..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Book of Daniel Bible Study: Forsaking the Impulse Driven Life

"You shall be cut into pieces and your
houses shall be made a dunghill" (Daniel 2:5

(What feels right today is tomorrow's disaster.)

The Book of Daniel shows us examples of
both how to be led by the Holy Spirit, and
how to be led by your impulses. The former
is much more highly recommended! Reading
through the book one is struck by the extreme
impulse disorder of King Nebuchadnezzar.

An impulse disorder is usually defined
as the "inability to resist the impulse
to perform an action that is harmful to
oneself or others." We see Nebuchadnezzar
acting "impulsively" throughout the book
of Daniel. As soon as something stirs him
up he reacts by wanting to "cut people in
pieces and make their houses a dunghill"
(Daniel 2:5,3:29) or "throw them into a
fiery furnace" (Daniel 3:6,15). He acts
frequently and compulsively out of impulse.

Nebuchadnezzar is only focused on himself
and does not care how his actions will
affect others. This is the nature of the
impulse driven life. It is a life that will
move from disastrous circumstance to disastrous
circumstance. Animals often behave this way.
Man should not. We have the opportunity to
be led by the Holy Spirit.

How shall we be led by the Holy Spirit and
not our impulses?

Romans 8:14 & 15 says that as many are led by
the Spirit of God, they are sons of God,
and God has not given us a spirit of
bondage again to fear, but a spirit of
adoption by which we cry "Abba, Father."

God's Spirit does not work by compulsion.
God leads us as a Father, not out of fear
or as a slavedriver, but out of love.
Impulse drives us, there is a tension
to it. We are slaves to it. Those who are
driven by impulse feel an increasing tension
to carry out an impulsive act. They are not
gently led.

If something is compulsively driving you,
it is probably not the Spirit of God.
While Mark's gospel says that the Spirit
"drove" Jesus out into the desert (Mark 1:12),
Matthew's gospel says, more softly,
that He was "led up" (Matt. 4:1).*(see
my note below.
) As a rule, in our
day to day walk with the Lord, God leads us
quietly, line upon line, step upon step.

1 Cor. 12:2 says, "You know that when you
were heathen, you were led off after idols
that could not speak [habitually] as impulse
directed and whenever the occasion might arise
(Amplified Version). Impulse, habitually
followed, leads us off after that which we
idolize. Without the Spirit of God helping
us, we have little control over our impulses.

The impulse driven life is steeped in idolatry.
When urges that are not of God rise up in
us they are always aimed at satisfying
something other than the will of God.
They lead us to worship other things,
other people, other gods. Impulses tempt us
to lead ourselves but we end up under their
dominion, and what a costly dominion it is.

On the other hand, I Cor 12: 3 says,
"Therefore I want you to understand that no
one speaking under the power and influence
of the [Holy] Spirit of God can [ever] say,
Jesus be cursed! And no one can [really] say,
Jesus is[my] Lord, except by and under the
power and influence of the Holy Spirit

When we are under the influence,(and notice
the word influence, and not impulse) of the
Holy Spirit we always acknowledge Jesus and
call Him, in truth, "Lord." We listen only to
Him, we obey only Him. Nothing else causes
us to move forward. If human impulse arises,
we crucify it! The Holy Spirit influences us,
teaches us, guides us into all truth.

Second Peter 2 discusses the frightening
fate of those who pursue their ungodly
impulses..."like unreasoning beasts,
mere creatures of instinct, born only
to be captured and destroyed, railing
at things of which they are ignorant,
they shall utterly perish" (2 Pet 2:12).
This whole chapter deals with those
who boast of liberty but live in
enslavement to the sinful impulses
that drive them. If you want a test
of whether something is an impulse
or not, think of what its impact will
have, think of what fruit it may produce!

Daniel, and his friends, Meschach,
Shadrach and Abednego, never are
said to act on impulse. They walk in
uncompromised discipline and obedience
to God. They seek to keep their hearts
pure and centered on God. A pure heart
produces a pure impulse. Allowing
our hearts to be purified is a process,
and one that cannot, and must not, be

When we are led by the Spirit, the
fruit of the Spirit is brought forth.
When we are led by the impulses of
the flesh, the fruit of the flesh is
brought forth (cp. Gal 5:18-24). Verse
24 tells us that those who belong
to Christ crucify the flesh with its
passions, appetites and impulses.

Impulse cannot wait, it does not
wait, to see if something is of God.
How many times do you wish that
you had waited before you said or
did something? It is important
to be quickly obedient to the Lord,
but it is also wise, in many
circumstances, to wait to see
if impulse is driving us or the
Spirit of the Lord is leading us.
The test of time, even just
a short time, usually brings
forth a clear answer.

Discerning whether something is a
fleshly impulse, or whether something is
from the Holy Spirit, is such an
important thing for we, as Christians,
to pay attention to. Let us ask
God for discernment, and let us
exercise prudence in our actions.
Pray before you leap! Wait on the
Lord. Look at what fruit your words
or actions might produce. It may save
you a lot of pain, a lot of embarrassment,
and a whole lot of repentance.


*There are several different ways this verse
can be interpreted, and even the Greek
word, ekballo, here translated
as "drove," has many different nuances and
meanings. We can be certain God was
not forcing Jesus into anything and Jesus
went forth, in obedience to God, of His
own free will. His behavior, at this
crucial moment, was certainly not born of
impulse, and only bore the fruit of obedience
to God. Human impulse on the other hand, usually
is steeped in disobedience and idolatry.

(This is part of a series on the Book
of Daniel. Other studies are filed
in the archives under "Daniel Bible Study")


Desert Pilgrim said...

This is a wonderful post, as are the other posts on Daniel. You are a true blessing to the blogging world!

FollowJesusAlone said...

Dear Wayfarer,
I have been studying the Book of Daniel, and have been gleaning so much from it, but your writing is inspirational! I love the theme "Impulse led or Spirit led"! The way you tied in the New Testament Scriptures! How true that the Spirit leads us gently, line upon line and precept upon precept! Daniel knew His LORD God like Abraham did. He knew that this world was not his home, and that he was looking and waiting for his heavenly Home! He lived his life in peace and gentleness. He did not take judgment upon his own shoulders, but left all wrongs to God who would be his Defender! Even when he was first captured, he rested in the Divine Providence of God, and in the Lions Den he waited upon God to save him. What a wonderful example of a Spirit lead life we have in our Brother Daniel's life! I cannot wait to fellowship with him for all of eternity! Hallelujah!