How do I know if I am hearing from God? How do I know if that prophetic word was right? How do I know what God's will is? These are some typical questions Christians ask.
During this past September's School of Apostles and Prophets (SOAP), Apostle Ricci Hausley, founder of SEPC, taught an informative and helpful message entitled "How to Discern the Voice of God". He continued with it on church the following Sunday. He structured his message around what God's voice is not, in order to show us what his voice is. Apostle Ricci taught us five things that God's voice is not. Whether we receive a prophetic word from a prophet or hear God’s voice for ourselves, we need to discern the word and keep these five things in mind.
1. God's voice will not contradict the Bible.
Prophets and prophetic words don't minimize the importance of knowing the written Word of God. We can't focus so much on prophecy that we don't read our bibles. 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 states "Do not despise prophetic utterances, but examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good".
Likewise, if God speaks directly to us, we still must judge that to see if it agrees with what is written in His Word. Sometimes we may think that God is speaking to us but the voice may be coming from our own thoughts, or it could be coming from the enemy.
2. God's voice is not the voice of confusion.
Oftentimes in life, we come to a fork in the road and have to make a decision. This could be regarding ministry, career or any life decision. What should my major be in college? Which job should I take? Should I get involved in this ministry? Is this the person God wants me to marry? As Christians should, we often ask God to guide us in what direction to take. We could be praying or just thinking and believe that we hear the voice of God regarding the decision. How do we know for sure if this is God speaking? An important thing we look for is peace. If we feel uncomfortable or confused about a decision, it is never from God.
I used to have a bad habit of hearing God's voice and feeling peace but then going back and trying to reason out what had been heard, trying to make sense of it logically. Needless to say, I would sometimes end up being disobedient to God because I would listen more to human logic than to the Holy Spirit.
3. God's voice is not complicated.
I have heard people say things like “How do you know if God is speaking to you?” or “God just doesn’t speak to me. If he does, I don’t understand him.” Some people may be looking for a super spiritual revelation or loud booming voice when listening for God’s voice. Others may think too logically and reason that a big God would not want to talk to regular people. I usually tell these people that God desires to speak to everyone and that he speaks in a way you could understand. God speaks simply.
When Apostle Ricci spoke about this during SOAP, he mentioned that 2/3 of the world’s population reads below a sixth grade level. God will not speak in some lofty, complicated way that most people won't understand. Apostle made another good point by saying that the message of salvation is so simple that even a child could understand it. This shows how simple God is!
4. God's voice will not leave you in a state of anxiety and distress.
The voice of God will not instill fear and anxiety in our lives. God is the Prince of Peace. Fear is not in his nature. The voice of God will never “rush” us to make a decision based on fear or worry. Most decisions that we make hastily come from our emotions, not the voice of God. This is very important to keep in mind when making decisions. We should never do things too quickly because our emotions will often rush us.
5. God's voice does not bring condemnation.
Apostle Ricci taught that God tries to adjust us, not condemn us. He will never make us feel guilty or ashamed. If we hear a voice in our head that says something like “You really messed this up”, then this is not from God. This is straight from the enemy and needs to be discarded. God will never embarrass us in front of other people either. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. If we receive a prophecy that is harsh and judgmental, then it is not from God. Prophecy is supposed to edify, comfort and exhort.