Whose voice are we hearing?

Last weekend, a bunch of us went to Omaui camp to spend the day listening to God.  And all of us reported back at the end of the day that they had heard from God and chose to share what they had heard.  This is the same process the Leadership team uses at its annual Vision retreats.  But the question is always asked: who am I hearing?  Is it just me, is it God, is it the devil?

The great evangelist Smith Wigglesworth wrote: “If God definitely tells you to do anything, do it, but be sure it is God who is telling you.”  

We need some measure that can help us determine who we are hearing.

In the newsletter is a summary of this discernment process which you can keep. You may want to add other thoughts as well.

We know that the demonic spiritual realm can mimic the word of God. Satan is described in 2 Corinthians 11:14 as masquerading as an angel of light  and that “Satan has a counterfeit for everything of God that is possible for him to copy”.  
Remember Simon the magician doing signs and wonders in Acts 8:9-11. Remember in Exodus 7:22 the exhibition of God’s power through Moses and Aaron in the court of the Pharaoh. Each of the miracles was copied by the Pharaoh’s magicians 

Satan knows Scripture as well and can quote it (as he did to Jesus in the wilderness). “Satan can trap us ... by pushing us overboard on some spiritual tangent... Satan can quote Scripture, talking about spiritual things, impressing upon us great religious fervour” 

But the better we know God's voice, the more obvious Satan's counterfeit words will be. 

So today I want to give you some tools on discerning who you are hearing from.

There are 6 major differences between words from God and words from the enemy:
o First, while Satan lies, Christ does not. 
o Secondly, Satan suggests shortcuts. 
o Thirdly, whilst God calls for repentance, Satan will try to justify sin. 
o Fourthly, while God unites, Satan always strives to divide. 
o Fifth, Satan fosters pride but God brings humility. 
o Finally Satan will always try to excuse questionable means by highlighting the good. 

In a study on the Vineyard Church a researcher found 4 tests that that church uses:
The first test was whether what you had heard or imagined was the kind of thing you would say or imagine anyway: if it was, you had no need to wonder about an external being’s presence in your mind.
The second test was whether it was the kind of thing that God would say or imply. 
The third test was whether the revelation could be confirmed through circumstances or through other people’s prayers. 
The final test was the feeling of peace.” 

We will talk more on some of these criteria.

Another set of questions we could ask ourselves:
o Firstly, will my decision honour God? 
o Secondly, are we are looking for an excuse to quit. 
o Thirdly, what does the Bible says about the situation. 
o Fourth, do I have peace about this decision? 

It is often said that “one way we can tell the difference between the voice of God and a counterfeit is the sense of peace. The voice that speaks peace is of God; the voice that speaks urgency is either of Satan or comes from your own human nature. God leads, Satan pushes.” 

The spirit of God’s voice has been described as being “a spirit of exalted peacefulness and confidence, or joy, of sweet reasonableness, and of will for the good.” 

But this is not necessarily the case. God can bring uneasiness rather than peace: “When the Holy Spirit speaks he may speak in positive guidance, or he may use negative guidance. And negative guidance, which often shows itself by the disruption of inner peace, may be a preventative guidance to keep us away from harm which we will never know about (unless we fail to heed the guidance)” 

A sense of peace cannot alone be the determinant of the source. 

Another way of checking who you are hearing is to think about the nature of the voice what we are hearing.  

The voice of the subconscious argues with you, tries to convince you; but the inner voice of God does not argue, does not try to convince you. It just speaks, and it is self-authenticating. It has the feel of the voice of God within it.” 

 “When God speaks he does not use fear to motivate. If fear overcomes you, it is the enemy speaking, not God”.  

We know this because 2 Tim 1:7 says: for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

 “Any voice which promises total exemption from suffering and failure is most certainly not God’s word” 

There are times when we hear God but there is no specific bible passage that relates to our situation:  choice of marriage partner, change of job, shifting cities, which car to buy, and so on. 

But we can still use the Bible as a guide: “We must be alert to any voice that is in contrast with the weight, spirit and content of God’s voice, for that may signify that we are under subtle attack.”   

It is so easy to proof text the Bible: find a verse that says what we want it to, but we are urged to think of the principles and overall focus of the Bible in confirming a word from God.
“The content of a word that is truly from God will always conform to and be consistent with the truths about God’s nature and kingdom that are made clear in the Bible.”  

“God does not contradict himself. Nor does he make things up as he goes...Whatever God is doing today will be based on what he did yesterday. History is important...This will help you determine if the word you receive today matches or contradicts God's activity to this point.”  

So it is important for our discernment process to know what the Bible actually says, and to ask for confirmation from others who have some knowledge of what the Bible says.

Despite all this advice, discernment of God’s voice is not a clear science, because “Sometimes the Lord speaks with a loud thunder, other times he speaks in a still small voice” 

What is clear is that this discernment is the product of experience. Learning to discern the voice of God is a skill, and it can be learned, but there are no two circumstances alike.”  

 “The only way to develop the ability to discriminate between the voice of God and other voices is by experience, by use.”  

 “You will learn to recognise God’s voice as different from your ordinary thoughts. You will feel different when you hear God.”  “There is often a sense of excitement, conviction, faith, vibrant life, awe or peace that accompanies receiving God's word.” 

Does a mother know the cry of her own child in a crowded daycare?  Does a wife know the voice of her husband in a crowded airport? If we know those, then a close relationship with God will mean we will recognise his voice above the noise and clutter in our minds.

 “Practice hearing God’s voice and it becomes easier. It’s like picking up the phone and recognising the voice of your best friend – you know his voice because you have heard it so much...Relationship is the most important reason for hearing the voice of God.” 

Could I suggest offer another discernment from a pastor: The voices have a divine origin only if they result in changes of behaviour, which are morally significant; those who hear voices but whose behaviour does not then immediately change in any way are unlikely to have really heard God’s voice. In those cases he may judge the voices to be mistaken, physiological or satanic. 

Don't be hasty to move forward until you are satisfied you are responding to God. Spend time with God. Learn to recognize his voice. It will be the most important thing you do .

The more you listen to God, the better your hearing of him will be.  Spend time with God without distraction and ask him to speak to you.  You will be forever changed.