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Hearing God’s Voice — Part 2

Go to the Bible to know God’s will

Doug Britton, MFT

Page Summary
Summary: To hear God’s voice or know his will, go to the Bible. Its instructions and guidelines should lay the foundation for all our decisions.

Part 2 of a 4-part series on “Hearing God’s Voice”

Part 1      Part 3      Part 4

You can discover God’s will in the Bible

Imagine a boss gave a new employee a manual that described the job and listed things the employee should and shouldn’t do. Imagine for a minute that the manual also had many stories that showed how—and how not—to put its instructions into practice.

Now imagine that the employee glanced at the manual without paying a lot of attention to its instructions.

Finally, imagine that the employee constantly asked the boss what to do, although the answers were clearly answered in the manual.

Make it personal

1. If you were to give that employee some advice, what would you say to him or her?

Although God is not your boss, and you aren’t his employee, the previous example is a good introduction to today’s lesson.

Many of the questions we ask God are already answered in the Bible, so there’s no reason to ask God if he changed his mind. Even if a question is not directly answered, the Bible has many principles or stories that can help guide you.

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Sometimes our “flesh” (our human nature) rebels against God’s commands, and we don’t want to obey God. At those times it’s good to remember that God’s commands are for our good, even those that we may find hard to understand.

Related: Seek to please God in everything you do

What do you think?

2. How important is it for Christians to be familiar with what the Bible says? Explain your answer.

The Bible helps you make specific decisions

The better you know what the Bible says, the easier it will be for you to know God’s will. The Bible has specific instructions about what to do and what not to do. It also has many general principles that you can apply to a wide variety of situations.

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:9-11)

Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors. (Psalm 119: 24)

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105)

What do you think?

3. What does it mean for God’s Word to be “a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105)?

4. Is that a helpful picture for you? Why or why not?

Related: Why should I read the Bible?

Here are some of the Bible’s specific instructions

Acts of the sinful nature

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Drunkenness and sexual immorality

Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags. (Proverbs 23:20-21)

Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. (Romans 13:13)

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and songs from the spirit. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.(Ephesians 5:17-21)

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we have told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8)


Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult. (Proverbs 12:16)


I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. (Psalm 101:3)

Divorce and violence

“The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the LORD Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful. (Malachi 2:16)

Related: Commit to your marriage — Do not divorce

Deceitfulness of riches

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. (1 Timothy 6:9)

Make it personal

5. Do you need to improve in any of the previous areas? If so, what steps will you take?

Related: Avoid counterfeit “freedom”

The Bible helps you change on the inside

The Bible describes many specific actions you should or should not do. When I counsel people, I call these “external” issues since they are action-oriented.

The Bible also describes specific attitudes we should have or not have. When I counsel people, I call these “internal” issues since they deal with the heart—our emotions, intellect, attitudes, and beliefs.

God wants us to deal with our heart, not just our actions and words. That’s because, as Jesus said, our evil deeds and words come from our heart.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:45)

When you deal with your internal issues (your heart), your external actions and words will change.

Make it personal

6. If you want to know God’s will, why is it helpful to ask, “What attitude should I have about this?”

The Bible helps you love

Follow the greatest commandment

Jesus put all the Bible’s commandments into perspective when he answered this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (Matthew 22:36)

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Related: What does it mean to “love yourself”?

Make it personal

7. How can Matthew 23:37-40 help you know God’s will when you are considering a decision?

Cultivate the fruit of the spirit.

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul described “the fruit of the Spirit,” attitudes God wants to grow in each of us.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

There’s no need to ask God what his will is when it comes to your heart and how to interact with others. He wants you to grow in:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-control

Make it personal

8. Review the previous list. Which “fruit” do you think God would like to see ripen in you? Explain your answer.

9. What is a decision you are facing? Can thinking about the fruit of the spirit help you make this decision? Explain your answer.

Caution — Don’t justify sin

When you really want to do something—even if the Bible says not to do it—it’s easy to justify your actions. Here are some common comments I have heard:

  • I know it’s wrong, but God is a forgiving God, I know he will forgive me.
  • I know adultery is wrong, but we’re in love.
  • It’s not a serious sin. God won’t care.
  • All my friends do it.
  • I don’t get mad, I get even.

What do you think?

10. What are some ways people justify sin?

11. What do you think God thinks about these justifications?

12. How can you discipline yourself not to justify sin?

Related: Pray to see sin as God sees it

Memory verse

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path. (Psalm 119:105)

Personal application

1. What is the point of the story at the beginning of this study about the boss, the employee, and the manual?

2. Write out one verse that illustrates how important it is to read the Bible.

3. Review the list of the Bible’s specific instructions, and choose one thing that sometimes tempts you personally. Now write a prayer asking God to help you overcome this temptation.

4. Why does this study say you should change on the inside? What does that have to do with knowing God’s will?

5. How can thinking about the most important commandment (Matthew 23:37-40) help you know God’s will?

6. How can thinking about the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) help you know God’s will?

7. When some people sin, they say, “I know it’s wrong, but we serve a loving God and he will forgive me.” Is that a good idea? Why or why not?

8. Write a prayer asking God to help you not say, “I know it’s wrong, but we serve a loving God and he will forgive me.”

“Hearing God’s Voice” . . . Continued

Click here to read Part 3 of “Hearing God’s Voice—Listen to the Holy Spirit to know God’s will.”

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About Doug Britton, MFT

Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)

Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.

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