How to Discern the Voice of God
In our lifetime, there are many voices that can influence our behavior, our thoughts, and even the direction in which we head. Among those voices are the voice of God, the voice of the devil, the voice of outsiders, our family, and even our own thoughts. The voices that you heed begin to shape you as a person and even have the power to influence your future.
However, above any other distraction, God desires to connect and have a relationship with us that is strengthened by mutual communication.
Scripture makes it clear that God still speaks.
“My sheep hear my voice…”John 10:27
Although hearing the voice of God is important, what matters just as much, is us choosing to obey His instructions. The Bible gives us examples in the Old and New Testament where people heard the voice of God, and although that was a big moment in itself, the lives, cities, and histories of people were truly changed as a result of that person’s obedience or the lack thereof.
For instance, when God put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He gave them His Word in the form of a spoken commandment. Adam knew the voice of God but chose to disobey it, costing Adam his paradise.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”Genesis 2:15-17
His disobedience of God’s instruction caused the fall of all of humanity. But, we see in another instance in the New Testament where the obedience of Jesus was portrayed and what that decision brought about.
When Jesus was in the wilderness, He was tempted by the voice of the devil. Even while hearing the temptations that the devil offered Jesus, He chose to not heed to that distraction and resisted, standing strong on the Word of God (See Matthew 4; Luke 4).
In contrast to Adam, Jesus’ obedience brought forth the restoration of man to God, forever.
The success of our Christian lives does not hinge on merely hearing the voice of God, but rather, following through in obedience to what God’s voice is saying.
Hearing the voice of the devil, your critics, and the people around you who do not serve Christ should not destroy your life as long as you do not ask for their suggestions and/or advice.
God is constantly trying to guide and direct your life, and in order to act on and obey His voice, you need to be able to distinguish His voice from the rest.
5 Ways to Help You Discern The Voice of God
1. Does it line up with the Bible?
God will not tell you something that goes contrary to the Bible. When Eve was tempted, the devil’s temptations directly contradicted what God had spoken. God clearly told Adam that eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge will cause death.
“…But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”Genesis 2:17
But the serpent convinced Eve otherwise.
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.Genesis 3:4
Satan always contradicts or distorts the Word of God. Although at that time, there was no written Bible, they did have the command of God which stated the direction and guidelines which they were to follow. Today we need to compare everything we hear with the written Word of God.
When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he again took the Word of God out of context and twisted it to tempt Jesus. Jesus countered that by speaking “It is written” and quoting the true Word of God.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”Matthew 4:4
When you are trying to discern God’s voice, while combating other voices, your best line of defense is to know the Word of God.
If you want to sharpen your sensitivity to the voice of God, you can do this by reading and studying the Word of God daily. Meditate, confess, and obey the Word of God.
The written Word of God is your foundation, your filter, and your guideline to discerning God’s voice. His voice will never contradict His Word.
God’s voice will never contradict His Word.
2. What does your inner witness say?
If you feel God is speaking to you, is there confirmation in your spirit?
Although sometimes we may feel emotional about a situation, or even see pictures in our mind in regards to something or someone, this may or may not be God speaking. It is important for you to calm your emotions down, lower the distractions in your life, and get into the presence of God through worship and the meditation of His Word.
Then when you find yourself in the presence of God, what is it you feel/sense? Does the inner witness of your spirit confirm or deny what you initially felt or heard?
Romans teaches us that,
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”Romans 8:16
Sometimes people have soulish ideas that are more emotional in nature or more mental. However, your spirit is where the Holy Spirit connects and communicates with you.
In your spirit, you will know and will be assured.
In your soul, you may feel or think.
The Holy Spirit speaks only into your spirit, not your soul.
When you calm down the noise and chatter of your soul in the presence of God, and yield your distractions to Him by delighting yourself in His presence, you’ll be able to hear the confirmation and inner witness of your spirit more clearly. Your spirit bears witness to what the Holy Spirit says.
Proverbs teaches that,
“The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart.”Proverbs 20:27
Therefore, God will light the lamp; the lamp will provide light, and the light will provide illumination. In other words, the voice of God will provide illumination and direction in that particular area of your life through your spirit. This is why a relationship with the Holy Spirit is so important, and quieting or yielding yourself to God is so essential.
3. Do you have peace about it?
God’s voice carries peace or “shalom” with it. God’s nature is peace because He is the Prince of Peace. When Jesus spoke to the storm, His peace came over the situation.
And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm.Luke 8:24
Sometimes you will know God is not speaking when there is an absence of peace, and instead, you feel the presence of tension or doubt. This is a red flag that God is not leading you.
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”Colossians 3:15
One translation of this verse explains that the word “rule” can also mean to “be a referee or umpire.” God should be somebody who calls the shots and settles all of the issues of the heart. God will use His peace as a way to confirm His perfect will.
When God is leading you, He will use His peace as a way to confirm His perfect will.
4. Are things falling into place?
Are the circumstances in your situation lining up?
Sometimes it may happen that you are certain that God is speaking and leading you, but circumstances do not seem to support you. Circumstances alone are not an indication that this is what God is saying or speaking, however, typically, when the Lord is moving He will begin to line things up for you.
In the story of Gideon, we see that the Lord aligned things into place before He started moving in his favor.
Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.” And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground.Judges 6:39
God is the God of nature, and at times, God can cause things to line up for us as a confirmation that He is, indeed, in charge of the situation and that He is leading us.
Another example of this is in the story of Abraham’s servant who was supposed to find a wife for Isaac (read Genesis 24). He prayed a simple prayer and God helped him; the things he prayed about fell into place.
It is also important to note that if you feel spiritual warfare concerning the word that you received, it can also be a sign that God is indeed speaking to you. You will know the difference in your spirit.
5. What do your trusted mentors say?
What do your trusted mentors, spiritual fathers/mothers, and prophetic voices in your life say? Are they confirming the word, or do they see a red flag? Often the prophetic voices in your life declare something that God has already communicated to you.
For example, Paul had a deep desire to go to Rome to preach, but prophets warned him that he would be bound and put in jail if he proceeded. They tried to convince him not to go. However, to Paul, the words of the prophets were just a confirmation of what he already knew—he needed to go to Rome.
And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.Acts 20:22-24
It is important for us to lean on other believers to help us discern God’s voice in our lives. If you are married and are receiving a word from God, ask your spouse to pray about what you are hearing. Do not just rush into something that can change your life and affect your family without the confirmation and support of the people that you trust.
There may be instances where God will guide you and lead you in line with His Word, your inner witness, and circumstance, but you will not find support from people around you. This happens as well; just keep praying for a deeper conviction in your spirit.
This was true of the Prophet Micah who clearly and truly heard from God while the other prophets missed it.
As you grow in your relationship with God, make sure to also develop relationships with your pastors, prophets, and people who really do hear the Lord and ask them to speak into your situation. This will allow you to walk under a covering of wisdom; and if you miss something, they may be able to catch it and guide you appropriately.
May God bless you as you sincerely seek His voice and direction.
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