Should premonitions be taken seriously?

In an in-home study group with a group of Christians, the subject got round to spooky things happening to people, and how do you explain them? Every person in the group had a story to tell, ranging from seeing ghosts, to feeling a presence in the room, to having premonitions about future events, to hearing voices in their heads, to sensing someone they knew had just had something horrible happen to them, to weird experiences with seances and ouija boards, and scary nightmares. We all sat back a bit shocked, realizing how many spooky things we’d experienced, or knew of.

In seeking an explanation, the subject that raised the most questions was premonitions. We all knew of people who’d had visions of future events which came true, like the person who’d had a premonition about a relative being in a car crash, with exact details of the location and events leading up to it, which happened exactly as predicted. So, was it just an amazing coincidence, we wondered, or was there something more sinister going on? Are there things our human brains can do that we haven’t fully understood yet, or was it simply a wild imagination that got lucky? And the big question: Was it from God, or the devil?

Well, Scripture also tells of a person having visions who “goes into great detail about what he has seen,” Colossians 2:18. So we’re not the only generation of people who delight in making highly detailed predictions about future events. But what’s really behind these visions? The same verse states it’s an “unspiritual mind” that “puffs the person up with idle notions.” These premonitions aren’t coming from God, then, nor are they happening because the person having visions is on a higher spiritual plane. Quite the opposite; they’re coming from a self-deluding mind that “has lost connection with the Head,” verse 19 – and that is serious because “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,” verse 9. He’s our powerful protection, therefore, from being taken in by “the empty superstitions of spirit beings,” verse 8 (The Message). And that’s serious too because “the whole world is under the control of the evil one,” 1 John 5:19, so, yes, there are sinister things going on.

Fortunately, verse 18, “the one who was born of God (Jesus) keeps him safe, and the evil one does not touch him.” Jesus not only keeps us safe from the devil playing with our minds, he also keeps us safe from the delusional minds of others. Should premonitions be taken seriously, then? Only in knowing the source of them – and ignore them totally otherwise.

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Is human nature evil?

Human nature cannot be evil because God created it in the likeness of his own nature, Genesis 1:26. And when “God saw all that he had made,” verse 31, he said “it was very good.”

Human nature at its roots and origin, then, is good not bad. It’s also the nature that Jesus took on when he came as a human being, Philippians 2:7, and with that nature he never did anything bad or evil. So it’s possible for human nature to be good all the time.

But didn’t David say he was “a sinner from birth” and “sinful from the time my mother conceived me,” Psalm 51:5? And in Psalm 58:3 that “from birth the wicked go astray,” and “from the womb they are wayward and speak lies,” and in Job 14:1 and 4, that “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble….Who can bring what is pure from the impure?” – meaning how can anything good come from something so bad? From all these verses it looks like we’re born bad, or that we’re naturally inclined to evil.

And Paul was ready to admit that too in Romans 7:18, when he writes: “I know that nothing good lives in me,” BUT – take note – he qualifies that statement by adding, ‘THAT IS, in my sinful nature.” Paul wants it understood that all this evil he’s churning out ISN’T the result of his human nature, it’s the result of what he calls “the sinful nature.” And Paul separates this sinful nature from his own nature, verse 20 – “Now if I do what I don’t want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

It wasn’t because of his human nature that he was doing bad things, it was beccause of this other nature in him, Romans 7:5 – “For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were al work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.” It’s while we’re under the control of this other nature, the sinful nature, that evil passions are aroused.

At heart and core Paul wanted to obey God: “I delight in God’s law,” he said in verse 22, “BUT,” verse 23, “I see another law at work…waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin.” The law of HIS mind was to obey God, but “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me,” verse 21. It wasn’t his human nature that was evil, therefore, it was this other nature, and only the Spirit can control that (Romans 8:9).

What makes God really angry?

It’s very difficult not to lash out in anger at times, isn’t it? Your teenager sneaks off with the car, picks up friends, shows off, smacks into a fire hydrant, and lies about the whole episode when questioned. Or your 3 year-old defies your instructions, escapes in the Shopping Mall and disappears. Or a car in front doodles along at snail speed when you’re late for work, or a scam artist steals your life savings. Being angry is easy in this world, and understandably so in many cases, because of the atrocious, insensitive and belligerent behaviour of others.

But doesn’t God get extremely upset as well? Doesn’t he lash out in anger too? Yes. He threatened to kill every human alive in Genesis 6:7. He also told Moses to stand aside while he destroyed the Israelites in Exodus 32:10, and in Number 25:3 he “burned with anger” and demanded a public execution of many Israelites, having already killed 24,000 of them in a plague.

So what stirs such anger in God? It’s people who don’t trust him. He’s a jealous God, and we can easily understand what that means because we experience the same jealousy. A husband who adores his wife gets extremely angry if she trusts another man’s word over his. Parents blow fuses when their children think their friends know better. Wives are devastated when their husbands think they’re not trying to be attractive. Friends are ripped apart forever when one of them ditches the other because of what someone else said. When you love someone, or really like them, it breaks your heart when they don’t trust you. And broken hearts are highly explosive. There is nothing in the world that can contain a broken heart.

And why should there be? if there’s no trust there’s no relationship. You might as well end it right there. But God can’t end his relationship with us because he loves us, and he can never stop loving us. So it devastates him when we don’t trust him. But he gave us the ability to understand that about him, because we’re just as devastated when people don’t trust us. We know the feeling. And God obviously feels the same way we do. His wrath, then, is not some awful condemnation or proof, as atheists say, that God is a cold, heartless beast. Quite the opposite. His anger is proof of a broken heart. It’s proof he loves us.

It explains why God is so angry when we don’t believe his Son, John 3:36. To not trust Jesus is to not trust God, and it breaks God’s heart when that happens. And broken hearts get angry – as we ourselves experience too, right?