How to hear from God

Hear the Voice of God by His Holy Spirit

by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.

Summary: The voice of God can be heard and understood if we apply certain biblical principles to hearing what the Holy Spirit of God is saying. This sermon will show you how.

Revelation 2:7a  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

•• Let’s be people who are able to sort out the voice of the Holy Spirit from all the competing voices.
God is talking to us, the devil is talking to us, our own carnal nature is talking to us.

• The bible gives us practical principles for discerning the voice of God spoken by the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 8:20, KJV  To the LAW and to the testimony: if they speak not according to THIS WORD, it is because there is no light in them.

•• The Holy Spirit’s voice will always be true to the Word of God, the bible.
• Sadly, I recall three of my former bible college students from the 1970s. They had embraced some heretical teachings, which they assured me were directly from the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, they were not able to be persuaded by God’s Word, the bible, that these were false doctrines. They continued to hold these demonic teachings, falsely attributing them to the Holy Spirit’s voice speaking directly to them, despite the fact that the bible said otherwise.

• The bible, God’s holy word, is always the final arbiter of truth. The voice of God's Holy Spirit will always line up with the revealed Scriptures.

Matthew 10:19-20  But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, [20] for it will not be YOU speaking, but the SPIRIT of your Father speaking through you.

John 3:6, KJV  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is BORN of the Spirit is spirit.

•• Don’t try to prethink or outthink the Holy Spirit. His message may not be what you might think.
• Let it “not be you speaking, but the Spirit.”

• Let the voice be born of the Spirit, not the flesh.

John 4:24  God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.

Romans 8:16  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.

•• We hear the voice of the Spirit of God “in [the] spirit.”
• As we grow in genuine, biblical spirituality, we attune ourselves to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice more precisely.

John 15:26  When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify ABOUT ME.

•• The Holy Spirit and His voice are consistently JESUS-oriented.
• I recall meeting some Christians in the early 1970s. They were traveling around “preaching the Holy Ghost (their words). Although well-intentioned, they were overlooking Christ’s words telling us that the Holy Spirit’s intent is not to testify about Himself, but to testify about Jesus Christ.

• You will find the genuine voice of the Holy Spirit consistently pointing you to Jesus.

Acts 2:4  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

•• Speaking in tongues helps us learn by experience to hear and articulate what the Holy Spirit speaks.
• Tongues are words “enabled” by the Spirit. As you speak in tongues in your personal devotional times, you are learning to hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 10:19  ...the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you.”

•• Expect precise information from the Holy Spirit, not just vague “inklings” and imaginings. The voice of God is not obscure or mysterious.
• For example (Acts 8:29, KJV): “Philip, go near, and join thyself to THIS chariot.” That was very precise, no-guesswork leading by the Spirit. Ask God, by His Spirit, for clear discernment of the Holy Spirit’s clear leading.

Acts 13:2  While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

•• The Holy Spirit often speaks during times of worshiping or fasting or prayer — that is, while we are waiting upon the Lord.
• I often receive God’s leading for my upcoming Sunday sermons during our weekly, multi-church pastors’ prayer meeting. The prayerful, worshipful atmosphere is spiritual and very conducive to hearing the voice of God by His Spirit.

Romans 8:14  ...those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

•• Desire, expect to be “led by the Spirit of God.” Be active in this; seek to hear the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

1 Corinthians 2:14  The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

•• Again, the Holy Spirit is heard, not by natural wisdom, but by spiritual discernment.
• The apostle Paul said, “I’ll go preach in Bythinia.” But the Holy Spirit said, “No, I want you to go preach in Macedonia (my summary of Acts 16:6-10). And Paul allowed his spiritual discernment to turn him from his own conscientious, but naturally-chosen, plans to follow the plans and voice of God.

Revelation 1:10  On the Lord’s Day I was IN THE SPIRIT, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet...

•• It is vital that we be often “in the Spirit.”
• That’s when John heard the voice of the Lord.
•• A closing question: How often do you deliberately try to be “in the Spirit”? At church services only? In times of prayer or bible reading only?
• Or do you seek to be “in the Spirit” often, every day? If so, you will find yourself increasingly sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit of God.

Summary:  You will increase your ability to hear the voice of God by His Holy Spirit by following simple bible principles:

• Determine to “hear what the Spirit says..."

• Compare everything you hear to the final standard of truth — the bible.

• Seek to hear the voice that is “born of the Spirit”, not of the flesh.

• Remember that the Holy Spirit’s intent is to point people towards Jesus Christ.

• Pray in tongues often. It will help you to learn to hear the voice of the Spirit.

• Expect to hear precise, clear information — not just “inklings” — from the Holy Spirit.

• You may hear God's voice especially clearly during times of worship, fasting, prayer, or bible reading.

• As a Christian, expect to be “led by the Spirit of God”.

• The voice of God is “spiritually discerned”, not by our “natural” abilities or nature.

• Seek to be often “in the Spirit”.

Please see our related sermon: "Hearing When God Talks".

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©2006, James H. Feeney. Copyright statement.