Every single day thousands of thoughts flood our minds. Many of those thoughts lead to actions. For example, every morning I think, “A cup of coffee would really help me wake up.” I choose to act on that thought by stumbling to my coffee maker in a sleep-induced haze and brewing a cup. So how can we really know whose voice we are hearing at any given time? Let me give you a real-world scenario, one that plays out in my own thought life nearly every week.
It’s 6:30 Sunday morning; my alarm clock rings out with a favorite song I specifically chose to help wake me up (Like a Lion-Kristian Stanfill). Once again I stayed up too late the night before, and have less sleep than my body probably needed. I think, “I really don’t feel like going to church today. Maybe I should just stay home; I’m so tired.”
A) God’s voice:
In His omniscience, God knows that my presence at home is required. Through the Holy Spirit, He causes me to consider staying home so I won’t miss out on a “divine appointment”.
B) Satan’s voice:
Having observed my actions/countenance in the past, Satan knows how my attitude and behaviors are changed after I attend a worship service. Through observation, Satan also notices the physical reaction my body is having as a result of a poor choice I made to stay up late the night before. Taking advantage of my weakness, he places a thought in my head, tempting me to stay away from God’s house and His will, which will probably pave the way for more temptations that, based on past behaviors, Satan has a good idea I will fall victim to.
C) My Flesh:
I stayed up too late, I’m tired, and because I would rather be comfortable I contemplate on how nice it would feel to sleep in. It has nothing to do with God or Satan; it is just me being my sinful, prideful self. I don’t want to be challenged, I don’t feel like changing my behavior, I just want to SLEEP!
So, which is it; A, B, or C? Let me help you out a little by eliminating A. The Holy Spirit will never, I repeat—never, “lead” us to do something contrary to God’s written word, no matter how spiritual it sounds. Remember, Satan is an angel of light, so he often uses such a ruse to encourage us to think we are spiritual while we are, in fact, sinning. Scripture clearly instructs us to fellowship with other believers, and not to forsake that act as some might be inclined to do (Hebrews 10:25). (Occasionally we are sick, and in some instances, some are stricken with chronic illnesses that keep them from attending church regularly; that is not what I’m talking about here.)
Well, that leaves us with B or C. This is when we need to consider the surrounding circumstances. If I told you that I had been struggling with depression, feelings of regret, or was having difficulty with someone else at church, you may be more apt to lean towards B as your answer. But if I told you that everything was fine, I had no outstanding debts of bitterness, money was raining down from heaven and all my financial problems had been solved, you would likely consider C as your answer. In reality, it could be either. In my case, knowing my life and circumstances, I am about 99.9% certain it is a tempting thought strategically placed by my Enemy.
If I didn’t show up to church one Sunday, most people wouldn’t consider that abnormal because those close to me know that my husband is not a Christ-follower and that he wants to spend time with me on his days off (the weekend); church could be a conflict for us. However, I know that for the most part, my husband couldn’t care less if I go to church or not, as long as I am spending time with him and being flexible with my church-activities schedule (not spending every waking moment at church throughout the week), he really isn’t bothered by it.
But do you see how Satan can use all that he knows (through observation—he is not omniscient) to “scheme” against me (and you)? Suppose I decide to hit the snooze button and sleep instead of going to church (which I have done). My husband wakes up and sees I haven’t gone to church like I said I was going to and asks me about it. Feeling defensive I might whip out a lame excuse, “I wasn’t feeling well,” which is a lie because even though I was tired, I wasn’t legitimately sick or unable to get up. Now my credibility as a Christ-follower is diminished in my husband’s eyes. He notices my lack of commitment and how easily I am swayed from God (after all, he goes to work every day whether he’s tired or not, so God must not be that important). Do you see, friends, how subtle this is? A simple little thought, “I’m tired, maybe I should stay home” could negatively affect my husband’s view of Christianity, and even his salvation!
Stay alert! I will be getting more in depth on these “voices” in the posts to come. Remember that our circumstances play a huge role in determining what voice we may be hearing.
“Lest Satan should get an advantage over us: for we are not ignorant of his devices [noema-schemes].” 2 Corinthians 2:11