How to Recognize God's Voice - The First Test
By Rick Warren
— March 15, 2011
“Don’t believe everything you hear just because someone says it is a message from God; test it first to see if it really is!” 1 John 4:1 (LB)
"God's truth is consistent. He is not going to tell you one thing in the Bible and then tell you something different in an impression."
When I get an idea in my mind, how do I know if it’s from God? How do I know it’s not my own desire or even a lie from Satan? The answer is clear in 1 John 4:1 – I must test it to find out.
This week I want to share with you the seven biblical ways to test an impression and find out whether it is from God or not. These seven tests form a filter and you need to make sure that the idea you are testing passes all seven of them. When it does, you can have absolute confidence that the idea is from God.
The first test is to ask the question, “Does it agree with the Bible?”
God will never contradict his written word. Luke 21:33 says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (NIV). God’s truth is consistent. He is not going to tell you one thing in the Bible and then tell you something different in an impression.
And as Proverbs 12:19 says, “Truth stands the test of time.” How does this apply as a filter? For example, the Bible tells us to pay our taxes when it says “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Matthew 22:21 NIV). So if you feel God telling you not to pay your taxes this year, that thought isn’t from God. It would be a contradiction of his Word.
There are also many verses in Proverbs that say God will bless your business if you have integrity and if you are honest and fair in all your business dealings. So if you get an idea that you could make more money and increase your profits by being dishonest, that idea is not from God.
The vast majority of God’s will for your life is in God’s Word. So if anyone ever comes up to you and says you need the Bible plus another book to find truth, they are wrong. Galatians 1:8 says, “Even if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message, let him be forever cursed” (NLT).
That may sound harsh, but God’s truth does not change. If you want to know God’s voice, the only book you need to read is the Bible. You need to memorize it, study it, and meditate on it.
When you know God’s Word you will not be fooled by lies. But you will always get into trouble when you doubt the Bible.