Discerning the Voice of the Lord
So you think God has spoken to you, but you’re not completely sure? We’ve all been there. The truth is that sometimes God’s voice is easy to recognize, and sometimes it’s not. If there is a question in your mind about whether or not something you are sensing is from God, ask yourself the following questions.
Is it biblical?
If the answer to this question is no, then you have your answer. God will never tell you to do anything that is contrary to His Word. Even if what you are sensing feels so real and so strong, watch out! There are many spirits in the world but only one Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit will never contradict the Scriptures.
Is this causing confusion in my heart?
If the answer to this question is yes, then what you are sensing probably is not from God because God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). Jesus likened His people to sheep, and sheep are very easily frightened and confused. God may challenge us to think differently about things or to reach out to new levels of faith, but He doesn’t create confusion or the doubt and strife that often accompany it.
Is this producing peace in my heart?
Jesus’s voice comes with an awareness of heavenly peace. In contrast, the devil uses urgency, pressure, and fear to drive people. There can certainly be exceptions to this rule. Sometimes the Lord speaks words of correction and rebuke. There are also situations when the word of the Lord is time sensitive and immediate action is required.
But most of the time when God speaks, it is not a driving, demanding, high-pressure: “You have to do this right now or else!” word. If you believe God is speaking to warn you of imminent danger and you must react quickly, then do so. But if you believe God is speaking to you to quit your job, sell your house, and go to the mission field before next Thursday, it might be best to slow down a bit, get into the Word, and seek some godly counsel.
Have I quieted my desires and self-interest?
The voice of our own longings, interests, and opinions can easily be confused with God’s voice. To make sure what we are hearing is from God, we must identify our desires and self-interests and, as an intentional act of our will, neutralize them. The louder the voice of our own will, the quieter God’s voice will be. Conversely, the quieter the voice of our own will, the louder God’s voice will be. Therefore, if what you are sensing grows quieter as you silence your desires, then it is not from God. But if what you are sensing grows stronger as you neutralize your own desires, then it just might be from the Holy Spirit.
Have you ever been in a crowded place, such as a shopping mall at Christmastime, and heard the sound of someone you love calling out your name? Despite all the noise, Christmas music, and multitudes of busy shoppers, you recognized the familiar sound above everything else because it was someone you love.
God seldom speaks to strangers who have no time for him, and even if He did, they would not recognize His voice. He loves to speak to people who love Him and desire to live their lives in His presence. He draws near to those who, as an act of their will, have drawn near to Him (James 4:8). The more time we spend alone with Him seeking His face through prayer and worship, the easier it becomes to hear and immediately recognize His voice in our hearts. The greater our love for Him, the more finely tuned our ears will become to hear the sound of His voice.
God does speak to His people by His Spirit. The challenge is in learning to hear and then having the determination, faith, and love to simply obey what He is saying. We can all hear the voice of God if we will learn to listen. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).
Pray today and take time to really listen. Sit and be still in the presence of our Heavenly Father. Open up your heart to Him for He is speaking to you – just listen!