How do I know if God is the One speaking to me?
Is it His voice I’m hearing?
Or just my own?
How do I know the difference?
There are many instances I’ve struggled to know if I’m hearing from God or not.
There are times when I am confident in what the Lord is telling me and I know it is Him….
But there have been times when I’ve questioned if it’s really His voice…
And I get confused. My mind is bombarded with too many thoughts.
I know I’m not the only one.
I’ve talked to countless people who also wrestle with discerning the difference between God’s voice and their own…God’s voice and other voices…God’s voice and people’s voices.
So this is an important topic to address.
We can’t always silence the other influences in our lives: friends, family, media, readings, church, the world, etc.
But we can change the volume on these voices.
My prayer is that God’s voice would be the loudest voice you hear.
May we give God full attention and the highest volume to speak to us.
Reading through Romans 8 we can see how the duality of the spirit and the flesh plays a part in our ability to hear from God.
For if we desire to hear from God, we can only hear Him through the indwelling Holy Spirit that lives within us, sent by Jesus after He left the earth.
We cannot hear from God through our flesh.
It’s not possible.
So I want us to look at this passage and embrace what it means to live by the Spirit and not the flesh, so that we can live in the sweet spot of discerning God’s voice.
“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according the Spirit set their minds on things of the Spirit.
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.”
Look at the contrasting terms “Spirit” and “flesh.”
Throughout this passage, Paul declares that the flesh leads to death and the spirit leads to life. Yet He also declares that through Christ, we no longer live according to our flesh. Now, we live according to the Spirit. And the Spirit gives us life and peace. It leads us. It guides us.
And if we are in Christ, we possess the Holy Spirit!
We have way more assurance than we realize when it comes to hearing God’s voice.
Because hearing God’s voice requires the Holy Spirit.
And anyone following Jesus has the Holy Spirit living within! The Holy Spirit overpowers the flesh, so that we operate according to how the Spirit of Christ leads us not the flesh.
In verse 7, Paul says that a mind set on the flesh is hostile to God. The flesh does not want to hear from God.
A mind that is hostile to God is never seeking to hear God’s voice.
That’s just not a priority of the flesh.
My flesh wants what I want not what God wants.
Recognizing this is important!
Because… if I desire to hear God’s voice, then I know I’m not operating according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Thus… if I am operating according to the Spirit in seeking to hear from God, then I can be sure that God will speak to me through His Spirit in return.
But what if I am seeking by the Spirit to hear from God but then my own thoughts get in the way and I confuse my own thoughts as God’s voice?
Throughout my years following the Lord and seeking to hear His voice, though I still struggle, what I am learning is there are CONSISTENT INDICATORS in 1) hearing God’s voice or 2) misinterpreting another voice for God’s that is not God.
→ If you’re unsure if the Lord is truly speaking to you in any way, filter it through this list of indicators to discern if it in fact lines up with indicators of God’s voice:
If it’s another voice (flesh) and not God’s voice, here are some possible indicators:
Convenient for me
It all makes sense
Doesn’t stretch my faith
Something I would normally think or do
Beneficial for me and no one else
May or may not contradict scripture
Seeks my own interest
Absence of fear
Absence of passion
Grants dissatisfaction and leaves you feeling empty
If it’s God’s voice (Spirit), here are some possible indicators:
Challenging for me
May be convicting
Beneficial to others besides myself
An opportunity to bless
Seeks others interests above my own
May be inconvenient for me
Grows me spiritually
Lines up with scripture
May seem odd
Requires more faith
Contradicts the way I would have done it
Grants peace and fulfilment at the moment of obedience
*And when in doubt: God’s voice always seeks to make us more like Christ.
GOOD NEWS: If you are following Jesus, your mind will be set on things of the Spirit! Romans 8:9 declares this!
“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.” –Romans 8:9
Romans 8 promises us this!
This is an indicator to you and I that we are doing better than we think we are.
You can hear God’s voice.
His voice is not trying to trick you into thinking it’s your own voice.
He wants to speak to you and help you know for sure that it’s Him.
I get so doubtful of myself and my ability to hear God but I forget that I really am trying to do so and my desire is to hear Him above all else.
Therefore, if that really is my desire, I can trust that God will set my mind on things of the Spirit and He will speak to me.
I way more have assurance than I realize.
So do you.
If you really do want to hear from God, He will speak to you and you will hear His voice.
Why would the God who gave us the Holy Spirit to indwell us not want you to hear from Him? It’s absolutely certain that He will. But you must fertilize and grow your own relationship with the Lord, because as you get to know Him better you learn how to hear from Him and His voice becomes more familiar. It’s just like any other relationship. It requires time, commitment and learning about the other.
I do believe though that when we are in the New Heaven and New Earth with Jesus that we will get to see how God was leading us and speaking to us way more than we ever realized. Looking back at our lives, we will be able to see clearly how powerful God’s voice was to guide us along the journeys of life He planned for each of us. There is so much here on earth that we cannot see and cannot comprehend.
But while we are here, I know God wants to lead us by His voice.
However, another potential struggle might arise when you have heard clearly from God but over time you start to doubt the actual content of what He told you.
Have you ever become discouraged about something God told you because it’s not happening?
Or confused because it seems crazy?
For me, it’s extremely difficult when things I’ve heard from the Lord and am confident about start to become questionable. Possibly out of lack of fruition of what God spoke, not seeming ideal for me, things not looking the way I thought they should look, not turning out how I thought it would, etc. I’ll think, Did You really tell me that Lord? I thought You did…and You really are leading me in this direction…but now with the way things are looking in my life, I’m not so sure. Maybe it wasn’t You. Maybe it was just my own thoughts. And discouragement layers on top of confusion.
When this happens…
you must STOP thinking and asking questions.
RETURN to what God FIRST told you.
FILTER what He told you through the list I mentioned above on how to tell if it’s God’s voice or not.
And if it LINES UP with the characteristics of God’s voice, then you know what you do?
You keep MOVING FORWRD in FAITH.
It’s not going to be easy. But most of the time, the things God speaks never are easy. It’s called SPIRITUALLY CHALLENGING for a reason.
ELIMINATE your EXPECTATIONS that you are going to be able to understand it all.
DECIDE if you want to OBEY the Word that you know God has spoken to you.
ONLY YOU can decide.
LOOK at JESUS, not your circumstances.
TRUST the Lord.
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” –Hebrews 11:6
Still, you can hear from God, be certain that you have heard from Him and thus obey, and you still will wrestle with questions and confusion at times while navigating this whole journey of life with God.
Hearing from the Lord is a constant dialogue not a final answer.
We do not go to God to just get a yes or no.
We go to Him to talk to Him and communicate with Him, to be led by Him and walk with Him, and to grow closer to Him like we would in any real relationship with another person.
God wants to lead us step by step not leave us with an answer key to everything for our lives.
He wants to be involved.
And we grow more this way.
Going back to Romans 8, we know that there is a war between the flesh and the Spirit.
So this constant dialogue if often interrupted by other voices such as ourselves, other people, pop culture, temptation and so on.
But Jesus is stronger.
With Christ’s indwelling Spirit living within us, we always have power to live a life in the sweet spot of discerning God’s voice.
I pray for you and I that we would know how to recognize God’s voice and His leading. I pray that we would let Him lead us every single day. I pray we would be in constant communication with Him. I pray we would believe God’s voice even when it stretches our faith. A life following Christ often costs more than we bargain for. But we will discover riches far greater than anything we could ever even fathom if we just trust Him! One day we will reign forever with Jesus and every struggle on this earth will be worth it. May faith abound to you. May trust increase in your heart. May peace overflow. May fulfillment overflow. May we yield to God through His Holy Spirit in all that we do. Thank You, Jesus, for wanting to speak to us.
May God’s voice be the loudest voice you hear.
“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.” – John 16:13
Questions for Today:
- What are the indicators that what I’m hearing is God’s voice?
- What are the indicators that what I’m hearing is not God’s voice?
- How do the Spirit and the flesh impact my ability to hear from God?
- Why does God want to lead us step by step?
- When I doubt what God told me, what should I do?
- Am I in constant dialogue with God? What can I do to be in better communication with the Lord?
“Never Alone” by Hillsong Young and Free