"How do I know when it's God talking to me or the devil?"
This is a question that I get quite a bit in my correspondence and conversations with people.
I have met different people who discern God's will or God's voice in curious ways:
- One person told me that the plant on his microwave will blow in a certain direction that tells him the next thing he thinks/hears is God talking to him.
- Another person told me that when he spends time in prayer, he has the window open. If the curtains blow out, the answer from God is yes. If the curtains suck into the window, the answer from God is no.
- Yet, another person told me that when he prays, he stands as still and as upright as he can and while he's praying about a decision, if he leans to the right, the answer is no. If he leans to the right, the answer is yes.
- I have also had people (who were not psychotic) tell me that God tells them answers thru the people talking on the television.
- Another individual told me that he looks for signs. For example, he was contemplating whether to take a job in Wyoming and he saw someone wearing a Wyoming shirt shortly after praying. He wondered if that was God leading.
Jesus had a little something to say about this. He says that wicked and adulterous people are always looking for a sign. It seems to me that much of what Christians call discerning God's voice amounts to not much more than folk religion. Folk religion is unreflective religious beliefs based largely upon feeings, cliches, devotional literature and "evangelegends."
Folk religion is not God honoring. In my discussions with those five people above, I can assure you that they came up with some pretty goofy ideas about what God was saying. God is clear, He says if anyone lacks wisdom, we just need to ask Him. As Christians, we now have the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit. We no longer need to consult the urim and thummim. Nor do we need to cast lots to make decisions.
However, if you read my post yesterday, I wrote about how the devil tries to remind of our sins and failures.
How, do we know when its the devil is giving us a hard time or God's Holy Spirit convicting us of something that needs to change?
The answer is simple. The devil hates you. God loves you. Once you get that concept firmly in your mind, discerning which voice is which becomes less problematic.
Now, I'm not saying that we have the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. I'm not wanting this to be caricatured.
My experience is often it is not the devil speaking to me but it is my own sinfulness getting in the way.
My own sin nature speaks to me.
Nevertheless, if you hear a thought that says, "you know, you really are a pathetic excuse for a Christian. You are such a hypocrite, you are so selfish." Does that sound like a hateful thought or a loving thought? I can tell you that thought either came from your own sinfulness or the devil (or maybe even both). Do you see what that thought does? It cuts you down at the very core of your being it attacks you as a child of God. It's like being blasted with a shotgun.
Now, let's say you hear a thought that says, "you know, you just spoke about how you didn't like that style of worship. Did you consider that worship can take many forms? You need to apologize for what you just said." Does that sound like a hateful thought or a loving thought? Do you see what that thought does? It is clear and concise. It doesn't attack you as a child of God. It's like a single bullet shot right into your pride.
So, are you seeing the difference? When you have a thought and it feels like you have been blasted with a shotgun, that the thought was so diffuse, you can bet that it's not from God...
God's Holy Spirit is a sniper. He shoots clean and hits his target. There is no collateral damage.
When the devil speaks, its to entice you away from God. To destroy how you view yourself before God.
When God speaks to you, it's to attract you to Him.
Paul's words ring true when discerning the voice of God, "Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
BE A MAN.