We often find that the zeal and insight of those recently saved is really quite powerful, yet later in spiritual walk often this zeal lessens and is slowly replaced by what we call ‘maturity.’ I find it rather ironic that so often, young Christians have an easier time discerning the will of God than do long-time Christians. Many of us have been trained in ‘spiritual maturity,’ and lose much of the fresh enthusiasm of spiritual things.
Many young Christians know, and operate in, one important spiritual key of discernment which often comes to be overlooked by those who have been in Christ for some longer span of time. The first major discernible difference in the life of most new Christians: peace. When we step into the Christian life, accepting Christ as our savior we are flooded with His peace; Jesus is the prince of peace. Because of an often dramatically stark contrast between what they felt before they were saved, and what they feel after they receive assurance of salvation, this peace is often something that many new believers get ‘caught up on.’ In fact, these new converts are inflamed with what they recognize to be a new supernatural sense, which has sprung to life in them upon receiving Christ (without usually being able to define it in so many words). Many times I have heard from new believers a zealous, and impassioned desire to talk about their new FEELING of absolute peace.
Unfortunately this peace is too often overlooked in ‘mature Christians’ as we train and are instructed that you won’t always ‘FEEL’ saved, and that you should not be guided by your ‘FEELINGS.’ To he contrary, many times when the above-mentioned new convrts to Christ try to express what they are now experiencing in their stumbling baby-Christian way, their long-saved, ‘theologically knowledgeable’ fathers in faith (those whom they look up to as spiritually mature), too often discourage them in that sense of new supernatural life with a general sense that – ‘yes you have that now, this is your ‘honeymoon with Christ,’ phase – you will grow past it, and not have to be guided by emotionalism’ (also not usually in so many words.)
An over-emphasis on emotions and ‘feelings’ can certainly take place; however we need to discern the difference between our own emotions and the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT (Galatians 5:22 & 23). Notice that the first three listed fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, and peace) are ’emotions’? Certainly there is more to them than emotionalism, so how do we define whether they are merely emotions or the fruit?
Phillipians 4:7 says that God’s peace ‘passes’ or ‘transcends’ all understanding. Surely if you are guided by your emotions it will be something you can understand, yet if you are guided by God’s peace you will feel at ease even when all the world around you shows that you should not. That really is a large part of the distinction between SOULISH emotion, and SPIRITUAL fruit.
Rather than dampening new believers in their new spiritual life (which begins because we are dampened ourselves), we need to train them to recognize the difference between the SPIRITUAL LIFE they have received, and the SOULISH EMOTION which will try to creep in (and we can only do that if we know how to do it ourselves). The SPIRITUAL LIFE which has been planted in them is discernible, it can be developed, contributed to, and USED (this is the place where spiritual gifts come from).
Now about the titled message (in part for example to long-time believers):
HOW TO HEAR GOD
(The above is preliminary, please read it first, rather than skipping to the title heading – thanks :))
Col 3:15 says: ‘And let the peace of God RULE in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.‘
That word ‘RULE’ actually means ‘rule’ like a king ‘rules.’ The Amplified version gives better definition to this thought, so I will quote it here as well:
Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always].
First off, let’s not forget that we were called to this peace when we accepted the calling of Christ. We are called to let Christ’s peace rule in our hearts; yet many of us have been trained quite opposite of this, as we often mistake the peace of God as ’emotionalism.’ Rather than honing our ability to sense and rest in the peace of God from our conversion, we begin to take that peace for granted, soon we forget what it was like to truly know peace for the first time. Eventually, if we are not careful we will lose that peace altogether. As mature Christians we should be skilled in resting in God’s peace (for we are called to it), letting it truly rule in our hearts.
When we rest in the peace of God we can begin to discern the will of God. IF WE ARE ATTENTIVE TO THAT PEACE we will recognize when it increases, and when it diminishes. This will quite clearly reveal something of His will. We are told in scripture not to ‘grieve the Holy Spirit‘ (Eph. 4:30), and not to ‘put out the Spirit’s fire‘ (1 Thess. 5:19). If we rest constantly in the peace of God we will know if, and when we are grieving Him because His peace will lift when we step outside of His will.
Example: When I was in High School, a group of Christian kids would hold a weekly bible-study. I recall one week as I was on my way to the bible study I felt the peace of God lift off of me; it caused me to feel uneasy, I felt that I should NOT go to the bible study. I thought to myself: ‘Why would God tell me NOT to go to a bible study?’ And I promptly disobeyed my sense of God’s will and went anyways. When I was there I thought little of a boy who was working on something in the corner, we held our study, and had a time of prayer. Later I found out that the boy in the corner was making up a test he had missed; lunch was the only time he had to take the test, and the whole time he was taking it our group was distracting him from his work with our bible-study. Had I trusted the peace of God in this instance, I could have avoided damaging my witness to him, and distracting him from his work.
Step 1 in hearing God: become skilled in resting in His peace.