|1 Peter 3:15 |
15 But sanctify [set apart] Christ as Lord in your hearts,4 and always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks the reason for the hope that is in you, with gentleness and reverence;
4 Sanctify [set apart] Christ as Lord in your heart. In your thinking, set the Lord apart in your heart from the selfish spirit that reigns there. The Lord is holy and pure; your selfish spirit is evil, profane, and an abomination. Don't confuse the many voices of deceit you will hear from the evil in your heart with the single holy voice of the Lord in your heart.
It takes time, practice, and patience to learn to recognize the voice of the Lord. His words are always kind, gentle, peaceable, easily accepted, without sarcasm, without bitterness, without condemnation, without harshness, pure, clean, humble, wonderful. There are never any emotional words, there is never any emotion in his voice; his words are plain, factual, wise, easily understood, easily accepted, and never leaving you guessing as to their meaning. The enemy's many voices are usually* emotional, sarcastic, incomplete, condemning, harsh, fearful, and bitter. The enemy uses many voices: your's, friends, relatives, dignitaries, etc. Eventually you will hear the Lord. And once you begin to hear, you will hear with increasing frequency. He has a soft voice. Sometimes, you will not hear a voice, you will just suddenly know something immediately. George Fox called this an 'opening.' An 'opening' can be expressed in words, but it is a feeling that infuses your entire being, as feeling surrounded or immersed in the immediate understanding.
*Usually, but not always; beware, until spiritual maturity, the voice of the opposition can be indistinguishable from the voice of the Lord. The enemy will pretend to be the Lord, always tempting you to do something wrong that you want to do, or tempting you to do something that you have been told not to do. Based on the advice of Edward Burrough, (click to read), a giant in the early Quakers, we should do nothing for the Lord but repent until we can distinguish between the voice of the Lord and the voice of the enemy; and William Penn wrote, "Though it is the duty of all to walk in the light, and to wait for it, that by it they may be instructed in the way of life and salvation, yet it is they only who are actually led* by it, [the light] that can rightly discern between the false spirits and the true."
By way of review: to be guided or led by the light, the light must first arise in your heart like a magnificent star, so that you are shown everything to do and told everything to say; the unmistakable arising of the light comes from faith in the voice.
There is a voice of the Lord like thunder over the waters described in many Old Testament passages. This is radically different than the small still voice we hear from within our hearts or from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit and the Word of the Lord within speak with words from Jesus, so we are hearing from the Son of God. But until we can truly hear the Voice of the Lord, we will not know for sure it is the Lord speaking to us. From the Word of the Lord within: "You will always have doubts until you hear His voice. My voice is like thunder over waters. You will hear His voice when He calls you." We will hear the Lord's voice like thunder over waters for the first time after we have submitted to the baptism of fire and death to then be called forth and resurrected with Him as a new creature. Then, as John 10:3-5 states: we will know his voice, he will lead us out of the world to the kingdom, and we will flee from other voices. When you hear His voice for the first time, you have passed over from death to life; and once you have heard His voice like thunder over waters, you will always know whether or not it is the Lord speaking to you.
We first have to listen to the Holy Spirit and the word of the Lord within to hear and obey His many teachings and commands. Then with long persistence and patience in doing obedient works of repentance, we experience the baptism of fire and death, to then hear the Voice of the Lord as we pass from death to life. Until then, we have to be on our guard to not be deceived by the enemy, pretending to be the Lord speaking to us.