One of the biggest problems perpetuated by charismatic Pentecostal teaching concerns how God speaks to us.
God’s words are found in the Bible. When Charismatics teach that God’s voice can be heard through experience, circumstance, and gut feelings the word of God is bound to face corruption and neglect.
A good example of this is in a recent advertisement from Charisma magazine that instructs how someone can discern God’s voice from Satan’s voice in their thoughts and experiences.
According to the graphic God’s voice calms, comforts, convicts, encourages, enlightens, leads, reassures, and stills. All of these descriptions are positive and invoke feelings of safety and peace.
But notice that none of these descriptions require any doctrinal content, dispensational context, or divine inspiration. Without these things this graphic becomes extremely dangerous, misleading, and can even be satanic!
Many people can say things that calm, comfort, and convict. Does that mean they are of God? Of course not!
Did not the Devil reassure Eve in the garden that she would “not surely die” (Gen 3:4)? Did he not promise enlightenment if she ate the forbidden fruit (Gen 3:5)?
It is possible to be encouraged in an evil thing (Ps 64:5). This is called temptation and it was how the Devil spoke to Christ in Matthew 4.
In Jeremiah 23:16-18 false prophets were leading men in a vision to stay calm and be still as “no evil shall come upon you”. These false prophets were desperately wrong, just as those who cry “Peace!” when there is no peace offered by God.
At that time, in that context, God told Israel to give no heed to those who speak this way (Jer 23:16).
According to the Charisma graphic Satan’s voice obsesses, worries, condemns, discourages, confuses, pushes, frightens, and rushes. All of these descriptions are negative and invoke feelings of inadequacy and forced change.
Yet again, none of these descriptions refer to any doctrine, dispensation, or source of truth about the Devil. They only refer to what a voice makes you feel.
What if it is the Lord that discourages you from doing something? Shouldn’t you listen?
Moses discouraged the children of Israel from going into the promised land at one point, because “the LORD is not among you” and “it shall not prosper” (Num 14:41-42). Those people died who would not be discouraged.
In the Bible God pushes (Deu 33:17), confuses (Gen 11:7), condemns (Isa 54:17; John 3:18), and frightens, striking fear into men’s hearts (Matt 10:28; Rev 14:7).
Obsession can be a good thing when it concerns seeking and saving that which is lost (Matt 18:11; 1 Cor 9:22; 1 Cor 16:15; Gal 4:18).
Satan often speaks God’s words from other portions of scripture out of context! It is called lying. Besides, your flesh will always be at peace to follow its fallen desires. We can’t trust our hearts.
There must be more to knowing God’s voice beyond reliance on how they make us feel. After all, truth can hurt.
How God Speaks
Certainly, neither God nor Satan’s voice can be discerned by how our thoughts and experiences make us feel. They cannot be discerned by our experiences at all!
When babies have yet to learn how to talk they are greatly affected by the tone of a voice. A tone can strike fear into a child’s heart or bring comfort. Either way a baby disregards the actual words being said.
Like tongue-talking Pentecostals the Corinthians were spiritual babes. Paul gave them this advice:
“Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.” – 1 Corinthians 14:20
Men are not selfish pleasure seeking individuals avoiding any sacrifice and inconvenience on their flesh. Men take responsibility to learn, understand, study, and sacrifice for the benefit of others.
When we are children that cannot speak or read we go by sights and sounds. This is like the charismatics who listen to God’s voice in the visual circumstances and in the tone of one’s voice.
When we grow up we listen to the words and learn to read the Book. We hear God’s voice in the doctrinal understanding of the Bible rightly divided.
God’s Inspired Words vs. Our Fallible Feelings
The feeling centered perspective on God’s will is a consequence of the Pentecostal problem that teaches wrongly how God speaks.
God has a wonderful plan that goes beyond how you feel in your life. God’s purpose is not to make you feel good all the time. Satan has an evil agenda and it is not always to make you feel bad all the time. God’s will is Biblically revealed and dispensationally considered (as is the Devil’s).
Knowing God’s voice (and Satan’s) requires having a copy of God’s complete word of truth: the Bible (Rom 10:17). Then, we must understand what God said, to whom he said it, and in what dispensational context.
Instead of focusing on the tone of voice that is used focus should be on the words that are spoken, comparing them to what we know to be God’s words in the Bible, rightly divided.
When wrong charismatic doctrine of hearing God’s voice outside the Bible is corrected, only then can you begin to understand the revealed will of God and how God works and speaks today.