I’m not one to claim that God is talking to me. I’m also very careful about saying that I’m doing something because God told me to. Not that God does not speak to his people or lead them in a certain direction. But I also want to be careful not to violate the second commandment.
The second commandment is essentially this, “Do not attach my name to something that I have not endorsed.” It’s what was done in the crusades. It was violated by many preachers in the south during slavery. But Christians can easily violate this commandment when we make decisions based on a feeling or an urge and then claim that it was God who led them. Be careful. God had some harsh words for those who made claims, when in fact, he had not spoken to them.
So then how do you discern the Lord’s will in a matter?
Let me give a simple set of six questions that I’ve been using since my Bible College days.
I base this on Psalm 37:4 – “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” David here proclaims that if we are delighting in God, he gives us his desires…so we desire what he desires. And that’s the key. So here are my questions.
- Am I right with God? Is there unconfessed sin? Am I being disobedient to him? If I’m ignoring him in some areas of my life, I can’t expect him to reveal his will to me in other areas.
- Am I close with God? You can be right with another person and not be close. We get close with the Lord by spending time with him, reading his word, spending extended time worshipping him in private and praying.
- What is my desire? I’m convinced that God’s chief means of directing his people outside of Scripture is through desires. If I am close with the Lord, my desires will begin to match his desires.
- Is that desire Biblical? God will never lead us to violate his word. While God uses our desires to direct us, our human emotions can cause an interruption. If you desire to marry someone who is not a Christ-follower, you know that your human emotions are getting in the way of discerning God’s desires, because he will not give you desires that contradict his word.
- Have I listened to counsel from Godly advisers? If you are not getting advice from Godly people, you are in trouble! It’s one of the primary ways that God speaks. Get as much advice as you can from Godly people and think through that advice carefully.
- Is the door open? If it’s the Lord’s will, he will show you the way through. This should not be the main way we determine what God wants, but it is a way allow him to hold us back from making a mistake. If the door isn’t open, there’s nothing you can do.
I’ve never actually heard the voice of God. But time and again I make decisions with confidence, knowing that I am doing the right thing before the Lord. There’s nothing like going through life with that kind of confidence. It enables you to celebrate the good times and endure the challenges.