It’s been said that God’s voice, your own voice, and the enemy’s voice sounds very similar in our head. However, when we look throughout the Bible, we see the Lord asking His people to listen to His voice. It’s fair to assume that the Lord wouldn’t ask us to listen to His voice if it was impossible to hear. Instead, the Lord speaks often. We, in return, must have the “ears to hear.” In other words, our level of attentiveness and choice to spend time with Him will put us in the best position to know His voice clearly. When we follow any other voice, we are certain to set ourselves up for defeat and to become prisoners to our own thoughts and the schemes of the enemy.
The Lord calls himself the Shepherd throughout the scriptures. This metaphor is intentional as a shepherd is serious about his job. With great care, he cares over His flock ensuring that all are well taken care of, accounted for, and protected from things that would bring them harm. Though the shepherd cares for many, he is intentional about each one. His job is to never lead them astray and their response is to simply listen and follow. When we know that God has our best interest at heart, we can trust his leading and follow His voice wholeheartedly. Our response is to ensure we know His voice and follow without reservation.
With this in mind, here are seven questions to ask yourself to determine if God is speaking to you.
1.) Does it line up to the Word?
The first way to know God is speaking or not speaking is to line the voice you hear with the Word of God. The truth is God will not go against His word. He will not speak to you in a way that would cause him to do negate what He’s already said or that would contradict His holiness. For example, God would never speak to a woman that someone else’s husband is supposed to be hers. In the same way, God wouldn’t encourage you to do anything that we see reflected in Galatians 5:19-21. These things go against the will of God. In fact, if you feel the urge to participate it is likely that your own flesh or the enemy is leading you.
2.) Does it bring condemnation?
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1
In the Biblical sense, condemnation refers to a strong dislike that deserves harsh punishment. Often times, when we commit a sin the enemy tries to bring condemnation. We will hear voices in our head that put us to shame and have us question how can someone like us be forgiven? The Holy Spirit does bring conviction. The difference here is the Lord will remind you that you are better than the trespass and encourage you to not do it again. However, because God is speaking, instead of causing you torment, you will feel the urge to change your actions. God’s voice will motivate you through correction but not leave you with immense shame. Condemnation causes you to focus on your weakness; conviction reminds you that God can give you the strength to overcome your weakness.
3.) Does it reflect God’s character?
When God speaks, it reflects His heart towards you and other people. Chances are if there is a voice that causes contradicts God’s unconditional love, it is not from God. When we have thoughts about hatred, envy, deception, or shame, this contradicts His leading. However, the best way to know His character is through a relationship. As we seek to spend more quiet time with Him, we can easily discern if the words we are hearing lines up with who He is. From Genesis to Revelation, we find a God who is just, loyal, loving, and attentive to His people. This is why studying the Word of God is so important. The more we learn His ways, the more we can readily know when He is speaking. He will simply not compromise His character or goodness.
4.) Does it challenge you to do better?
The Lord has no issue with speaking a word of correction. We see this throughout the Old Testament with the Israelites and in the New Testament with the disciples. In countless instances, the Lord encourages His people to trust Him and do what He has asked. Often times, when the Lord brings correction in my life it is a confirmation of what I already know I should have done or not done. The interesting thing is that God will often use a person to bring the challenge. We have to be willing to have “ears to hear” when God wants to speak, even if we don’t prefer the messenger God uses. It would be unlikely that the enemy will never send a voice of encouragement to do the “right thing.” God, however, desires for you to live a life that is righteous. He will challenge us to make every effort to be holy. Though He recognizes we are merely humans and struggle with sin, He will speak to us when we miss the mark. Our goal is to not become so stubborn within our sin that we are closed to wanting to make a change.
5.) Does it cause pain?
The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy-John 10:10
It is his desire to rob you from the goodness that God has in store. One way to decipher if God is speaking is to ask yourself three questions.
Does this thought steal something from me? (My strength, my positivity, my desire)
Does it kill or will it kill me or someone else? (Emotionally, mentally or physically)
Could it destroy something important to me? (My relationship, my career, my health)
Chances are if you can answer yes to these questions about a voice that’s leading you, it's not God’s voice. His voice will not lead you towards destruction but towards life and wellness. For this reason, we must be keenly aware of the enemy’s tricks when it comes to the battlefield of our mind. Learning how the enemy speaks is a very important aspect of our Christian journey. Without an awareness of the distinct difference between God’s voice and the enemy’s voice, we can easily fall prey to the devices of the enemy.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8-9
6.) Does it bring peace?
Even when the Lord brings conviction, He also brings peace. Often times we have anxiety over situations when we have failed to listen to His voice. Though we will face times when we are unsure which path to take, the Lord speaks calm, steadiness, patience, endurance, and peace over circumstances. I believe, this is why we can encounter a person in the worst trial of their life who still has joy and peace. Simply put, they have made a choice to follow the Shepherd’s voice and trust Him for the journey ahead. When we learn to fully trust the Lord, we can feel immense peace and a sense of rest when He leads us to do something, even when it is uncomfortable. If the Lord speaking to you brings a sense of anxiety, depression, or fear, it is likely that the Lord’s voice is not the one speaking in this situation.
7.) Has He sent confirmation?
For life-changing decisions, God may also send confirmation that you are on the right path. It can be through a dream (Job 33:14-15) or another source. Oftentimes, God will send a person to speak to you in passing on the very thing you were praying for. I have also experienced the Lord confirming His word through my children bringing up a topic or a television shows that echoes the same sentiment. As Pastor Robert Madu says, “God can speak to you in absolutely any situation if we are willing to hear it.”
Overall, as Christians, we must seek His voice with great intentionality. By following His lead, we know that we will always be in the hands of a Shepherd who seeks to care for us and keep us out of danger. When we learn to follow His voice, we can quickly cast away every thought that is not from Him (2 Corinthians 10:5). In this, the believer is empowered to live the life that God has called them to from the beginnings of the Earth without fear.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: John 10:27
*The above article was originally published on Ibelieve.com. *