Today when you want to know what God wants you to do, how do you know or how do you find out? You've got the Bible, but it doesn't tell you whether it's time to replace your carpet or not. If you can't find the information in the Bible, then how do you know? How do you make decisions in areas where the Bible does not speak?
A very common belief among professing Christians today is that God still speaks to them to reveal their individual will of God. I'm saying that they think they are getting direct messages from God, spoken to them in their heads. Many describe this voice or speaking as the still small voice, taken from 1 Kings 19:11-12. Elijah the prophet received "the still small voice." Prophets and apostles have received direct revelation from God. The 1 Kings text doesn't provide a basis for believing that God still speaks to you in your head, guiding you in His individual will for you.
If someone hears a voice, something he thinks is telling him to do something, what is that? Perhaps first, is something supernatural even happening with the voice someone hears in his head or thinks he hears? Many claim to hear it.
My dealing with people's experiences, whether dreams or visions or voices, is not to reject the experiences. I can't prove someone didn't have an experience. To many, I think it's true, perception is reality. They perceive it, so it's real. Whatever is the experience must be judged by scripture. This would be to test the spirits, that John talked about in his epistle.
Should we believe that God is talking to someone? God spoke to and through the apostles, and there are no more apostles. The total number of apostles is 12, as seen in many places, including the book of Revelation, and the last of them died in the first century. The Word of God is complete, once and for all delivered. God does still talk through His written Word. The Holy Spirit works through the written Word of God. Except through the written Word, we should not believe that God is talking to someone.
If God isn't speaking to someone directly, what is that voice that someone hears? There are only four possibilities. First, someone is talking to himself. Second, it is either the excusing or accusing of the conscience. Third, the Holy Spirit is working through the written Word of God. Fourth, the devil or a demon are doing something.
How does someone know which of the four is the voice he hears? There isn't a basis for knowing what or who the voice is that someone hears. What matters is that someone is obedient to the Word of God by understanding and then applying it.
If someone says, God spoke to me and told me, should we believe it? It really depends on what someone means, but the statement is so ambiguous that it is either a falsehood or at least dangerous. Most people don't think they mean one of the four possibilities above. They think they mean the actual voice of God, God actually speaking. It's not true, but it could be very useful.
Why or how is the voice in the head, said to be God speaking, useful? Some of the ways it is useful I've actually seen. This doesn't mean it is good. First, when people believe God tells this person things, he has unique authority. He can tell them God told him to build a building, God gave him a message, and more. They've got to listen to him and do what he says or they are disobeying God. He has instant power with this.
Second, when someone is hearing God's direct voice in his head, he is a better Christian than others. He's got something others don't have. Third, when he says that God told him something, people can't question that. He's got a built in excuse for doing things he might want to do. He's justified by the voice. Fourth, if someone doesn't like what he's doing, he can just say God told him to do something else. Now it's not because he doesn't like it or it wasn't succeeding, but because God told him. He's got to do what God told him, right? A pastor shuts it down where he's lost interest, and tells his congregation God is telling him to go elsewhere. The church, accustomed to hearing other messages given to him directly from God, gives in to that plan. He's gotta do what he's gotta do. Fifth, someone preaches a sermon he says he got from God, and even though it isn't biblical, it is accepted as biblical. It's easier to come up with sermons that have popped into your brain.
In many different ways, the voice in the head is validated as God speaking. A person is a really, really good Christian, very spiritual, so when he says God speaks, people feel awkward questioning it. If he wasn't hearing from God, he'd be a bad Christian, it seems. Lots of people hear the voice, and so many people can't all be wrong. The apostles heard the voice, and we're supposed to obey the Bible. Was the Christianity of the apostles just for their day? Someone shouldn't settle for a Christianity different than the apostles. They heard the voice. You can hear the voice. The person hearing the voice also sees great numeric success. Where did that come from, if the voice wasn't legitimate? The person hearing the voice holds unique sway over people. From where does that sway originate if not God?
The more unbiblical messages and actions that come from a voice in the head, the further people get away from depending what God did say. Traditions take on divine authority. Success validates the voice and perpetuates more extra-scriptural activity. The voice undermines the sufficiency of scripture. It detracts from biblical discernment. Faith comes from the Word, not a voice, so it isn't faith. When the Bible isn't enough, God isn't pleased. He isn't being believed.
The direct voice in the head is not how someone knows the individual will of God. He relies on biblical principle and Christian liberty. He is sent to scripture to better know it to better apply it. Within the perimeter of biblical principle, he has liberty to do what he wills. God gives that liberty. He wants people to have it.
If there is a direct voice, why does it only appear at certain times and in a random way? If someone goes through the grocery store, shouldn't he look for direct revelation for the best can of beans? The model of the next car should pop into the head. Instead of GPS, God literally directs the path. Right turn here, left there -- why? God said. That's not how the Christian life is to be lived.
Many of you reading this know that what I'm describing is rampant among professing Christians today.