Many people claim to hear God. Lots of certifiably crazy people who choose to do very wicked things claim to hear God. Cults are born from charismatic leaders who claim to hear God. Spiritually abusive pastors persuade sincere followers to give exorbitant amounts of money and time by claiming they’ve heard God. Husbands forsake wives and children to connect with beautiful young “soul mates” because they said they heard God.
Personally, I’ve had thoughts invade my mind in the midst of desperately trying to hear God, and I wonder, “God, how do I really know if this is You?”
I think that’s why “hearing God’s voice” gets such a bad rap in conservative Christian circles. And why devoting an entire blog to hearing God’s voice, puts me in the fringe. And why certain Christian book publishers won’t even touch the subject due to the “controversy” surrounding it. I kinda don’t blame them…there’s so much room for error.
Not only do we have all our own fleshly interpretations, but we also have an Enemy who would like nothing more than to confuse us. Satan hates us. He wants to destroy us. He is a liar. He will do his best to deceive us into thinking we hear God’s voice when we don’t. Or he’ll muffle God’s voice with other, louder voices. Or he’ll try to convince us God doesn’t really speak at all.
It can all become quite frustrating. It can make us want to put our hands over our spiritual ears and say “LALALALALALALALALA.”
That is, only if you forget that God created you to hear His voice. And only if you forget that He desperately wants to communicate with you. God does NOT want you to be confused. He’s not playing games with you.
Turns out, God has given us a number of filters we can use to test the voices we hear. We really CAN know if it’s God or not.
God’s Voice, Filter One: Does the voice contradict the Bible?
We’ve already established that whenever God speaks, He never contradicts the written Word of God—the Bible. (Newsflash: this filter alone eliminates a good portion of God-said-to-me-claims: things like poisoning people with kool-aid and committing adultery.)
But what about the church leader who actually uses Scripture to persuade you to be at the church serving every single night at the expense of your marriage? Or the “prophetic word” you receive telling you to take a certain career path? Or how about the pressure you feel to put your kids in a private school, even when you don’t have the funds to pay for a private school? Or the call you receive to take on the extra commitment? Buy the new house? Get the surgery? Take the short-term mission trip?
Where are the scriptures for these specific situations? How in the world can we tell when to accept the thought, the voice, the prophetic word as “safe” or to toss it “out” and run the other way?
Let me introduce you to God’s Voice, Filter Two: Do I Feel Peace?
“And let the peace (soul harmony which comes from) Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds…” Colossians 3:15 (Amplified)
God has given us a built-in umpire. It is the peace of God. It’s job is to rule with finality all the questions that arise in our minds. It is an attribute of the Almighty, because God is the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) It is the fruit of His Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)
With it, God promises to guard our hearts and our minds: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6)
With it, God promises to lead us: “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.” (Isaiah 55:12)
So, does that mean that every time we get the warm fuzzies, it is God speaking to us? Does lack of conflict indicate God’s direction?
This is why we must continue this discussion…Next time, we’ll take a look at some things we may misinterpret as God’s peace. And then we’ll look at some more filters.