Recognizing the Voice of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit isn’t a ghost, as some refer to him, or some mystical being. He is a person, and an integral part of the Trinity. He is the one who advocates for us, counsels us, and guides us in all truth (John 16:13). God is truth, and 1 John instructs us to test the spirits to tell whether or not they are from God. We will know whether or not the spirit guiding us is from God if he acknowledges that Jesus Christ is from the Father, and he is Lord. If the spirit does not do this, he is not from God (1 John 4:3).
Another way to know whether or not the Holy Spirit is speaking to us is to ask ourselves whether the voice is consistent with God’s Word.
Some questions that can help direct us are: Does the nudge or guidance we received glorify God or ourselves? Is it for our own personal benefit, or does it benefit the kingdom of God? Does it show love for God and others? If the answer to any of these questions reveals a desire to glorify ourselves, we can know we’re not hearing from the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit also does not cause confusion or anxiety. He does not cause double-mindedness or a divided spirit. Unlike the way Jesus often spoke to the Pharisees, he does not speak to us in parables. Jesus spoke to the Pharisees this way because he knew their hearts, and their hearts did not seek him. The Spirit, on the other hand, doesn’t leave a trail of breadcrumbs for us to follow or a puzzle for us to try to put together. His voice is direct, firm, and concise. We see this characteristic numerous times in Acts, when he tells the disciples and apostles not only where to go, but where not to go. In some cases, he physically keeps them from entering certain areas.
“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.” (Acts 16:6 NIV)
This clarity from the Spirit doesn’t mean that acting upon his Word will create trouble-free sailing or a life devoid of problems. As a matter of fact, our obedience to God’s voice sometimes leads to testing and trials. However, when we do encounter difficulties, we will also experience God’s unexplainable peace. We will know he is with us, equipping us to do his will.
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