We’ve been talking about hearing God’s voice and one of the elements we discussed was that God’s voice is a familiar voice. Knowing this certainly makes it easier to recognize when He is speaking to us; however, it also opens the door for potential confusion. It can be difficult to know whether we’re hearing a random thought of our own, or the actual voice of God.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome he addressed a key element that relates to this very issue.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 (NIV)
What Paul is saying is that by changing the way we think, we change the way we act. This one verse carries a lot of meaningful insight into how a believer can and should live his or her life. When we begin to adjust how we think, our actions begin to change and reflect that new way of thinking. The result is that we become able to “test and approve what God’s will is.”
By renewing our mind we position ourselves to better recognize God’s voice from other distractions in life. The old adage “garbage in; garbage out” carries a lot of weight in the light of this scripture. If we continually feed our minds with immoral or amoral things, we hinder our ability to recognize the different between God’s will and our own.
A similar thought is communicated in Hebrews.
There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.
Hebrews 5:11-14 (NLT)
This passage expands what Romans 12 tells us. In verse 14 we see that by “training” we develop the skill necessary to recognize the difference between right and wrong. The key here is that recognizing God’s voice from our own is not always going to be instantaneous—although sometimes it will be. For day-to-day life we need to develop the skill to recognize His voice from other stray thoughts. It’s a growth process.
The word translated “training” in Hebrews 5:14 is a Greek word that means exercise. More specifically, it refers to athletes who, in that time period, would run races and compete without any clothing (i.e. naked). They stripped off everything that would hinder their ability to perform at 100%. The Bible is telling us that if we want to recognize right from wrong, God’s will from our own, we need to remove the things that cling to us and hold us back.
Ultimately, hearing God’s voice becomes radically easier when our relationship with Him is a lifestyle1—included in every facet of what we do and how we live—and not just another thing included in our already busy schedules.
John 15:1-8 ↩