How Do You Know When You Have Heard God’s Voice?
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10
Have you discovered that when someone says, “God told me to do something,” we think that either we are confronted with a deeply spiritual individual or someone who needs a psychiatrist?
Yet some who think they are constantly hearing the voice of God are not in need of mental health care, but they do need help–they confuse the voice of God with the voice of religion and the voice of our culture and our world.
There’s an interesting phrase in an Old Testament book which speaks of three voices which confront us today–the voice of the city, the voice of organized religion, and the separate and distinct voice of God. You’ll find these interesting phrases in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, chapter 66, verse six. In this section, Isaiah mentions three voices: the voice of the Lord, the uproar from the city, and the noise which came from the temple.
The first, the voice of the city, was a voice of uproar, the voice of turmoil. It represents the way life is today. Instead of coming in neat little packages, life is often noisy, confusing, and bewildering. So much of today drowns out the still, quiet voice of God: media, schedules, interruptions, the noise of responsibility, and the clutter of activity.
The second voice was the voice from the temple. It should have been clear and serene, but it wasn’t. It was the voice of organized religion. Isaiah had condemned the priests who had become corrupt and no longer were pure. Today, as in Isaiah’s day, you have to use discernment to sift the true from the false.
The third voice, the voice of God, is still the one which is clear and true. In the latter third of Isaiah’s book, God spoke comfort to His people caught in the midst of distress. It’s a message of consolation and hope, regardless of the chaos of the world about us. It isn’t just a positive, “Everything’s going to be OK,” but rather it is a clear, concise statement of the fact God will not forsake His people no matter how calamitous our world.
The good news is that you can still hear His voice saying, “This is the way; walk over here!” But how do you really know when we have heard God’s voice?
A few thoughts to help you answer that question, which isn’t as tough as you might think. First–God’s voice is a quiet, still one. It never comes drowning out the clamor of our world. You’ve got to listen carefully. The Psalmist records the prompting of God who said, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). The words translated, “Be still,” mean “stop striving,” or “cease what you are doing.” This often means time out from the activities which tire you–which push you to the wall; but time in His Word, in His presence.
Second thought: His voice almost always speaks contrary to what our old natures want to do, but never contrary to what His Word, the Bible says. This means that what God usually wants you to do comes with a price attached to it. The ways of God and the ways of our old, sinful natures are always pitted against each other. You don’t find a great many people willing to honestly say, “Lord, I’m willing to walk the narrow path, provided you walk with me.”
The third thought which you need to remember about the voice of God is that what He asks you to do will glorify Himself–not ourselves.
Resource reading: Psalm 103