Discerning God’s Voice
February 27, 2022

Discerning God’s Voice
Mark 4:24; Luke 8:18

There are many different voices fighting for our attention, so we need to train ourselves to hear God’s voice over everything else.

In fact, it’s vitally important that we seek God and His righteousness first and foremost, and that we hear His voice, as it is His desire to speak into our lives. And that’s because He is the key to our existence and success.

You see, God is our creator. Before we were even conceived in our mother’s womb, He knew us, and that He also knows us now, but not only that, He also loves us and has prepared a special calling for each and every one of us.

And we also need to know that He is constantly speaking to us and guiding us in the way that we should go according to His will. What He is asking from us is that we would listen and hear what He is saying, and then be obedient.

In the Old Testament, listening and obeying God’s voice was a very important aspect in the life of God’s people. In respect to discerning His voice, through Moses the Lord said, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in His eyes, and give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.” (Exodus 15:26 NKJV)

So, I think it’s safe to say that it is important that we hear His voice?

To hear His voice, that is to discern that it is God’s voice we are hearing, the first thing we need to do is to check what is being said with God’s Word, the Bible, for God’s guidance never contradicts His Word. Since there are many voices around us, there is the danger of deception. In Isaiah 8:20, the prophet tells us the importance of hearing God through His word. He said, “If they (the people) will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no light of dawn.“

Now, the reason why it is important to hear God’s voice is because when we know that God is speaking to us, a sense of comfort overwhelms our souls that God’s peace will carry us through the dark and difficult times that come our way.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29 NKJV)

To the religious leaders of that day, Jesus asked them, “Why is my language not clear to you?” and then He answered His own question, and it’s “Because you are unable to hear what I say.” (John 8:43 NKJV)

And to make sure they got the point, He said, “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” (John 8:47 NKJV)

Now do you see why it is important that we discern God’s voice over the voice of others?

Now, the definition of discernment is the ability to judge well, and within the context of what we are talking about today it is obtaining spiritual guidance and understanding directly from the Lord God Himself.

We see this meaning from what the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:5.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NKJV)

And so, we get to the two passages that our lesson today is taken from.

Looking at what Jesus said, in both Mark’s gospel and then in Luke’s we see a very important distinction when it comes to hearing God’s voice. Now, both accounts are when Jesus spoke about hiding our light saying no one lights a lamp puts it under a basket, but rather upon a lampstand, for whatever is hidden will be revealed.

And while each gospel says the same thing, there is a distinction when it comes to our hearing it

It’s not only what we hear, but it’s also how we hear it.

So, we need to not only hear what the Lord is saying, but also in how we are hearing it.

“Take heed what you hear … take heed how you hear” (Mark 4:24; Luke 8:18 NKJV)

What We Hear

“Take heed what you hear” (Mark 4:24 NKJV)

One of the greatest privileges we have is to hear God’s word for our lives. We see this in what the Psalmist said in Psalm 89:15.

“Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.” (Psalm 89:15 NKJV)

After speaking to the multitudes in parables, Jesus said to the disciples when they asked why, “Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:16-17 NKJV)

After seeing a miracle and hearing Jesus’s teaching, a woman who cried out, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” But Jesus responded, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27-28 NKJV)

And while it was a blessing to see and hear Jesus while He was upon the earth, it didn’t secure a greater blessing. And we see this in what Jesus said to Thomas after the resurrection.

After telling Thomas to reach and touch His hands and sides, that is, the marks of His death upon the cross, Thomas proclaimed his belief, to which Jesus replied, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 NKJV)

And so, it is in what we are hearing that we know that we’re hearing from the Lord.

Take for instance those of Berea. It says that when the Apostle Paul began to preach the good news of Jesus Christ, that the Bereans were more noble and fair-minded in that they readily heard what Paul was saying, but to make sure it was from God and not from man, they checked it out to see if what he said lined up with the Scriptures (Acts 17:11).

To the elders of the church in Ephesus, Paul said, “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:26-27 NKJV)

Paul was declaring that he was a faithful watchman as described by the Lord to the prophet Ezekiel saying, “I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.” (Ezekiel 3:17 NKJV)

Why is this important, because we have an enemy out there, Satan, who is the father of lies, who either adds and/or subtracts from God’s word, thus placing our very souls in danger. What we need to remember is that if something is 99% the truth, it is still a lie.

Satan told Eve that if she ate the fruit, her eyes would be opened and she would be like God knowing good and evil, and when Adam and Eve ate, their eyes were opened, and they saw that they were naked, thus knowing right from wrong, and good from evil, but they were in no way like God. And because of it, the sin nature was passed down from generation to generation to all of us, thus separating us from God, and not making us into or like God in any way.

Therefore, it is important that we hear what is being said, because error confuses, misleads, condemns, and endangers the salvation of the soul.

There are various voices we hear every day, but I’d like to look at the main three. We hear God’s voice, the enemy’s voice, and our voice. That’s a lot to hear so we need to filter what we hear every day. Let me give you a brief overview of what you may hear from each voice

God’s Voice

God’s voice is perfect. It brings conviction, love, hope, and redemption. It always agrees with scripture. This was something that the Bereans knew well, and that is why they checked out everything Paul said with the Scriptures.

There is only one truth, and that is God and His word, which has been and continues to be true.

What does God’s voice tell us? What is that wisdom from above where we know it is from God? The Apostle James tells us, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” (James 3:17 NKJV)

Jesus made this His prayer for every one of us. He asked the Father to “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17 NKJV)

And Jesus said how those who are His, hear His voice, and the blessing is eternal life.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:27-28 NKJV)

Satan’s Voice

The enemy’s voice creates negative thoughts and confusion. It brings feelings of shame, fear, and condemnation.

And we know this is from the enemy because of what the Apostle James said about demonic wisdom. Earlier we looked at the wisdom that comes from God, but here James describes the wisdom that comes from Satan.

“But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil things are there.” (James 3:14-16 NKJV)

Please know that the voice of the enemy will never move anyone towards the gospel, nor will it ever push anyone to further the kingdom of God by spreading the good news.

When we’re listening the voice of the enemy, it will not help us to bear the fruit of the spirit, which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Instead, it will bring about such things like adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like (Galatians 5).

Our Voice

Our voice usually comes in the first person when we talk, that is, it comes in the form of I and me. It’s basically self-centered and self-focused.

What we need to understand when it comes to hearing our voice over that of God’s is that God is our Creator, and He can see things that we cannot. He knows things that we do not know. So, by doing things through our own strength, we are essentially living this life with ear plugs in. Defiantly we’re trying to move through this world all by ourselves. Instead, we need to let God take control and listen to His voice and not our own.

The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV)

Now, I’ve heard it said that we’ll know when it’s God speaking to us. But if the heart is as deceitful and as wicked as it says, there’s no way. So let’s not believe that what we’re hearing is from God without first checking it out to see if it lines up with His word.

The Apostle John says this, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God.” (1 John 4:1a NKJV)

How We Hear

“Therefore take heed how you hear.” (Luke 8:18a NKJV)

There are several things we need to understand and do in this area of how we hear the voice of the Lord.

The first thing we need to do is to listen with the …

Deepest Reverence

Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10 NKJV)

So, how does this word fear relate to the idea of our hearing God’s voice with awe and reverence?

Although fear and terror are its meaning in the Hebrew language, it is also used as something so awesome that it deserves our total respect and honor. And so, if we want to hear God’s voice, we need to approach not only God but also God’s word with awe, reference, and respect.

We see this within Judaism and God’s word, or the Torah scrolls, and the way they are handled, which is with awe and respect. The scrolls are handled differently than any other book out there because it is God’s word.

Complete Attention

“Therefore, we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.” (Hebrews 2:1 NKJV)

One version reads “We must pay careful attention to.” This fits more accurately to the Greek text, because the Greek word for “to give heed,” means to hold onto to, turn to, or attend to, hence, to pay close attention to something, or to give ones full attention towards something.

“To drift away,” means to flow by, or to drift beyond or past a destination. Within the context of the passage, it means to be spiritually adrift, that is, we haven’t got ourselves anchored to God.

But when we give our full and complete attention to what we are reading from out of God’s word, and thus hearing, then we’ll be able to discern God’s voice for our lives.

An Open Mind

Now, I need to be careful when I say this, because I know some people that are so open minded that they lost their minds.

But when I talk about being open minded it is more like the Bereans, whom Paul said were more noble or fair minded than those from Thessalonica. They didn’t shut Paul down when he spoke, rather they received his teaching without hesitancy, but then they went to the Scriptures to check and make sure that what Paul said lined up with God and His word.

To be open minded is to allow God’s word to speak for itself, and not allow our man-made doctrines get in the way.

Further, one of the problems with many today, especially amongst pastor and teachers of God’s word is that they worry more about their hair, dress, and speech than they do about bringing out the whole of God’s truth. These individuals speak in clever words, where they can turn a phrase to turn people’s heads, but not their hearts and minds towards Christ. In a way they are more style than substance.

We should be more open to what is being said than how it is being said.

The Apostle Paul would be an excellent example of this as he really didn’t look the part. He was small, frail, bent over from the various things he went through. He even said that is how others viewed him.

“For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” (2 Corinthians 10:10 NKJV)

Now, while there are other aspect of how we are to listen, that is by faith, by prayer, and with an obedient spirit, the above three I think give to us what Jesus meant when he said it is not only what we hear but how we hear it that helps us determine and discern the voice of the Lord.

Conclusion

Let me end our time together by giving the most practical steps that I can to help us discern God’s voice over all the other voices out there.

First, Study God’s Word.

The most important way to know if it is God’s voice that we’re hearing is to simply check it against scripture.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV)

And then take time to pray.

Going back to the Apostle James and what he said.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5 NKJV)

Let me end by saying that hearing and discerning God’s voice is so important that we must seek his voice with all diligence because it will be life changing when we do.

The Apostle Paul said it like this.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17 NKJV)

Now, whenever we see or hear the word, “word,” in the Greek language it is the word “logos,” which means the written word. But that is not the case in this passage. The Greek word for “word,” here is the word “Rhema.” “Rhema” means the spoken word. So, we need to listen to the Lord speak His “rhema,” through His “logos,” that is, we need to hear God speak His word through His written word.









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