Principles to Hear God’s Voice, Part 2
I began a series last week about hearing the voice of God. In these unprecedented times, accurately hearing the Lord’s voice is paramount to live in His peace and maintain confident faith and hope.
This morning the Lord reminded me of a word given to the people of Israel when circumstances clouded hope and optimism. This prophetic charge underscores the importance of hearing and trusting God’s Word and voice. In Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV, the prophet declares:
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”
Granted, this was a word for ancient Israel, but hear this word for your life and situation today. “Do you not know? Have you not heard?” There is nothing that our caring Creator can’t change—no matter how hopeless it may seem. We can’t dictate the terms or means of those changes, but we can hold onto Him with confident hope. As we wait upon the Lord, through worship, prayer, and reading His Word, the Holy Spirit breathes life into our being. Strength is renewed, faith elevates, and hope remains constant.
There are three principles to hearing God’s voice that I will discuss in the next couple of sermons and subsequent articles. They are 1) If you are born again, you know His voice, 2) The Holy Spirit was given, you know Him and hear Him, and 3) Obey the Holy Spirit’s leading. Today in this part two, let’s discuss principle one, knowing Jesus and His voice.
Principle #1: If you are born again, you know His voice and are known by Him!
Jesus states in John 10:27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (NKJV) God is speaking through His Son to His people, those who have trusted Him as their Lord and Savior and follow Him. Shepherds in Jesus’ day lived in close contact with the sheep. The shepherd knew the sheep intimately, and they knew him intimately as well. When he led them to new pastures, they would follow, because they knew his voice.
Jesus is our shepherd, He knows us by name, and He knows us intimately. Our born-again experience positions us to live by new life in Christ, know His voice, and desire to follow Him. He explains in John 10, that the sheep know His voice and they won’t follow the voice of a stranger. Settle this: you hear His voice! You might be new in Christ or maturing in your ability to discern His voice, but you do hear His voice!
Spiritually, there are three sources of the “voices” we hear. They are God’s Voice, Our Voice, and the Enemy’s Voice.
Again, we may be growing in our ability to discern the Lord’s voice, but as a Christian, to some degree, you hear His voice and sense His leading. You need to tune your spiritual receiver to the channel of heaven!
We also hear our own inner voice. Sometimes our voice is influenced by soulish or carnal desires. Or we may predetermine how God will speak or answer prayer based on our soulish perspective. Therefore, it is important to discern what are our desires relative to the Lord’s voice and leading.
Lastly, there is the enemy’s voice. It is primarily one of condemnation and judgment toward us. The Spirit will convict us, but the enemy’s voice brings condemnation, shame, fear, etc. masquerading as God’s voice. Learning to discern which voice we are hearing is vital and develops over time as we spend more time with the Lord in prayer and His Word.
People in the banking industry learn to discern real currency from counterfeit bills primarily by handling and observing real bills. They know what a genuine $20 bill looks like, its markings, its texture, color, and weight for example. By knowing the real or authentic bill, they can more easily distinguish the counterfeit bill. In like manner, the more time we spend with the Lord and in His Word, we are more able to discern what is counterfeit with our own thinking, thoughts, and the enemy’s lies masquerading as God’s voice.
Permit yourself to have more faith to believe you can hear His voice than to be deceived by the enemy’s voice!
As I will develop in this series, hearing God’s voice is more than just reading the Bible. Though, reading our Bibles is foundational, our starting place, and daily manna (Deut. 8:3). But it is also learning how God communicates by the Holy Spirit to us, through both the Bible and His gifts (1 Cor. 12).
Foremost, God communicates to us through His Son.
The writer of Hebrews states,
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” Heb. 1:1-3 NIV
Notice, in the past, God spoke through the prophets. But since the Holy Spirit was given after Jesus’ resurrection at Pentecost, all can move in the Spirit and hear the voice of God. Notice too, “many times and in various ways.” God is not limited in how He communicates—it is varied, and often!
Notice also, contrary to the Hebrew prophets of old, God spoke through the life of His son Jesus. The gospels record this reality.
Jesus demonstrated how to live from constant contact and communication with Father God. He did nothing on His own initiative, but only what He saw the Father doing, and heard the Father saying (John 5:19-20,30). He is our example!
So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” John 5:19 NLT
There is no formula to hearing the voice of God—I can give principles, but each of us will hear and communicate with God slightly differently.
Learning to recognize the “language of the Spirit” is vital. For example: the Bible, our thoughts, inspired words, impressions, vision, and encounters—all comprise the language of the Spirit. And depending on how God has created and gifted each of us, we will “hear God” slightly differently. There is no one size fits all!
We see throughout the gospels and book of Acts how God spoke. In Acts 13 there is a beautiful example of God communicating to His people:
Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” Acts 13:1-3 NIV
Notice these believers, some who were recognized as prophets and teachers, were spending time together in worship, fasting, and prayer, and then the Holy Spirit said…
Have you looked at this passage before and wondered how the Holy Spirit communicated to them? How did He speak? Did one of them have a prophetic word about Barnabas and Saul? Or was it an impression? Perhaps it was a vision? The scripture doesn’t say, but it does clearly say the Holy Spirit said! Therefore, we should expect ongoing communication from the Spirit.
While many believe God no longer speaks to His people today, and that the gifts of the Spirit Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 have ceased, the Bible and 2000 years of Church history indicate otherwise.
Jesus, our shepherd, is still speaking to and leading His people—His voice and gifts have continued to further His kingdom. The Spirit has been given, and we should expect His leading and guiding. I will develop this more in the next article.
For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “Principles to Hear God’s Voice, Part 2”