Is this voice God’s?

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Unable to focus. Low to midrange anxiety. An overall feeling of yuckiness.

I know this experience all too well. Looming and overwhelming, this emotion throws a damper onto every subsequent action. Both plans and projects are affected by a general impression that something is wrong. 

And that something is probably me. Ever felt that way?

Over the years, I’ve found the following guideline helpful for getting out of the fog. I can’t remember where I read it, but the statement goes something like this: “Most often, the devil deals in generalities, but the Holy Spirit deals with specifics.” It’s simply a matter of finding out who is behind the voice. 

The Voice of God speaks in a way you can hear. His communication is through words, not emotions. Granted, His message can cause our hearts to “burn within us” (Luke 24:32), but He promises that “Whoever is of God hears the words of God” (John 8:47). His sheep (that’s us) hear His Voice, plain and simple (John 10:27). Let me repeat. He deals with us in a way we can comprehend. 

Think of it from the other point of view. If we are unable to discern His specific Voice, why would He urge us to call? “Call to Me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah 33:3). If He made understanding Him difficult, why would He exhort us so often to do so?

The Voice of God speaks definitely. He uses simple, understandable impressions. “He, your Teacher, will no longer hide Himself…Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left (Isaiah 30:21).” This way. This particular pathway. Here it is.

On his way to Damascus, Saul (later called Paul) received clear-cut directions from Jesus. “Rise, enter the city, and it will be told you what to do” (Acts 9:6). Later, during an Antioch prayer meeting, God’s Voice specifically gave Saul and his friend directions. “The Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2). In a vision, God Voice explicitly told Peter, “Kill, and eat!” (Acts 11:7)

The Voice of God’s Spirit speaks to reveal, not condemn. We’ve memorized Romans 8:1 that tells us there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. However, our childhood upbringing to “be kind, be nice and say you’re sorry” often conflicts with the Truth. May I reverently submit that God’s Voice doesn’t always sound like our mother’s? “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him” (John 3:17). 

The evil one, on the other hand, deals in generalities. Unlike the pointed directions given to you by the Lord, the devil often makes abstract and sweeping statements that are hard to pin down. 

The voice of the evil one covers lots of ground. Like a hungry lion, he roams around, seeking an emotion in which he can sink his teeth (1 Peter 5:8). Named the accuser (Revelation 12:10), he never stops with just one indictment. He continues firing the flaming missiles, each of which is another example of your shame (Ephesians 6:16). He quickly sparks your thoughts to jump from one fault to another until your emotions are heavily laden with guilt. The accuser will then be so bold as to drag up past sins, for which you have repented of long ago. 

God’s Spirit will never bring to mind past wrongdoings, for He packs up our sins and takes them away from us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). “I will remember their sins no more,” He says (Hebrews 8:12). 

The voice of the evil one seeks to confuse. In Asia, we often took volunteer groups into Buddhist or Taoist temples for prayer-walking. Because these were locations of idol worship, the shrines brimmed with demonic activity. We always knew to expect a fogginess or a sudden headache upon entering the compound, so we took Scripture cards for instant prayer reference.

The devil’s work is to muddle the Word in your mind. In non-believers, he comes and “takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12). As a believer, the accuser cannot take away the Word implanted in your heart, nor can he snatch you out of the Father’s hand (James 1:21; John 10:28). However, he can confuse you so that you cannot think clearly or recall a single Scripture. This evidence of disorientation makes it evident that this voice is not of the Father. “Our God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33 KJV).

When the voice of the evil one is specific, it is always in direct contradiction to a written Word of God. Satan’s first confrontation with man proved thus. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die’…And the serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely shall not die!’”(Genesis 2:16-17; 3:4).

The devil’s tempting words with Jesus Himself contradicted Truth as well. “And the devil said to (Jesus), ‘If You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only” (Luke 4:7-8).

So how can we know?

Pause and ask God. “Father, I feel (uneasy, uncertain, guilty, anxious, etc.…), but I’m not sure why. If there is something You are trying to talk to me about, please be specific. Is there a sin I need to confess to You?” 

Then wait for a few moments. Deal with Him and any specifics He brings to mind. If you hear nothing, pray, “Father, I am still open to hearing from You about this. However, at this point, I am going to treat this fog as the enemy’s tactic. I reject it in the Name of Jesus. I resist the evil one, firm in my faith (1 Peter 5:8). I will not allow this uneasy anxiety to rule my day. I say, “No!” to the enemy because Your grace empowers me to do so (Titus 2:11-12 NIV). Come, God of peace, and replace the evil one’s voice with Your own. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

In the beginning, you may need to do this several times a day. I’ve had instances in which I’ve needed to pray this prayer several times an hour. The devil is very persistent. But, as you become increasingly familiar with God’s Word, the accuser’s glaring inconsistencies will also become more apparent. We will not be ignorant of his schemes, even when he tries to disguise himself (2 Corinthians 2:11; 11:14), for victory is on our side. The unmistakable voice of God within you will outmaneuver the confusing voice of the evil one surrounding you (1 John 4:4).