Summary: Is it God’s voice that you are listening to for guidance or is the Devil leading you astray.
How Can We tell the Voice is God’s and not Satan’s
We need to recognize that sometimes Satan’s voice comes to us not in our thoughts and imaginations, but through the words of other people, some of whom may seem to be well intentioned or say they love us.
The Bible assures us that there is a way to tell Satan’s voice from that of our Lord. I believe we will hear some distinct differences in the messages.
Satan Says . . . The Lord Jesus Says . . .
Do your own thing; do what you want to do. Consider the effects of your behavior on others. Live a selfless, self-giving life.
Live for the moment. Live with an eye to eternity.
Don’t concern yourself with what others say. Receive godly counsel.
You’re as mature as you ever need to be. You’re a grown-up. Continue to grow and mature and to become more and more like Jesus Christ.
Certainly, the outcome is different for us when we follow Satan’s voice and message rather than the Lord’s. Satan’s path always leads to loss, destruction, and death. The Lord’s way always leads to abundant life and eternal life. (John 10:10.)
Part of the difference in outcome is in the way we feel about our lives and actions:
• The result of following Satan’s dictates is frustration, dismay, and worry.
• The result of following the Lord’s message is a great inner peace.
Effects on Other People
God will never ask us to exhibit harsh or crude behavior; He will never lead us to do anything that might hurt another person—emotionally, spiritually, or materially. God always works for the good of all His people, not just a few.
Satan, on the other hand, tells us what we want to hear. He tells us that we shouldn’t worry about the rippling effects of our lives on others. He tells us that every person is an island unto himself or herself and that we should do whatever we please.
What the Word Says
It is good neither to eat meat [offered to idols] nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak (Romans 14:21).
See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all (1 Thessalonians 5:15).
Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:18-19).
Consider this question:
In your experience, have there been times when you knew that you acted solely for your benefit and neglected to take into consideration the welfare of others? What was the result?
God Is Never in a Hurry
Many references in Scripture mention the "fullness of time." God isn’t in a hurry. He deals in eternal consequences, and He continually seeks the fulfillment of the full scope of His plan and purpose.
Satan always encourages us to act immediately because he knows if we back off and think long enough about most things, we’ll reconsider. If we feel an overwhelming urge to act spontaneously and immediately, we’re probably better off to pull in the reins. God is interested in having all the details in their proper places.
King Saul lost his throne because he acted hastily. (1 Samuel 10:8; 13:8-14.)
On the other hand, Nehemiah, cupbearer to the Persian king Artaxerxes, patiently waited for God’s timing. He sought the Lord, with fasting and prayer, for four months until the king asked Nehemiah why his appearance was downcast
What the Word Says
My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him (Psalm 62:5).
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient (James 5:7-8).
For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it - lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, "This man began to build and was not able to finish" (Luke 14:28-30).
Consider this question:
In your experience, have there been times when you got ahead of God or you rushed ahead to do His will with unsatisfactory consequences?
Taking Advantage of Wise Counsel
The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the value of wise counsel. Proverbs 13:10 declares, "By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom." Proverbs 20:5 states, "Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out."