We are communicative beings. When awake, we are constantly generating, or listening to, communiques. According to the Bible, there are three well-springs of communicative generation - the flesh, demons, and God. Ideally, all would be prefaced. “This message is from your flesh,” or, “You are about to hear from a demon.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. To identify the source from which a communique springs can be learned ... and is exceedingly valuable.
Flesh Communiques - From Our Own Flesh or the Flesh of Others
Concerning the flesh, Paul said, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh ...” (Ro 7:18). We are also told, “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Pr 14:12). In our natural state, we are described as “alienated and hostile in mind” (Col 1:21). When referencing Gentiles without The Law, Paul speaks of “their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them” (Ro 2:15). Everyone constructs an internal value system. Against this grid everything is measured - and either justified ... or rationalized. Sometimes, the values are group norms, but sometimes everyone simply does “what is right in his own eyes” (Jg 21:25). From God’s perspective, all systems of conscience have many subjective elements - with areas of “false guilt,” and areas of “no guilt”where true guilt exists. The natural man truly is playing without a full deck. “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool” (Pr 28:26).
We are surrounded, internally and externally, with flesh voices. And the external corrupting voices are often - just an extension of our own flesh. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine. But, wishing to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate teachers according to their own desire and will turn aside their ears from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2Tim 4:3,4). People like voices that resonate with their own. Deception is not a factor. Do not assume ... I consider myself ... immune.
When referencing the chief demon, Jesus said, “(Satan) ... does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him ... he is a liar, and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44). Sometimes, demonic voices are in anguish. “Legion” cried out to Jesus, “Have You come here to torment us before the time?” (Mt 8:29). But, the seven sons of Sceva received a demonic communique of a different tone. “‘I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?’ And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leapt on them ... so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded” (Acts 19:14-16). Relatively speaking, I believe these communiques constitute a very small part of the total. “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2Cor 11:14,15). Also, “The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1Tim 4:1). Demonic communiques embrace deception as their heart. And what positions do you suppose demons occupy as they present their teachings? Do you think those in the pews, or reading contrary-to-the-Bible materials, think they are listening ... to demons? I am convinced the majority of demons are silver-tongued ... and the seduced believe they are hearing God’s voice. Content is the key. That is why we must “examine everything; cling to the good” (1Thes 5:21). Satan is quite skilled in using Scripture. He has millennia of experience - and no fear of God. This is evidenced in the wilderness temptations. He used the Word of God ... against the Author of those words (Mt 4:6). This is insane.
The End of Such Voices
These voices of error lead to, and end in, death. That is one reason I attack all error. Just as “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Gal 5:9), so also, small error invariably attracts more destructive cohorts. Recently, my eldest daughter received a parking ticket. The first notice was courteous - but the second threatened life and limb. After realizing the death penalty probably did not apply, I did say, “While I do not know exactly what repercussions come from an unpaid, $25 parking ticket, I do know one thing - nothing good will come .... Nothing.” The same is true of error. While I try to avoid turning molehills into mountains, I also know it is easier to level molehills than mountains. So, if I can successfully smash a molehill ... I will do it.
Concerning Scripture, men, and demons, regularly distort them. Men do this for money, power or prestige. Demons just want you in Hell. The thought of some peon being forgiven and heading for an eternity of unfathomable wonders with God - is more than they can bear. But, whatever the motives for this recklessness, all do this “to their own destruction” (2Pet 3:16). The penalties, on descent from the Throne of God, are beyond imagination. Even blood-covered saints are warned, “Let few of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment” (Ja 3:1).
The Voice of God
The Bible says, God “spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways” (Heb 1:1). Sometimes, He communicated audibly (Ex 3:4), sometimes, through a prophet (Jer 29:1-4), and sometimes through dreams and visions (Job 33:15-18). “But in these last days, (He) has spoken to us in the Son” (Heb 1:2). Sometimes, He communicates audibly (Acts 9:4-6), sometimes, through a prophet (Acts 21:9-11), and sometimes through dreams and visions (Acts 16:9,10). Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice,” (Jn 10:27) and He told Pilate, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (Jn 18:37). While He can choose any venue He wants, it appears to me that the Bible itself is His primary vehicle of choice for communicating under both the Old and New Covenant (See Lk 16:31 and Heb 4:12).
Chosen Angels and Humans “In Tune” With God
God has also decided to allow men and angels the privilege of communicating truth. He is the Creator of everything in the entire heavens and the earth - including all truths in all fields of study - physical and metaphysical. I think the chosen angels are aware of this and give God immediate credit. Men, in this darkened valley, are slow to give credit - if at all. Many believe they “thought it up” - or have discovered some unknown-to-all truth. And, ... they want credit for it. This will be exposed as a huge blunder on Judgment Day. God has allowed access to truth, but He “will not give (His) glory to another” (Isa 42:8). Truth is His “voice.”
Christians, when thinking accurately, have “the mind of Christ” (1Cor 2:16). “All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are hidden in Him (Col 2:3). When speaking from this mind, having accessed these treasures, one can be used by God - as His voice. This is a fantastic opportunity.
It must be acknowledged, that even though one may traffic in truth, it does not automatically follow - that one is in the truth (Num 22-24, 31:8 and Jn 11:49-52).
Those with the spiritual gift of “distinguishing of spirits” (1Cor 12:10) may be able to pinpoint the source of some communique quite readily. But, others - not as blatantly gifted - can still become quite skilled in determining a voice’s origin. Here are some pointers.
1. Study the Bible. Ask God for wisdom so as to accurately hear and handle “the word of truth” (2Tim 2:15). If you miss, or skip, this step ... the rest is irrelevant.
2. It is okay to put teachings (or remarks) in a “holding tank.” When confronted with a theological or behavioral challenge, bring that to God and ask Him for assistance in discerning that “voice’s” origin. Paul would be the first to commend the Bereans for searching the Scriptures daily to see if his message was accurate (Acts 17:11). It is right to gather information, weigh it, examine it - and think on it. Anyone who assaults you for doing this - you should get away from immediately. None of them ... are a Paul.
3. Determine to cooperate with what you know God has communicated. When Nathan said, “You are the man!” (2Sam 12:7), David did not need to go on some quest to know if God had communicated with him or not. God teaches the obedient.
I wish I could tell you, in each circumstance, what voice you are hearing. Sometimes I can, but, sometimes … you must work this out before God. But, the reward will far exceed the effort. The reward ... is life.