It is easy to prioritize our experiences over Scripture, especially in theology.  We tend to adopt as a belief whatever fits our experiences.  We also tend to adopt as a belief whatever we want to be true.  Both of those belief-forming mechanisms are helpful in discerning truth claims; however, there is something more sure than personal experience, testimonies of others’ experiences, and personal desires–Scripture.

“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty…And we have something more sure, the prophetic word…no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”  2 Peter 1:16, 19-21

First off, Peter was an eyewitness to Jesus’ transfiguration and God’s confirmation saying “This is my beloved Son”.  Only two other people can claim to being an eyewitness of that.  No one today can claim to being an eyewitness in the sense that Peter can.  We may have experiences that testify to his majesty, but be weary of those who make up or testify only to experiences; Peter calls that “cleverly devised myths”.  When people go on about their experiences without employing Scripture to testify to their experience, be weary.

How to discern if a spiritual experience is from God

– Does it lead you to believe something contrary to what Scripture teaches? If so, it is not from God, but satan.

– Are people encouraged when they hear you talk about it? Or do they feel discouraged and “unspiritual”?

– Does it bring you to repentance of sin? Or does it make you think that you are “further along” and need less repentance?

– Does it cause you to worship Jesus in spirit and in truth?  Or do you use your experience to impress others?

Remember, the apostle Peter had more experiences than most that could be relied on; however, he knew that Scripture was “more sure”.  Submit your experiences to Scripture, and not the other way around.

“We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:2