An age-old question
One of my Heartspoken readers recently sent an important and challenging question:
Hi, thanks for God’s work here. My question is how do you differentiate between God’s warning and Satan’s warning? And how do you feel it when it’s God’s warning or how do you feel it when it’s Satan’s threatening? Thank you.
My layman’s response
Hello, my friend,
Your question is one that has plagued faithful people and theologians for as long as mankind, and I have neither the training nor the education to advise you adequately. If you have a pastor or spiritual advisor, I would urge you to consult them about this. It is a great question for them.
I can only tell you how I try to discern God’s voice from the other noisy voices of the world or from the clever lies of the Deceiver. I base my practice on Holy Scripture from the book of Ephesians 6:10-20 (See “The Armor of God” below).When I have a decision to make—or believe I am being led in a certain direction—I pray fervently for God's armor to protect me.Click To Tweet I have even practiced putting on the armor of God in my imagination, one piece at a time. I also pray regularly for the ever-present guidance of God’s Holy Spirit, trusting that it will help me differentiate between God’s true voice and Satan’s lies as I go throughout my day.
Blessings to you in your journey of faith.
In His love,
Each of us is unique with our own special gifts, personalities, and circumstances. How foolish it would be to think there is a “one size fits all” for such an important question! We can make ourselves miserable trying to compare our discernment strategies with those of others. But we should start with some assumptions:
- God loves us and wants us to hear and follow his guidance
- God has given us the Holy Spirit to move in our lives as a guide
- The Holy Bible is a treasure trove of wisdom, teaching, and stories that show how men and women of faith have discerned God’s voice throughout history
Breathe…then ask these three questions
When I am struggling with a question, it is so tempting to escape the pressure of indecision and hurry into a choice. This is rarely a wise option, because it can tend to be made on base emotions rather than higher spiritual principles. So the first thing I always try to do is breathe. If someone is pressuring me, I try to push back and ask for space and time.
With freed-up mental space, I can then ask myself these three questions about each option I’m considering or voice I’m hearing:
- Does it contradict anything I know to be true about God’s teaching? Consider The Ten Commandments as the gold standard (Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5).
- Does it create a sense of peace within me? If a choice makes me feel mostly anxious, I am probably on the wrong track. Click To Tweet
- Does the voice I hear feel like an affirmation or an accusation? Satan loves nothing better than to accuse us and make us feel guilty. God, on the other hand, sent us the Holy Spirit—the Advocate—to affirm and restore us through his grace.
How do you discern God’s voice?
Let’s start a conversation about this important question. Do you have a way to discern God’s “still small voice” from all the competing voices out there? Do you employ all your senses when possible? Do you find discernment to be an intellectual process…or an emotional one…or both? Please share with us in the comments below.
The Armor of God
Ephesians 6:10-20 (New International Version)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.