I'm so grateful for verses that deal with hearing God's voice, and I believe with all my heart that when we're in right relationship with Him, we will know when our Shepherd speaks and when an imposter sneaks in.
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me..." ~John 10:27 (NASB)
So how can we be sure we're following the right voice?
Commune with Christ
When we spend one-on-one time with another human being on a consistent basis, we learn their voice and their standard operating procedure. It's the same as a disciple of Christ. We know Him through His Word and through prayer and meditation. In addition, He knows us, not only through our intimate fellowship with Him, but as the One who created us and predestined our days.
It's worth mentioning that in the Bible, the word "hear" always includes obedience. It's not enough for us to understand what God wants. We must obey in order to follow Him.
Consider the Enemy's Tactics
Any soldier will tell you that one of the key aspects of war is understanding how your opponent thinks and operates. If you think about it, we do the same thing when playing games. Part of our strategy is trying to think ahead of the other players.
First of all, we need to remember that Satan is a liar, a thief, and a murderer. He roams around looking for those he can devour. He'll stop at nothing to get his way and to trip us up. But we can also gain some clues as to how he operates from the stories of the temptation of Eve (Genesis 3) and in his temptation of Christ (Matthew 4).
- He twists truth to make it sound believable.
- He plays off our fears, appetites, and desires.
- He appeals to our pride.
- He casts doubt.
Though no one is able to snatch us from the Master's hand, we are all still very much capable of evil because of the old sin nature within us. Even Paul, the apostle, dealt with the evil that resided within (Romans 7:21-25). It's possible for us to give way to an inner voice.
But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. ~James 1:14-15 (NASB)
In conclusion, to stay on the right path, it's paramount that we stay in close communion with the Good Shepherd so we can hear His voice and obey. But the enemy will push the limits. Know in advance how he operates. If we find ourselves making decisions based on fear or pride, we can pretty well be assured that Satan has his grubby little paws all over it. Lastly, we must also be aware of our tendency to be drug away by our own lusts and desires. When we keep all this in mind as we journey toward our final home, it helps us learn to listen all the more closely for that still, small voice, who whispers words of peace, joy, love, encouragement and hope.
Father God and Savior, Thank You for being our Good Shepherd, for speaking words of life. Thank You for the joy of following You and Your voice. Make us aware of the enemy's schemes. Teach us to be on guard against his attacks. May we also recognize our own tendency to sin. Keep us from evil--the evil one, the evil within, and the evil without. Thank You for the ability to hear Your voice. Amen.