In recent posts, we’ve been looking at how to recognize God’s voice and better discern when it is actually Him that we are hearing and who’s guiding us when we form our ideas and make our decisions.
If you’ve missed any of these messages or would like to view them again, you may do so via this link.
Today, as promised in a previous writing, we’re going to review principles taught by Pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Church and 7 questions we can ask to discern whether or not it is really God speaking to us.
Again, as we’ve stated previously, it’s really important that we know how to discern when it’s God talking to us because, if we don’t, it can be fatal.
The Bible says in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that appears to be right but, in the end, it leads to death.”
A lot of evil gets erroneously blamed on God by people who misinterpret and say, “well, God told me to do” such and such.
The Bible also teaches in 1 John 4:1, Don’t believe every message you hear. Just because someone says it’s a message from God. Test it first, to see if it really is.
And, as Rick reminds us; it’s important to realize that, in order for us to be sure that what we’re hearing is actually from God, it must pass each of these 7 tests. Not some of them. Not this one but maybe not that one. All of them.
So, how can you know when it’s God?
Rick refers to this as testing an impression; i.e., could this be the voice of God trying to communicate something to me?
So, here we go.
Here are the 7 questions you should ask of every impression that comes into your mind to determine whether or not it is the voice of God:
- Is it consistent with the Bible?
- Does the thought that I have in my mind; that impression; does it agree with what the Bible says?
- God’s will, will never contradict God’s Word.
- God doesn’t say one thing (through the Bible, His Word) and then, turn around, and say another thing to us.
- If He said it (in His Word) it’s true and it will always be true.
- God is consistent. Unlike His creation, he isn’t moody. He doesn’t change His mind.
- God will never tell you to violate a principle that He’s already given in His Word.
- He will never tell you to ignore or to disobey His Word (the Bible).
- If what I have in my mind contradicts something that God has already said, then I know it’s wrong and that it is NOT God speaking to me.
- God’s Word never changes. (Luke 21:33)
- “Some people will say, ‘God said it, I believe it, that settles it.’ Well, no; if God said it, then it’s true and that settles it whether you believe it or not.” – Pastor Rick Warren
- Will it make me more like Christ?
- Does this thought or idea or decision make me more like Christ?
- Jesus is the standard by which we are to evaluate and measure every impression we may have.
- Every thought; every idea; every philosophy; every fad; every opinion; every decision…Jesus!
- God’s purpose in your life is to make you more like Jesus.
- It’s why God put you here on earth instead of just taking you directly to heaven. He put you here because life is a test and a trust and a decision.
- He wants us to practice the things we are going to do in heaven. He wants us to choose and make the decision to do everything we can to become like Jesus Christ in character.
- Life is difficult. Tests are designed to make us stronger.
- Experiencing the brokenness of this world will allow us to better appreciate the perfection of Heaven.
- The characteristics that Jesus personifies; that we are to strive toward and emulate are spelled out for us in scripture. (Galatians 5:22-23)
- Scripture also tells us what Jesus is and what He isn’t. (James 3:14-18)
- Does my church family confirm it?
- Ask other mature believers, “What do you think of this idea?”
- Have them check your thoughts against God’s word and see what they come back with.
- We were not meant to live this life alone. We are to live life in relationship to other believers.
- He wants to use other people in our lives.
- God has provided us with other believers to help, encourage, convict and hold us accountable.
- Through the church, the manifold wisdom of God shall be made known. (Ephesians 3:10)
- If you have any resistance to telling other believers of the thought you have that you believe is from God, that should be a huge red flag.
- If God has genuinely spoken to you, other believers will be able to tell you whether it makes sense or not; to confirm what He has said as being true. (The same holds true if what you believe you’re hearing is not of the Lord.)
- If mature believers question it, you should question it, too.
- Proverbs 11:9 says, “The wisdom of the righteous can save you.” (GNV)
- Other believers’ wisdom can save you a lot of time, pain (from making a mistake), “dumb tax,” embarrassment, your reputation and even your life.
- One of the biggest reasons we mess up our lives is that either we don’t surround ourselves and engage with Godly friends or we do not listen to our Godly friend’s wisdom and advice.
- Build Godly friends into your life and allow them to test God’s impressions with you. (Proverbs 11:14)
- Is it consistent with how God shaped me?
- Is this idea, thought or impression consistent with what I know God has created me to do in my life? Does it align with the task He’s assigned to me and who He’s created me to be? Does it cause me to become someone I’m not?
- Is it consistent with how God has SHAPED you?
- S = Your Spiritual Gift
- H = Your Heart
- A = Your Abilities
- P = Your Personality
- E = Your Experiences
- You can be anything you want to be is simply not true. You can do what God has shaped you to do. God’s leading will not contradict what He has shaped you to do.
- These 5 things are the things that make you, you and what you are designed to do. If you get an impression “from God” that is totally opposite of what and who you are shaped to be, it didn’t come from God.
- Form follows design. Design follows function. Your shape determines and reveals your purpose.
- What you’re good at (your spiritual gift) is what you should do with the rest of your life.
- The way God formed you determines what He designed you to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
- Unique. Not needing to be anyone else.
- Does it concern my responsibility?
- If it’s not your responsibility, why should God talk to you about it?
- Every believer has direct access to God. If God wants to talk to someone else, he’ll do so. He doesn’t need to go through you. Stop trying to get God’s Word for somebody else. (John 21: 18-22)
- Follow the W.I.T.T.Y. principle; What Is That To You? (John 21: 22)
- We often get in trouble when we ignore the WITTY principle and try to be the God or The Holy Spirit for somebody else.
- Stop being so judgmental toward other people and focus first on yourself.
- When I want to hear God’s voice; when I want to check an impression, I need to listen for me; not for how God may be speaking to/for someone else.
- You must be very careful whenever you believe you may have “received a Word” for someone else. It is more than a bit presumptuous to believe that we can hear God speak for somebody else. (Romans 14:10-13)
- Satan can discredit the Lord’s work when well-meaning Christians assume God’s role. You are not the Holy Spirit.
- God will sometimes use us to speak to others and others to speak to us but there are 3 guidelines to follow if God is going to speak through you to another:
- Be patient and pray. Give God the time and opportunity to speak directly to the other person first and, perhaps have them come to you. (Re-read point #3 above.) Pray that the other person will receive it when God speaks to them directly.
- God will use you to confirm what He has already said to them. (Re-read point #3 above.)
- God usually uses you without you being conscious of it.
- When God wants to use you to speak to another person, He usually does it in a way that you don’t even know He spoke through you.
- Have you ever felt like the pastor teaching the lesson was speaking directly to you? Yeah, all of us have! But the pastor couldn’t possibly have planned or known that.
- God usually uses you without you being conscious of it.
- Is it convicting rather than condemning?
- Conviction comes from God and exposes what’s wrong. He gives it to us to correct us because He loves us and so that we can live the kind of lives He created us to live. He wants to develop our character.
- In conviction, God is just pointing out something in our life that needs to change; so we can know how to live better.
- Condemnation comes from Satan and attacks your value. It’s just to criticize. It is just to accuse you.
- It’s motivated by Satan’s hatred toward you as a child of God.
- It’s a dark cloud of guilt that hangs over you and makes you feel poorly about yourself. That’s not from God. That is from the enemy.
- For there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1 NLT)
- God will point out your sin but He will never attack your value. (Revelation 3:19)
- Condemnation is general, it’s vague and it never goes away.
- Conviction is specific, it’s clear and it goes away as soon as you respond to it (repentance).
- Jesus died on the cross to take our condemnation from us.
- When we recognize and acknowledge this, we will be forgiven and set free.
- This is God’s system of justice.
- Do I sense God’s peace about it?
- If you feel pressure, if you feel overwhelmed, if you feel confused about a decision that you are trying to make, you’re likely caught up more in yourself than you are in God’s voice.
- God is not the author of confusion. (1 Corinthians 14:33)
- There may be pressure if God is telling me to do something and I keep saying, “no.”
- There is always peace when we do what God is asking us to do.
- Satan wants to drive us compulsively.
- God wants to draw us compassionately.
- God is the great encourager. If you’re feeling increasing anxiety and worry about something you think he’s asking you to do, the wires may be crossed and that’s likely not a word from God. (Philippians 4:6-7)
- Even in the midst of life’s storms, you can experience God’s peace when you act in accordance with that which He is (truly) asking you to do.
With all that we’ve experienced in our lives, we can develop doubts, fears and skepticism that cause us to make hearing from God more complicated than He intends it to be. Perhaps it’s why Jesus instructs us to think and become like little children in order to inherit the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)
It’s also why it’s important that in living out our lives as authentic Christians, we frequently and regularly filter every one of our thoughts or impressions through the above 7 questions. In hearing God’s voice, we need to develop the ability to really listen and then follow in what He tells and instructs us.
It’s what I believe Paul likely had in mind as he instructs us to take every thought captive. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
If you’re finding that God’s voice seems silent or quiet; if the transmission seems fuzzy or His message is muted, it may be important to pause and take an honest inventory of your life and how you’re living. Bring and confess to Him any areas in your life where you may not be living as an authentic Christian is called to live. Repent of any wrongdoing or wrong-thinking and ask God to forgive you. Re-commit your life and time to genuinely studying God’s Word and surround yourself with other believers who can help guide and encourage you. Live authentically in the shape in which God has formed you; be yourself – who God created you to be. Accept God’s convicting corrections; block out the condemnation of the enemy and make the changes that will align your life to God’s will for you. And, may the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Right here with you,