How can we know the difference between being trained by God and being trained by man? How can we be sure we are not being misled? Are we not supposed to submit to God and not to man? What if man tells me to do something and I do not agree--what should I do? These and many other questions come to our minds when we think about training and our involvement with brothers and sisters in the family of God. They are real questions, and need real answers. But it is not a simple one-two-three answer. We may say, "Tell me what to do and I will do it," and that sounds good, but wait until somebody tells us what to do, and then we find out whether we meant what we said. What is the answer to these perplexities?
There is really only one answer to all of the above questions. It is fellowship with God. Apart from true fellowship with God by the Spirit, the questions will never be answered. The reason for this is that only the Holy Spirit can give us the discernment to know and recognize the voice of God. If we do not know the voice of God, we are only hearing man, and if we are only hearing man, no spiritual benefit will come to us in our spiritual growth.
For me to know fellowship with God, everything in my relationship must be right. I must have a yielded spirit, submissive to God. I must have laid down my right to myself and know that in reality, "I am crucified with Christ." That must be more than a doctrine I know in my head; it must be a place of standing before God that I know in my heart. I must have settled the question of God's will in my life. In other words, my will is to do His will. Anything less will bring conflict again and again. John says that the condition for fellowship is that I am walking in the light (1 John 1:7). Walking in the light speaks of complete openness before God and before my brothers and sisters. They go together, and we cannot separate them.
Notice that we are saying that everything in my relationship must be right. This is not the same as saying I am a mature man. God requires a perfection of relationship to exist from the first day I come into union with Him. If we maintain that perfect relationship, we will be brought to a maturity of faith. God will see to that. We require the same from our natural children. If they are in proper relationship to their father, they will have ears to hear the word of instruction to them. They will submit and obey, and it will bring a place of increase in their lives.
So often, we look for answers in other places, but the answers to our questions are here. Most of the time, the problem is the heart, not the head. If we need understanding, God is faithful to give the understanding we need. The anointing that allows us to recognize the voice of God through our brothers and sisters comes as we are close to God in communion and fellowship. The word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, instruction and teaching come to us as we gather together, through the experiences of the day, and as we pray and meditate on the scriptures. God knows how, when, and where to bring that word to us. But we will only recognize that word as we are close to God, with nothing between. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8).
How is our fellowship with God? Are we drawing near with full assurance? Are our hearts quieted in His presence? Are we abiding in His love, leaving all care in His hands? Have we obeyed in that "small" area God spoke to us about, which was hindering our communion and union with God in the Spirit? We thought it was small, but God thought it was big enough to speak about. "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1). Have we done that? That was Paul's instruction to the Corinthians who could no longer hear God through Paul. He said that if they would obey this, God would be a Father to them, and they would abide in His love as sons. How important is that to us? Is it important enough to spare nothing in our relationship with God, making sure that nothing comes in which may hinder?
These are all heart questions that only we can answer before God. But in their answers is the answer to our growth and maturity in the family of God. Only as we respond to God in this relationship will we be able to grow and know how we ought to conduct ourselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
May God speak to each of our hearts, that we may realize the importance of this calling, and that nothing may be spared in this relationship. Let us grow up, and bear responsibility in His family. What a glory! And yet, what a responsibility. The time is short, and we cannot linger. Let us give all diligence to our place as sons of God. God has made the way that we can know Him in fullness together as His family.
"Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19).
Let us act accordingly.