Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God: for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in my personal life. Many wrong relationships where I turned away from God. Now I know that I was listening to my own voice, or Satan was tempting or tantalizing me with promises of riches and happiness.
I’m working on my listening skills. I used to listen for God’s wisdom, and hearing nothing, I would think, “Must be okay to move ahead with what I want.” When I was confused, I’d say “Yes” instead of “No”. Two guys have asked me out in the past 6 months. As part of the invitation, they told me they were “divorce pending”: filed, but not yet final. “But, it’s an amiable divorce, she doesn’t care if I date,” was one explanation. The other, “We’ve grown apart over the years. The divorce will take a long time because we have a business to dissolve and two teenage boys. We’ve agreed we can both date while we work through all this.”
In both cases I said “Yes”, when the correct answer was “No.”
We all long to be emotionally connected to God. We want to hear his voice every time we ask a question; we want clear direction. But there are many voices in my head, and they can’t all be God. When the first married guy asked me out, I didn’t hear anything when I asked for guidance. Just deafening silence. When the second guy asked me out, I did receive an answer. “Go ahead and have some fun. You deserve it. You haven’t dated in the 2 years since your divorce. You need to get back in the dating scene. His wife doesn’t love him anymore and he needs companionship. He could be “Mister Right”.
Both relationships were a flash in the pan; didn’t make it past the first date. Both were Mr. Wrong.
The important question: “How do I know when it is God’s voice in my head, directing my paths, protecting me from evil, and bringing me closer to Him?”
Marshall Shelley in Deepening Your Ministry Through Prayer and Personal Growth has developed a personal checklist to help him discern God’s voice so that he isn’t led by his own personal imaginings, or fooled by Satan’s temptations, accusations, or deceit.
I’ve adopted Shelley’s list to help me figure out “Is it God’s voice, Satan, or me?”
1. God speaks gently in a gentle whisper rather than as a voice that is demanding like a used-car salesman. God isn’t pushy; he seldom urges sudden action without giving us time to reason through the issue.
2. God’s voice produces freedom. Satan loves to put people into bondage; a heavy burden. God loves to set us free. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).
3. God speaks when we are consciously seeking him, when we are listening for the Holy Spirit to talk to our spirit. Both my voice and Satan’s voice butt in and inject doubts or thoughts into my head when I’m not thinking about the issue at all.
4. God speaks the truth, whereas Satan says to me “You’re no good,” or “Nobody loves you.” Satan speaks these half-truths to unbalance me, to make me despair. God’s voice will never run counter to His word. God loves me; I was made in His image. Seek written wisdom in the Bible and God’s voice will echo it in your spirit.
5. God convicts of specific sins like, “Yesterday at 4PM you were inappropriately judgmental and didn’t act with love toward a co-worker.” Satan just says, “You are unworthy, you always are judgmental, you are such a sinner, you’ve been a failure at everything your whole life.”
6. God does not confuse; He won’t send mixed signals. If you are confused, the answer is “No, I won’t make this decision until I hear clear direction.” Satan is the author of confusion, keeping you second guessing every decision and keeping you off balance.
I pray that you will become accustomed to distinguishing God’s voice and if you don’t hear Him right away, you will become accustomed to waiting, with patience, on God.
Blessings, my friend,