Recognizing False Compasses
by Rayola Kelley
Last month I talked about the spiritual compass God has given each of us as Christians to ensure the success of finishing the course set before us. The compass is the Holy Spirit. He has given us the map of God’s Word so that we can know where we are and properly discern the direction we need to travel in to ensure the success of our spiritual odyssey.
This brings us to the other aspect of properly using our compass. The problem that can exist when it comes to our compass is the fact that Christians can be using different types of compasses. Due to inexperience, many have not only obtained wrong compasses but they have been misguided in their spiritual lives, leaving them in precarious positions. They end up hitting dead ends in their lives, taking detours that lead to nowhere, and oftentimes finding themselves in an endless maze of nothingness that leaves them empty and uncertain.
The other problem with these faulty compasses is that we cannot imagine that the particular compass we hold to will lead us astray. After all, these compasses often have a religious side to them. They allow us to use God in our vocabulary, tack Christ onto our activities, allow us to adopt our own set of religious rules, and pursue what will serve as our spiritual notions, often blinding us to any warnings that we might be heading in the wrong direction. They will permit us to live according to our particular take on religion, regardless of the delusion it is enfolding us in.
I don’t know about you but I am aware of these compasses because I have used them in the past. The reasons for accepting the direction of these faulty compasses had to do with ignorance about God, inexperience with the matters of religion, and the presence of self-sufficiency about personal knowledge and abilities.
When I first was saved, I had such a zeal towards God. Romans 10:2-3 tells us such zeal lacks the knowledge of the true God and His righteousness. But in my ignorance, I could not comprehend such a thought. This zeal was escalated by what I perceived to be my personal strength. I had developed this so-called “strength” especially as I grew in my intellectual knowledge about religion. My strength caused me to falsely think that I had the means to save the world, and my knowledge gave me a false sense that I actually possessed the necessary wisdom to accomplish it. Since each of us have the inherent disposition of Adam, we need to remember that such a state points to foolishness that is bound in our hearts from the time of conception. King David said it best in Psalm 51:5, when he admitted, “Behold, I was sharpen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
Whenever you base your life on personal strengths or worldly wisdom, you will be established on a wrong foundation that will eventually be shaken when challenged by the truths and ways of God. These faulty foundations naturally leAd each of us to adopt faulty compasses. In light of my zeal and strength the compass I relied on were my feelings.
Feelings are fickle. The direction they travel is determined by how the situation personally affects a person’s attitude about something. There are two points of judgment when it comes to feelings: one is how something makes a person feel about his or her life, and the other point of judgment is how something makes the person feel about him or herself. Regardless of whether it is truth, if something does not make a person feel good about one’s life, he or she becomes critical towards it, and if it does not make the individual feel good about self, he or she becomes insulted.
What many fail to realize is that feelings operate in fantasy. They will always bring us under the influence of the fallen disposition, allowing us to pursue our preference regardless of how fleshly, sensual, and wrong it will prove to be. When the flesh is present, its natural preference has to do with feeling good about self. Feeling good about ourselves allows us to maintain any high opinion and fantasy that we want to maintain. High opinions allow us to believe we cannot be wrong about a matter; thereby ignoring any warning signs.
Even though these feelings give us a sense of being infallible, the fantasy it erects has no common sense or reason attached to it, thereby, creating self-delusion. This self-delusion is founded on self-sufficiency. Even though these feelings give us a sense of self-sufficiency in what we perceive, they can quickly change with circumstances, redirecting their course, showing just how vulnerable and unstable they will ultimately prove to be in the end.
Such feelings are always driven by worldly winds and waves of human notions. They can easily change course and head toward dangerous shorelines. It is for this reason that the first instruction Christ gave to His disciples was to deny self. In other words, deny such feelings as having any real influence in how a person perceives a matter.
When it came to knowledge about religion, I adopted the compass of religious notions. Sadly, many of these notions were based on my previous religious influences. I was saved out of a cult. Cults pride themselves in religious notions.
Notions are concepts about the way something should be. Behind notions is a philosophy made up of beliefs as to how something must operate. Beliefs determine the attitude one adopts toward the matters of life. All of this forms a worldview in which one judges moral matters.
The problem with judging all matters based on a faulty worldview is that one will find that he or she is never right about God, His ways, or what constitutes righteousness. For me, the judgments that came from my religious notions were cruel, indifferent, and unmerciful. Love was missing and dogmatic opinions sat as a tyrannical judge.
The next compass I obtained was a product of my religious notions. The Word of God did reveal the faulty foundation of some of my beliefs, but instead of changing my attitude that abounded because of my religious notions, I simply added the proper doctrine into the mixture. The problem with mixing the profane with the pure is that everything becomes spoiled by the profane.
In unholy mixtures, the profane represents an undetected poison that eventually will suck the very life from what is pure, rendering what may have been powerful doctrine to a lifeless and ineffective state. The compass of lifeless doctrine produces a lopsided version of a Christian life that will reek with self-righteousness, but will be void of any anointing; therefore, it is unable to make any beneficial impact on others.
The next faulty foundation and compass was the result of a lack of true spiritual experience. It is important to understand that the reason so many people adopt the faulty compass of experience is because they have failed to personally experience God through personal communion and fellowship.
In my initial journey with God I developed a substantial head knowledge about Him, but my knowledge of Him made Him one-dimensional. Without any dimension there is no depth. Without depth there is no substance, and without substance various things can come through the door of one’s imagination because he or she is still shallow and has no real foundation in which to test a matter. Granted, knowledge may be based on the Bible, but the Christian foundation is not constructed by knowledge, but by a relationship with God that brings a person to a personal knowledge of the person and work of Christ. This construction of the foundation is based on obedience to the Word of God, not simply a knowledge of it.
It is at this moment that I would like to talk about religion. So much of Christianity is based on religious knowledge, doings, and activities, but what constitutes real religion? Scripturally, I know the answer is found in James 1:27, but I still struggled with the concept of religion. My perspective of religion consisted of a building with religious rituals and practices. According to Scripture, I knew religion went beyond such a limited premise. I understood to some point that it entailed separation from the world’s influence and practical service to those in distress such as widows and the fatherless, but I wanted a clearer, more simple definition. Thankfully, I found it in one of Charles Finney’s books. He stated that religion is obeying Christ. The definition of religion was never meant to describe a church affiliation, state, or even certain works and activities; rather, it was to be an active life that was set on walking out the Christian life and calling through obedience.
This brings me back to a Christian who fails to walk out the Christian life in obedience to His Word. They will never develop any real roots in God. A Christian who has no real roots into the very character and ways of God can easily become bored in soul, lean in spirit, and frustrated in understanding. These individuals will either adopt a rigid stance towards the matters of God and become immovable in their one-dimensional understanding, or they will turn to their imagination as to what they think they know about God and try to build on it, or they will begin to seek greater experiences with God.
Experiences will never lead to God; rather, through communion with the Lord, we will be led into experiences with Him by the Holy Spirit. The problem is that when people seek spiritual experiences to fill their life, they will simply open a door that any spirit, seduction, or lie can walk through. This is why when people want to possess more substance in their knowledge of God in their spiritual lives, they need to realize that they must seek to know and experience God on a spiritual level through wisdom and revelation of the Spirit, and not on an experimental one that opens him or her to the spiritual realm, but is void of the truth of God’s Word. Keep in mind, all spiritual experiences must be backed by the full counsel of God’s Word, confirmed by the consistency of intent, spirit, or meaning of the Word, and come into line with every line of its truths.
The other problem with seeking the spiritual without regard to the confirmation of the truth of God’s Word is that one might encounter what some refer to as enlightenment or spiritual revelation, but it will miss the mark of possessing a right spirit. It is out of such erroneous heresy that cults are born. Behind every cult is a false light that hides or promotes an anti-Christ spirit.
I did not seek experience to know God; rather, I turned to my imagination of what I thought God would be to bring dimension to Him. Granted, I had Scriptures to back up my ideas of God, but my ideas were not mixed with faith (Hebrews 4:2). In misdirected experiences, people exalt a wrong spirit, but when one must resort to personal imagination to bring some personality to God to add depth to Him, he or she will demote God to a comprehendible, controlled box.
It is important to point out that true faith has substance to it. In other words, the substance is the reality of the unseen: the reality of God based on what is true. When imagination is in operation, it simply is a matter of ignorance and inexperience, and it is where one seeks to imagine God, rather than know God.
The God I possessed lacked dimension; therefore, I resorted to my imagination to bring a deeper understanding to Him. I did not realize that I was seeking to know in greater depth the attributes of God and my imagination could not even begin to reach such heights of understanding (Isaiah 55:8-9). Since it was a foolish, immature error on my part, God was gracious enough to show me that the god (idol) my imagination erected was unrealistic and would greatly disappoint me.
Eventually I learned that the type of understanding I was seeking only came by revelation of the Holy Spirit. I discovered that as the Holy Spirit illuminated the aspects of God’s attributes, that the personality of His person became more real and defined to me. Since Jesus is the revelation of the Godhead in bodily form, I began to understand more of the personality of God as I grew in the glorious knowledge of Jesus. It was then that I realized I had most of my spiritual pursuits all backwards.
It seems that I spent too much of my early spiritual life starting from the wrong angle, traveling the wrong direction, and ending up nowhere in my understanding about God. I believe that I probably made every possible wrong turn, and missed opportunities that were in front of me because of my ignorance and inexperience, setting me up to be misguided by faulty compasses.
Since we are about to embark on a new year, perhaps it would be wise for each of us to examine our map as to our spiritual location, and make sure we are not walking in a wrong direction. It is clear that Jesus’ coming is nearer than last year and the signs of the times are pointing to His blessed return. But, we need to be prepared spiritually, looking in the right direction, and walking towards the finish line.
We at GSM want to wish you a glorious New Year. May 2014 be a year of growth, revelation, and advancement in your spiritual odyssey.