How to Hear the Voice of God (Part 4): The Inward Witness – What It is and How to Recognize It
Culled from the Book, How God Speaks to You, Chapter 7.
Another great way that God speaks to us and guides us is through the inward witness. As the scripture above says, your spirit is a candle of the Lord. That means that God will embed light in your spirit man, leading and directing you on what to do.
Guidance received via the inward witness is as reliable as other guidance received via visions, prophetic manifestations, etc.
The inward witness may not come with a lot of shakings and spiritual razzmatazz. But it is as supernatural as any other leading from God.
The Bible says in Romans 8:16 (KJV) that “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”
If the Holy Spirit is witnessing in our spirit that we are God’s children, He will also witness other things right there in our spirits. The Holy Spirit will witness to our spirits, not our minds or intellect. He will guide us and tell us what to do right there.
According to Jack Harford, in his book, Hayford’s Bible Handbook, witness or witnessing is “Giving evidence, attesting, confirming, confessing, bearing record, speaking well of, giving a good report, testifying, affirming what one has seen or heard, presenting the gospel with evidence”
That’s what Paul was talking about when he said,
“I tell you the truth in Christ; I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit…” (Romans 9:1).
Paul was sure that he was saying something or sending a message that was God’s leading. The Holy Spirit was confirming the message within his conscience, that’s his innermost being. He wasn’t hearing a voice, but he was nevertheless sure about what He was saying as something from God.
The Holy Spirit will communicate the knowledge He wants you to have on something as a strong, inner knowing. I’m sure you’ve heard someone say something like, “That preaching was just talking about me.”
Although the preacher wasn’t referring to you, but somehow, in your spirit, you could pick up that he was referring to you. That’s the Holy Spirit telling you to go do what is being said.
Look at this scripture:
They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” – Luke 24:32
Jesus had risen and appeared to these men. But He did not come saying, “Hey, guys, I’m Jesus. I have risen.” He rather joined them on their journey, and as they were discussing the happenings that took place, Jesus began to share the WORD with them. Right there in their spirits, something was telling them, “This must be that Christ. This man talks like that Messiah.”
They knew on their inside the truth. But their minds argued with them. They must have wondered how it was really possible that Christ would appear to them. In order not to appear dumb, they kept the witness suppressed. They ignored the revelation in their spirits until Jesus left.
Isn’t that exactly what we do?
When someone is talking or something is happening, right deep in our spirits, we just have a knowing about the truth. We could tell if this is right or wrong. But in order to appear correct, we just follow along. Then when God departs from the situation, when things turn negative, we shout, “I knew it. I just knew it. I should have done something!”
“When the Holy Spirit communicates something directly to you through the inner witness, it will be a knowing without any shadow of a doubt.”
Some people refer to these inner witnesses as “intuition, something, gut knowing or gut feeling.”
How many times have you heard people use the slang expression that their “gut” was telling them what they needed to do, and then later on it turned out to be right. Those “gut knowings” or “gut feelings” are many of the times the inner witness from the Holy Spirit.
Many, many people have received those gut warnings not to do something specific, and many of the times, those gut warnings turned out to be 100% accurate, which again means that many of them were coming in direct from the Holy Spirit Himself.
In fact, it seems this is the primary way God speaks to us, because this method of leading is available to almost everyone.
What the world calls intuition is actually nothing other than God’s way of communicating with us.
One may ask, “But even unbelievers can have intuition, so what’s the difference?”
Oh well, remember that we are all from God in the first place. In a sense, we are all children of God. His Spirit is watching and making effort to bring us to accept the Lordship of Christ in our lives, but we keep striving with and resisting the Spirit (Genesis 6:3).
When we give our lives to Christ, our spirits are regenerated and are no longer in a struggle mode with the Holy Spirit. It becomes easier for the Holy Spirit to witness to our spirits and guide us.
Have you ever spoken a bit harshly to someone and all of a sudden you felt inside you that “no, this is wrong, I need to apologize?”
That’s the Holy Spirit bearing witness to you in your spirit, telling you what to do. You didn’t hear a voice alright; neither did you see a vision, nor did a scripture pop up in your heart. Your mind may try to prove to you that you are right and your intellect may try to encourage you to forget about it. But deep down, you know what to do.
This inner witness can also guide us on several aspects of our lives – in ministry, business, marriage, career, daily decisions, etc. It can give us a green or red light about our plans. We are to obey when we sense this inner witness.
Earlier this year, one of my very good friends invited me to a business dinner. This friend is more like a brother to me. He’s someone I know has my interest at heart. In the meeting, I met with a couple of decent folks that I would naturally want to relate with and have something to do with. They talked about this new business in town that would make us millionaires in a few months. From all they said, there was no risk. We just needed to get started and we would be made.
Wow! Who doesn’t want to become a millionaire?
Unfortunately, as I thought about the whole thing, I felt this inner discomfort about the business. I didn’t hear a voice; neither did any scripture pop up in my spirit. I just knew, somehow, inside me, that this was not going to turn out as discussed.
As the days progressed, my friend called over and over to motivate me to send my own startup fee and get started. In fact, few others who have started in a matter of days have started making money.
Such good news!
Even though I struggled inside me, I still sent part payment of the required start-up amount and promised to send the balance later on.
Isn’t that what we do many times?
Somehow, we know deep inside what to do. But we want to make others happy. We don’t want to appear odd, so we just follow the trend. That’s what I did here.
After one or two weeks, even though it was only good news I was hearing from them about the business, I still felt more reluctant in continuing with the idea. No doubt, this was God speaking to me to stop. I eventually mustered the courage to call my friend and tell him that I am sorry, that I would not be continuing with them in the business. That they should return the deposit I had made.
As soon as I took that stand, I felt a big relief within me. It was like a load was lifted from me. But then, my friend was rather shocked and surprised at my sudden turn. “What happened?” He enquired.
Well, to cut the story short, after a series of failed convincing, he talked to the others and they returned my money.
Seven months later, my friend and I were talking on other issues and I asked, “how about that our business?”
“Which business?” He replied.
“Well, the company messed everything up, so we just left them,” he said.
“What!” I exclaimed.
You guessed right what went through my head.
Recognize the Inward Witness
The inward witness isn’t a voice, but a kind of sudden realization, sudden knowing, a consciousness, of guidance from your spirit. You can’t really explain how, but you just know inside you somehow.
Imagine that you were contemplating boarding a plane, buying a property or relocating; or maybe you had two jobs offered to you at the same time and you’re not sure which one to take. At such a time, recognizing the inward witness can help you with the right decision.
You’ll discover that when you pray, a consciousness of joy, some kind of peace that you can’t explain how, an inner relaxation, wells up in your heart within the direction that God wants you to go.
Sometimes, your head or mind may not agree, but the inward witness just bears witness within you that this is the right path. If for any reason, you consider going in the opposite direction, you’ll find a dampening of your spirit, an inner discomfort. Each time you pray, the witness will come as though with hesitance and reluctance. That means it’s a “no.”
Some people have forced themselves to go against the inward witness, and they missed God and dire consequences have always been the result. Some even wait for spectacular signs, saying, “Lord, show me a sign. Talk to so person about me. If this happens by 8am, I’ll know it’s you.” Unfortunately, God doesn’t lead us like that.
Learning to recognize the inward witness is not difficult. When making a decision, we may have a “check” in our spirit . . . something on the inside—a “red light” or a “stop signal.” We just sense that we shouldn’t do something or go somewhere. We might call it an “inward intuition.”
At other times, as we consider and pray about a certain course of action, we might have an inner feeling of goodness, some kind of peace inside us. Our minds and intellect may be giving us a hard time. The look of things physically may not support this inner peace that we have. But we have a “green light” or a “go-ahead signal” in our heart. That’s the Holy Spirit witnessing to our spirit that we should go ahead and do something even though it may not make any sense to our mind. That’s the inward witness, or the witness of the Spirit.
Think for a moment. How many of this inner witness have you discarded in the past and moved right on with what your head is telling you? If you’re like me, the answer is “uncountable.” That’s exactly why the Bible says that we have heard many things but not paid attention, and so we are trapped in holes (Isaiah 42:19-21).
We’ll get better at recognizing the inward witness leading of the Holy Spirit as we spend quality time in God’s Word daily, worship and meditate. Then our fleshy mind and intellect will get lesser hold of us while our spirits come alive with God and recognize His leadings often.
REVIEW & EXERCISE
- Explain what the word witness means
- Share one experience of guidance you’ve received via the inward witness
- Explain how the inward witness is different from rhema
EXERCISE: Look back in your life and try to list a few inward witnesses that you followed and the ones you did not follow.
Quote of the Day
“The sole key to these large-scale successes in the work of God and the staggering results you see in the ministries of anointed men of God has been their ability to hear the voice of God and be obedient to it.” ― Sunday Adelaja