God speaks. That’s a central truth of Scripture, and for centuries those who have followed Him have born witness to that reality. But today more than ever we experience many competing voices. How can you know if what you hear is truly God’s voice?
When you get to know someone well, you come to recognize their voice. Before caller ID (can you remember those days?), when you answered the phone you instantly knew your spouse or best friend was calling the moment they spoke. It’s the same with God’s voice; the better you know Him, the quicker you will recognize it’s Him who is speaking.
Today we’ll talk about five characteristics of God’s voice that can help you recognize Him when He speaks to you. And next time we’ll talk about some practical ways through which you can hear His voice more clearly.
God’s Voice is Precious
Many of us imagine we would like a daily or hourly communication from heaven, as if God were constantly speaking to you with some kind of mental teleprompter. Yes, the Holy Spirit is with you and guides you always. But there is a sense in which God’s voice is precious – special, valuable, priceless, not to be “used” for just anything.
If you’re a parent, you speak to your children all the time. You might teach them “Look both ways before you cross the street.” Or “The dangers of drugs and alcohol are too great; don’t do it!” And you expect your children to internalize those messages so they don’t “need” to hear from you every minute.
As a loving Parent, God expects you to hear, internalize, and follow through on what He says. He doesn’t use His voice as a running commentary on your life. Treasure the things you have heard from Him.
God’s Voice is Unique
Like your friend on the phone, God’s voice doesn’t “sound” like anyone else’s. The longer you walk with Him, the more you develop a sense of when it’s Him, and when it’s the enemy speaking, other people’s voices, or your own immature, messed-up, vulnerable head.
It helps to look back and remember when you have heard God’s voice in the past. Think of times when you know it was Him speaking, times long enough ago that you have seen the fruit in your life, consistency with Scripture, etc. What did His voice “sound” like in your soul? What about it was different from the other voices you hear constantly? That will help you know when He is speaking to you again.
And an important thing to note; when God’s voice lines up with your own desires or fears, it’s worth pausing. He may agree with your desires. But when your emotions are “hooked,” you must exercise extra care in discerning His voice. Your emotions can cloud your ability to hear Him clearly.
God’s Voice is Consistent
God does not speak one thing in Scripture, a contradictory thing to your soul, and something yet different to someone else. As a “out there” example, He will not encourage you to commit adultery contradictory to His words in the Ten Commandments.
A significant benefit of studying Scripture is to understand what God has said in the past. It’s like a bank teller or FBI agent training to recognize fake bills by spending significant time handling real money; through familiarity with the authentic you become increasingly sensitive to sensing when something is “off.”
God can say something new! He often does. But it will have the same flavor and “sound” of what He has said before. He in Himself remains the same “yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
God’s Voice is Creative
Things happen when God speaks. The universe came into being through His Word. (Genesis 1) And His voice is still creative today; that’s part of how He never changes.
And His voice is creative in your own soul. It does not lead to darkness and confusion. When He speaks, something is energized in you. Perhaps healing takes place. Clarity about the next step is created in your mind. Or He gives you a mission to pursue. When His voice brings conviction, about a need for you to change, His very voice brings with it the power and transformation you need – if you agree with Him.
This creative quality to God’s voice will help you differentiate it from condemning or wounding messages from others or from the enemy.
God’s Voice is Full of Love
God cannot speak other than out of Himself. His very nature is love. God is love. (1 John 4:8) So everything He speaks is infused with and is characterized by love.
Don’t confuse that, however, with sentimentalism or tolerance. We as humans easily mistake license for love. Love is not a feeling; it’s a quality, an action. God loves you!! Loves you unconditionally. And as you might “love” a torn favorite dress or a damaged classic car, God loves you too much to let you remain in any condition less than the glorious person He created you to be. His love drives Him to not rest until you become the person He knows you can be.
The truth, the setting right, the judgment aspects of God’s voice are always 100% infused with His love. We as humans can sometimes initially fail to recognize that, but it’s always true. When He speaks, He is for you.
Hearing God’s Voice
This is certainly not an exhaustive discussion of God’s voice. But these qualities are important in helping you to recognize when it is He who is speaking.
And next time we’ll explore some practical and specific ways in which you can hear His voice more clearly.
Your Turn: When was the last time you heard God’s voice? Which of these characteristics can you identify in how He spoke to you? Leave a comment below.
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- If you struggle to know when it’s truly God’s voice, remember that His voice doesn’t “sound” like anyone else’s. It’s unique. And there are other characteristics that help you know it’s truly Him who is speaking. Tweet that.
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