My husband and I have rather recently started watching LOST on Netflix. Now, we’re only into Season 2 at this point, but it seems odd to me that when the people who have landed on the island via a plane crash get too far into the jungle from the beach, they start hearing whispers. Voices in the wind, I guess you could say. They look around frantically, trying to see if they are in danger of being kidnapped or killed by an unknown organization on the island. Usually, something dramatic follows the whispering.
I used to have a really hard time knowing which whispering voice inside my head I should listen to. Be honest – you hear voices in your head too! Frequently, they may sound like they’re from your perspective, but they don’t originate with you. Those voices fight for a position at the forefront of your attention. They seem to wrestle endlessly in certain times of your life. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit can shed some light on this area of our lives, and show us how to find freedom from the struggle. Because the struggle is real.
You hear the voices when you’re conflicted about something.
You hear them when you’re trying to make a difficult decision.
You hear them when you’re doubting your abilities, and yet you know you need to move toward a specific goal. Maybe you hear them when you know you should do something, but you just don’t want to.
They’re the voices you hear every day of your life – if you’re being honest with yourself.
You see, one voice is that of the Holy Spirit. The other is of the enemy of our souls. It’s (almost) like the cartoon angel and devil on a guy’s shoulders. Only it’s not funny when it’s happening to us, and sometimes we have a hard time determining which voice to listen to – especially because our thoughts don’t come dressed in red and white with pitchforks and halos. Sometimes it’s hard to know which voice is speaking.
If you’re not careful, you can tune into the wrong voice, and those words can become what you think about, listen to, focus on, and direct your life toward. No one wants to blatantly direct their life according to the wrong voice, or in the wrong direction. Yet so many people we know and love listen to the wrong voices. They ascribe to the wrong truth. They start believing the lies about their self-worth, their lives, and their future. If they’re really honest with themselves, they see themselves -as less than, not enough, and unlikely to receive.
I’ve been that person at times, so I speak from experience! Let me tell you, the constant wrangling can wear you out! Sometimes we call the negative voice “stress.” Maybe we call it “doubt” or label it as “fear”, but the truth is that it’s not good for us, and it comes from the Pit. We want to embrace the truth, but we have a hard time hearing it over the stress, doubt, and fear.
These anxieties that bounce around in our minds can echo forever in our hearts if we don’t deal with them through the power of God’s Word.
The Bible says,
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)
Now, normally when this scripture is preached or taught about, it is in reference to two people where there is friction or outright arguing. However, I believe it applies to the voices inside your head, too! We don’t wrestle against ourselves. The Holy Spirit (who lives inside us when we come to know Jesus) wrestles with the advance of the enemy on our lives, and in particular, in our minds. All those negative thoughts masquerade as our thoughts, vying for our attention and our concentration.
Where do was and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? – James 4:1 (NKJV)
James goes on to talk about how friendship with the world makes someone an enemy of God. Then he continues to say…
Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?”
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. – James 4:5-8 (NKJV)
To submit to God, we must know what He says in His Word and follow His guidance. That will help us listen to His voice. Jesus talked about His followers, His sheep. He is the Shepherd and we are His sheep.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s Hand.
I and My Father are one.” – John 10:27-30
If you have a hard time believing that God talks to us, please go read 7 Ways God Speaks to Us. (Don’t worry, it opens in a new window!)
These thoughts we have when God speaks to us are not Old Testament, God-talking-out-of-a-burning-bush examples. God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit, and it comes as a thought. What God tells us will ALWAYS line up with His Word. If we want to follow Him with everything inside us, we must be in our Bible and pray (and wait) for His guidance. Pray that He would speak to you, to help you differentiate the His Truth from the enemy’s lie. Ask Him to shed some light on the lies you’ve believed. Ask him to renew your mind and purify your heart to hear from Him. If He shows you an area where you did not submit to His truth, and you accepted the lie, He may prompt to ask forgiveness for it. Once you do, it is under the blood of Jesus, never to be remembered by God again.
If you find yourself dwelling excessively on whatever area that you’ve struggled with (from the point of asking forgiveness forward), and you start feeling down about it, remember, God doesn’t bring condemnation, He brings conviction. Conviction is love-based. He loves you, wants to draw you near to Him, to forgive you, and help you to do better through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If you start taking on the mindset of “I’ll never be able to let go of _________,” and feeling badly about it, perhaps even hopeless, you need to pray that God would show you where those thoughts are coming from and that He will help you deal with them. So often the enemy tries to throw back in our face what has already been forgotten about by God. If you’ve read my first post, I talk about a cargo plane crashing into the Sea of Forgetfulness. God won’t remind you of past mistakes that are covered by the blood of Jesus. Those thoughts are from the enemy to get you distracted from what God really wants to accomplish in your life.
Back to resisting the lie of the enemy…
To resist the devil, we must recognize his tactics first.
We have to recognize that whatever thoughts the enemy may throw our way – even if they sound like they’re from our perspective – they are contrary to God’s Word for our life.
We have to know which voice to listen to, so that we can submit to one, and resist the other. We don’t want to be double-minded, right? It’s exhausting! It’s stressful and frustrating, wondering which voice we should listen to.
So, as I was jotting down thoughts for this post, I came up with some things that will help us recognize what IS NOT God’s still, small voice. When we read His Word, we can begin to recognize thoughts and beliefs that are contrary to the Bible, and we resist and reject them. You resist them long enough, submit them to the Lord for His help and guidance, and they will stop when you’re consistent in pulling them down. That’s why it says to resist the devil and he will flee from you.
The voice of God… (Bible Study to follow!)
It’s NOT the voice that says, “There’s no hope.”
It IS voice that says, “I am faithful.”
It’s NOT the voice that says, “Nobody cares about my struggle.”
It IS the voice that says, “Bring it to Me, I care. Give Me your burden so I can help you.”
It’s NOT the voice that says, “God doesn’t care.”
It IS the voice that says, “You’re my creation. I knit you together in your mother’s womb. I have every hair on your head counted, and there’s not a tear you’ve cried that I haven’t seen.”
It’s NOT the voice that says, “I’m not loved and I never will be.”
It IS the voice that says, “You’re the apple of My eye. I have loved you since the beginning of the world, and I’ll never stop. You can’t ever outrun My love.”
It’s NOT the voice that says, “What I’ve done is too bad for God to forgive.”
It IS the voice that says, “I knew every mistake you’d ever make and I sent my Son to die for you anyway.”
It’s NOT the voice that says, “I can’t do any better for myself. My circumstances will never improve.”
It’s IS voice that says, “I can make a way where there is no way. I call things that are not, as though they are. I will teach you how to prosper if you call on Me.”
It’s NOT the voice that says, “I can’t seem to do anything right.”
It IS voice that says, “Pray for wisdom – I give it freely when you ask. Listen to Me, learn from Me, and I will help you.”
It’s NOT the voice that says, “I’ll never achieve that level of success.”
It IS the voice that says, “If you follow after Me with everything inside you, I’ll take you places you’ve never dreamed of going.”
It’s NOT the voice that says, “I’ll never achieve the dream God instilled in me when I was younger – that was just immature faith.”
It IS the voice that says, “If I say it once, I don’t need to say it again. If you will follow Me, it’s as good as done.”
It’s NOT the voice that says, “I’ve messed up – I’m on God’s Plan B for my life.”
It IS the voice that says, “I will redeem your present situation and fulfill My purpose for you.”
It’s NOT the voice that says, “I have to be perfect or I’ll be rejected by those who say they love me.”
It IS the voice that says, “It’s OK to not be perfect. Bring your perfectionism to the foot of the cross and leave it with me. Don’t shackle yourself to expectations others put on you or that you put on yourself. Concentrate on your walk with Me, and I’ll make even your enemies at peace with you.”
It’s NOT the voice that says, “I don’t need church – they’re all hypocrites anyway.”
It IS the voice that says, “They were just sinners saved by grace. You need community and encouragement, and they are gifts from Me.”
It’s NOT the voice that says, “I need to keep looking everywhere you go for a future spouse – or I’ll miss them.”
It IS the voice that says, “Follow Me, and I’ll bring them to you.”
It’s NOT the voice that says, “I want to leave my spouse. I’d be happier without them.”
It IS voice that says, “You let Me work on you, and I’ll work on them. I will knit your hearts together. I am the God of reconciliation.”
It’s NOT the voice that says, “I’ll never have a child.”
It IS the voice that says, “Children are a gift from Me, and I want to make you a fruitful vine.”
It’s NOT the voice that says, “I’ll never be debt free.”
It IS the voice that says, “I will help you. I will show you what to do. You do your part to be faithful, and I’ll remain faithful.”
It’s NOT the voice that says, “It doesn’t matter what I eat or if I take care of myself – we’re all going to die somehow.”
It IS the voice that says, “You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. You need make changes and I will help you. Start small and look to Me, and I will teach you discipline.”
Be careful which voice you listen to, my friend.
Listening to the wrong voice can take you places you never intended to go, and never wanted to end up settling. Remember, being able to determine the voice of the Holy Spirit is a skill that develops as we read the Word and spend time in prayer. Ask the Lord to speak to you and He will as you Wait on a Whisper from Him.
For more help on figuring out which voice is speaking, read TRUTH: Dispelling the Lie.
** I have a Bible Study backing up all of the statements that I feel God would say to you in response to the enemy’s lies. I will post them in the next few days. Subscribe via email and you can receive them in your inbox!