“I’ve prayed about this and I really feel like God told me that it would be okay.”
Those were the words that I heard when a young lady informed me that she was leaving her husband in order to live with another dude. She was happier with the other guy. She knew that God didn’t want her to be unhappy and so as she prayed that voice in her head confirmed that she had permission from the Almighty.
Don’t write me off as crazy, but I think she probably did hear a sort of “voice” in her mind that she attributed to God. And I don’t believe it was necessarily demonic. In fact I believe it is a voice that many of us hear on a daily basis. I believe many well-meaning believers attribute this voice to God.
That voice is your conscience.
I was with a guy who told me that as he was praying “God told him” that he was being inconsistent in a particular behavior. As he played out the conversation with “God” it was interesting how much the Lord sounded like the man who was telling me the story. Your conscience is “your consciousness of what you believe is right and wrong.” (Naselli, 41) It is that internal voice that you hear that tells you whether things are right or wrong.
But here is the problem with equating the voice of your conscience to the voice of God. Your conscience can be wrong. In fact it can be seared (1 Timothy 4:2) and guilty (Hebrews 10:22). Your conscience can make you think that right is wrong and that wrong is right.
This is why that voice in your head needs to be submitted to God’s Word and not just assumed it is God. God could very well be using your conscience. It is not wise to go against your conscience. But our conscience must be recalibrated to the word of God. It is also possible that your conscience could be way off and causing you to submit to laws which are opposed to the gospel or giving you permission to do things that God never said is appropriate.
This is why I’m really shy to say “God told me” unless it’s something that I can clearly back up with Scripture. That’s not saying that God only speaks to us by His Word. But it is saying that the only certain guide that we have is God’s Word. That voice in my head must submit to the ancient words and ultimately to the Lord Himself.
Jiminy Cricket isn’t infallible. He isn’t the voice of God. He’s a helper. But we should speak a little less authoritatively. Instead of saying “God said to me…” Perhaps say, “My Jiminiy Cricket is saying to me…”
It’s fine to let your conscience be your guide so long as your conscience is held captive to the word of God.
Andy Naselli and J.D. Crowley have written a tremendously helpful book on the conscience. Conscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ
Photo source: here