“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIVUK
I Hear Voices In My Head. But is it God?
In Philippians 4, Paul, the GOAT of Christian church planters, is writing to the Church in Philippi to encourage the early Church, particularly in the context of establishing a relationship with Jesus Christ. And in living a joy-filled life in alignment with the Gospel of Jesus. In 4:8 Paul provides us the discernment formula that is foundational to answering today’s question:
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Discerning whether a thought is God, the commotion of the Devil, or just some random idea, requires sifting it through this Philippians 4:8 filter. Is it true? Noble? Right? Pure? Lovely? Admirable? Excellent? Praiseworthy?
The first litmus test (is it true?) is a Revealed Truth filter. Does it comport with the Revealed Truth of God (the created order of nature, His Word (the Bible), and the living example of His Son, Jesus Christ)? Is it Biblical should always be the first test in discerning truth. Proverbs 30:5 tells us that every word of God is without flaw. His Word is a “lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.” If we know God’s Word, we can more easily discern the truth, to wit:
“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus, circa 29 AD, John 8:31-32 ESV
Discerning if it is really God speaking begins, then, with these key questions:
- Is it Biblical? Does it comport with God’s Revealed Truth?
- Is it consistent with the character of God? Does it square with who you know Him to be? Is it clear? God is not the author of confusion.
- Does it promote Love? Does it manifest one or more of the Fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) (Galatians 5:16-23.)?
- Is it wise? Apply the Godly counsel test: what do the people you trust the most think about it?
- Is it consistent with your SHAPE?* Is it in tune with how you are wired?
- Do you sense God’s peace?
If the thought fails any one of these tests, it is not God speaking. Each failure is either an attempt to be our own god or, worse, Satan trying to distort and disrupt our relationship with Jesus Christ.
*SHAPE is a broadly used acrostic denoting your uniqueness. SHAPE is made up of your Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences. It is described as “the way God wired you for your life.” Rick Warren, Saddleback Church and author of Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For.