Jun 23

Messages from the Lord vs Messages from the Adversary

In our day, we are bombarded with messages. Those messages come in many forms and through many mediums- i.e. the internet, social media, symposium, videos, op-eds, ted-eds, memes, books, teachers, forums, and even our friends. Many messages may seem harmless, but are propagating false ideas that do not come from God. Sometimes messages from the Lord are overlooked or dismissed in favor of these alternative voices and ideas. Why is that? And how can we correctly determine with voices to listen to and which to tune out? Here are a bunch of great quotes I’ve come across! And a few key scriptures that help in more clearly distinguishing between God’s voice and the world’s.

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Messages from the Lord vs Messages from the Adversary

“The adversary is clever. For millennia he has been making good look evil and evil look good. His messages tend to be loud, bold, and boastfulHowever, messages from our Heavenly Father are strikingly different. He communicates simply, quietly, and with such stunning plainness that we cannot misunderstand Him.” (President Russell M. Nelson)


“Who has not heard and felt the enticings of the devil? His voice often sounds so reasonable and his message so easy to justify. It is an enticing, intriguing voice with dulcet tones. It is neither hard nor discordant. No one would listen to Satan’s voice if it sounded harsh or mean. If the devil’s voice were unpleasant, it would not entice people to listen to it. Shakespeare wrote, ‘The prince of darkness is a gentleman’. ” (Elder James E. Faust)

Isn’t it easy to see why it is so easy to accept the wrong types of messages? Because they are constantly surrounding us- they are loud, persuasive, enticing, maybe even exciting. And they can easily drown out the subtle and quiet messages streaming down from our Heavenly Father. 



 few there be that find it

Perhaps this is one of the reasons the Savior said that “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:14)



A great quote by Elder James E. Faust:


“The adversary tries to smother [the still small] voice with a multitude of loud, persistent, persuasive, and appealing voices:

  • Murmuring voices that conjure up perceived injustices.

  • Whining voices that abhor challenge and work.

  • Seductive voices that offer sensual enticements.

  • Soothing voices that lull us into carnal security (see 2 Nephi 28:21)

  • Intellectual voices that profess sophistication and superiority.

  • Proud voices that rely on the arm of flesh.

  • Flattering voices that puff us up with pride.

  • Cynical voices that destroy hope.

  • Entertaining voices that promote pleasure seeking.

  • Commercial voices that tempt us to “spend money for that which is of no worth, [and our] labor for that which cannot satisfy.” (2 Nephi 9:51)

  • Delirious voices that spawn the desire for a “high”. . .to the pursuing of dangerous, death-defying experiences for nothing more than a thrill. Life, even our own, is so precious that we are accountable to the Lord for it, and we should not trifle with it. Once gone, it cannot be called back.”


As Paul said: “There are … so many kinds of voices in the world”  that compete with the voice of the Spirit. (1 Cor. 14:10.)





The Lord’s voice is small but “piercing” :


“They heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn. They heard the voice a second time and did not understand. When they heard the voice the third time, they “did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.” (3 Nephi 11:3)

 (See also Luke 24:32)


I love this quote:

“The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all. . .

Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening.” [Boyd K. Packer, “The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, January 1983, p. 53]



And this one:

“The [Lord’s] voice is still. It is small. And it whispers. When you think about that, it becomes clear that hearing the voice of the Lord has inherent challenges. It would be much simpler if the Lord spoke in a voice of thunder or used a microphone and 80-megawatt speakers. Then there would be no doubt. But he does not. He whispers. His voice is still and small.”  (Elder Gerald N. Lund)


A Still Small Voice

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1 Kings 19:11-12:

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire:

And after the fire a still small voice.


Which voice?

“Today we are barraged by multitudes of voices telling us how to live, how to gratify our passions, how to have it all. . .How are we possibly going to select which voices we will listen to and believe?. . .  

I suggest a simple solution for selecting the channel to which we attune ourselves: listen to and follow the voice of the Spirit. This is an ancient solution, even eternal, and may not be popular in a society that is always looking for something new. It requires patience in a world that demands instant gratification. This solution is quiet, peaceful, and subtle in a world enamored of that which is loud, incessant, fast paced, garish, and crude. This solution requires you to be contemplative while your peers seek physical titillation. . .This solution is one unified, consistent, age-old message in a world that quickly becomes bored in the absence of intensity, variety, and novelty.” (Elder James E. Faust)


Perhaps satan’s voice is easier to listen to because it often comes more immediately– Doesn’t require patience or work on our part. 




How to know if we are listening to the right voice: The Fruit Test!


test the fruit lds

Christ was the one who taught us to use the fruit test, in determining whether something is coming from the right source:


“A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit . . .Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.”  (Matthew 7:18, 20)


What are the fruits?  (or- Where does it lead? What’s the end result?)

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“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23)


Does the voice or message we are listening to lead us to the fruits of the spirit? Does it manifest these qualities in our hearts? Does it lead us to be more gentle, patient, and meek? Or does it harden our hearts and drive the fruits of the spirit out?

“The language of peace, as spoken by the Lord, embraces a sense of quiet confidence, comfort, and warmth. It is gentle and calm, amiable and sweet; it is temperate and kind; it is orderly and identified by happiness, joy, and feelings of love” (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, The Holy Ghost [1989], 14).


“Put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy  (Doctrine & Covenants 11:12-13)


 Again, where does it lead…


I’ve seen this meme floating around a few times, and I love it. I think it’s pretty accurate:

how to discern god's voice


One way we can know if it’s from God:


I love this scripture. It breaks it down so simply:


“For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.  (Moroni 7:15-17)

Satan’s voice always tries to get us to deny Christ, either in our thoughts or our actions. To turn our heart away from His gospel and the power of His atonement. Or to misunderstand how to access that power.




Another great scripture that provides a valuable insight:


Christ said: “For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.”  (3 Nephi 11:29)



“For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.”  (2 Nephi 28:20, talking about one of the devil’s tactics in the latter days)

In other words, anything that stirs us up to contention and anger is not inspired of God.



I think Satan often takes one of two extremes. He either puffs us up with pride, stubbornness, and arrogance-  OR, he drags us down and encourages self-loathing:

“Our inherent worth as children of God means that we are never worthless, even when we have sinned. The Spirit’s voice will never encourage you to hate yourself, rather reminding you of your eternal worth as a child of God (see Moses 1:4). The voice that says you are worthless and unlovable will always be Satan’s (see Moses 1:12).”


“Satan’s [voice will try] to get you to believe that all hope is lost, that change cannot occur, and that you will never be able to live up to your potential as a child of God.” (McKell A. Jorgensen)

Satan tries to get us to minimize our agency (free will) and doubt our ability to change for the better through God’s grace. God’s voice, on the other hand, will always empower us and remind us of our true identity as a beloved child of God.


2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”


How do we become more attuned to God’s voice?

Become familiar with the scriptures!


read the scriptures

  • “The scriptures are the pre-recorded voice of the Lord.”  (Elder David A. Bednar)

  • “To know what the voice of the Divine sounds and feels like, read His words, study the scriptures, and ponder them.”  (Elder Richard G. Scott)

  • “Be intentional about creating time and space to hear God’s voice. As you use your agency to carve out time every day to draw close to God’s voice, especially in the Book of Mormon, over time His voice will become clearer and more familiar to you.”  (Michelle Craig)

I second her advice to read the Book of Mormon! Did you know that this book was specifically prepared by the hand of the Lord and written for our day?  It is the powerful second witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ, confirming the truths He taught as recorded in the Holy Bible and restoring many lost truths.  It powerfully outlines many of the tactics of the adversary and exposes many of the alluring/dangerous messages he propagates in the latter days. It helps us familiarize ourselves with His voice and gives us the tools to be able to correctly distinguish between messages that come from God from messages that come from the adversary. I love the Book of Mormon!


One way to identify messages from the Lord is if it follows the pattern of communication that the Lord has always used. How will you know if it contradicts the Lord’s pattern? Only by studying the scriptures. You won’t be able to tell if something contradicts divine patterns unless you are very familiar with the way He has worked with others, and yourself, in the past, and throughout history.




“Much of what comes from the devil is alluring and enticing. It glitters and is appealing to the sensual parts of our nature. His message sounds so reasonable and easy to justify. His voice is usually smooth and intriguing. If it were harsh or discordant, nobody would listen, nobody would be enticed. Some of Satan’s most appealing messages are: Everyone does it; if it doesn’t hurt anybody else, it’s all right; if you feel there is no harm in it, it’s okay; it’s the ‘cool’ thing to do. Satan is the greatest imitator, the master deceiver, the arch counterfeiter, and the greatest forger ever in the history of the world. He comes into our lives as a thief in the night. His disguise is so perfect that it is hard to recognize him or his methods. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” (James E. Faust)

“Although Satan will lie to you, you can count on the Spirit to tell you the truth. That’s why the gift of the Holy Ghost is so essential. The devil has been called the great deceiver. He attempts to counterfeit every true principle that the Lord presents. Remember, counterfeits are not the same as opposites. The opposite of white is black. The counterfeit for white might be off-white, or even gray. Counterfeits bear a resemblance to the real thing in order to deceive unsuspecting people. They are a twisted version of something good. And just like counterfeit money, they are worthless.

Let me illustrate. One of Satan’s counterfeits for faith is superstition. His counterfeit for love is lust. He counterfeits the priesthood by introducing priestcraft. And he imitates God’s miracles by means of sorcery. Although his imitations deceive many people, they are not the real thing and they cannot bring happiness.

Here are some more examples: the Lord blesses the Church with inspired patriarchs, whereas Satan offers the world fortune-tellers. The world yearns for prophets; the devil offers them psychics. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, but same-sex marriage is just a counterfeit. It brings neither posterity nor exaltation.” (Elder Larry R. Lawrence)



“A man must have the discerning of spirits. . .for nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God.” (Joseph Smith)


Just to recap:

Messages from Satan (what to watch out for):





Enticing, captivating

Appealing (or appears so on the surface)


Uses flattering words

Persuasive, sounds reasonable


Dulcet tones (sweet and soothing)

Does not persuade us to do good, serve God

Persuades us to deny Christ

Peace “as the world giveth” (may fill us with counterfeit feelings to try to trick us into thinking it is from God- i.e. he counterfeits lust for love and calls it love. Thus we need to be very familiar with the true fruits of the spirit)

“The spirit of fear” rather than faith

Encourages or stirs us up to contention; hardens our hearts

Tells us lies about the nature of God, His justice and mercy

Tells us lies about our true identity/potential as sons and daughters of God

Tries to get us to minimize our agency and our ability to change

Promotes selfishness; focus on self.  Success = forging ahead without regard for the welfare of those around us; leaving others behind in the dust.

Excuses the “natural man”

Denies the need to repent


Messages from the Lord:

Easily drowned out by other voices (takes deliberate action on our part)





Plain (not sensationalized or pleasing to the carnal mind. This may cause many to look ‘beyond the mark’ and fall for counterfeit voices; failing to appreciate the precious truth because of its utter simplicity and plainness)

Pierces our hearts/causes our hearts to burn within us (see Luke 24:32)

Invites us to do good, serve God

Persuades us to believe in Christ

Empowers us (“power, love, and a sound mind”)

Does not fill us with the spirit of fear, but of a sound mind

Fills our hearts with joy, love, and peace

Causes us to feel the fruits of the spirit (Galations 5:22-23)

Promotes selflessness; concern for others, not just self. Success = bringing others along/serving and lifting those around us. (Points us outward, not inward)

Encourages us to repent, moves us towards positive change



And here’s another list put together by Aimee Benefield, that includes a few additional ideas I thought were worth sharing:

Some of Satan’s Tactics:

Smoke and Mirrors* (ganging up on your spouse or self)
Appeals to the Natural Man (Ego)
Encourages division
Destroys trust in true prophets**
Destroys hope, faith and charity in your marriage
Encourages you to become a law unto yourself
Encourages violence, betrayal, depression, disconnection and/or codependency
Encourages suicide
Constant streams of revelation (gives us a ready answer for any question. No need to work for revelation.) ***
“Marriage should be easy” **** 
Appeal to your ego—you are the exception, your spouse is clueless, do your own thing
Hypersensitive to Criticism
Only associate with those that agree with you ***** 
Degrades and attacks your identity as a precious child of God of infinite worth
Impatience/Act before you have time to think

*The obscuring or embellishing of the truth of a situation with misleading or irrelevant information.

**He does this in two ways:
1) by using rhetoric such as: “just lean on your own inspiration”, to get you to believe that prophets aren’t really necessary, when in reality we need BOTH (see President Oak’s talk “Two Lines of Communication”)
2) by getting you to focus too much on human imperfections, in ways that lead you to overlook or dismiss ways the Lord is working through them.
***This is not the way God works. God requires us to put forth faith/effort and have patience in His timing.
****Tries to get us to think that everything should be easy and not require work. Against the Lord’s pattern / gospel law of the harvest. (Galatian 6:7, Mark 4:1-20)
*****This is a big one. Satan works hard to isolate us and get us to close ourselves off to feedback from others. He’d love to eventually get us to a place where we can only hear his voice.


Why is it important to make sure we’re listening to the right voice?


I love this quote by Elder David P. Homer:

“We live in a world with many voices seeking our attention. With all the breaking news, tweets, blogs, podcasts, and compelling advice from Alexa, Siri, and others, we can find it difficult to know which voices to trust. Sometimes we crowdsource guidance in our lives, thinking the majority will provide the best source of truth. Other times we ‘halt … between two opinions,’ choosing to be ‘neither cold nor hot.’ Still other times we follow what is convenient, focus on a single voice or issue to guide us, or rely exclusively upon our own ability to think.

While each of these approaches can be helpful, experience teaches that they are not always reliable. What is popular is not always what is best. Halting between two opinions brings no direction. Convenience rarely leads to things that matter. Fixation on a single voice or issue can impair our ability to see. And relying solely upon our own thinking can lead us into a hyperintellectual stupor of thought. If we are not careful, the wrong voices can draw us away from the gospel center to places where faith is difficult to sustain, and we find little more than emptiness, bitterness, and dissatisfaction.”  

 . . .

“If we spend too much time in faithless places, seemingly well-intended voices deprive us of the spiritual oxygen we need.

 . . .

“We need to decide which among all the different voices we will obey. Will we follow the unreliable voices advocated by the world, or will we do the work required to allow our Father’s voice to guide us in our decisions and protect us from danger? The more diligently we seek His voice, the easier it becomes to hear. It is not that His voice gets louder but that our ability to hear it has increased.”          <– I love that!

By the way, this is an amazing talk I highly recommend! 




 Another great quote by Elder Devin G. Durrant:

“Voices surround us..They can be loud and obnoxious, concealed and cowardly, or subtle and deceptive. Sadly, I must acknowledge that the voices of the world seem to be having some success in changing hearts. This is not a new trend, but it is a concerning one. . .It takes self-discipline to choose to listen to righteous voices and block the voices of evil.”


“It is critical to listen to the voice of God as we navigate through life’s channels. But it may not always be easy to distinguish God’s voice from other voices. . . How will I know which voices to listen to and which to ignore? Sometimes the answer to that question is easy, but sometimes it is difficult. Always we must proceed with caution. Three loud voices the world presents, among others, are the voices of fear, negativity and evil. 


The Lord’s voice will not necessarily be loud, obvious, or spectacular. Instead it may be soft—still and small. For that reason we need to be sensitive to His voice. He can speak to us when we are willing to listen. We hear His voice when we are at peace. We hear His voice when we approach Him with a broken heart and contrite spirit. We hear His voice when we find ourselves in holy places and when we participate in holy activities.”

(Elder Devin Durrant in Commencement address, BYI-Idaho, 2016)


“The distractions and noise that fill the world and our homes and our lives can make it more difficult to hear His voice. These distractions can so occupy our minds and hearts that we leave no room for the gentle promptings of the Holy Ghost.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that most often God reveals Himself ‘to individuals in private, in their chamber; in the wilderness or fields, and that generally without noise or tumult.’

Satan wants to separate us from God’s voice by keeping us out of those quiet places. If God speaks in a still, small voice, you and I need to draw close to hear Him. Just imagine what would happen if we were as intent on staying connected with heaven as we are on staying connected to Wi-Fi!  Pick a time and place, and listen for God’s voice every day. And keep this sacred appointment with exactness, for so very much depends on it! “(Michelle Craig)


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I love the prophet Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life. One of the biggest lessons we learn from this vision was the absolute essentialness of the “iron rod” (representing the word of God). Those who did not hold firmly to the word of God were not able to stay on the right path that lead to the Tree of Life, and found themselves following other voices that led them to wander in roads leading to destruction. There were many mocking voices coming from the “great and spacious building”, representing “the pride of the world.” Lehi warned followers of Christ to not pay attention to those voices: “For as many as heeded them, had fallen away.”  But to always stay grounded and keep our focus on the word of God.


I hope this was helpful! This has been on my mind a lot lately, and I wanted to share some of these quotes and ideas I’ve gathered in my personal studies, because I feel like it’s such an important topic to learn the difference. So we can tune into the right spirit and not allow ourselves to fall for counterfeit voices.

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