By Ps. Jerry
We know that God speaks. We have also learnt how He speaks. But how do we know whether what we heard is from God? Maybe it is from my own desires, from my flesh or from the evil one? How can I be sure that it is God’s voice?
There are five foundational principles which you have to hold on to in order to know God’s leading:
1. God wants to fellowship with you, therefore He made you in His image. The book of Genesis tells us that before Adam and Eve sinned, they walked together with God in the cool of the day.
2. He planned, made and ordained you in advance, long before you were born. You are not an afterthought. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb; I knew you, before you were born, I sanctified you. I ordained you to be a prophet to the nations.” You are not here by accident.
3. God loves you. He operates in love. In Jeremiah 31:3, God declares, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you.” His love for you is steadfast and everlasting.
4. God is a detailed God. In Luke 12:7 Jesus said, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” He has even numbered each hair on your head.
5. God treats you like sons and daughters. Hebrews 12:7-8 reads, “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all become partakers, then you are illegitimate, and not sons.” When Jesus taught His disciples how pray, they were told to address God as “Our Father in Heaven.”
God made you for fellowship – He wants to walk, talk, teach, guide and bless you. He planned and formed you in advance and in detail to give you life and that life more abundantly. In light of these five foundational principles, there are ten tests that will help you discern if what you are hearing is from God. The ten tests are:
TEST 1: DOES IT LINE UP WITH THE WORD OF GOD? IS THERE ANY PRECEDENT? The rationale behind this test is that God will never contradict Himself. God will always keep His word. We may break our word, but not God. You can stand on the word of God and all His promises. When God gives something, He will never take it back – Romans 11:23 says, for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. This is because God will keep HIS word even to HIS own hurt. The Bible tells us that God gives man a free will. Is He going to take it back? No! If He makes Balaam a prophet, GOD will not take it back. You may suffer different consequences for not following God. But the gifts are irrevocable.
God says in His word, in Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a man soweth He shall also reap.” Many Christians are suffering as a consequence of what they have sown. Therefore, watch what you are sowing. Sow love, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness and you will reap love, kindness, gentleness and forgiveness. Bless those around you, and you will reap blessings.
When God says something, HE means it. If HE says HE loves you with an everlasting love – HE means it. Don’t doubt it. If HE says by my stripes you are healed – HE means it. Psalm 15:1-4 says, “Who will dwell on his holy hill … he who keeps his word to his own hurt.” God is like this. Therefore, if anyone says to you that the Lord told him that he can break His word, then the voice that he has heard was not God’s. It does not line up with HIS nature. We have to always check that our decisions and choices line up with God’s word. “I can read the Bible during office hours” sounds very spiritual but God says do your work as unto the Lord – not to cheat your employer using their time to do your own thing. God will not contradict Himself.
A controversial issue is where you might encounter a situation where you perceive that the authority above you is unfair or doing wrong. Should you fight it or resist the authority? Romans 13:1-2 clearly says, “Let every soul be subject to governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” In an incident which happened with Susanna, Ps Raymond Koh’s wife, the press misquoted her as saying that she rebukes the Prime Minister for setting up the task force in this manner. We immediately called up the press and told them to retract that statement. Susanna is in no position to rebuke the Prime Minister. She is pleading with the Prime Minister and with the Minister of Home Affairs because we recognise the authorities that God has placed over us.
God’s word says in 1 Peter 2:18, “Servants be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.” Doesn’t this mean even when the bosses are difficult with me, scolding me, and are harsh that I must be submissive? If you are hearing something else, then it is not from God.
Let me share with you an example from my own life. About 25 years ago, I was the church board secretary in Grace Klang. As a young lawyer, I felt now I am the watchmen/guardian to protect the interests of the church, even against the Senior Pastor. I had an issue with some of the things Pastor Henry wanted to do. During one of my prayer times with the Lord, the Holy Spirit came into the room and I began to weep for people, for the church etc. and it went on for quite a while – I knew it was not me but the Spirit praying through me. Suddenly I remembered my issue with Pastor Henry and I brought it before the Lord, I started by saying, “Can you show Pastor Henry…”, and before I could say anything else, the atmosphere changed drastically and I knew something had happened, a distinct difference. I asked “What happened?” God said to me, “Henry, you leave to me.” Your job is to support and submit. From that day on to date, I wholly supported and I submitted to Pastor Henry and still continue to do so. And it has been a wonderful journey.
Why did God do that? Well, it is in line with the word of God to submit to authority. Is there a precedent from the Bible? Yes. Miriam, who was Moses’ elder sister and more of a mother to Moses. She had a personal issue with Moses, who was God’s appointed leader. Numbers 12:1-2 reads, “Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. So they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also? And the Lord heard it.” The Lord hears not just what we speak openly but also what we say against his appointed authority in private. He does not miss a word. Scripture says that there are consequences for every careless word we speak. The Lord called them into the tent and asked them, “Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?” (Num 12:8). God was angry with them and as a punishment, Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Let us be warned that God hears every word we say. Take note of this reminder in Matthew 12:36 (ESV), “I tell you, on the day of judgment, people will give account for every careless word they speak.”
There are however 2 problems with this test. The first is – What if you have two passages in the Bible that seemingly contradict each other? Or two similar stories with opposite conclusions? Which one do you follow? Matthew 12 relates the incident of Jesus and His disciples picking up heads of grain on the Sabbath and eating them because they were hungry. The Pharisees accused them of breaking the law because they were doing work on the Sabbath by picking up heads of grain. Look at Jesus’ response, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the shewbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?” (verses 3-4). Yes, they had broken the law, but Jesus pointed out the precedent of what David did when he was in need. It was therefore lawful that David ate the shewbread rather than starve. His well-being took precedence over the Law.
Later, when Jesus met a man with a withered hand in the synagogue, the Pharisees wanting to accuse Him of breaking the law, asked, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Look at Jesus’ reply, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” (Matt.12:10-12). Therein lies the principle – the Sabbath is made for man and not the other way around. The laws of God are made for you, for your well-being, not the other way around.
Even in Jesus’ temptations, the devil used scripture and Jesus used another scripture to counter the devil. So how to use this test, where there are seeming contradictions? You can only be certain when you know THE WAYS OF GOD and not just the acts. Hosea 4:6 says – My people perish for the lack of knowledge. Isaiah 5:12,13, They fail to see the operation of His Hands. Psalm 103:7 captures it clearly, He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.
If you only know God’s acts, then you must be careful when using ONLY Test 1 because you can choose a scripture that suits you. You must know God’s WAYS well when you are using Test 1, especially if there are seemingly contradictory scriptures dealing with a particular situation. If you know the ways of God, you will have the correct understanding and know which scriptures apply when He is speaking to you. What He says will always be in agreement with His word. When you are not sure, you must always check against the other tests, that they are all in alignment.
Many answers we seek in life may not be specifically found in the Bible but look for the principles. For example, God tells us clearly that we are not to be unequally yoked, therefore, do not consider a non-believer to be a life partner. But for questions like, ‘what job do I choose, should I change employment, do I buy this house or this car, which ministry should I serve in, which cell group should I join, you can refer to the next Test.
TEST 2: DOES IT TAKE YOU FURTHER AWAY OR CLOSER TO JESUS? As an example, if you were to accept a job offer which would cause you to miss church on Sundays and also stops you from worshiping and fellowshipping together with the saints, then it is not from God because it would take you further away from Him. Any voice which tells you not to forgive a person who has wronged you, would not be from God because it is clear from the Bible that we are to forgive. Harbouring unforgiveness or bitterness draws us away from the Lord, not closer. God will always tell you things to draw you closer to Jesus until Jesus is the centre of it all.