7 Questions to Help You Recognize the Voice of the Shepherd

  • Victoria Riollano
7 Questions to Help You Recognize the Voice of the Shepherd

It’s been said that God’s voice, your own voice, and the enemy’s voice sound very similar in our heads. However, when we look throughout the Bible, we see the Lord asking His people to listen to His voice.

It’s fair to assume that the Lord wouldn’t ask us to listen if it was impossible to hear. Indeed, the Lord speaks often; we must have the “ears to hear.” In other words, our level of attentiveness and choice to spend time with Him will put us in the best position to hear His voice clearly.

When we follow any other voice, we are certain to set ourselves up for defeat and become prisoners to our own thoughts and the schemes of the enemy.

The Lord calls himself the Shepherd throughout the Scriptures. This metaphor is intentional, as a shepherd is serious about his job. With great care, he watches over His flock, ensuring that all are well taken care of, accounted for, and protected from things that would bring them harm.

Though the shepherd cares for many, he is intentional about each one. His job is to never lead them astray, and their response is to simply listen and follow. When we know that God has our best interests at heart, we can trust His leading and follow His voice wholeheartedly.

With this in mind, here are seven questions to ask yourself to determine if God is speaking to you.

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1. Does it line up with the Word?

1. Does it line up with the Word?

The first way to know if God is speaking or not is to align the voice you hear with the Word of God. The truth is, God will not go against His word. He will not speak to you in a way that would cause Him to negate what He’s already said or that would contradict His holiness.

For example, God would never tell a woman that someone else’s husband is supposed to be hers. In the same way, God won't encourage you to do anything that we see reflected in Galatians 5:19-21. These things go against the will of God. If you feel the urge to participate in them, your own flesh or the enemy is leading you.

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2. Does it bring condemnation?

2. Does it bring condemnation?

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)

In the biblical sense, condemnation refers to strong disapproval that demands harsh punishment. Often, when we commit a sin, the enemy tries to bring condemnation. We will hear voices in our head that put us to shame and cause us to question how someone like us can be forgiven.

The Holy Spirit brings conviction. The difference here is that the Lord will remind you that your identity is not in your trespass and will encourage you not to do it again. Conviction, instead of causing you torment, gives you the desire to change your actions. God’s voice will provide correction, but will not leave you with immense shame.

Condemnation causes you to focus on your weakness; conviction reminds you that God can give you the strength to overcome your weakness.

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3. Does it reflect God’s character?

3. Does it reflect God’s character?

When God speaks, it reflects His heart toward you and other people. If there is a voice that contradicts God’s unconditional love, it is not from God.

When we have hateful, envious, deceptive, or shameful thoughts, this contradicts His leading.

The best way to know His character is through relationship. As we seek to spend more quiet time with Him, we can easily discern if the words we are hearing line up with who He is.

From Genesis to Revelation, we find a God who is just, loyal, loving, and attentive to His people. This is why studying the Word of God is so important. The more we learn His ways, the more we can readily know when He is speaking. He will not compromise His character or His goodness.

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4. Does it challenge you to do better?

4. Does it challenge you to do better?

The Lord has no issue with speaking a word of correction. We see this throughout the Old Testament with the Israelites and in the New Testament with the disciples. In countless instances, the Lord encourages His people to trust Him and do what He has asked.

Often, when the Lord brings correction in my life, it is a confirmation of what I already know. The interesting thing is that God will often use a person to bring the challenge. We must be willing to have “ears to hear” when God wants to speak, even if we don’t prefer the messenger God uses.

The enemy will usually not send a voice of encouragement to do the “right thing.” God, however, desires for us to live a life that is righteous. He will challenge us to make every effort to be holy. Though He recognizes we are merely humans and struggle with sin, He will speak to us when we miss the mark. Our goal is to avoid becoming so stubbornly rooted in our sin that we are closed to change.

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5. Does it cause destruction?

5. Does it cause destruction?

The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). It is his desire to rob you of the goodness that God has in store. One way to discern if God is speaking is to determine three things.

  • Does this thought steal something from me? (My strength, my positivity, my desire)
  • Does it kill or will it kill me or someone else? (Emotionally, mentally or physically)
  • Could it destroy something important to me? (My relationship, my career, my health)

Chances are, if you can answer yes to these questions about a voice that’s leading you, it's not God’s voice. However, God's voice will sometimes bring pain; sometimes, he asks us to give things up and it feels like destruction. Only His Spirit can bring absolute clarity. Ultimately, God's voice will not lead you to destruction but to life and wellness.

Learning about the enemy’s tricks when it comes to the battlefield of our mind is a very important aspect of our Christian journey. Without an awareness of the distinct difference between God’s voice and the enemy’s voice we can easily fall prey to the devices of the enemy.

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8-9)

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6. Does it bring peace?

6. Does it bring peace?

Even when the Lord brings conviction, He also brings peace. Often, we have anxiety over situations when we have failed to listen to His voice. Though we will face times when we are unsure which path to take, the Lord speaks calm, steadiness, patience, endurance, and peace over our circumstances.

This is why a person in the worst trial of their life can still have joy and peace. Simply put, they have made a choice to follow the Shepherd’s voice and trust Him for the journey ahead. When we learn to fully trust the Lord, we can feel immense peace and a sense of rest when He leads us to do something—even when it is uncomfortable.

If the voice speaking to you causes anxiety, depression, or fear, it might not be the Lord’s voice.

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7. Has He sent confirmation?

7. Has He sent confirmation?

For life changing decisions, God may also send confirmation that you are on the right path. It can be through a dream (Job 33:14-15) or another source. Sometimes, God will send a person to speak to you in passing on the very thing you were praying for.

I have also experienced the Lord confirm His leading through my children bringing up a topic or a television show that echoes the same sentiment. As Pastor Robert Madu says, “God can speak to you in absolutely any situation if we are willing to hear it.”

As Christians, we must seek His voice with great intentionality. If we follow His lead, we know that we will always be in the hands of a Shepherd who seeks to care for us and keep us out of danger.

When we learn to follow His voice, we can quickly cast away every thought that is not from Him (2 Corinthians 10:5). In this, the believer is empowered to live the life that God has called them to from the beginnings of the earth without fear.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)


Victoria Riollano is an author, blogger, and speaker. As a mother of six, military spouse, Psychology professor and minister’s wife, Victoria has learned the art of balancing family and accomplishing God’s ultimate purpose for her life. Recently, Victoria released her book, The Victory Walk: A 21 Day Devotional on Living A Victorious Life.  Her ultimate desire is to empower women to live a life of victory, hope, and love. She believes that with Christ we can live a life that is ALWAYS winning. You can learn more about her ministry at victoryspeaks.org.

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