I need this reminder over and over in my life. Ears get tickled too easily. Flesh looks for an easier way. Flagging perseverance wants something new.
But no. His Word is the only way.
(And, to those who follow me, I am reminded of my responsibility to accurately live the Word. Woe to me when I cause them to stumble… Serious stuff.)
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly” (Psalm 1:1, AV).
At a recent convention a young woman told me that her husband had wanted a divorce, but consented to see a Christian counselor before making it final. A member of the team in the counseling center told him that he himself was divorced and very happily remarried. That was all the husband needed. The man to whom he looked for help set the example he was hoping to find. Of course he went ahead and divorced his wife.
The twenty-third chapter of Jeremiah describes what is happening in our country today. The land is full of adulterers. Pastures have dried up. Powers are misused. Prophet and priest alike are godless, doing evil even in the Lord’s house. Jeremiah’s description of the prophets seems terribly fitting for some of those from whom Christian people are seeking guidance: “The vision they report springs from their own imagination. It is not from the mouth of the Lord…. To all who follow the promptings of their own stubborn heart they say, ‘No disaster shall befall you.’ But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord, seen him and heard his word? Which of them has listened to his word and obeyed?” (Jeremiah 23:16-18, NEB).
Here is a good test to apply to any of whom we seek counsel. Has this person stood in the council of the Lord? Seen Him? Heard His word? Listened and obeyed? Note the few who have actually paid a price for their obedience (like Jeremiah who was flogged, imprisoned, dropped into a pit of slime, etc.). These few are the ones to follow.
The chapter goes on to describe prophets who speak lies in God’s name, dream dreams, give voice to their own inventions, concoct words of their own, and then say, “This is his very word.” They mislead with “wild and reckless falsehoods.”
“If a prophet has a dream, let him tell his dream; if he has my word, let him speak my word in truth. What has chaff to do with grain? says the Lord” (v. 28).
Beware of those who are afraid to quote Scripture, who say it’s too “simplistic,” doesn’t apply here, won’t work. Beware of the counselor who is “nondirectional.” Be cautious when the advice given makes you feel comfortable when you know you’re really wrong. “Do not my words scorch like fire? says the Lord. Are they not like a hammer that splinters rock?” (v. 29).
It wasn’t only the awesome prophets of the Old Testament who spoke this way. Think of the words of Jesus. Though often He spoke “comfortable words,” words that brought peace and hope, He spoke also those words that seared like fire (“Depart from me, I never knew you”; “Get behind me, Satan!”) and splintered rock (“You will never get out until you have paid the last farthing”; “Whoever wants to be first must be the willing slave of all”).
“The form of words you shall use in speaking amongst yourselves is: ‘What answer has the Lord given?’ or ‘What has the Lord said?'” (Jeremiah 23:35, NEB).
This applies, of course, only to those who care what the Lord wants. Those who have already decided to do their own thing need not apply for truly godly counsel.