These are the important thoughts. They are messages from God directly to your mind. These are the ones you never want to miss. Sometimes they are a still, small voice. But usually they are a thought, an impression, or even just a feeling. That feeling will seem to come from a different place though. What scripture calls the heart.
We have several ways to discern if you are hearing from God.
Let’s start with a verse that gives us clear guidance about two things that are dead giveaways:
I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever calls Jesus cursed, plus no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. [I Corinthians 12:3]
The great dividing line is always Jesus. These two things above are a major portion of testing the spirits—which we will talk about in a bit. The man, the Lord, His character, His personality are the key to all of this. His thoughts show forth His character. You can see the two descriptions of his character below:
Love suffers patiently and is kind. Love is not jealous and does not envy. Love does not parade itself or boast and never becomes puffed up. Love cannot be rude. Love does not demand its own way or become irritable. Love keeps no record of wrongs, thinks no evil and does not rejoice in evil. It rejoices in the truth; never giving up, faithfully hoping while persevering in all things. [I Corinthians 13:4–7]
…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…[Galatians 5:22 & 23[
Thoughts from God will always manifest His character. If you hear a thought that is contrary to His character, it is not from Him. So learning to recognize His character is the first thing we need to do.
Above and beyond our capabilities to discern character comes the attitude we are to maintain. We’re to test the spirits that speak to us—and the people used by those spirits—if we want to avoid deception.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test them to see whether they are of God. Because many false prophets have come into the world.
By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus our Messiah has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not admit that Jesus our Messiah has come in the flesh is not of God. [I John 4: 1–3]
How does this work out in real life as you listen to your thoughts? I’ll show you a simple test in a few paragraphs. But we are still talking about recognizing the person of God: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Here are three practical identifiers:
- God is gentle and kind: He never forces Himself upon you
- God is kind, patient, & generous: he is never insistent, never demands an answer or an action. He understands our weakness and comforts us. He encourages us.
- He is never in a hurry, never pushy: If you feel pressure to make a decision NOW, it is not of God. God always has time. He is never caught unaware. He always has a backup plan.
Above and beyond all this is experience. As I have said many times already, you need to practice hearing God. You need to watch the results. If a word is from God it will happen. What God tells you is never false or wrong. Partial truths are the strongest lies.
However, just the law of averages mean that our thoughts, the thoughts of a friend, and the insinuations of the enemy are right and true at least part of the time. So a seemingly good decision is not necessarily from God.
The main thing is that God always has time for a good decision. If you are not sure, tell God that you are not sure and do not decide until he makes the truth clear.