Dear Dr. B,
How can I know the difference between God’s voice, my voice and the enemy’s voice? I know God speaks, I’m just not sure which voice is His.
A Concerned Listener
Your question is one that many Christ-followers have asked at some point in their journey! I’m so glad you asked because the enemy would like you to believe that you can’t hear God’s voice, but the truth is God is speaking all the time—we just have to learn to become more attuned to hearing His voice and discerning the difference between His voice and the enemy’s voice.
Scripture says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27 NIV).
While I will endeavor to share with you here a few rules of thumb that I follow, let me remind you that if you are ever unsure of which voice you are hearing, Scripture tells us that “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5 NIV).
It’s important to keep in mind that God’s voice will never contradict Scripture. So you can always take what you are hearing and look to see if it is consistent with what God’s word has already said. If it is, you can be fairly assured that you have heard God’s voice. God will never tell you to do something that would contradict what His word has said. He would never tell a woman, for example, that it’s okay for her to have an affair with another woman’s husband. That would be something the enemy would say.
God gives us the ability to think. We are capable of our own independent thoughts and we will frequently have thoughts such as “I’m hungry” or “I’m tired.” But it’s also important to keep in mind that the enemy will also speak to us in the form of thoughts in the first-person singular, such as “I can’t do this.” We must take those thoughts and determine if they are consistent with God’s word. If they are not, then those are not our thoughts–they are the voice of the enemy trying to influence us. In this example, that is not consistent with God’s word, which says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Some other basic principles that you can apply to help you discern if the voice you are hearing are God’s or the enemy’s are:
God’s voice will convict but in love, whereas the enemy’s voice will bring guilt and condemnation.
God’s voice will encourage and reassure, whereas the enemy’s voice will discourage and frighten.
God’s voice will lead, guide, and still. The enemy will push and rush.
God’s voice will calm us. The enemy will make us obsess and worry.
God’s voice will bring comfort. The enemy’s voice will bring chaos and compromise.
God’s voice will bring clarity and confirmation. The enemy’s voice brings confusion.
God’s voice will bring Christ closer. The enemy’s voice brings controlling spirits.
God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us in all truth. When you are in doubt about which voice you are hearing, ask God by the power of the Holy Spirit to guide you in truth and He will. In His word, He has promised to teach you the truth, and it is the truth that He says “sets you free!”
Because of Him,
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