Summary: We are called to test the spirits, and discern and recognise the voice of God when He speaks to us. Here are four ways to test an impression or thought.
[This sermon is adapted from Rick Warren's sermon with the same title.]
We continue our series on “Conversing with God”.
• The 1st session on ‘how to hear God’s speaks’ we talked about our attitudes - whether you get the message or not, depend very much on your attitude. We want to cultivate an open mind, allocate time to listen, eliminate the distractions, and cooperate with what God says
• The 2nd session on ‘how God talks to you’ we talked about the four most common ways. First, God speaks through the Bible, the number one way. He speaks also through teachers, the impressions He put in our minds, and painful experiences.
Today, we want to learn how to recognise God’s voice.
• If God gives us impressions in our mind, then we want to know how best to understand them. Read 1 John 4:1-6.
Not all thoughts are God’s thoughts.
• It can be our own thoughts, from our fleshly desires. Sometimes, we like to talk to ourselves. I like to have somebody intelligent to talk to, so I talk to myself! We can easily confuse our own desires with God's will.
• Or it can come from Satan. The Bible says there are false prophets and ‘the spirit of anti-christ’ can also plant thoughts into our mind.
So how do you know when it's really God?
• This may not be a big issue if you're just trying to decide what restaurant to go to after church.
• But if you're talking about who to marry or a major career change, this is a major issue.
• You need to hear from God. God wants to talk to you. So how do I know when God speaks to me?
1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but TEST the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
The Bible says TEST IT. We must learn to distinguish God's voice.
• I want to share with you the ways you can use to test an impression. They form a filter and they are all inter-related.
• If an idea does not pass these tests you know it's not from God. You can disqualify it.
1. DOES IT AGREE WITH THE BIBLE?
God never contradicts His written Word.
• Luke 21:33 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
• God will never tell you to violate anything in this book. Never!
• If something is clearly written here, you don’t even have to discuss it. It’s the truth, for eternity to come.
God does not say one thing one time and another thing another time. He is consistent.
• If He said it in the past, He's going to say it in the future. He is always consistent. He is never inconsistent.
• We get into trouble when we doubt God's Word, when we don't listen to what it says.
• Whatever is plainly stated in the Scriptures, you don’t even have to pray about it.
• I don’t pray about tithing, I just do it. I don’t pray about going to church on Sundays. I just get up and go. I don't pray about telling other people the good news, I just do it. Because it's right here in God's Word.
2. DOES IT MAKE ME MORE LIKE CHRIST?
Phil 2:5 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…”
2 Cor 3:18 “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory…”
Jesus is the standard by which we measure everything we do. Our goal is to be like Christ.
• God has given us a “ruler” by which we measure our attitudes or ideas.
• He would not tell us to do anything that does not reflect the character or beauty of Christ. Or do anything that contradicts or hinder us from reaching this goal.
For example, James 3:14-16 says: 14 But if you harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
• In other words, whatever thoughts you have that causes bitterness, envy or selfish ambition cannot have come from God.
• Any idea of promoting self, or how to achieve fame and glory, cannot be from God.
Next verse 3:17 “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
• So this becomes a filter that you can use to test your thoughts. Jesus is our model. Would He do this?