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God’s direct convictions to you must be viewed as superior to any other command you have received from Him in the past or read in the Bible. Convictions always trump commandments. Those who pleased God in the past learned this principle and we find examples of them applying it in the Word. According to the Old Covenant Laws, prostitutes were to be publicly executed. They were certainly not to be slept with or married. This was a clear command which Yahweh had given His people through Moses, and yet later on He told the prophet Hosea to go out and marry a prostitute named Gomer. Because Hosea understood that personal convictions trump written commands, he immediately obeyed God. He didn’t sit there saying, “No, God, I won’t disobey Your commands.” This is what Peter said when God spoke directly to him about eating unclean meat (Acts 10). At first Peter responded the way many of us respond today when the Holy Spirit convicts us to do something that counters a previous command of God.
“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” (Acts 10:14)
Did God applaud Peter’s refusal to disobey His written commands? Not hardly. Convictions trump commands. When God speaks directly to us, He wants obedience.
The Voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (Acts 10:15)
Because He could see Peter was struggling, God repeated His instruction three times until Peter finally accepted it. Convictions always trump commands. Don’t tell God that He can’t change His orders or decide to throw out some previous command. God is King. He gets to do whatever He wants whenever He wants.
Under the Old Covenant, it was a sin for a man to display his private parts in public. Yet God told the prophet Isaiah to walk around butt naked and barefoot for three years (Isa 20:1-6). Isaiah didn’t try to remind God about what He’d written in some scroll somewhere. We don’t need to remind God of what He’s said in the past. He knows what He said in the past and He knows what He wants today. We need to obey, not question.
But questioning is human. The Old Covenant Laws taught that it was utterly disgusting to go handling one’s own poop, or to eat something that poop had contacted. Yet in Ezekiel 4, God tells His priest-turned-prophet to collect some human poop and use it as fuel for a fire which he would then cook bread over. Talk about gross. Ezekiel tries to get out of it by using the old “but that goes against Scripture” defense that we’re so often taught to employ today.
“Not so, Sovereign Lord! I have never defiled myself. From my youth until now I have never eaten anything found dead or torn by wild animals. No impure meat has ever entered my mouth.” (Eze. 4:14)
Like Peter, Ezekiel is trying to say that nothing can trump God’s written commands. He is refusing to let God change His instructions. This is not obedience. God insists that the poop fire will happen, but He lets the grossed out Ezekiel use cow poop instead and Ezekiel reluctantly obeys.
As these examples demonstrate, the statement that “God would never contradict His own Word” is complete bunk. God most certainly will contradict the things He says in the Bible, He will tell you to do things that would be considered sins if other people did them, and He will even up and change His entire salvation Covenant if that’s what He’s in the mood to do. Are you shocked at work when your boss gives you new instructions or changes procedures and policies? No, because we expect human bosses to change their minds and their methods. So why are we treating our Divine Boss like a corpse who wrote His memoirs in a Book and is now incapable of revising them? This is utterly foolish thinking. God has preserved records of His interactions with men like Peter, Isaiah and Ezekiel to show us just how wild and unpredictable He is. How can we read about the coming of Christ and the introduction of the New Covenant and still say that God will never surprise us in life? Imagine what it was like for the Jews. One minute they’re saved through faith in Yahweh, the next minute Yahweh revokes their salvation and says they’re all going to Hell unless they submit to a new God named Jesus. Talk about a shocker. Who can say that God won’t up and change His Covenant again? Who can say that some fourth God won’t suddenly show up and announce that we now have to believe in him as well because just knowing Christ is no longer enough. This is what happened to the ancient Jews and it could happen to us as well. God gives us no assurances that we’ve seen the last of His surprises. The only reason the twelve disciples survived a massive overhaul of their theology is because they listened to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and they let His direct revelation to their souls trump everything else. We must stay fluid with God. Of course your pastor will tell you that you can’t possibly accept something as being from God until you find some verse to back it up. But this is the same as saying, “God would never contradict Himself.” Yes, He would. In Isaiah 44:8, Yahweh says:
“Is there any God besides Me, or is there any other Rock? I know of none.”
Of course there’s another God—there are two others, in fact: Jesus and the Holy Spirit. But because Yahweh kept insisting that He was the only God in existence, it made it more than a little hard for the Jews to accept the Divinity of Christ when He showed up in human form and announced He was another God who was equal to Yahweh in every way. Talk about Yahweh contradicting Himself with His absurd “I know of none” claim. Clearly God intentionally leads us astray about certain facts to suit His own pleasure. One minute He teaches us that He would never want us to do certain things. And the next minute we find ourselves marrying a harlot, walking around naked, and cooking lunch over a poop fire. God is a wildcard, and He’s given us plenty of warning about this by the records we’ve received in the Book. So the message of the Bible is not, “Now you know everything you need to know about God.” It’s “You’d better stay on your toes because God is wild and unpredictable.” Yet always God makes it very easy for us to succeed with Him. He wants us to do what He’s telling us right here and right now, without a bunch of argument. This is what it means to obey God: to follow the convictions that the Holy Spirit is placing on your heart today.
Identifying False Conviction: Three Easy Tests
Confronting Your Convictions: When You Don’t Have the Courage to Obey
Being Commanded by God