Two Ways to Hear God

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Two Ways to Hear God
Two Ways to Hear God describes the two ways in which God speaks to us — either on principle (according to God’s word) or in the spirit. Practical teaching!

Two Ways to Hear God

There are two ways to hear God.

(1) On principle, and

(2) in the spirit.

An example of hearing God speak on principle would be that, in the Bible, God says to love our neighbor as ourselves. These are firmly established principles, rules, precepts, or commandments which are found in the word of God. Once that principle is locked in tight (meaning, believed, firmly established in my heart), every time I see my neighbor, I know what to do: I am to love him. I do not then need God to speak to me a second time, telling me to love my neighbor. He already has, through his word, the first time I read it.

It is important to read the word of God carefully, so that we know what his commandments are. And we need reminding, too. Hence, we need to read the word of God often. God may speak to us through his word one day, as we read the word “forgive”. The principle of forgiveness has always been there, but the timing is just right as we read it in the word of God at a time when we need to forgive. God himself is nudging us in our spirit (reminding us), as we read the word of God. It is God’s Spirit in us working in harmony with the written word of God.

Most or all Christians would acknowledge that God works in the ways I have just described. This is a very normal way for God to operate in the life of a believer. I call it hearing God “on principle,” because we should not need to be actually reading the word of God to hear what God is saying to us. The word should be embedded in our heart. It is like we read in the book of Psalms,

I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11)

Thus, knowing the word of God, and hiding that in our heart, allows us to act “on principle” when the need arises. And the need will arise, over and over again.

I would like to now focus on the second way that God speaks to us, namely, in the spirit. This is quite a bit different than on principle, because on principle constitutes principles meaning they are common principles that apply to all people (however, their applications may and do vary greatly).

What if, for example, like Joseph, God wanted to warn you of some evil ruler like king Herod who was intent on killing your baby, even as king Herod wanted to kill Jesus? In that case, God would have to speak to you in the spirit. That is because that specific scenario is not covered in the pages of Scripture. Nor can it be derived from the principles that can be found in the Scriptures.

When God speaks to us in the spirit, he literally communicates spirit-to-spirit for we are spiritual beings. In accordance with the Scriptures (see Ephesians 1:13-14, Romans 8:9, Titus 3:5-7), God indwells the spirit of believers. That is how close he is to each of us. The methods that God may choose to speak to us in the spirit can vary greatly. The following list is not exhaustive, but covers some, perhaps even most, of these.


Many of the preachers of old, including preachers of today, speak of the “unction” of the Holy Spirit. They speak of God giving them unction, or God moving them. While some may not think of this as being God’s voice, it is still God communicating with them in a very personal way. It is a legitimate form of communication. For even a sports referee, when giving signals, does not have to use full sentences to be able to communicate. So, too, with God.

Bringing to Remembrance

Second, God may choose to bring to remembrance something we have already learned. Jesus said,

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you.” (John 14:26)

This, too, is God speaking in the spirit. This is really an addition, or an enhancement, to God speaking to us “on principle” because in this case God will remind of us of principles that we have learned while reading and studying the word of God.

Detailed Speech

God may choose, according to his own good pleasure, to use more detailed speech. He spoke to Moses, even as a man would speak to another man, face-to-face (or mouth-to-mouth).

“With him, I will speak mouth to mouth, even plainly, and not in riddles ...” (Numbers 12:8)


God may also speak in dreams. In Genesis 31, we read,

God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream of the night, and said to him, “Be careful that you don’t speak to Jacob either good or bad.” (Genesis 31:24)


Another way that God speaks in the spirit is by the act of drawing. Jesus said,

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day.” (John 6:44)

Since no one can come to Christ (that is, have faith in Christ) unless God draws them, God has communicated to every believer in this way. This is more than simply reading the word of God (the Bible). It is an interaction between the spirit of a soon-to-be-believer, and God’s Spirit. This, too, is God speaking in the spirit (and every genuine believer has experienced it, regardless of whether they understand it or not).

Non-Standard Methods

In Scripture, in the case of Balaam, we also see God speaking through the mouth of a donkey (see Numbers 22:28-30). This example should tell us something! God is hardly limited in the ways in which he may choose to communicate with us!

Of course, God communicating with us using non-standard methods like this does not sanction our attempting to use forbidden means of communicating with God (such as Ouija boards, mediums, etc). Clearly, if you have any discernment, you will understand that those who use forbidden and occult practices to communicate with spirits (not God!) are acting contrary to the word of God, and do not have their hearts set on God. This is all forbidden in Scripture. But for God himself to choose to use various means (including a hand writing on the wall in Daniel 5:5) is his own prerogative and decision. One comes from the divine hand of God, being orchestrated by God. The others are fleshly attempts of man to circumvent our accountability before a holy God and communicate with that which is not God at all! Let us understand the difference between the two!


In the book of Daniel, God spoke via an open vision (see Daniel 5:5), and in this regard, the Bible also says that God will speak through dreams and visions in the last days (see Joel 2:28-29 and Acts 2:17-18).

Fruit of the Spirit

While you may not have thought of it like this, when you experience joy, because you have done the right thing and obeyed God, it is possible that God is giving you that joy it is a communication happening between God and you, and not simply between you and yourself. This can be a form of God speaking in the spirit, because joy, along with 8 other traits (love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control), are listed in Galatians 5:22-23 as the fruit of the Spirit.

Consider also the corollary (that is, the opposite) of this. The Bible tells us,

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)

How would you know if you have grieved the Holy Spirit? Could it be that you might feel grief inside? Certainly, grief may be a normal response in some situations (for example, you have lost a loved one). But if you have not lost a loved one, and there is no other reason why you should normally feel grieved, and you have done something to grieve the Lord (like sin), then you might want to consider that your internal grief is, in fact, God giving you a signal that you need to rethink either your attitude or your actions in order that blessings may come to you, instead. Thus, the fruit of the Spirit (or the lack thereof) can be yet another means that God uses to communicate with us. I’m not saying it always will be. But you need to be sensitive to the possibility that it is, because sometimes it will be!

So whether God speaks through unction, bringing to remembrance, using detailed speech, via dreams, by drawing, using non-standard methods, through visions, through the fruit of the Spirit (or lack thereof), or any other Scriptural means, it all amounts to God speaking in the spirit.

There is a bit of a battle regarding all of this, because some Christians claim that God cannot or will not speak in the spirit any longer. If this is true, however, what about John 6:44?

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day.” (John 6:44)

This is indeed God speaking in the spirit — for it is individual and personal for each person who is to become a believer. Furthermore, they are not even believers yet when he does this, how much more when they become believers?!

So, clearly, God does speak in the spirit, even today. Should we then limit God concerning the methods in which he chooses to speak in the spirit to any particular person? May it never be! On the other hand, some people are good at saying God spoke to them, but their words, actions and teachings do not line up with the word of God. This is a giant red flag that indicates that perhaps God has not spoken to them at all, and that they are actually in deception!

The Battle for Your Mind

There is a battle for your mind, and it is not only God who wants to speak to us, demons do, too. When you experience discouragement, or depression, you may be experiencing another form of communication, which could be via another spirit (not God, but a demon).

Many people (including Christians) who are suffering from depression are in fact hearing in the spirit but their communication is not between them and God, but rather them and another (demonic) spirit. This can, and often is, confused with God speaking to them, so that a person can remain in depression not for days, but sometimes, weeks or even years! This ought not to be! If the person could only discern who it was that was communicating with them, they would be better equipped to deal with the situation, and escape this snare which has come upon them, in order to weigh them down.

The Power of Friendship

There are different ways of dealing with spirits that do these things. One (very godly) way is to share your burden (your feeling of depression and why you feel that way) with a trusted, godly, friend. The Bible says,

Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens his friend’s countenance. (Proverbs 27:17)

In other words, God can, and desires, to use friends to help us. Therefore, life is not only between us and God, it is between us, God, and friends if we will allow God to work through our friends.

Why might it be a good idea to allow God to work through friends? Because God is a God of relationship, as evidenced by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who themselves are in perfect relationship with one another. Jesus emphasized the importance of relationship when he said,

“Again, assuredly I tell you, that if two of you will agree on earth concerning anything that they will ask, it will be done for them by my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19)

Therefore, there is no question that God encourages relationship, and that we will forsake blessings if we fail to put proper emphasis on the importance of relationships. We were designed, by our Creator, to be able to give and receive blessings through relationship!

In yet another passage, we are warned not to isolate ourselves.

A man who isolates himself pursues selfishness, and defies all sound judgment. (Proverbs 18:1)

We are living in a spiritual world, and there are spiritual forces seeking to devour us all. God can and will protect us, if we take the right steps. But if we fail to implement these steps, we become open bait for the enemy (Satan or one of his demons).

Unresolved Sin

One thing that can open us wide to hearing the voice of another spirit (not God, but a demon) is bitterness, anger, resentment, jealously, pride, or any number of sins that have not yet been resolved between us and God. Certainly not the only reason, but one reason this can happen to us (and a primary reason) is if we are walking in any degree of disobedience. I am not saying it is intentional disobedience, because the heart is deceptive, and we may not fully comprehend where we have gone wrong. Nevertheless, we may have taken a wrong turn at some point along the way, which has now opened us up to the voice of another spirit.

We are spiritual beings. We respond in the spirit. If we have strayed in our hearts, even unintentionally, then it can allow the devil, or a demon, a foothold, or a toehold, to be able to communicate with us in the spirit realm, masquerading as God. This is deception at work in the heart of man, and it happens through unresolved issues which affects our ability to hear in the spirit. Here is how it works:

1. First, our heart is not perfectly aligned with God’s will. Something is simply not right. Therefore, the door is opened for receiving a deceiving word.

2. Second, Satan, or a demon, presents itself to us in a masquerading manner as an “angel of light.”

3. Third, the masquerading angel deceives us into believing a lie a lie which we may already believe. So in some cases, this visitation from the deceiving angel becomes a (so-called) “confirmation” of what we already “knew” to be the case. In reality, what we “knew” was already biased to begin with, and it was our bias which actually opened the door for this deceiving angel to visit us in the first place. The deceiving angel is not really telling us anything new. It is merely “confirming” the lie that we already believed. What was the problem? This deceiving angel gained a foothold, or toehold, through the lie that we were believing in the first place. Therefore, it is very important to close all these doors, which may be opened, through any sins which are not yet resolved. The greatest of these sins includes pride and unforgiveness.

Examine Yourself!

There is a diagnostic tool that we can use to examine ourselves, to see how we are doing in terms of abiding in the Lord. While there may be specific times when we feel an enhanced feeling of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, these should always be present in our lives and can therefore be used at any time to diagnose, or reveal to us, how we are doing spiritually.


Receiving supernatural revelation is not evidence that God has spoken. It is merely evidence that a supernatural being has spoken. Many Christians who are fleshly confuse revelation with God’s revelation, and are more than willing to “swallow it up” as “being God” because it came via supernatural revelation. This is a death trap.

Deceiving spirits act in concert (use teamwork) with one another. They can feign (fake) the workings of God and of (so-called) “providence” by speaking in, or through, both the woman on the street and then the man at the store both of whom are open to these deceiving spirits because of their own bitterness and unresolved sin. And if you ignore the teachings of the word of God and simply rely upon (so-called) “divine providence” to guide you (because two seemingly unconnected people said the same thing to you in the span of ten minutes), then you can easily be led astray, because you refuse to line everything up with the word of God. Be careful! The hallmark of a Christian is not that he receives supernatural revelation, but that he lives according to the word of God at all times.


In this article, I have sought to explain to you that there are two ways to hear God: (1) on principle (according to the teachings of the word of God) and (2) in the spirit (which could amount to unction, bringing to remembrance, using detailed speech, via dreams, by drawing, using non-standard methods, through visions, through the fruit of the Spirit (or lack thereof), or any other Scriptural means).

I have also sought to alert you to the very real possibility of being deceived if you place your focus on hearing in the spirit at the expense of obeying the word of God. Many have gone that route and it is a very dangerous thing to pretend to be able to “hear God” but not obey his word. In that case, you are in deception. Getting out of deception is important, and if you have found yourself deceived in any way, it’s time to be open to the Holy Spirit doing a healing, cleansing work in you, so that he can breathe new life in you indeed.

Deception can and does happen when our hearts are not properly aligned, and when we are holding onto any issues such as bitterness, anger, resentment, jealously, pride, or any number of sins that have not yet been resolved between us and God. One of the means that God desires to use to help us become stronger in him is to develop godly friendships with others, who will be a blessing to us, even as we are to them. God is glorified through relationship, even as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in perfect relationship with each other.


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