The encouragement of others is motivating. The support of a good friend, sibling or parent can make a world of difference in how much we accomplish. Yet, even with the most supportive of family and friends, our inner voice has an incredible power to limit our potential.
It’s terrible, but it’s true: No matter how many people speak positively into our lives, if we believe the discouragement of inner condemnation, we will never believe the encouragement of others. True confidence comes not from what people say about us, but what we believe about ourselves—a truth that should be rooted in the unchangeable nature of God’s Word. That’s easier said than done, so here are three steps to begin the journey.
1. Discern between God’s voice, your voice and the voice of the Enemy.
The thoughts that course through our minds and the “voices” we hear in our hearts are not simply products of imagination. As we’ve discussed previously on Project Inspired, we are all engaged in a spiritual war. The voices in our heads have three distinct sources: God, our hearts or the Enemy. We must learn to discern between the three voices.
Our personal thoughts are usually a reflection of our circumstances, our history and our worldview. They often center around the facts of our lives and daily priorities. While innocent on their own, these thoughts are easily twisted by the Enemy to goad us into anxiety, criticism and fear.
The Enemy’s voice is recognizable because it always contradicts the truth of God’s Word. Where God says we are loved and adopted, the Enemy says, “You are worthless and a failure.” Where God says we have hope and a future, the Enemy says, “You are going nowhere fast.” In order to recognize the Enemy’s voice when we hear it, we must know what God’s Word says about who we are.
This brings us to the third voice: God’s. God will never contradict His Word when He speaks to our hearts. God has revealed His character to us through the Bible (the “specific revelation” of Himself to mankind). When He speaks to our hearts, He continues to give direction consistent with what He says in His Word. Discerning between these three voices is the first step to silencing your inner critic.
2. Know the truth about yourself.
In order to counter those condemning thoughts, you must know who you really are in Christ. If we don’t seek the truth, we will be easily distracted by the Enemy’s lies. Memorizing Scripture puts the truth into our minds, giving us a standard against which to measure every thought we entertain.
Embracing the identity Christ won on our behalf is not pride. We think that accepting our God-given value makes us haughty or better-than, and in an effort to be “humble,” we beat ourselves up. This is not God’s way! It is not prideful to embrace the value God has put upon us as women—and walk out that value with confidence. A prideful heart believes everything she has is the product of her own work. A humble heart believes everything she is comes from the grace of God.
3. Reject the lies spoken over you.
Over the course of our lives, we pick up lies and embrace them. Rather than checking untruths against God’s Word, we believe the things spoken over us—things like “You’ll never succeed” or “You’re lazy” or “You aren’t enough.” Sometimes these things may be spoken because of sinful actions we’ve committed, and we accept them because we know they are partially true. But we have a hope in Jesus Christ, and that hope says that no matter what we’ve done, He paid the price for our sins! If you have repented, turned around and begun walking toward the Lord by His Spirit, those words no longer have power over you. You do not have to fulfill them.
Your inner critic will not motivate you to better behavior; only grace can do that. When those condemning thoughts come, check them against what you know about yourself according to God. Check them against your identity in Christ. And reject the lies that threaten to destroy your relationship with the God who gave His all to make you His.