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Daily Encounter: A Week-day Devotional by a staff of ACTS International.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Arm-Twisting for God

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them."1

I first heard Joseph Bailey use the term, "Arm-twisting for God." It is closely related to those who are cursed with the affliction to give advice—only worse—because they arm-twist in the name of God! It is often used by "religious control-freaks."

Over the years I've had numerous articles sent to me—some from excellent authors—and some from would-be authors wanting to be published. Some of the latter group preface their request with remarks such as, "God (or the Holy Spirit) has given me this message and I want him to have all the glory!" With some of this material I can't imagine God wanting the glory. I don't publish it—and God doesn't zap me!

On one occasion a man said to me that God told him he was to work for me. He didn't have any qualifications for the work we do, so I didn't give him a job. Again, God didn't zap me!

On another occasion I was strongly rebuked by a person who didn't understand "Jesus the Messiah" being written in Arabic especially for Muslims. I was told the Bible said He was to be called Jesus. I don't think the angel spoke to Joseph and Mary in English! How about Hebrew? I was also informed by this person that Jesus told her I was to take this Arabic name of Jesus off my website as I was dangerously leading people astray!

I could give many more illustrations of people arm-twisting for God. They are usually insecure people needing attention and wanting their own way to feel empowered and important. At times I have said to such a person, when they told me God told them the way I should do things, that God hasn't told me yet, so can we discuss it—and let's pray for truth. "But I have the truth," one declared emphatically to me. End of discussion!

As John Wesley advised, "Do not hastily ascribe things to God. Do not easily suppose dreams, voices, impressions, visions or revelations to be from God. They may be from Him. They may be from nature. They may be from the devil. Therefore, do not believe every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are from God"2

We are told in the Bible that the test of a true prophet of God was 100% accuracy—100% of the time, and are warned not to heed false prophets. Also, in the Old Testament there was severe punishment for those who claimed to have a message from God and it wasn't from Him. False prophets can be dangerous because they can lead people astray and away from the truth of God.

Our best defense against arm-twisting-for-God-false-prophets is to know what the Bible teaches, live in harmony with God's will as found in the Bible, and constantly ask God to lead us in the way of truth.

Suggested prayer, "Dear God, please help me always to live and walk in harmony with the truth as found in Your Word, the Bible, and give me the discernment to recognize every false prophet and any message, no matter how appealing, that is not in the way of truth nor from You. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."

1. Matthew 7:15-16 (NIV).
2. Martin Wells Knapp, Impressions, Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1984, p. 32.


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