So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
Recently we rented a house from VRBO for our family’s annual beach vacation. My sister was the one who actually booked the property, and she talked with the owner Karen on several occasions. When the time came for vacation we both drove down to the beach on the same day, but my sister was several hours behind me. When I arrived, our access code to the door didn’t work, but my sister had given me the owner’s phone number, so I called her, identifying myself and communicating our arrival and subsequent challenge. Karen was super sweet, and we got it quickly figured out, but twice during our conversation she expressed astonishment at how similar my voice sounded to my sister’s. She almost couldn’t believe it was me on the phone with her and not my sister. I was not at all surprised by Karen’s astonished reaction because voice confusion has been a frequent occurrence for me and my sister during our adult years. Even our mom has occasionally had difficulty telling us apart on the phone until one of us would communicate enough identifying information to help her accurately recognize the speaker.
Much like the sisterly voice confusion episode, we as believers can have a difficult time discerning the origin of the “voices” in our head. Whether or not you have an active audible inner monologue, we all have thoughts that originate from different sources. It is vitally important but often quite challenging to recognize the origin of these thoughts. For many Christians the best way to differentiate between the enemy’s voice and God’s voice is to more fully understand the character of the speaker. By knowing God’s character as revealed in both the Old and New Testaments, understanding the nature of our relationship with him under the New Covenant, and being relationally close to him through prayer and meditation, we can easily learn the ways in which he speaks and the type of things he will say or not say. It’s a common pitfall for believers to credit thoughts of shame and condemnation to the Holy Spirit, and it is easy to let these guilty, shame-filled, and condemning interactions (mistakenly attributed to God) affect your life and relationship with him. It’s hard to be close with someone whom you think is always mad at you, and when it comes to your sin, clearing up this voice confusion is vital. There is a significant difference between condemnation and Holy Spirit-led conviction. Renee Swope is spot on with her concise comparison of the two:
“Satan condemns us accusingly, to make us feel guilty.
God convicts us lovingly, to lead our hearts to repentance.”
Think About: Are you able to discern the origin of the thoughts in your mind? Are you mistakenly attributing thoughts of condemnation/shame/guilt to God? What can you do to better know and understand God’s character so that you can accurately recognize his voice?
Pray: Father God, I know you are my Good Shepherd. Your voice is gentle and kind. It does not accuse or wound. You speak truth in love and will find me when I’ve gone astray. Please help me to learn how to accurately discern and recognize your voice.