I have addressed the need to hear His voice and the fact of His speaking along with some of the ways He speaks. Now I want to address the need to discern whether He is the one speaking.
While the Holy Spirt communicates to us do we always hear accurately? Have you ever heard someone reporting what you said in a situation and thought, ‘I never said that.’? How does the Holy Spirit respond to all of the things, some of them conflicting, that we attribute to Him? Consider the passage below.
1 Now some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. 2 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 3 “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them? 4 Therefore speak to them, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols, 5 that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols.”’ Ezekiel 14:1-5 (NKJV, emphasis mine)
What is the message here? If we come to hear from the Holy Spirit while hanging onto our own agendas what we hear will be filtered through and distorted by our idols. To hear clearly we need a clean heart. That means when we come to Him we need to invite Him to examine our hearts and then lay down anything He puts His finger on so we can hear. Repentance and conviction are words not often heard in the modern church but are much needed.
In seeking to hear His voice we need to prepare our hearts and plan. As our hearts come to rest in Him so too does His wisdom rest in us.
1 The preparations of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. Proverbs 16:1 (NKJV) 9 A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV) 33 Wisdom rests in the heart of him who has understanding, But what is in the heart of fools is made known. Proverbs 14:33 (NKJV)
Having right motives is important and then we need to weigh what we hear by the Word.
20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Isaiah 8:20 (NKJV)
What we hear needs to line up with the truth of scripture. However, there isn’t a verse that tells us who to marry, what house or vehicle to buy, which job to take and numerous other things. We need to hear His voice in these matters. However, say I am a young man ‘in love’ with a young woman. I want to marry her but she is not a believer nor really interested in the things of the Lord. I pray and believe the Holy Spirit is telling me to marry her. If I asked a wise believer they would tell me I was not hearing from the Lord because the scriptures tell us to not be ‘unequally yoked’ and say ‘what fellowship has light with darkness?’ In this scenario my emotional desires would be interfering with my ability to hear from the Holy Spirit.
We need to discern together (1 Cor. 14:29) and it is unwise to make major decisions without the counsel of scripture and the counsel of other mature believers (2 Cor. 13:1). Another key factor is that if we feel great emotional pressure to rush and make a decision we need to stop. Jesus lives outside of time and is never in a hurry. As Isaiah said,
16 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily. Isaiah 28:16 (NKJV emphasis mine)
In conclusion, this is not an exhaustive teaching on discerning, more of a primer and I encourage you to dig deeper.
NOTE – I will close this series with my next post by laying out the connection between worship and hearing His voice.