When I am confused about who speaks to me: When the small voice of God speaks or when the devil whispers.
When the devil speaks, it is to the flesh, to the self. He also uses the word of God as he did with Jesus. When he did, it was to remind Jesus of the importance of self, of the body’s comforts, which is the flesh.
Mt. Ch 4:2 And when he (Jesus) had fasted forty days and nights, he was afterwards hungry. And when the tempter came to him, he said, “If thou be the son of God, command that these stones be made bread.”
Mt. 4:5 Then the devil takes him into the holy city and sets him on a pinnacle of the temple. V: 6 And say to him “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou shall dash they foot against a stone.”
When the Holy Spirit speaks, it is to glorify God. It is to build our character and to conform us to the image of God. It is to deny self and look for God to fulfill his eternal purpose. It is to trust him when we can’t employ our common sense and see what is reasonable and what serves us in the moment. God works in us in mysterious ways. He wants us to trust him when we come to the end of our wits, when we are in a panic to help ourselves by our own understanding.
We are especially vulnerable when we are confronted with a crisis of great proportion while we are serving God and at the same time are told (as Job was by his friends), that our misfortune is likely a result of un-confessed sin. Doubt creeps in, unless we are as pious as Job, who didn’t doubt God, but in the end cursed the day of his birth, and defended his righteousness against his accusers.
Job Ch.3:3 Let the day perish wherein I was born...
When doubts creep in, the devil gets his foot in the door. Doubt, despair, bitterness, anger, and similar feelings are not of God who has given us the spirit of love, of power, joy and a sound mind. Moreover, we, who are indwelled by the Holy Spirit of God, have the fruits of the Spirit available to us, which are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, meekness and faith.
In discerning the voice of God and the whispers of the devil, we must use the plumb line, the word of God. Is the appeal of the decision to the flesh or the Spirit? If it is to the flesh, we must use the measure of sacrifice, deny ourselves, and pray for God’s will and timing. He wants to bless his children and like a perfect Father, he knows best.
Je. 29:11 For I know the thoughts I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an unexpected end.