Summary: Learn how to tell when the Holy Spirit (of the inner witness) is speaking to you and the accompanying features and characteristics.
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: --Romans 8:16 [KJV]
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth THE SPIRIT of his Son into your hearts,
CRYING, Ab-ba, Father.—Galatians 4:6 [KJV]
When the Holy Spirit speaks to your spirit, you do not hear an audible voice. This is what people call “the inner witness”. The voice of the Holy Spirit to your spirit creates a quiet assurance—a relaxed knowing about something.
The question is, “How can I distinguish the voice of this inner witness? Are there any features that I must look out for? What differentiates the inner witness from an ordinary thought?” There are seven characteristics you must look out for:
1. The inner witness is different from reasoning thoughts.
It is not mental knowledge or logical reasoning. If what you are having is just an ingenious idea, then it’s probably not the inner witness.
2. The inner witness is not a physical feeling.
You will not have a physical feeling per se, since the inner witness is the voice of the Holy Spirit to your spirit. If someone claims that he has a physical feeling in his big toe or his liver that is probably not the inner witness!
3. The inner witness is best identified by eliminating other voices.
A great secret to identifying the inner witness is to eliminate other voices. Ensure that it is not your flesh that wants to do something. Make sure that it is not just a reasonable proposition. There may be some good reason and some good feelings when the Spirit is leading you, but make sure it is not just that!
4. The inner witness is an impression of peace.
The inner witness is an awareness of peace. It is the peace of God that is beyond (passes) understanding, reasoning, logic and physical things.
As you develop spiritually, you will become aware of the peace of God as a method of direction. You will say, “I don’t have peace about this!” At other times you will say, “Even though it sounds odd, I have a peace about this issue. I know it shall be well with me.”
The Apostle Paul described the phenomenon of the inner witness, the peace of God, “an umpire”. It means “to arbitrate”, “to direct” and “to govern”. God is using peace to direct and govern you.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.--Colossians 3:15.
5. The inner witness is a strong conviction.
The inner witness makes you certain about what the Lord is saying. You begin to have a quiet assurance and confidence about the will of God. Once again, this is not easily explained. Do you think people who give up their lives for the Gospel can explain what they are doing? You cannot easily explain the faith you have! You cannot always explain the convictions you have!
6. The inner witness is repetitive.
The inner witness is the repeated voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart.
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Ab-ba, Father.--Galatians 4:6.
As the Spirit cries continually, it creates an impression in you. You begin to have a conviction about certain things. You begin to now that you know. One characteristic that I have noticed is that the voice of the Spirit is repeated over and over. This happens over several weeks, months and even years.
7. The inner witness is an inexplicable knowing.
After you have heard the voice of the Spirit several times, you begin to know what to do. It creates in you “a knowing”. Sometimes, people ask me, “How did you know what to do?” Sometimes, all I can say is, “I just knew.”
When you take a decision, watch out for that quiet assurance of peace in your heart. That is the Spirit of God, leading you into the will of God for your life.