by Pastor Tim Burt
Over the years, a multitude of Christians have confided with me that they sometimes struggle to identify if the voice trying to guide them is God’s voice or the devil. On the surface, that may sound odd, but the truth is, it’s not odd at all. It is a point of confusion for many Christians and no one should feel stupid or shamed for it. God wants us to know His voice. Jesus said in John 10:27 (TLB) “My sheep recognize my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Was Jesus wrong about knowing His voice? Of course not. But, recognizing His voice is also connected to being His sheep and being His sheep is connected to following Him.
Many people have sincerely given their lives to Jesus but don’t necessarily know how to follow Him because that requires learning His Word which means being taught His Word. Not every believer goes to church. Not every believer reads their Bible. And because that’s the case, they aren’t regularly hearing from God or learning His Word—something a good Bible teaching church helps us do.
Some people pray and give their life to the Lord, but they don’t go to church, don’t know other Christians, and don’t read the Bible. But when they prayed and asked Jesus to be their Lord and Savior, it was a sincere and real experience. I know a person like that. He gave his life to Jesus at a Promise Keeper’s event but then stayed in the church he grew up in. The church he grew up in never encourages anyone to read the Bible. The only Bible scriptures he ever hears are just short readings with no teaching or explanation of what they mean. And so he loves God but is Bible illiterate.Learning to discern God’s voice requires a relationship with God which in turn requires reading and learning God’s word. The more time you spend learning about God and His love and heart toward you, the more you are going to experience the person of God in your life, understand His ways, and experience an intimate relationship with Him. And so, learning to hear the voice of God is a progressive experience rooted in learning God’s word with and from others. This is where the discerning of God’s voice begins to be developed.
On the same token, people do hear voices in their head. Usually it’s their own voice they hear. When you are thinking, you are thinking in your own voice. When Satan tries to get in your head and lie about God, again, it’s going to sound like your voice. And when God speaks to you, it will be in your own voice. And for this reason, people get confused!
And so, at times, it seems like we have an angel speaking on one side and the devil on the other. And we get confused. That is until we learn and can discern God’s voice from the voice of the devil.
The key to knowing the voice is not the sound of the voice. The key to learning to discern God’s voice is to know His character and to know Satan’s character. It’s not about the sound of the voice. It’s about what the voice is saying.
I’ll give you an easy example. If someone said to a close friend of mine, I heard Tim Burt when he was really angry and he was swearing and cussing like a drunken sailor. My friend who knew me well would respond, I don’t know who you think you heard, but it wasn’t Tim Burt. He never swears. In 40 years I’ve never heard him swear once. You’ve got the wrong guy. And he would be right because I haven’t swore and wouldn’t and my friend knows me well enough to know that.
That wasn’t about a voice. That was about character. And God is all about character. He is nothing like the devil. Regarding His character vs Satan’s character, Jesus said, “The thief (Satan) does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 (NKJV) Jesus wasn’t revealing the sound of the voice between the two of them, but the difference in character. And that is where discerning God’s voice begins—learning God’s character from Satan’s. And discerning God’s voice is to know that He loves you, is for you, and wants to help you, not judge you or hurt you. More in part 2 of this post on discerning God’s voice!
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT2) “For I know the
plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not
for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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