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-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Teresa Seputis ts@godspeak.net http://www.godspeak.net

Discerning God's Voice

Lesson 1
The Bible

By Teresa Seputis

We know that God actively speaks to us today and reveal His truth to us. Jesus said so in John 10:27, "My sheep hear My voice." That means He actively speaks to us today. Therefore we want to get to know God better, we want to learn to hear and discern His voice more clearly. This is not usually something we arrive at instantly, but a process that God takes us through. We get to know Him better over time and our ability to discern His voice from "not His voice" grows and improves as we get to know Him better. We learn His nature and character, things He would or would not be likely to say. And the closer we draw to Him, the easier it gets to recognize His voice. The more we practice listening to Him, the better we become at it. And over time, the Lord expects us to learn to know Him and to discern God's voice with a fair amount of clarity and accuracy.

The process would be so much easier if His voice was the only voice that ever spoke to us. But the problem is that there are two other voices that will, from time to time, try to jump in and imitate God's voice. So when we have a revelation or an experience with God, it might not really be from God. It might be the imagination of our own heart/mind. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?" In other words, sometimes our flesh and our own desires will come along and try to convince us that these desires of our heart are really God speaking to us and promising them to us. Or what we hear might even be the devil trying to imitate God's voice to confuse us and get us off track.

So the issue becomes: how do we tell these three voices apart? How do we know when it is really God speaking to us or when it is our own heart and desires or when it is the enemy imitating God's voice?

One of the ways that we discern true revelation from the other true voices is by knowing the truth. When we know God's truth, we can identify when we hear something that does not line up with that truth. God will work in our lives over time to seed us in His truth.

He uses two things we use to test God's truth: His written word and personal revelation, where He reveals Himself to us. God has given us the Bible to show us what He is like. It lest us know how He thinks, what He expects of us and what He is likely to say to us, etc. And God also reveals Himself to us as we grow in relationship with Him. Both of those are very important in evaluating what we hear to see if was really from God.

We are to use His truth to evaluate what we think He is say to us regardless of whatever mechanism He uses to communicate with us... be it that "still small voice" or supernatural revelation or even an open vision or direct and tangible encounter with God. When God speaks to us, we bounce what we hear from Him against His truth. If it is really from God, it will always hold up to the test of His truth, because God is truth and His communication to us today remains consistent with His truth.

The first of those two things is His written word, the Bible. That is what we will talk about in this first lesson. It is the thing that we must rely on the most heavily. Scripture is very important because it is the "measuring rod" by which we evaluate all experiences with God. We know that God does not change and we know that the Bible is His word, that it is true and reliable. Therefore, we know that God will not do or say something now that contradicts what He has already said in His written Word. And the more we get to know Scripture, the more we get to know what God is like. If we ever have an experience that contradicts the Bible, we use the Bible to evaluate that experience as faulty or "not really God."

Let me share an example to illustrate this point. One time I got a phone call from the a pastor of a small Cuban church in Florida. He asked me to minister to him because he was upset and needed a boost to his faith. The issues was that God had made him some promises and these promises were delayed in coming, so he wanted me to encourage his faith. He also wanted me to stand in agreement with him in prayer that God would bring these promises about to him speedily. Even though the request sounded reasonable, I felt a bit of a check in my spirit, so I decided I better get more information from him before I prayed anything. I asked him what promises he was talking about in particular, what were these promises?

The story came out that he was very attracted to this one lady in his church, but she happened to be married to someone else, and she was very much in love with her own husband and did not even notice him. By the way, this pastor also happened to be married, but he was unhappy with his own wife/marriage. He felt that God had seen his misery and had given him a love for this other married woman. He really believed that love was from God. He read psalm 37:4-5, which said, "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass." So he figured that God would give him the desires of his heart. And what he desired was to be released from his current wife and married to this other lady.

So he started to pray about that, and after a while he had this supposed "encounter with God." In this encounter, God told him that He was going to kill the people who stood in his way (the husband of the other lady and his own wife) in the very near future. And that after they died, this lady would realize her love for him and they'd be married, and then he would be happy again. That experience had been over a year ago, and the pastor was upset that these two people were still alive. He wanted God to hurry up and kill them so that he could marry the lady that he thought he loved. And he wanted me to stand in agreement with him for them to die quickly so that he could have this other man's wife soon, as he was beginning to burn with lust for her.

The sad part is that he really thought that this was a promise from God to him. Part of the reason he thought that was because he did not check his experience against what God has said in His word. If he had bounced that experience against what God said about marriage and lust, he would have known better. The bible makes it pretty clear what God thinks on this matter.

His phone call came on a Saturday night and it sort of freaked me out a bit. So the next day, I mentioned it to a couple of my friends at church. One of their kids, who I think was in either fourth or fifth grade at that time, happened to be standing in earshot. She overheard the conversation and offered this comment. "That is not right! The Bible says we are not supposed to covet our neighbor's wife. He should known better!" Amen -- this child was able to see a spiritual truth that this adult pastor apparently missed. That was because she did something he did not do... she used God's word as a measuring rod to evaluate the spiritual experience that he had. The experience did not measure up to God's word, so it needed to be rejected.

We learn to lean on the word and trust it as a guideline in evaluating our personal experiences with God, because we know the Bible is true/accurate and will never led us astray. However, we also know that it is possible we may hold to an interpretation or theology of the word that is incorrect, and God may occasionally want to fix our misunderstanding of His word. So we need to make sure we baseline off of the word itself, and not off of some doctrine or theology that we have been taught about that word. One of the best ways to do that is to invite the Holy Spirit to speak to us as we read God's word, to teach us and from it and to lead us to a deeper understanding of His truth. We must lean heavily on God's word to know what He would or would not say/do.

The Bible must be our first and highest criteria in judging whether or not what hear is really God. But it is not the only truth that God has given us to use in this process. We are not discount our experiences with God, either. At times, God reveals Himself to us directly and shows us what He is like. He does that because He wants us to know Him better, He wants us to know more and more of what He is really like. The more intimacy time we spend with Him, the more He reveals Himself to us. And we get to know to know His nature and His character through experiencing Him. God expects that to be a normal part of our relationship with the true and living God. He does not want us to just have head knowledge about Him, God interacts personally with us and He expects so to experience Him. We will discuss this in more detail in our next lesson.

-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

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