I remember, once, a friend posted a Facebook status claiming the devil tried to get in the way of her blessing from God, and I posited the following question: "How do you know if it was the devil trying to stop an act of God versus God trying to stop an act of the devil?"
One thing I've learned over the years is that when it comes to explicitly stated sins—lying, stealing, killing, etc.—we are very clear on God's stance. If someone tempts us to these behaviors, we know it's the devil. Where things get muddy is in our day to day life. The decisions we make about where we're going in life and to what extent are we to separate from worldly things.
Think of Jonah. God instructs Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh, but Jonah does not. Subsequently, the ship Jonah boards to avoid Nineveh, navigates into a tempest where Jonah is swallowed by a fish. The tempest that strikes the ship is not the devil trying to stop Jonah from reaching his goal, it's God turning Jonah around. If we are true believers, when we are walking contrarily to God, He will put a wall in our path to turn us back toward Him. Another example of this is in Numbers 22, when Balaam disobeys God's order to stay put, God places an angel with a fiery sword in the path which causes Balaam's donkey to stray from the path. Balaam cannot see the angel, so he becomes angry with the donkey.
These types of scenarios happen to us today, whether they concern relationships or job opportunities, purchases or decisions. Perhaps you can't find a job in a particularly city because God doesn't want you in that city. Maybe a friendship or partnership didn't work out because God didn't want you influenced by that person. In my first two years of graduate school (which will be it's own testimony), no matter how hard I worked or how many perfectly working projects I turned in, I could not get the A I needed to progress in my PhD. Many would have argued that was the devil trying to knock me down, as he did to Job, but at the end of the two years, when the department began to fall apart and I decided to leave, the extra classes I had taken because of those B's placed me into a position where I could graduate with a Masters and not leave empty-handed. The devil wasn't trying to block a blessing from God, though he may have been lurking around trying to get me to doubt God. This was a case of God steering me to a path other than my own.
Similarly, as the master of confusion, the devil is good at placing thoughts into our head that seem like they could be of God, making it imperative that we are able to discern between the two. As I have been studying the word with respect to God's dietary laws and how they apply to us today, I became lost on the point of consuming blood. In Genesis 9:4, after the flood, God tells Noah that while He will now allow us to eat meat, we are never to consume the blood. This is reiterated several times throughout Exodus and Leviticus. I asked myself did consumption of blood refer to blood cooked into the animal or simply raw meat (like a medium rare steak). When I found that Kosher practice for the Jews is to drain the blood from an animal before butchering it, I began to worry. The meat I normally buy is not Kosher, even though it may be from a clean animal. It struck me that much of the meat I was consuming was still contrary to God. So, I began to study and to pray about what God expected of me.
Knowing that I was the prime position for confusion, the devil made sure to answer my prayer to God before I heard God's voice. The devil put a perfectly logical and biblically based thought into my head: the reason we no longer celebrate the feast days is because they were precursors to Jesus; after Jesus fulfilled their purpose they no longer applied. Paul refers to these as "a shadow of things to come" in Colossians 2:17. Similarly, when God instructs man not to eat the blood of an animal, He says the blood is the life force of the animal. It is this life force that is sacrificed on the altar to God. However, when Jesus comes, He becomes our life force. John 6:35, John 6:53, John 8:12, John 14:6, John 20:31, and 2 Timothy 1:1 (just to name a few) all confirm that we get life from Jesus. From this I concluded that abstaining from blood was a shadow of Jesus coming, as His death and resurrection covers us in His blood and the blood of the animals was a shadow of His blood. Thus, this was one of the things fulfilled by Jesus on the cross.
WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!
That was only further proof that the devil can and will quote scripture to twist the truth of God. He knows who truly fears the Lord and so he isn't going to make us an offer that clearly goes against God. Instead the devil frames the thought or action to look like it is of God so that we are tempted to follow through with it. You see, the devil understands that in our current society, it's a whole lot easier to live if you don't have to worry about whether the meat is Kosher or not. Under this pretense, I could continue to eat Chic-Fil-A, or order steak from my favorite restaurants. I wouldn't need to change grocery stores or search through the meat section for meat labeled Kosher. The devil knows that we aren't fond of change and that we are wired to take the path of least resistance, which is often the wrong path. I was relieved for approximately one day thinking that the ease of settling into following God's dietary law I'd experienced so far was permanent.
19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
There it is in black and white, in the New Testament, plain as day. God still expects us to abstain from blood. A clear command to find, but I had to seek His answer. How did I find it? Did I "ctrl+F" the Bible for "abstain from blood?" No. I listened to God a long time ago when He told me to reread the Bible, and I listened to Him when he told me to create this blog. As such, I have been detailing this journey towards a God approved diet (plus so much more) and was discussing a point from Acts. I continued reading Acts for context and clarity of that point and stumbled upon Acts 15:20. My prayer to God for clarity was the first step in hearing His voice, but the ability to separate my own desires, stay in His Word, and be patient is what allowed me to distinguish His voice from the devil's voice. If you listen, He will answer, but you have to be willing to remove yourself from the equation and continuously read His Word to get His answer.
This is my tenth testimony: the testimony of discernment.