Over the past few weeks I’ve been with a number of people who have told me that they were taught by members of “the clergy” that they had no right to listen to God for themselves. Some said that God no longer speaks to the believer, since we now have the Scriptures. Others were told that God gave pastors to the church because they are trained to attend to our spiritual needs in the same way doctors care for our physical needs. Others have even taught that God only passes his will down through pastors and elders.
I’ve even heard people teach that elders and pastors will know your heart better than you know it, and even when you disagree with them, you should do what they say.
Let me say this as clearly as I can: Any man or woman who tells you they know God’s will for you better than you do yourself, proves by doing so that they are a false teacher. Flee from him or her!
At the heart of the New Covenant lies this reality: All of us get to know him and listen to him. He didn’t invite us to follow his book, follow his rules, or follow one of his designated representatives. He invited us to, “Come, follow me.” Anyone who gets in the way of that relationship hasn’t a clue who Jesus is or how he works in the world.
Yes, there are lots of examples of crazy people who claim God told them to do the most destructive and bizzare things. But some of those have even been members of the clergy. But even if others fraudulently and maliciously claim that God told them to do what he has clearly not told them to do, does not negate his desire to speak to you and lead you by his Spirit.
I was with a man last month in New Zealand who listens to God as well as any man I know. He has pastored churches and traveled the world for decades encouraging others to live deeply in Jesus. He told me, “I have never believed, even for a moment, that I can hear God for someone else more clearly than they can hear themselves.” He never presumed to tell someone what God wanted them to do.
That’s the kind of person I recognize as a true elder among the body of Christ. They don’t hear God for you; they help you learn how to listen to for yourself because they wouldn’t think of robbing you of the most precious gift God has to give–an intimate friendship with him!