HOW TO RECOGNIZE WHO IS SPEAKING AND HOW TO DISTINGUISH THE VOICE OF GOD FROM THE VOICE OF THE DEVIL
By Benjamin Raven Pressley
There are a lot of voices out there screaming for your attention. Advertisers screaming at you from TV, radio, computer, billboards and more. Every cause in the world wants your attention, support and especially your money. Even when you try to escape and get some solitude, still, there are those voices rolling around inside your head: things you need to do, things that happened at work today, bills that need to be paid. It is an epidemic to the point that some cannot even sleep at night because their mind won’t be quiet.
But then there are those voices in our heads that are leading our moral choices in life. The voice of God speaking to His children. The voice of the devil trying to confuse and mislead us. Our own voice in our head trying to sort things out and make decisions and choices that, in some cases, could change our lives forever. I think you will agree that how to recognize who is speaking is very important and if you are like most people, it can be very confusing sometime.
So, how do you know if the voice is God or the devil or maybe just human? First of all, let’s get one thing straight. The devil cannot read your mind but God certainly knows our every thought (Psalms 94:11; Isaiah 66:18). Although the devil can’t read your thoughts he is a master in human behavior. He is an expert at interpreting your body language and facial expressions. But let’s face it, most of the time he doesn’t have to read our thoughts because we tell him everything he needs to hear to know what we are thinking. So, watch what you say. The Bible says in Proverbs 6:2 , “Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.” From the day you are conceived a devil has been assigned to you to bring you down and to destroy you. That devil is studying you and is designing a plan to make you fall. He cannot read your thoughts but he can inject thoughts in your mind and believe me when he does he is watching you closely, studying you to see how you are going to react. He is dangling the bait to see if you will bite. It is so important that you learn to control your thoughts and actions. Don’t take the bait. Don’t react the way he wants you to and you will win, not him.
Learn what his voice sounds like. It is subtle. He will come to you in a way that you will listen, preying on your weakness. So, how do you know it is the devil? This will help you: The devil’s voice always comes from the outside in. God’s voice comes from inside you, from your spirit. Just still yourself when that voice starts speaking. Ask yourself and the Holy Spirit, “Is this voice coming from outside or inside”. Another way to tell is, is it a condemning voice or a convicting voice? What is the difference? Condemning voices make you feel guilty, dirty, like a finger pointing at you, accusing you. That’s the devil. He is our accuser (Revelation 12:10). God convicts us of sin, He doesn’t condemn (Romans 8:1). What does conviction feel like? Have you ever really hurt someone you love? They didn’t have to say a word, you just felt awful that you had hurt them. That is conviction. You just know it was wrong. Another thing, God draws you to Him to restore you. He doesn’t want to drive you away. He forgives you. He just wants the best for you.
Another side of those voices you need to know is what is being said in line with the Word of God? If it doesn’t line up with Word of God, the Bible, it is not of God. Paul even said in Galatians 1:8, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Pretty strong words! This is another reason it is so important for you to get into Word for yourself. How will you know if something is unbiblical if you don’t know Word for yourself. Did you know that when bank tellers are trained how to recognize counterfeit bills they aren’t shown every counterfeit bill ever made and made to learn what each one looks like. No, all they need to do is study the real thing then they can recognize a phony a mile away! GOD WILL NEVER CONTRADICT HIS WORD! Let me say that again, GOD WILL NEVER CONTRADICT HIS WORD! I don’t care how good a preacher or person seems to be if it is not biblical what they are saying it is not of God! Beware of listening to voices over what Word of God says. I know a man that went to a church where the preacher had been caught in sin, denied it and preached things that were not in Bible and yet still he said ‘God told me to go to church there and I will not leave till God tells me differently”. Hello! God did tell you. He told you in the Bible. I have heard of so many couples living together out of wedlock claiming God understood and told them it was alright. There was also a woman that was dating a married man and claimed that God understood because He knew they really loved each other. God makes no exceptions! Psalm 119:89 says, “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” People love to look special and pass themselves off as prophets and claim to hear God’s voice and have extrabiblical revelation but they are liars if what they say contradicts the Word of God. God’s Word is our standard not what people say. “Let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, that thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” (Romans 3:4). Furthermore, a true man or woman of God won’t mind you questioning them or checking out what they say if they truly are of God. 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” God can handle it. The truth will always stand out. You can try to disprove it and it will stand the test. In fact anyone or any church who tells you not to question them you need to get out of there fast. They are a cult! Cults don’t always wear chafron robes and sport pony tails. Walter R. Martin, an expert in the cults, gave three ways to recognize a cult: They deify man and/or humanize God and/or ostracize the scriptures. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 says plainly, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” In other words Satan will appear in whatever form appeals to the audience he is trying to mislead. Why do you think cigarette and alcohol commercials always show models having a great time and in great health. They don’t show the person dying of lung cancer or the broken home of an alcoholic or the death of someone killed by a drunken driver. We are warned over and over in God’s Word that in the last days false prophets would come (2 Timothy 3:1-7; Matthew 24:5; Luke 21:8). We are living in the last days. Beware! Be careful what voices you listen to. Recognize their source. Know the Word of God and you won’t be deceived. “The sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.” (John 10:3-4)
Now, what about those voices of our own in our head? There used to be an old comic strip called Pogo. There was a line in one of the comic strips that stuck with me. Pogo said “We have met the enemy and they is us!” That would be funny if it weren’t so true. We are our own worst enemy. Years of programming in our brain from television—from abusive, cruel parents, teachers and friends—books, magazines—and so much more, scream for our attention. They scream for control and lordship over our lives. They dictate to us everyday who they say we are. Most of the voices are pretty cruel and negative. Some of those voices are telling us how pretty we are, how much better we are than so and so. These voices can build us up to be something we aren’t and cause us to look down on others and be conceited. Or just the opposite and most common, they tell us how we are no good, ugly and will never amount to anything. One thing all these voices have in common is they are definitely wrong! How do you know? Again, what does Bible say you are? That is your source. Are you born again? I have written a whole chapter about who we are in Christ in this book and you can also read ‘Who I Am in Christ” in the Reference Library in the back of this book. What the Bible says you are is what you are.
So, how do we eliminate all these voices competing for our attention, competing to be Lord of our life? Only one way. First let’s read Romans 12: 1-5. Read it very carefully.
“1. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
- And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
- For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
- For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
- So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
Verse 2 says: “be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind”. That is telling us something WE have to do. When we are born again, we are a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). We have a fresh start. All those things that held us bound before no longer have power over us (Romans 6). But God doesn’t erase our mind. He gives us power (John 1:12), not to erase our mind but to put it into perspective, to bring it under our Lordship with us controlling it, not it controlling us. He tells US to transform our mind, to reprogram it. How do we do that? He tells us step by step in this passage how:
- Don’t listen to what your flesh/body wants (v. 1).
- Don’t be conformed to the world. In other words don’t go by what non-Christian world says about how you should live. (v. 2)
- Renew your mind. Think right. Feed it the right things. How do you know what right things are? Do those thoughts prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.? (v.2) If they don’t, ignore them, throw them out. Let the right words come out of your mouth. (Proverbs 6:2). You need to walk different and talk different (Ephesians 4:21-32). Your mind needs to hear the right words coming out of your mouth. The devil needs to hear the right words coming out of your mouth. God needs to hear the right words coming out of your mouth. You need to hear the right words coming out of your mouth.
- Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Humble yourself before the Lord. Let Him give you new desires. (v.3)
- Think soberly. Sober is the opposite of drunk. You can get drunk on thinking of your past, thinking the way the world thinks. Sober up, think right! (v.3)
- Realize you are part of the family of man and the family of God. You aren’t alone now. Get in a good, Bible believing church where your mind and spirit can be fed and your thoughts renewed. Realize it isn’t all about you. It never was! It is about Jesus and what He thinks of us. (vv 4-5).
You can do this! God never commands us to do something that He knows we can’t do. He is with us every step of the way guiding us and empowering us for the road ahead. There are a couple of books I recommend that will help you to understand the power of getting your thoughts right and how to do it. They are: Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer, The Weight of Your Words by Joseph M. Stowell and The Battle for the Mind by Noel Jones.