Day 21: Voices
Updated: Feb 24, 2021
But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.--John 14:26–27
This beautiful song is about having an advocate. When you are in trouble, when you understand your failures, when you've built a prison for yourself and wallow in the disappointment of others and yourself, you must never forget the paraclete, the Holy Spirit, the Advocate.
I talk to myself a lot. I have a strong inner dialogue and over the years I have begun to learn the difference between the myriad of voices that offer up an idea to see if I'll go for it.
When a voice comes into my mind I have to discern where it is coming from. Is this coming from the Accuser or from the Advocate? Is it a voice of disappointment, condemnation, shame and guilt or is it a voice of comfort, forgiveness, confidence and grace?
When I first started thinking about my inner dialogue and how Jesus' Spirit, the Advocate, is one of the myriad of voices amidst a flurry of accusations, it felt as if I was at a party with a lot of people that don't like me save the one person, the most popular person at the party, the Life of the Party, the Holy Spirit. How do I keep my ears attuned to the sound of the Advocate's voice when all the other voices of accusation and condemnation are so loud?
And it's not just that those voices are loud, it's that they also seem like they are the voice of God. But the fact of the matter is, they are actually the voice of condemnation, the voice of religiosity, the voice of legalism, the voice of fear. Those voices reveal a twisted tendency to try my best to do the right things for all the wrong reasons with results that leave me either full of shame or self-righteousness. Those voices of condemnation are all motivated by a fundamental desire to be my own savior, to do life on my own, to be my own god. Those voices are also the voice of judgment that comes when I fail to appease the god who has no power to do anything about the guilt and shame and disappointment. It's my own prison. "Who can save me from this body of death that is my inner dialogue?!"
Jesus has been slowly reminding me that those voices are not from him, they are from the old me who doesn't like to be ignored. They are from the old me that doesn't like to relinquish the lies that I have entertained for years and years.
The voice of grace is the only voice that will bring you true life and genuine holiness.
Remember, the voice of accusation may get you to do the right thing in the moment but it won't make you a person of Spirit-filled love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The voice of accusation will make you a legalistic, religious person who looks good on the outside but not a truly holy person.
The more I've practiced listening for the voice of grace the more it seems that the Advocate sounds closer, more familiar and almost indistinguishable from my own, almost like Jesus and I are one…or at least, we're getting there.
It's difficult to hear the voice of grace when your voice is so loud but don't despair, Jesus is victorious even over your own voice. "For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God."--1 John 3:20–21
Sometimes the biggest voice of condemnation is your own. What do you do when your heart condemns you? Well, there is someone greater than your heart. The apostle John lays this fact out as the final say in the matter. None of those other voices matter.
Your heart may have a hard time believing 1 John 3:20. That's normal. Here's the great news…It doesn’t matter what your heart thinks. This is how it is: you are loved with an everlasting love.
Do a little diagnostic on yourself the next time you discover a failure or are called out in your sin--anytime you can't deny that you have been wrong; you can't make an excuse. What do you hear next? Is it the voice of the Accuser or is it the voice of the Advocate?
"You are a failure!"
"You'll never be good at that."
"I can't believe I did that again!"
"You are ugly."
"I am better than that!"
"You always mess that up."
"Everyone is going to make fun of you."
"You are such a sinner."
Is it the voice of a spouse?
An ex-girlfriend or boyfriend?
Is it the voice of your mom or dad?
Is it the voice of a pastor or religious leader?
Is it the voice of the old you?
Or is it the voice of Jesus.
"You are fully known and fully loved."
"I love you with an everlasting love."
"You are a child of God."
"There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ."
"I am greater than your heart."
Spirit, still the accusative voices in my head that bring condemnation and may your voice cut through that noise and remind me of who I am and who I belong to. Then help me to be the voice of grace to those around me who are in desperate need of a generous friend. Amen.