I received an email from my pastor some time back. Turned out it was a phishing expedition, or scam, by someone other than the pastor who had hijacked his email account to solicit money. Not that I am the great scam detector but I could tell just by the partial sentence that showed up in my email browser that this was not from my pastor. How did I know this? Because I know my pastor well enough to recognize that this was not his writing style, his voice, so to speak.
Sure enough, a few hours later, an email from the church secretary confirmed it as a scam. So how did I know the secretary’s email was legit? I also know her writing style as well. A simple push of the “Delete” key and scam averted.
My sheep know My voice
This episode reminded me of John 10:27 where Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
In my case, knowing my pastor’s voice saved me from being snookered. In Jesus’ case, the next verse goes on to say, “And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” What a great benefit from knowing the voice of God!
Knowing the voice of God
So what does it mean to know the voice of God? Using the example of the false email, I have a close enough relationship with the pastor to know his writing style, his voice, and to be able to know with confidence when he is writing to me.
In the same way, if I have a close enough relationship with Jesus or God, I will also be able to confidently say “that is not him” when someone tries to hoodwink me into believing something that does not come from God. Why is this more important than just the obvious reason of not wanting to be spiritually misled?
Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:24 that “false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive.”
Knowing God’s voice will keep us from being misled by these upcoming false prophets. The scripture says their motive is “to deceive.” This deception is not to fool you like in a practical joke for fun. Their deception will either be for their benefit or your detriment and most likely both. That’s called a win-lose situation where you are the loser.
The deluding spirit
We are also warned by the Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 about a deluding influence that will come in the end times. Knowing God’s voice, or words will keep us from being deluded. Note that he says “even the elect will be fooled,” much less, little ole’ me. So I better prepare for it by getting to know God’s voice.
Detecting the voice of God
Will you be quick enough to recognize a deluding influence when it comes your way? Will you be able to confidently and quickly identify false messiahs and prophets as they rise up?
Those two questions have bad consequences for you if you cannot identify God’s voice in time. Fortunately, the same solution works for both attacks. We need to recognize Jesus’ voice.
We do that by listening to and reading God’s word, the Bible, consistently. The more time we spend taking in the Word of God, the closer our relationship with Him becomes and the quicker, easier, and more reliably we can know when He is speaking through others or when those others are speaking on their own.
The ten virgins
The parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 touches on this concept as well. You can read it here.
There are various takes on the specifics of what this parable means. Running with the one where the oil represents their relationship with Jesus. The five foolish virgins didn’t have enough relationship experience with Jesus that when the groom, representing Jesus, came, He did not know them. The other five wise virgins could not give them any part of their oil, their relationship with Jesus. Point being, only you can develop your relationship with Jesus. You can’t rely on others for your relationship with Him. You can’t beg it, buy it, or borrow it as the five foolish virgins tried to do but failed. It’s a relationship with God that will give you the ability to know the voice of Jesus Christ when the false prophets, messiahs, and deluding influences come upon us like wolves among sheep. And most importantly, when Jesus comes again.
So, grab a Bible and read on my friends. Read on and know His voice.
Listening to God’s Word
Do not underestimate the power of hearing the Word of God in addition to reading it. It’s like getting a double dose of His Word. This concept is not just spiritual but practical as well. With the Bible on various formats such as tape, CD, etc., and live streaming podcasts and websites you can hear the Bible being read to you as you follow along in your own Bible or just close your eyes and listen intently. This should not replace your personal reading but enhance your reading. Try it and see if it doesn’t improve your comprehension and memory of what you have read.
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Paul Johnson | BCWorldveiw.org, a 501(c)3 Nonprofit