplied by the Holy Spirit; so powerful were his words that even churches shook when he prayed within them. So limited teaching or preaching can be instructed by the Lord before you are completely perfected; but be careful to only do what he tells you to do, nothing more, nothing less; then return to your home to continue to wait on the Lord's further imparting of his Spirit by his words that you hear him speak to you.
Paul and Peter also tell us how we should speak:
Those who choose to speak from their carnal minds are estimating themselves to be greater than the Master. Man's carnal mind and imagination must be destroyed by the grace of the Holy Spirit before you have the mind of Christ and are able to speak words as you hear them. See Only Those Who Do the Will of the Father Enter the Kingdom of Heaven for more on the necessity of the carnal mind's destruction.
Jesus said that a man who preaches from his own mind seeks his own glory. He seeks your money, your admiration, and your subjection to his authority. The preachers of Christendom stand condemned for seeking their own glory and then accepting pay for their worthless words; when to even charge for true words of life like Balaam, spoken from the spirit of God, is expressly forbidden by Peter and Jesus. Seeking their own glory, the preachers of Christendom speak from their carnal minds, the nature of death, and preach their opinions from the vain imaginations of their evil hearts.
Gentle reader, realize you will be tempted by the enemy many times to preach before you can hear so well as to speak only words heard at that moment for there are many voices; beware of false prophets; and beware of becoming a false prophet yourself, speaking from your carnal mind about Jesus or God. The voice of the opposition can be indistinguishable from the voice of the Lord. The enemy will pretend to be the Lord, always tempting you to do something wrong that you want to do, or tempting you to do something that you have been told not to do. When the enemy succeeds in tempting you, then the messages you receive become 90% plus from the enemy, with the Lord only gently and very infrequently repeating His warnings and orders that are contrary to what you are doing; but because you have so many more messages from the enemy encouraging you to continue down the wrong path, it is very easy to think the Lord's messages are the enemy's. The enemy also speaks with messages that are obviously not from the Lord, but which criticize or complain about what you are doing wrong, further convincing you that you are right.
Usually one is convinced by the enemy that they are serving the Lord in whatever they are tempted to do before they have been sufficiently changed to properly serve Him. Think about the millions of ministers and teachers in Babylon who are teaching flagrant doctrinal errors all the while hearing messages, which they think are from the Lord, but which are guiding them and their listeners down the path to destruction. Suppose you think you have been given a gift of healing, a gift of miracles, the authority to teach, etc., but you are not able to speak words from His Spirit that you hear immediately before speaking. Now you perform your deed for the Lord, but the only words you have are from your carnal mind; your deed would not serve the Lord because your words would be from the nature of death and could not properly reach the hearts of your listeners. Until your carnal mind has been sufficiently destroyed so that you only have words from the Spirit, (only words from the Spirit), that you hear immediately before speaking, you are not fit to serve the Lord doing anything that requires words of explanation or credit to Him; that is a simple test, which you can use to defend yourself from being tempted before you are properly equipped to serve. Remember the teaching by the Word of the Lord within: "When you speak words from yourself, it doesn't matter what you say; you say them with the wrong spirit, and they don't reach the heart of your listeners." So suppose you are told go to someone and warn them about what they are doing; unless when you arrive, you are sufficiently in His Spirit, (as George Fox wrote about speaking a previous teaching: "be sure the light is up"), to hear the exact and only words to speak, even repeating words from Him that you have heard in the past will be spoken with the wrong spirit; don't do it.
I have asked the Lord why He is not more firm in correcting those of us who have been deceived and are traveling down a wrong path; the answer I received was: "the cure is worse than the disease." Apparently we are left to slowly discover our own mistakes with only His very gentle and infrequent reminders because His firm correction would be more harmful to our eventual progress. If you have been deceived and gone the wrong way for some time, it is very easy to become bitter or offended that you were not corrected; don't. Remember the Lord is pure, perfect, kind, gentle, wise, and love Himself; and everything He does or doesn't do is to your ultimate benefit. If He firmly corrected us, either our confidence would suffer too serious a blow, or perhaps we would only fall again to a more subtle scheme to tempt us in the future.
George Whitehead wrote on this topic in his Journal:
Thus keeping silence before the Lord, and drawing near to him in a true silent frame of spirit, to first hear what the Lord speaks to us before we speak to others, whether it is judgment or mercy, is the way for renewing our strength, and to be his ministers, to speak to others only what he first speaks to us. O! That the people were truly mindful of this; that they would seriously consider this; then would they not run after, or follow such as their ministers, priests, or prophets, who ran out to preach when God had never sent them; and who say, Thus said the Lord,” when God has not spoken to them; and, "who shall not profit the people at all."
Even if you are told to repeat the words you hear, unless you are able to distinguish the Voice of Christ vs. the voice of the enemy, don't speak. There is a voice of the Lord like thunder over the waters described in many Old Testament passages. This is radically different than the small still voice we hear from within our hearts or from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit and the Word of the Lord within speak with words from Jesus, so we are hearing from the Son of God. But until we can truly hear the Voice of the Lord, we will not know for sure it is the Lord speaking to us. From the Word of the Lord within: "You will always have doubts until you hear His voice. My voice is like thunder over waters. You will hear His voice when He calls you." We will hear the Lord's voice like thunder over waters for the first time after we have submitted to the baptism of fire and death to then be called forth and resurrected with Him as a new creature. Then, as John 10:3-5 states: we will know his voice, he will be lead us out of the world to the kingdom, and we will flee from other voices. When you hear His voice for the first time, you have passed over from death to life; and once you have heard His voice like thunder over waters, you will always know whether or not it is the Lord speaking to you.
We first have to listen to the Holy Spirit and the word of the Lord within to hear and obey His many teachings and commands. Then with long persistence and patience in doing obedient works of repentance, we experience the baptism of fire and death, to then hear the Voice of the Lord as we pass from death to life. Until then, we have to be on our guard to not be deceived by the enemy, pretending to be the Lord speaking to us. Based on the advice of Edward Burrough, (click to read), a giant in the early Quakers, until we can distinguish between the voice of the Lord and the voice of the enemy, we should do nothing for the Lord but repent. When we can hear the Voice of the Lord, we walk in the light; and William Penn wrote, "Though it is the duty of all to walk in the light, and to wait for it, that by it they may be instructed in the way of life and salvation, yet it is they only who are actually led by it, that can rightly discern between the false spirits and the true."
* By way of review: to be guided or led by the light, the light must first arise in your heart like a magnificent star, so that you are shown everything to do and told everything to say; the unmistakable arising of the light comes from faith in the voice.
When we can hear the voice of the Lord that is like thunder over the waters, we truly experience the fulfillment of the scriptures:
To him the doorkeeper opens; and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.
And when he has brought out his own sheep, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him; for they know his voice.
They will not follow a stranger, but will flee from him; for they do not know the voice of strangers.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me [they obey].
And I give eternal life to them, so that they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. John 10:3-5, 27-29.
Truly, truly, I say to you, 'He who hears my word, and believes in [depends on, trusts, obeys] him who sent me, has eternal life, and shall not come into condemnation; but has passed [past tense] over from death to life.'
Truly, truly, I say to you, 'The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall live." John 5:24-25
Follow this advisory, and you will progress. Ignore it, and you will not progress; but you may think you are progressing because the devil will have you doing more and more things for the Lord, all of which you really wanted to do to begin with; but each thing you do, digs you deeper into delays. Should you repent and begin to follow this advisory, you will still have a delay in your progress that is proportional to the spiritual injuries that you caused to others with your false words and deeds.
For more on this subject see the guidelines to avoid deception in How to Benefit from the Changing Power of God by Waiting on the Lord.
And should you get a message like, "tell them about the gospel," that is not from Him; that kind of message encourages you to speak from your carnal mind with your own words, which is the nature of death.