How does one distinguish between emotion, inner conscious voice, and The Holy Spirit?
@Haley Per my understanding, our emotions and conscience are very closely related. It is our conscience that informs are emotions and sometimes vice versa. So, for example, if we are thinking about taking some money lying on the ground, we may feel guilty and instead turn it in to the lost and found. That emotion of guilt is being produced or informed by our conscience. At other times maybe someone yelled at us and it made us feel guilt or shame even though we know of no reason for feeling guilty - that is our emotions overloading and affecting our conscience.
Our conscience can be wrong - it can be misinformed. Consider this passage from 1 John - our heart’s can condemn us - make us feel guilty and condemned - even when we should not feel that way.
I John 3:19-22 - This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.
In my view, this is where the Holy Spirit comes in - the Spirit of God provides a corrective for our conscience via the Word of God. Whenever our conscience or emotions are out of wack, the Holy Spirit brings to remembrance God’s truth. And the Holy Spirit teaches us truth from error via God’s Word, worship and prayer.
For example, if we are feeling shame that will not go away - the Spirit may bring to remembrance I John 1:9 - if we confess our sins to God, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I think the best way to be sure that something comes from God is to know God’s Word well. By way of encouragement, Scripture teaches that it is part of maturing in our faith to learn to distinguish good from evil. So as we seek to understand God, pray to be filled with the Spirit and obey the commandments we already understand, we will grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus.
Hebrews 5:14 - But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Here are a few articles you may find helpful:
Emotion vs. the Presence of the Holy Spirit
I always first rely on scripture to confirm the validity of source of a message. If I am still unsure I will seek the guidance of a holy person.
Hey there, @Haley! Thx, for your question, bro. It’s an important one. After all…if you don’t know who you’re receiving instruction from or being informed by, then you’re more than likely to doubt when the “real thing” comes.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” ~ John 10:27 NASB
In a very real sense, you can’t know what God says if you don’t know what God says. Does that make sense? As Christ-followers, what we need to hear are those things we have heard (or read) all along, but perhaps have not listened to. It would be difficult to correctly hear and discern what God is saying to you if you don’t know what He’s already said to you in His written Word (God’s revealed truth found in the Bible) and through His Living Word via the incarnate Christ.
Through His Word; through Christ, we can know Him . In other words, our relationship to God is objective NOT subjective. Our relationship to God need not be based on personal interpretation or feelings but rather solid facts about His character, ways, His tendencies and interactions with others, etc.
The more you know about Him as revealed on the pages of Holy Scripture and by His Immanuel…the more you begin to trust (and love) Him. As is the case with any relationship, the more you know someone the more you’re willing to trust them and who they are. The same principle applies to God.
I hope this helps, some, brother. Grace and peace!