During the last “Does God Speak” article, I dealt with the question of God not being “bound” to have to speak to us through his word. For example, he can speak to us through dreams and visions if he wants. These are not his word, but they have to be consistent with his word, or else they are not from him. As John writes: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
Now you may say, “Isn’t it a little dangerous to just ‘listen’ for voices?” The answer to that question is, if you are interested in listening to ALL voices irrespective of WHO is speaking, then YES, that IS dangerous. VERY dangerous! But if you are discerning, and desiring to listen to ONLY God’s voice, and you are someone who WANTS to do his will, well, that is not dangerous at all! In fact, that is a blessed thing, for you are a child of the King who is “able, ready, and willing” to do his will! Praise the Lord for that!
Again, I stress as I did in my last article, God is continually speaking to us through a “still small voice”, but it takes discernment — practice and learning, if you will — to be able to recognize it. We do not “throw out” listening to God because we might make a mistake and listen to the devil instead, do we? This is not what John says! John does not say, “Do not listen!” But rather, “Try the spirits.” (1 John 4:1b). To “try” the spirits means, by the very nature of the command given, to listen first! You cannot try them without listening! So yes, we must be listening at all times! But we must also be discerning!
To understand discernment, let’s talk about internet firewalls. A firewall is a piece of software that puts intelligence into your computer to make wise decisions based on requests that are being made from the outside world (that is, the internet). The firewall is set up to “monitor” what type of requests are being made on your computer. These requests may be legitimate, or they may be illegitimate. The request may be, for example, “Please allow this e-mail message to be delivered to the mail client” (Microsoft Outlook, Netscape Messenger, Eudora Email, etc.). That is a good request. Or it may be, “Please execute a script that wipes the hard drive clean.” That is a very bad request!
The job of the firewall — and of course, Anti-Virus software and all that stuff that works together — is to deny the “bad” request while allowing the “good” request to be executed. If the firewall did not allow ANY requests to pass through, you’d get no e-mail … no communication from the outside world! On the other hand, if the firewall allowed ALL requests to pass through, well, it just might be that your hard drive gets wiped clean! So you see how important it is not to blindly reject ALL voices that are speaking to you — otherwise, you’d miss God’s “mail” as it were! Now you woudn’t want to do that, would you?
It is also important not to ACCEPT all voices that are speaking to you … otherwise you might wipe your “hard drive” clean! (The request might be asking you to “clean out” your entire bank account and spend it on a new car, when in fact, you could not afford that.)
The bottom line is, “Be discerning”.
God wants you to be discerning “24/7” … 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! That is, always! You are not only to be discerning while reading your Bible. You are not to “turn off” your sense of discernment once you get up from your quiet time(s) with the Lord! God may well be trying to speak with you a “whole lot more” than during these times. But … as per the “email” example used above, one might well ask, “Are we getting the message?!!!” Or, is our personal “firewall” set to reject EVERYTHING just as soon as we get up from prayer closets?
May our “firewalls” be so tuned to reject the malicious requests, while readily allowing the good ones to pass through … “24/7,” as they say. We’ll better understand which requests are good, and which ones are bad, of course, as we diligently study his word!