In conversation once up at the Big (the Church where we work at) someone mentioned that they felt they had often heard God speak to them, telling them what to do. I was intrigued so I asked how they knew it was God. They felt calmed, felt peaceful, felt secure and hopeful, enlightened, and occasionally convicted. They further explained that it had to be God they heard because when Satan speaks he makes them feel worried, fearful, obsessed, confused, hurried, pushed and discouraged. Hmm, so they felt that anything positive was of God and negative of Satan, that is the common belief of most of Christendom today thanks to the Pentecostal and Charismatic influences that have taken hold in all denominations today. Bet that I could have been talking to most of you who read this, right? Yep, I know, there was a time I coulda had that conversation with myself, and I’d have been wrong. But before you get your nerves all tore outta the frame, keep reading and I’ll show you through Scripture why that kinda thinking is wrong.
Let’s talk about the tone of the voices heard: God was always positive and Satan negative. But is there any doctrinal, dispensational or scriptural backing to this assumption? Did Satan always speak negatively, harshly, causing fear and confusion? Not exactly, think about how he assured Eve in the garden that she wouldn’t surely die:
“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: Genesis 3:4 KJV”
He was lying through his slimy teeth of course as he hissed that deadly deceptive assurance in her ear, but he was doing so positively, making it sound sure and good.
He even continued by sweetening the pot of poison by offering her enlightenment in the next verse if she ate the forbidden yet oh so tempting fruit.
“For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:5 KJV”
See, it’s very possible to be encouraged in evil, to be tempted by it, hence the whole temptation thing. in Matthew 4 we see Jesus himself being tempted by the Devil. Psalm 64:5 also says that “they encourage themselves in an evil thing.”.
Passages such as Jeremiah 23:16-18 show that false prophets lead men through a vision to be still and calm saying “no harm shall come upon you” when they needed to skeedadle quick cause harm was about to kick in the door. Which is why God told those specific people who were listening to those false prophets to “give no heed to them.”
In addition to feeling God was always positive my friend at the Big felt Satan’s voice obsesses, worries, condemns, discourages, confuses, pushes, frightens, and rushes. All of these descriptions are negative and invoke feelings of inadequacy and forced change and none of these descriptions refer to any doctrine, dispensation, or source of truth about Satan. They only refer to what a voice makes you feel.
But what if it is the Lord that discourages you from doing something? Shouldn’t you listen?
Moses by direction of God discouraged the children of Israel from going into the promised land at one point, because “the LORD is not among you” and “it shall not prosper” (Num 14:41-42). Those people died who would not be discouraged, maybe they should have listened.
In the Bible God pushes (Deu 33:17), confuses (Gen 11:7), condemns (Isa 54:17; John 3:18), and frightens, striking fear into men’s hearts (Matt 10:28; Rev 14:7).
Oh and then there’s obsession which can be a good thing when it concerns seeking and saving that which is lost (Matt 18:11; 1 Cor 9:22; 1 Cor 16:15; Gal 4:18). That’s the kinda obsessed I wanna be for sure.
Satan often speaks God’s words from other portions of scripture out of context! It is called lying. Besides, your flesh will always be at peace to follow its fallen desires. Paul’s “Oh, wretched man that I am!”. We can’t trust our hearts.
There must be more to knowing God’s voice beyond reliance on how that voice may make us feel. After all, truth can hurt and wrong can feel oh so very good. So how can we know whether the voice is God’s or Satan’s?
It’s easy. You just get a KJV Bible first off, then read it literally, don’t spiritualize it or try to twist it, and most importantly follow God’s instructions telling us how to read it!
Guys, that verse was a life changer when I understood it. Rightly divided the word of truth… it seemed strange at first to think about dividing the word. But then it clicked. Good grief, I divide stuff all the time. Like my son’s books for school, I divide the work in them up into smaller assignments to avoid that deer in the headlights to utter panic to frazzled overload to crash that assigning and entire years work at once would cause. I divide yarn, food, clothes, my time. That’s not just the books, chapters and verses though which are very useful divisions but weren’t part of the originals, they were added much much later. It’s kinda like when I read a book on homeschool methods and I skimmed whole sections because they were for grades or levels we had already passed. Like the part written about kindergarten, I read it quickly because it was informative for gathering general teaching ideas but I really poured over the sections that covered levels my son is currently at. Basically it’s just read it naturally and look at who is talking to whom, why, when and where. If Israel is the focus then it’s not to you directly but to them. Sure you can gain and profit from reading it, you gain a clear understanding of God’s plans for Israel and for us today as members of the Body of Christ.
When you begin to rightly divide you will realize that most of the Bible is written to and about Israel but there are 13 Epistles in the New Testament that God revealed to Paul just for us today. Romans through Philemon are the books where we find what God is doing today and what he expects of us today. It contains the truth of how we can know it is God talking to us, and how to tell when it isn’t.
Long story short here. When Israel stoned Stephen they blasphemed the Holy Ghost which Jesus had said wouldn’t be forgiven them – they balsphemed and rejected God when they asked for a king, Jesus when they killed Him and then that day when they stoned Stephen they rejected the Holy Spirit. Stephen calls it right in this verse:
“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Acts 7:51 KJV”
“One, two three strikes and you’re in time out” I often tell my littles on Sunday’s, that’s basically how God dealt with Israel after this. Christ shown down from glory and saved Paul making him the apostle to the Gentiles and God this set Israel aside for a spell, so far it’s a long time out – 2,000 years (which is what my little act like 2 minutes is) while He completes the other part of His plan to reconcile both heaven and Earth back to Himself. He forms the Body of Christ through the revelation of the mystery He had had hidden in himself since before the world began, Israel is under prophecy which was revealed to the prophets since the world began. So mystery hid in God before world began, prophecy known by prophets since the world began. That’s kinda different, another division.So this division isn’t permanent,one day the body will be complete and caught up to be with our head forever, we are going to take back heaven for God and He will begin dealing with Israel again and finish what had started when Christ came to earth the first time , the coming of God’s kingdom on Earth.
That background there is the key to understanding how God is speaking to us today because it’s not the same way He spoke to Israel in the past it will in the future. See when God saved Paul and gave him the completed revelation of the mystery the signs that had been given during that time to believers (tongues, prophecy, healing, etc.) ceased because they were no longer needed in this age.
Certainly, neither God nor Satan’s voice could ever be discerned by how our thoughts and experiences make us feel. They cannot be discerned by our experiences at all!
When my littles are babies and have yet to learn how to talk they are greatly affected by the tone of a voice. A tone can strike fear into a child’s heart or bring comfort. Either way a baby disregards the actual words being said, they just hear the tone.
Paul gave those tongue-talking Pentecostals the Corinthians who were spiritual babes this advice:
“Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.” – 1 Corinthians 14:20
Mature men act like men, they are not selfish pleasure seeking individuals avoiding any sacrifice and inconvenience on their flesh. Men take responsibility to learn, understand, study, and sacrifice for the benefit of others.Certainly, neither God nor Satan’s voice can be discerned by how our thoughts and experiences make us feel. They cannot be discerned by our experiences at all!
However children that cannot speak or read go by sights and sounds. This true of adults who are spiritual children as well. This is like the charismatics who listen to God’s voice in the visual circumstances and in the tone of one’s voice.
When we grow in our faith we stop being swayed by feelings and emotions and we listen to the words, we learn where to find them too, in the Book. We hear God’s voice in the doctrinal understanding of the Bible rightly divided. The Bible, not voices, not feelings, just the written inspired and preserved words of God.
The feeling centered perspective on God’s will is a consequence of the Pentecostal problem that teaches wrongly how God speaks. It teaches believers to trust their feelings which are fallible instead of God’s word which is perfect, sure, true, infallible!
God’s perfect plan goes beyond how you feel in your life. His purpose is not to make you feel good all the time but to see you become a fruitful member of His Sons Body. Satan has an evil agenda and it is not always to make you feel bad all the time, he makes sin sound, look and feel really good. God’s will is Biblically revealed and dispensationally considered, for the record Satan’s is too.
Knowing God’s voice (and Satan’s) requires having a copy of God’s complete word of truth: the Bible. Then, we must understand what God said, to whom he said it, and in what dispensational context.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 KJV”
So I ask, whose really speaking to you? Satan through your flesh, your feelings… or God through His word of truth?