God’s Voice, Demonic Promptings, and My Own Thoughts
It is often very tricky to figure out what promptings, desires or urges are from God, so if I’m not sure it’s God I wait for more confirmations. As God leads us to do things, he gives greater or lesser confirmations, depending on what he’s leading us to do.
The bible says God uses our own desires and will to lead us.¹ I have often had a strong desire to do something, and it turned out to be the Holy Spirit. I know this by the fruit it produced.² Apart from God I can do nothing, and a demonic desire will not produce good fruit, because Satan detests anything that does more good than evil.³
When God begins a good work in us, he promised to help us bring it to completion.⁴ But this doesn’t mean it will be easy. In fact if God is leading us, then we can expect spiritual warfare.⁵ The bible is filled with examples of men and women who experienced resistance to the things God was leading them to do. For example, Moses was created to be a leader, but he got rejected by the people he was called to lead.⁶ Also Joseph, David, the prophets etcetera, all have stories of resistance to God’s plan for their life.
I’ve been told it’s not good to question God, probably from the verse that says don’t put the Lord your God to the test. This is originally from Moses telling the Israelites not to sin, and test God’s patients; and Jesus also re-quoted it telling Satan he would not jump off the temple roof, just because his Father promised to protect him.⁷ When I look at the scriptures, there are many examples of people asking God for proof, a sign or more clarification about what he was telling them (like Joshua, Abraham and Mary).⁸ The scriptures encourage us to test, examine and question God in different ways, including his prophesies, his promises, and his character.⁹ If God loves us, and asks us to do something, why wouldn’t he clarify if we get confused or doubt. The only times I can think of God getting angry at doubt or confusion, are when he’s given us plenty of information, but we still don’t believe him, or we refuse to obey him. Like when Zechariah doubted God would give him a son, or when Moses kept complaining about talking to pharaoh, or when Jonah refused to go to Nineveh.¹⁰In these cases God wasn’t angry because they were confused and seeking more clarification. God was upset at them because they doubted his ability to help them do what he was saying. He had already given them enough information to trust him, but they still chose to doubt or disobey him. Because God is the author and perfecter of our faith, we can’t develop knowledge and trust in God over night.¹¹ The fact that God builds our faith over time, and the examples in the bible, should encourage us to pray for clarification when we are unsure or doubting.¹²
The more we interact with God, and the more he does in our lives, the more we learn to trust and recognize him.¹³ This is why I believe the apostles and Jesus spoke with such authority.¹⁴ They had experienced God’s promptings, passions and urges so many times, that they had a confidence it was him. They knew God set up their circumstances, and they recognized his leading to say or do something.¹⁵
The enemy also works in ways we can learn to discern.¹⁶The scripture tells us the characteristics of evil, and Satan is evil in every way. If we are experiencing greed, anger, lust, jealousy, or anxiety, there are likely demonic forces involved. For example if we are prompted in a way that feels like an infomercial add, (buy now or you'll miss out), and if it feels like greed, inpatients or other selfish motives might be influencing our decision, then we should not be quick to act on those promptings. One example of a demonic prompting is right after Jesus explained he would be killed. Peter said may this never be. Peter loved Jesus and had dropped everything to follow him, so if Jesus died, Peter’s world would have been thrown into chaos. Peter was not trusting God’s plan, but trying to achieve his own. Jesus exposed Peter’s thoughts as being demonic in nature by looking directly at Peter and addressing the devil to get behind him.⁴²
In my own life I have had lots of demonic influences, I have had demons give me horrible dreams and then wake me up to scripture verses about God’s wrath. At first I thought it was God, because I would wake up as my audio bible started verses which were relevant to the sins I did in my dreams. Years later, God allowed me to see a black cloud over my bed when I would wake up from these demonic dreams. Many times the enemy has used supernatural thoughts or circumstances to guide me into seemingly good things. For example, on my drive home from a long night of evangelizing, I saw someone smoking on the curb. Although I was exhausted and had to work early the next day, verses like, “whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin," came to my mind. I felt so guilty, that I parked and started walking over to him as I prayed for God’s help. But when I got to him, he had gone inside. I knew if God had lead me he would still be there. It was obvious to me that I had been tricked again by the enemy. Now I have learned to pray and expect God to confirm or expose questionable promptings. Also, I have noticed that when a demon is trying to guilt me into talking to someone or doing something, which God had not planned, there is often a lack of peace. I noticed that the enemy tries to exasperate me, by asking me to do things God has not strengthened me for. Also, like peter, the enemy sometimes convicts me to say something that would hinder God’s work in someones life.
Discerning promptings takes time. There are also some impulses or promptings, that both the Holy Spirit and demons use. For example, Jesus was right to get angry at the misuse of God’s temple, but Moses was not right to strike the rock twice in his anger.¹⁷ Anger can be from God or the enemy. In the same way the Holy Spirit can give us a healthy fear of something that isn’t good, or the enemy can give us an unhealthy fear of something that is good. We need to be careful about letting impulses guide us, because like fear and anger there are many promptings, that can either help or distract us from God’s purposes.
If the Holy Spirit or demons are not prompting me, there can still be natural or fleshly promptings to do something. For example, during a fast I naturally get hungry, and during evangelism I naturally get tired. If God has lead me to do something, I need to be cautious in accepting something like tiredness as a sign that God wants me to quit. Natural hardships are often interwoven with demonic influences, because the enemy likes to take advantage of our circumstances. There is a bible verse that says, Satan left Jesus to come back at a more opportune time.¹⁸ Whenever I’m going through something hard, I’ve come to expect spiritual warfare. The scripture also says we are lured by our own sinful desires.²⁰ The word lured seems to me to imply demonic influence, but it says these lures involve our own natural desires. An example of this is when Satan tempted Jesus to end his 40 day fast early, by turning a rock into bread.¹⁹It’s natural for Jesus to be hungry, but Satan supernaturally tempted Jesus with his own hunger.
There are too many other Characteristics and ways God or the enemy prompts us, to write them all down, but it’s good for us to know the basics, so we’re not ignorant of Satan's schemes, or miss God’s promptings, because of our lack of knowledge.²¹
Every person is different, but God speaks to each of us in a way that we can understand. There are many subtleties in the voice of God, and not all of the characteristics of God’s voice are present every time he speaks. Here is a list of some of the characteristics of God’s voice that I look for:
- I normally have peace when he speaks.²²
- I can sometimes feel his love when he speaks.²³
- My Spirit rejoices in the truths he shows me.²⁴
- He reaffirms what he says in the Bible.²⁵
- Godly men or women sometimes reaffirm what he is showing me.²⁶
- While I wait or strive to do what God is prompting, he will begin to work out small details, to reaffirm that I’m on the right track.¹¹
- He answers specific questions regarding what he told me.²⁷
- He only tells me to do things that are good and are in line with the bible. Like helping someone, or taking a nature hike to think and pray through something.²⁸
- Lastly, the ways he speaks are characteristic of how he revealed himself in the bible. For example he is loving, kind and patient, but not proud, rude, self seeking, or easily angered.²⁹
Although the enemies voice is often similar to the Holy Spirit, there are many generalities that I look for, such as:
- Act quick or you’ll miss it.³⁰
- Fear of consequences if I don’t act.³¹
- Selfish motives disguised as pure. For example: God won’t do what I want, like bless me with a relationship, or take me out of a trial, until I do what I’m feeling prompted to do.³²
- The enemy can use our greed to trick us into thinking our greedy desires are actually a way God wants to bless us.³³
- The enemy can also use our quick temper to trick us into justifying harsh words or actions.³⁴
- The enemy will often oppose or hinder what God is teaching me, or prompting me to do.³⁵ For example I might feel like I need to check my email in the middle of my bible reading.
- The ways the enemy prompts me to do things are in line with his evil personality, he is self seeking, angry, prideful, self-sustaining, fearful, etc. For example, I might be prompted to worry about what someone thinks about me, instead of loving them.³⁶
- The enemy almost always uses twisted scripture with me.³⁷ For example, I will feel guilty for not giving away more money. Then bible verses will come to mind like, the widow who put in all she had. Or Jesus telling the rich young man, to sell all his possessions, and give the money to the poor. (The true interpretation is that, we must be willing to give up everything, if God leads us.)
I’m becoming better at discerning spirits, but I still find myself in confusion quite a bit. I have asked God to increase my discernment, so that I will always know who’s prompting me. But God showed me that I will always need him, even with a gift of discernment. We can’t rely on our own intellect and knowledge to escape Satan’s schemes.³⁸ A man who is wise in his own eyes is a fool.³⁹ The scripture says God made us to rely on him at our mothers breast.⁴⁰Fortunately, we don’t have to outwit the wolf; we just have to stay with the shepherd. God wants us to be dependent on him, just like a mother likes caring for her child. God wants us to need him, like a husband wants to feel needed by his wife. As long as our heart is submitted in obedience to God, he promised to help us through this life.⁴¹
① Philippians 2:13 ② Matthew 7:16 ③ John 15:5 / John 8:44 ④ Philippians 1:6 ⑤ Luke 9:23 / Ephesians 6:12 ⑥ Acts 7:27–29 ⑦ Deuteronomy 6:16–17 / Deuteronomy 9:22 / Luke 4:9–12 ⑧ Judges 6:36-40 / Luke 1:34 / Genesis 15:1–6 ⑨ Psalm 34:8 / Malachi 3:10 / 1 Thessalonians 5:20–21 / Acts 17:11 ⑩ Jonah 1:1-3 / Luke 1:11-23 / Exodus 4:1–17 ⑪ Hebrews 12:2 ⑫ Genesis 15:1–6 / Mark 9:23–24 ⑬ Hebrews 5:14 ⑭ Acts 4:13 ⑮ John 10:27-28 ⑯ 2 Corinthians 2:11 ⑰ John 2:13–17 / Numbers 20:10–12 ⑱ Luke 4:13 ⑲ Matthew 4:1 / Matthew 4:3 ⑳ James 1:14 ㉑ Hosea 4:6 / 2 Corinthians 2:11 ㉒ Philippians 4:7 ㉓ 1 John 4:16 ㉔ 1 Corinthians 13:6 ㉕ Hebrews 5:14 / Isaiah 44:26 ㉖ Isaiah 44:26 ㉗ Philippians 4:6 ㉘ Deuteronomy 13:1–5 / Exodus 33:19 ㉙ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 / Galatians 5:22-23 ㉚ Philippians 4:6 ㉛ Isaiah 41:10 ㉜ Philippians 2:3 ㉝ Luke 12:15 ㉞ James 1:19-20 ㉟ 1 Kings 13:16–18 ㊱ Galatians 5:19–21 ㊲ Genesis 3:1 / Luke 4:9–13 ㊳ Hebrews 2:6–7 ㊴ Proverbs 26:12 ㊵ Psalm 22:9 ㊶ Isaiah 26:3 ㊷ Matthew 16:23
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