The Voice of Strangers

God’s people hear His voice and follow Him (Jn 10:27), but do we also hear other voices which are not of God? If so, how do we tell the difference?

Horse Head Nebula, Hubble

To be clear, we aren’t necessarily referring to an audible voice, but this might be an inner sense or witness in our spirit that God’s trying to guide us or teach us something. Thinking the enemy can’t try to imitate God like this underestimates him, and implies any kind of impression or leading we receive must be from God.

But God tells us that other spiritual beings, seducing spirits, will also be speaking to us, trying to get us to follow them (1Ti 4:1), and that believers know the difference instinctively. (Jn 10:5b) Yet when we’re desperate to hear a “word from God,” we might override our instincts and fall pray to the enemy’s leading.

So, how do we know?

Simple: if we don’t instinctively know God is speaking with us, then He isn’t, at least not supernaturally, such that we should implicitly obey. If we’re able to wonder if it might not be God, or ask, “Who are you?” then we don’t know it’s God. If the impression is supernatural, clearly external to us … flee (Jn 10:5a); this one’s out to harm us.

When an impression might be God but we aren’t absolutely sure, rather than blindly and passively obeying, or even testing the spirit, we engage our minds and wills. (1Pe 1:13) Does the path before us seem wise? As we examine ourselves, discovering our own will in the matter … does it align with us in all wholesomeness, holiness and righteousness? If so, we should own this way and follow God as well as we can in it, not as being passively lead, but actively in the good fight of faith. (1Ti 6:12) Otherwise, it is not the path for us.

When we need clear direction from God we should ask in faith for wisdom (Ja 1:5) and guidance. (1Sa 23:2) Until God answers unmistakably we should be seeking counsel from others and the Word, and walking it out using all the wisdom we have, trusting He’s working out His will in and through our wills. (Php 2:13)

If we need direct, supernatural revelation, God will speak to us clearly, and there will be no doubt about it. Satan comes as an angel of light to deceive (2Co 11:14), kill and destroy. (Jn 10:10) The voice of God is unmistakable, let’s not settle for a counterfeit.

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Taken Captive

The very idea of being held prisoner is intimidating, but there’s a certain kind of prison we enter voluntarily and lock from the inside, then we throw away the key.

We all find ourselves in this prison at some point, not realizing what we’re doing until it’s too late. (Ep 2:2) It’s a prison of the mind, a bondage of the will. (Jn 8:34)

It starts with deception: we hear a lie that makes us feel good and we’re in, not really caring if it’s true, or even how to tell for sure. The lies spawn unhealthy desires; lust leads to disobedience, and sin eventually enslaves and destroys. (Ja 1:14-15) This is how the enemy takes us captive (2Ti 2:25-26), and he’s very good at it.

We’re each in a fight, a war for our own soul (Ep 6:12), and there’s only one way to overcome: find the truth and live in it. (Jn 8:32) It’s called repentance.

We can be sorry for our sin all day long, sorry we’re suffering, that we’re exposed, but this won’t release us from prison. Repentance is changing our mind, thinking differently, rejecting the lie and believing the truth.

It’s not about what we’ve been taught; it’s about what’s true. It’s not about what makes us feel good; it’s about what’s true. It’s not about convenience or inconvenience, or what works or doesn’t, or what others think. Feel good won’t set us free; orthodoxy won’t set us free … if it isn’t true.

How do we know what’s true? God’s Word is truth. (Jn 17:17) If we aren’t prayerfully and earnestly searching the Word for ourselves, we don’t care about truth. (Ac 17:11)

Changing our mind isn’t as easy as it might seem; it’s not something we can do just any time we like. If we aren’t willing to obey the truth we’re deceiving ourselves, and we’ll miss the truth even as we stumble across it. (Ja 1:22) It’s called blindness, and it’s insidiously powerful. (2Co 4:4)

Repentance is the gift of God: He must open our eyes and help us see. (Ac 26:18) We can certainly ask Him to help us, and we should, earnestly (Ps 119:145-147), unwilling to take “No” for an answer (He 11:6), obeying all the truth we can, all along the way.

As God intervenes and helps us start believing Him, taking Him at His Word, it’s then that the enemy’s grip on our minds and spirits begins to loose, and we start turning from our sin, from violating God’s law. (1Jn 3:4) Here begins our journey out of prison, becoming free indeed. (Jn 8:36)

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