[Review: 1. Our first test, therefore, of the Divine authority of any voice which may seem to speak to us, must be its harmony in moral character with the mind and will of God, as revealed to us in the Gospel of Christ.
2. The second test, therefore, to which our impressions must be brought, is that of our own higher judgment, or common-sense.]
3. The third… test to which our impressions must be brought is that of providential circumstances. If a “leading” is of God, a way will always open for it. Our Lord assures us of this when He says in John 10:4, “And when He putteth forth His own sheep he goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him, for they know his voice.” Notice here the expression “goeth before,” and “follow.” He goes before to open a way, and we are to follow in the way thus opened. It is never a sign of a Divine leading when the Christian insists on opening his own way, and riding rough-shod over all opposing things. If the Lord “goes before” us, He will open all doors for us [Rev. 3:8], and we shall not need ourselves to hammer them down.
4. The fourth point I would make is this: that, just as our impressions must be tested, as I have shown, by the other three voices, so must these other voices be tested by our inward impressions; and if we feel a “stop in our minds” about anything, we must wait until that is removed before acting. A Christian who had advanced with unusual rapidity in the Divine life, gave me as her secret this simple receipt: “I always mind the checks.” We must not ignore the voice of our inward impressions, nor ride rough-shod over them, any more than we must the other three voices of which I have spoken [Col. 3:15].
These four voices, then, will always be found to agree in any truly Divine leading, i.e., the voice of our impressions, the voice of Scripture, the voice of our own sanctified judgment, and the voice of providential circumstances; and where these four do not all agree at first, we must wait until they do.
A divine sense of “oughtness,” derived from the harmony of all God’s various voices, is the only safe foundation for any action.
And now I have guarded the points of danger, do permit me to let myself out for a little to the blessedness and joy of this direct communication of God’s will to us. It seems to me to be the grandest of privileges. In the first place, that God should love me enough to care about the details of my life is perfectly wonderful. And then that He should be willing to tell me all about it, and to let me know just now to live and walk so as to perfectly please Him, seems almost too good to be true. We never care about the little details of people’s lives unless we love them. It is a matter of indifference to us with the majority of people we meet, as to what they do or how they spend their time; but as soon as we begin to love any one, we begin at once to care. That God cares, therefore, is just a precious proof of His love; and it is most blessed to have Him speak to us about everything in our lives, about our duties, about our pleasures, about our friendships, about our occupations, about all that we do, or think, or say. You must know this in your own experience, dear reader, if you would come into the full joy and privilege of this life hid with Christ in God [Col. 3:3], for it is one of it most precious gifts!
God’s promise is, that He will work in us to will as well as to do of His good pleasure [Phil 2:13]. This, of course, means that He will take possession of our will, and work it for us, and that His suggestions will come to us, not so much commands from the outside, as desires springing up within. They will originate in our will; we shall feel as though we wanted to do so and so, not as though we must. And this makes it a service of perfect liberty; for it is always easy to do what we desire to do, let the accompanying circumstances be as difficult as they may. Every mother knows that she could secure perfect and easy obedience in her child, if she could only get into that child’s will and work it for him, making him want himself to do the things she willed he should. And this is what our Father does for His children in the new dispensation; He writes His laws on our hearts and on our minds [Heb. 8:10; 10:16], and we love them, and are drawn to our obedience by our affections and judgment, not driven by our fears.
Part 3 of 4. Excerpted from The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, by Hannah Whitall Smith, chapter 11, “Difficulties Concerning Guidance.” The author quoted from the KJV translation of the Bible. [Title and bracketed references and words added by GN editor.] This volume, published in the late 1800’s, continues to bless God’s people with its Christ-centerd, grace-oriented message. The book and study guide are available from GFI @ 1-888-66GRACE.