Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice. (John 10:1-5)
Jesus Christ is like a devoted shepherd who leaves His flock of 99 sheep in the safety and shelter of the fold and sacrificially goes out to find one lost lamb. The Savior declared that the hairs on our head are lovingly numbered by Him and that He laid down His life for us, His sheep, His followers. Surely He will also guide us through this life to Heaven.1
If you missed them, you can go back and read Getting God’s Guidance (Part 1 + Part 2 + Part 3 + Part 4 + Part 5). In J. I. Packer’s book, Knowing God,2 he warns of six common pitfalls in understanding the Lord’s direction. In this post we conclude this series, again expanding on Packer’s comments.
E. Beware Following People with Magnetic Personalities. Packer warns that if we tolerate pride and self-deception in ourselves, we may be blind to these same vices in others. Good leaders influence and inspire followers to rally around a Christ-centered vision. but Eric Geiger warns of “Dangerous Charisma.”3 Christian leaders can “lead people in horrific directions or crumble because their own inner health is woefully inconsistent with their external persona.” Geiger warns of: charm without character, giftedness without godliness, winsomeness without wisdom, magnetism without spiritual maturity, and leaders driven for their own fame and fortune rather than for Christ’s kingdom. Such leaders are mis-leaders. Only follow people who adore Jesus more than they adore themselves, who exemplify brotherly love over braggadocio, competence over self-confidence, substance over swagger.
No wonder Jesus warns us, “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.”4 Christ urges us to beware leaders whose lifestyles contradict the Christian message. 2 Peter chapter 2 contains a detailed description of false teachers and their destruction.
Packer warns that sincere but gullible Christians can fall under the spell of magnetic leaders and be led astray. Outstanding people are not necessarily right, so Packer urges, “Test all things carefully [so you can recognize what is good]. Hold firmly to that which is good.”5 Let’s imitate the Berean Christians who were noble in their character and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.6 Paul wanted people to love the Lord more than him and all faithful Christian leaders want the same.
F. Beware Unwillingness to “Wait on the Lord.” The Psalms keep calling us to wait on God patiently because He is not in a hurry like we are. Here are some samples:
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly….Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord…..We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield…..Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes….Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God….I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.7
The book of Job shows us God caring for one believing man through the worst possible scenarios—Satanic oppression, loss of possessions, loss of loved ones, loss of health. Job held on to the Lord through very dark times, knowing that God was hanging on to him. Job trusted the Lord and said, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him….He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”8 Like Job, God gives grace to every Christian to cling to Him, trusting Him to work on our behalf, even through appalling events. The Lord uses hardship to test our character and make us more like Jesus, providing Holy Spirit strength to hang on and Holy Spirit comfort to see us through.
Packer reminds us that God seldom gives us more light on the future than we need for action in the present. The Lord usually guides just one step at a time. So when we are in doubt, let’s continue to wait on God, trusting and obeying Him in what is clearly our duty. When future action is needed, then His light will come. Every Christian can say with Micah, “Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light….He will bring me out into the light; I will see His righteousness.”9
Waiting on the Lord is not passive; we look forward expectantly to God fulfilling His promises. Christians long for the kingdom of God; for the resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked; for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior; and for the mercy of our Lord Jesus to bring us to eternal life.10 What great encouragements Christ gives us to press on in following Him.
Hallelujah! what a Savior! Hallelujah! what a Friend! Saving, helping, keeping, loving, He is with me to the end.11
Go in peace, beloved. Walk with King Jesus today and be a blessing to others!
Notes (various translations are used) 1 Luke 15:4-6; Matt 10:30; John 10:11. 2 Knowing God (1993 reprint), p. 237-239. 3 6 Types of “Dangerous Charisma” by Eric Geiger, February 10, 2017. 4 Matt 7:15,16. 5 1 Thess 5:21 (AMP) 6 Acts 17:11. 7 Psalm 5:3; 27:14; 33:20; 37:7; 38:15; 40:1. 8 Job 13:15; 23:10. 9 Micah 7:8,9. 10 Luke 53:51; Acts 24:15; Titus 2:13; Jude 21. 11 from the hymn: “Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners!” by J. Wilbur Chapman (1910).