Last month our church series was “The Holy Spirit” I’m in the process of answering some of the questions our members and guests asked. Here’s one of the questions:
How do you know if it’s the Holy Spirit talking to you?
You’ll know the Holy Spirit’s talking to you if:
A. It mirrors and lines up with biblical scripture.
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness… -2 Timothy 3:16 NAS
Paul is telling Timothy and us today that all of God’s scripture is inspired by God. If you’re hearing from the Holy Spirit, it will always be essentially the same thing God says in the Bible.
For instance, the Holy Spirit will never tell you “Don’t forgive that person – they’ve wronged you one too many times.” Why do we know that’s not the Holy Spirit. Other than the fact that God is a God of mercy and forgiveness, scripture clearly teaches out of Matthew 18:21-22, “Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven.”
You’ll know you’re hearing the Holy Spirit if you hear a small, gentle voice saying “I love you son/daughter” or “Because you’ve repented and received Jesus as your Lord & Savior, you’re forgiven and accepted.” That would be something the Holy Spirit would speak to you, because it’s totally in line with scripture.
B. It encourages you in your faith and walk with Christ.
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. – Romans 15:4 NIV
The word of God spoken by the Holy Spirit will always encourage you to believe, trust, follow and obey God. If you hear that quiet voice within your spirit saying, “You can obey God, even though others around you are choosing to disobey Me.” You know this is the voice of God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit will never condemn you saying “You’re no good – you’re an idiot” God’s Spirit will never discourage you from obeying or following Jesus saying something like, “You’ve blown it before – don’t try to obey and follow Jesus now.
C. It sounds identical to the voice of our great shepherd Jesus.
Jesus himself said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 ESV
This is good news for us – that if we’re one of Jesus’ sheep, we can hear His voice and respond to Him properly. It’s interesting to note that shepherds don’t yell at their sheep. They gently speak to them in a way that’s unlike any other voice. The sheep have learned to listen to that one shepherd and entrust their safety, security and sustenance to their shepherd. We, too, as Jesus’ sheep can train our hearts to hear His voice knowing that we can totally trust Him for our safety, security and sustenance.
Also, it’s interesting to see that Jesus adds, “…and they follow me” If you’re really hearing from the Holy Spirit, you’ll end of following Jesus and living a life that’s pleasing to God.
The important thing to remember about hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit is being willing to trust and obey what He says. If you’re not going to listen and obey God’s voice, God is less likely to speak to you. The writer of Hebrews gives us this strong exhortation: 7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, 9 where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” 12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” Hebrews 3:7-12 NIV (emphasis mine)