The Abuse of Dreams
NCW 69: August 2000 - January 2001
Q. I know someone who believes that God uses dreams to guide him in his daily life and who places more trust in them in anything else. What is NCCG's view of this?
A. It is a fact that Yahweh has always, continues to, and will, speak to disciples through the mediumship of dreams, and especially in the "last days" (Joel 2:28; Ac.2:17). It is also a fact, however, that Satan and demons speak through dreams too, especially when the dreamer is a habitual sinner or is, for example, in open rebellion to Yahweh's will. Finally, it is also a fact that most dreams derive from what might be called the "general databank of experience" and is simply a recycling and processing of information by the unconscious mind as the soul tries to assimilate and interpret events. By far the majority of dreams comprise the latter.
One of the greatest dangers of ascribing a high value to dreams and believing that most, if not all, are inspired is that you will more than likely find in the end that you are being guided by yourself. The fact that dreams occur in the unconscious state does not automatically mean that they derive from the realm of the inspired. At best such a realm may be "muddy" - having a mixture of carnal and inspired impulses - and at worst simply the "voice" of the carnal, unredeemed man - or even, upon occasion, the realm of demons.
To base one's life around the activities of the dream state is both spiritually imprudent and dangerous because such a practice can quickly degenerate into a form of divination. By that I mean people use the data from dreams in much the same way as they might use information supplied by astrologers, palm-readers and spiritual mediums (wizards), the only difference being that the divination comes from yourself as channel instead of someone else. It is all too easy for a person - whether Christian or unbeliever - to descend without realising it into a form of the occult.
To go to bed expecting to wake up with inspired information for the conduct of one's life is no different from going to God in prayer and waiting for a vision, a burning in the bosom, or some other manifestation for confirmation of something. The Bible clearly teaches that Yahweh does not work like that. Rather, the Lord speaks out of His sovereign will as He pleases at a time and by a means of His own choosing. The fact that the Scriptures teach that in the last days Christians will have dreams and see visions of a prophetic nature does not mean that these will occur on a daily or a regular basis but simply as and when the Lord chooses. The Scriptures absolutely do not teach that all dreams are inspired or from heaven - it is the pagans who teach such dangerous ideas.
To base your life around dreams will, ultimately (if it has not already happened - and it may happen sooner than you think) lead you being led by your carnal self and, ultimately, Satan. There is no harm in daily recording dreams if you have an intellectual interest in the way the human psyche works, but to strain each and every one for a divine message borders on - if it is not actually - witchcraft, and will likely lead you astray. I must therefore urge the greatest of care. Our focus must be on living in Christ by faith by implementing what is already revealed in His Word, the Bible. Whilst God can, and indeed does, break through in our unconscious state to communicate a message to us, this state is for the most part for the recycling of the billions of complex pieces of data which we receive in the course of a day's activities. Our mind, like a computer, is sorting out what is useful from what is not, storing away into different levels of consciousness what by its own judgement (that is, our human judgement) it considers important. And in exactly the same way as we, in our conscious state, make lots of mistakes, so we in our dream state are making mistakes of judgement too. The dream state is, for the most part, simply the continuing process of thinking and analysing data whilst we rest our bodies. It is not a "special" state that Yahweh infallibly uses to reach us while we are in a more relaxed and receptive frame of mind though He may use it because of these things. You cannot predict what Yahweh will do or how He will reveal His will to you - His thoughts and means of communication are simply not like ours. And to think that at one particular time of day and in a particular state of consciousness, or in a particular place, that you have an open window to heaven is nothing more than divination and witchcraft. He may never speak to you in a dream. You should greatly beware.
This page was created on 19 January 2001
Last updated on 19 January 2001
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