People by nature are very suggestive. This goes for everybody, no matter how strong willed we are. Non-believers, and believers alike. Even the most mature believers have to be careful to confirm a prompting is indeed of the Lord instead of coming from inside ourselves somewhere, or from the enemy disguised as truth.
In the end you must understand that if God wants to get a message across to you, He will make sure you receive it, and know beyond doubt it’s from Him. It may take a little longer to understand then we would like initially, but God will reach out to you and guide you if you are willing to listen. You must have patience and be willing to wait on the Lord for his reply.
Isaiah 40:31 – Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength;
Here are some guidelines on how to ensure that what you hear and act on is really from God.
This is a very useful way to check if what you are receiving is actually from God. When you surrender completely to God and draw close to him in prayer, he clears up your mind. If you have a message from the Holy Spirit, it will get stronger, but if it’s a message from you own mind, it will fizzle out and soon disappear.
We also need to make sure we don’t go to God in prayer with our minds made up already, and are just checking with God as a formality. When you want something badly yourself and you badly want God to agree with you, he likely will agree, even if it’s not His Will for you. God calls this an idol in your heart.
Ezekiel 14:4 – I the LORD will answer him that comes according to the multitude of his idols;
If you approach God having a closed mind or with an idol in your heart, He will answer according to that idol. It means that God will tell you what you want to hear, which can be dangerous. The reason God does this is probably so that you can see your error, and learn from it, and come back to him with an open mind.
The Bible is the written Word of God, and it will ALWAYS agree with what the Holy Spirit says. This will greatly help you when you want to discern if what you hear is from your own mind, from the devil, or from God. Any message you receive will only supplement what is written in the Bible. The Holy Spirit is the one who compiled and edited the Bible, so He will not go against it.
The Holy Spirit will never ask you to violate any of the commandments of God or to sin. If you get a message that says leave your wife for somebody else, or that it’s fine to smoke and drink, then it’s surely NOT the Holy Spirit speaking to you.
Holy Spirit filled believers
You can ask other Holy Spirit filled believers and your spiritual mentors to check with God and see if what you received is really from Him. The body of Christ will affirm callings and messages. It is very important to test prophesy this way. Pray that God reveals the truth to the person you consulted and confirms it through them. This is one of the reasons why it’s essential to be a part of a Godly church.
This way of confirmation can come in handy if you feel your flesh or mind is interfering in what you receive. When certain subjects are close to your heart, your own emotions and feelings can interfere with what the Holy Spirit says.
You can ask God if what you heard is really from him by confirming it, and He will be happy to confirm if it’s really from Him. Your circumstances might change, doors may close, people may start pointing you to a direction, or you will have coincidences that may look normal but somehow have significance to the message you received.
But remember, because we are suggestive by nature, it’s important not to solely go by what you experience in the in the world, because external circumstances can also be manipulated by Satan. You first need to approach God in prayer, spend time waiting on the Holy Spirit, and cross check what you received with the Bible. Only if you are still not sure should you ask for external confirmations.
But God will give us signs if we need them badly enough. God wants to speak clearly to us, and on occasion, for some of us, that means showing us clear signs.
Remember Gideon? He needed clear guidance from God, so He asked God for a sign (Judges 6). He basically said, “God, if you want me to do this, then when I lay out my blanket tonight, please let dew accumulate on it and not the grass around it, then I will know your message for me is legit”. So when Gideon woke up, sure enough, the blanket was wet with dew. But Gideon’s faith was still weak, so he said “OK God, one more time. But this time, let the grass have dew but not the blanket, and then I will know this message is from you”. Sure enough, that is what Gideon woke up to find the next day.
If God sees you need it bad enough, He will show you signs. I personally have asked God for specific signs when trying to discern important callings in my life, and God was faithful to deliver.
Choose the best path and then watch for checks in your Spirit
Sometimes when you are presented with choices, and you tried all the above methods, and are still unable to decide for sure, you can pick the choice that’s most objective and slowly move forward in that direction. If the path you have chosen is acceptable to God you will receive an Inner peace, or otherwise you will have constant turmoil and you will receive checks in your Spirit constantly. You may not know what exactly is wrong but you can sense something is not right.
In the story of the prophet Balaam, he was offered a huge sum of money by the king of Moab to go with his men to a nearby mountain, and to curse the people of Israel. Balaam was interested in the offer and checked with God if he could go ahead and curse Israel. God answered him a strict “No, You shall have nothing to do with these men, do not go with them“. Balaam was disappointed but he obeyed God and refused the offer of the king of Moab.
The king however did not give up. He sent more men to the prophet and offered him high honors and a great deal more money and wealth. This time the desires of the heart of Balaam were kindled. Deep down he really wanted what the king offered, so he once again checked with God. This time God replied “Yes, go with them“. Baalam misunderstood this as God giving him permission, because God was actually disappointed with him and allowed him to follow the desires of his heart.
Balaam was almost killed in the process, but was saved by the famous donkey that spoke to him and saved his life. This incident is widely referenced in the Bible as the “Error of Balaam”, which basically means falling prey to the idols or desires of your heart and not being willing to listen to the counsel of God. Another lesson that could be learned from this story is this: if God will speak through a Donkey, surely He can get a message through to us by more traditional means. The only question then is if we are listening.
For more on this topic, please listen to the sermon titled “God, is that you?” – Click Here