I know that I do. Some voices I want to hear, but others I do not. Some voices are for my benefit and the benefit of my relationship with God. But other voices are trying to tear me down, trying to destroy me. Perhaps you might think that I’m schizophrenic. Perhaps you might think that I need to go to a psychiatrist. But Jesus also heard these voices—so did Peter, Elijah, Moses, Abraham and many others. Anyone who has a connection with the spirit world hears voices. A lot of people do. Some of them are on drugs, some of them are very religious, some of them really are crazy. Many of these voices are a way for us to connect with the spirit world.
But we need to understand something important about the spirit world: it is not all good. Some people are impressed just because they have had a connection with the spirit world. They think that they are important because they have had a vision, or because they have seen an angel, or because they hear a voice that claims to be from God. But what many people do not understand is that the spirit world is fraught with danger. It is filled with beings who will deceive humans and attempt to destroy them. In order to make sense of one and another, we need to have clear discernment.
We all hear voices everyday. We will often have discussions with ourselves, debating different sides of a decision we need to make, or different moral points of view. Certainly, not all of these voices are from the spirit world. Some are just from our own head, and some are from other people. It requires great wisdom and discernment to distinguish between voices. It also takes time and persistence to figure out who is who. Below are some of the voices that I deal with and they are sometimes difficult to tell them apart from one another. Some guidelines are given that help me to distinguish one voice from another.
The “flesh” is a term in the Bible for the natural human desires we all have. Hunger, sexual desire, anger, insecurity, significance—these are all a part of our lives, and they play a big part of what we want and do not want. However, we need to remember that our desire is just one part of who we are and what we think is ultimately important. There are many other voices that speak to us, trying to convince us to act in their ways. The voice of “the flesh” is interested in self-gratification, and that as quickly as possible. We need to recognize the voice of the Flesh, but also we need to set these desires aside if it is not ultimately in our best interest.
Delusion is simple confusion, our minds in chaos. We may try to make sense of things, but our conclusions are not reasonable to anyone else—often not even ourselves. Although people diagnosed as “mentally ill” are commonly seen as deluded, yet everyone deals with a certain amount of delusion sometimes. Often we have to swallow our pride and ask some one else if what we are thinking makes sense. If it does not, then our delusional thoughts we just need to set aside. And if delusion is persistent in our lives, then we will need to ignore it as soon as we recognize it. Ignoring it does not make the delusion go away—but it makes it ineffective in our lives.
The World is society and all the organization of it—governments, corporations, churches, schools, families, peers, etc. All of the “building blocks” of society is what might be called “the World”. The World may seem on the surface to be something outside of you, and yet it has its voices in our heads trying to tell us what to do. Our “mother’s” voice may be telling us what we should do for the family. Our “boss’” voice may tell us what to do for the company. And we may have a “patriotic” voice telling us what to do for our country—and on and on. The World has it’s own idea of morality and significance that may be good for you or may not. But the World is distinguished by telling us what we need to do for the group, the organization, the society. We need to do what is right and proper for the group that we feel a part of—this is what the voices of the World are telling us. However, the Bible tells us that we should separate ourselves from the World. We should recognize that God’s morality and the world’s morality come from a different source, and listening to the World and obeying it will ultimately lead to separation from God and our destruction, though it may seem seductively moral.
There are a whole variety of spirits in the spirit world that is interested in only one thing—destroying us. These spirits will talk to us, and they make so much sense and they are so convincing that we could meet our needs (the Flesh) or society’s needs (the World), if only we would make some small compromises with God… We all have some basic notions of what is right and wrong that come from God. The evil spirits want us to destroy ourselves by disobeying God and so making it right for God to destroy us. If we worship any God apart from the true God, or if we deliberately ignore the right God wants us to do, then we are threatening our very life. God destroys the rebellious, and evil spirits want to make us rebellious. So evil spirits will try to convince us to worship untrue gods. They will try to spur us on with fear and judging others. They will accuse us, trying to convince us that we are separated from God and that we can never return to Him. And evil spirits will, if they can, try to convince us to do things that will destroy us—making stupid choices or committing suicide. If an evil spirit is speaking to you and trying to attack you—or if it is trying to seduce you into doing evil—then you must tell the spirits to get lost. Don’t be shy—speak against them and let them know that they are not welcome. Basically, tell them to go away.
Finally, we can hear God. God has true messengers, called angels; and he has his perfect representative, called Jesus; and he has his power living within Jesus’ people, called the Holy Spirit. God desires us to live for him, and he wants to give us significance, and life, and security and peace. He alone wants our well being AND knows how to give it to us. Sometimes God tells us what we don’t want to hear—he says difficult things. Sometimes God makes amazing promises that are hard to believe—but he expects us to believe him anyway. And God talks to us. Everyday. He tells us how he loves us. He tells us how to be right with him. He tells us what we need to do. We can recognize God’s voice because it is the same as his Son, Jesus. Jesus is the one who best represents God and the Spirit Jesus sends among us is the voice of God that we hear through Jesus. Thus, if we know Jesus’ voice—the things he would say—then we know what God sounds like. And it is God’s voice alone that we should always obey, and always listen to.
It is not easy to hear God’s voice. We have all these other voices in our heads—all of them telling us what to do. Some of these voices are loud, and some demand our attention. God doesn’t often do that. If we want to hear God, we have to go out of our way to do it. We need to take time to listen to him, and to tell all the other voices to shut up. We need to specifically listen to God and to focus on him. He is not always dramatic, and he doesn’t always speak right when we want him to. But if we are to listen to God, then we must ask Him to reveal Himself. And he will—if we ask, we will receive God.
• The flesh always promotes us, the Spirit often tells us what we don’t want to hear
• Delusion lies, the Spirit always speaks reality
• The world points away from Jesus’ words, the Spirit is always encouraging us to do Jesus’ teaching
• Evil spirits create despair, the Spirit convicts toward forgiveness