Fairly often I get asked how you know if you’re actually hearing God, rather than being deceived by the enemy. Almost always the “Satan appears as an angel of light” verse from 2 Corinthians 11 is quoted as reason for their fear of not knowing God’s authentic voice.
The answer is in God’s character and nature. The enemy may be able to appear as an angel of light, but he completely sucks at faking love, joy, and peace, because he has none. Before the enemy can deceive you, he’s going to try and scare, hurt, and offend you out of love, joy, peace, and every other fruit of God’s Spirit.
His warped copy of love is an exhausting conditional approval. Joy is twisted into pleasure at the failure of those who disagree with you. And his shadow version of peace is validation of your bitterness and judgements.
So what do you do? How do you hear God’s voice and ignore the enemy’s? Stay in love. Keep your heart open to joy, peace, patience, and kindness. Regardless of your circumstances, let God teach you to live in and give away the genuine fruits of his Spirit, starting with that love, which displaces all fear (1 John 4:18).
Each one of the fruits of his Spirit will produce a closeness to Jesus, and a greater confidence in your own identity. Living in awareness of who God is for you through them will empower and equip you for the situation in front of you. They’ll give you compassion, wisdom, and grace for everyone around you. And they’ll certainly keep you from falling for deception and settling for cheap counterfeits.
“Among the fruit the Holy Spirit produces in us are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Against these the law—and the fear of failing it—has no power” (Galatians 5:22–23, paraphrase).