You Can Fail a Test
The Scripture, both old covenant and new, is full of references to waging war and being tested, both of which imply you can lose, and you can fail. It is not at all antithetical to grace to come to a realization that you have either fought and lost, or been tested and failed. In fact, it is in the light of loss or failure that the grace of God will begin, maybe for the first time, to make sense to you!
Where can you wage war and lose? In the battle for the mind. When you choose to believe the lie of the enemy; when you choose to believe your own understanding - you lose. Please allow me to emphasize that, because the gravity of it needs to be grasped: You. Lose.
If the truth, and only the truth sets you free, then non-truth is precisely what puts you in bondage. There is no middle ground. I know believers who to this moment are in bondage to their own understanding. Renewing the mind is a life long process, but having the humility to own up to that is half the battle. (There's that word again....battle.) My old Sunday school teacher, Len Sisson, was dead-on when he taught all us teenagers about "the battleground of the mind."
Where can you be tested and fail? You can fail in holding unswervingly to the prophetic word of the Lord, through confirmed prophetically gifted brothers and sisters in the church, words publicly ministered, not "a voice in your head."
(I emphasize the prophetic word because, for the purposes of this blog entry, to hold unswervingly to Scripture is, to use an old geometry proof term, a "given". It is the prophetic word we often struggle with.)
There are times and seasons when God speaks a "now word" into our lives...a word of destiny, a word of hope, in short - a word of prophecy. Yes, we take these words and we hold them up to the bright light of Scripture, and make sure they do not violate God's character and nature. In that way, we do test prophetic words.
But ultimately, the prophetic word tests us. And tests imply that it is possible to fail.
Ps 105:19 Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the LORD tested him.
There are things Tim and I have heard the Lord on - planting Harvest Church was one of them. We've also received direction from the Lord, clear prophetic direction, in other areas.
One thing you do not do is shrink back, once the word of the Lord comes. Never, never, never question "hath God said?" once you have committed yourself to what you knew to be the word of the Lord - to do that will set for you the mother of all traps. If you are in any level of spiritual leadership (a new covenant form of a "vow" - you bear a certain level of responsibility to and for others), that is a holy, precious calling, not to be entered into lightly, and you dare not lose faith in what God has said. You persevere.
I'm not being flippant with my term for Deity when I say, "By God, you stick and stay with it."
Pr 20:25 It is a snare for a man to devote rashly something as holy, And afterward to reconsider his vows.
Oh sure, circumstances will scream at you that you "missed it". People will act in ways that seem to contradict what God said. Your mind will attempt to assert its own understanding, and you will be sorely, sorely tempted to lean on it, because the word of the Lord (now a memory) does not feel as solid as it once felt to you.
Can I implore you? I will gladly be reduced to shameless begging if I must: don't shrink back from the prophetic word of the Lord. Paul told Timothy that it is by those very words he was to wage war. Once God speaks in this special way, that very word exists as your test.
I call to your memory Abraham, Joseph, David, Peter, Paul, John....all these and more who received a word that tested them, not them testing the word.
Even under grace, not everyone passes their test. Some do fail. Even then, if they but acknowledge that they didn't pass the test, they can be sooner rather than later healed and restored - in order to be tested once more. God will bring His word to them again - often the same word that tested them before - God will require that they return to it, as though it were the lost axe head, and recover it and labor with it.
To deny that we can be tested is to deny both the Scripture, and the prophetic word of the Lord.
Have you received a clear word, a few months or a few years ago, as to God's will and destiny for your life? That is the very word that has tested you.
Pass or fail?
In the battleground of the mind, your enemy's agenda is to convince you of his lies, and to get you leaning to your own understanding. Only the truth sets free, and only by truth can you wage war - not your opinion of the truth, but rather truth itself.
Win or lose?