How can you tell if a thought is from God?


Abraham was ready to sacrifice his own son. He must have known for sure it was God who was talking to him…
I suffer from compulsive thoughts sometimes. But I am also a very spiritual person and love God deeply.
Sometimes I have thoughts like “maybe I have to give this up”… “maybe for today I have to give that up”, something that really brings me joy. And I am not sure if it’s a compulsion or if God would want me to do it to show my love for him.
I talked to somebody at church after daily mass today, she told me that God is a God of love and that He also gives us joys in our lives. And that giving something up has to be of free will and not out of a compulsion.
But how do you know if something is God talking to you,
OR if it is from an evil side, trying to rob you of joys in your life?
If I ahve a thought like “today I HAVE to give something up”, and I don’t, because I decide it would be compulsive - does that mean I don’t love God enough? Because I am not even doing a little small sacrifice, just in CASE the thought was from God?
How do YOU tell the difference?



Hi Kathrin,

We know by faith that only love [the highest theological virtue called *charity] which underlies our deeds is pleasing to God. If He has continuously inspired you to make penitential sacrifices, He would also provide motivation, but remember that love should be the underlying impetus. This could be reparation for one’s own sins or those of another, or simply to gain control of our passions, which we call “temperance.”

For instance, I have been sensitive for a long time to the unruly passion of snacking throughout my day, and sensing that God would have me discipline myself. Under the 5th commandment, gluttony is very real, even though many consider these as venial sins — some don’t think of it as sin at all, but only an imperfection. However, God’s finger was on this area of my life for quite some time before I realized, yes, He’s inviting me to conquer it for love of Him.

When you find a repeated inspiration born of a good purpose, and not out of guilt, fear, or compulsion, then it is more probably coming from Him. Remember, too, that He is a gracious God and respects our free will to listen to His inspirations and follow them, or not.


Thank you, Joysong!

I actually went and talked to a spiritual advisor at my church, and I’d like to share what he said. First of all, he gave me some good techniques on how to deal with the compulsive guilt thoughts, suggested a wonderful little prayer, etc… And he made me feel better about feeling joy about something. And he also said that giving something up, just like that, doesn’t make sense - it has to be for a purpose. He said that God doesn’t love me more because of a sacrifice.

It is different if it is made out of love, of course! Or as a special penance during Lent, or on a Friday (but then again, I have to be careful: How much do I have to give up? Do I have to give up something that really really hurts? What if I choose not to? Does that mean I don’t love God enough? Or just that I trust Him that He doesn’t want me to sacrifice so much? Same kind of thoughts again).

The spiritual advisor also said when that voice comes again that tries to make me feel guilty and come up with reasons why I can’t do this or can’t do that… to just say: “Oh, it’s you. Well, ok, but I am over here, where happiness is.” Something like that.



Cool! Sounds like you received some very good advice. I would keep that spiritual advisor’s phone number handy!

God bless you and keep you close to Himself always!


Kathrin, your post reminded me of a verse from Hosea that stood out boldly to me many months back, “It is your love that I want, not sacrifice.”

For me, one of the ways I can distinguish God from “just a thought” is that, I don’t think that fast. lol Here’s what I mean. Sometimes I will have a thought that is nothing I ever could have come up with (and often contrary to my line of thinking) and it’s instantaneous. By that, I mean that something that would take me time to deduce, ponder, articulate, think about, accept, apply, and develop a feeling or reaction about will be snap instant. I can’t think that profoundly that fast…from origin to 2 thumbs up review like THAT. My experience has been that those things come from God.


He said I could call anytime and set up another time to let him know how I am doing with what he advised me. :slight_smile:


Well, but intrusive thoughts can be pretty quick too! :wink:


Hi Kathrin :wave:

If you’re ever not sure about where the thoughts are from… I would recommend that you invoke the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.

If the thought is NOT from God… it will flee in terror. Pray about all thoughts, and inspirations.

Also… do you wear a Brown Scapular? If not… you might wish to get one, have it blessed by a priest (and have him “invest” you in the Brown Scapular, too… if you’re not already).

Hope this helps in some way. God bless.


The spiritual advisor also said when that voice comes again that tries to make me feel guilty and come up with reasons why I can’t do this or can’t do that… to just say: “Oh, it’s you. Well, ok, but I am over here, where happiness is.” Something like that.

Excellent move, Kathrin!
If some inspiration inspires you to some good action and is not disturbing to you, then take it as coming from The Lord for all good be it most great or most small has its origins in Him. If it is disturbing, then speak to your spiritual director before acting and it sounds as if God has sent you a really good one - and this is a great treasure and gift!:thumbsup: Where an inspiration is leading you to something good that is somewhat out of the ordinary, do not act on it until you check it out with your director.:thumbsup:



True…but I guess I measure by the fruit of the spirit. For example, one of the times it was about someone I would not, and felt I could not, forigve. I instantly got “messaged” the entire reason why that wasn’t cool, saw Christ in the person, accepted it, and enacted it. The devil would have told me to hit the person with my car. :stuck_out_tongue:


Since all good has its beginnings and end in God, in The Lord, then any good thought that is good in the thinking and enactment if necessary - and has as its end in God, leading one or others, or both, closer to God…one can be sure it is from God. If in doubt or in the case of that out of the ordinary, it is best always to check things with a director or priest. Be wise as to who you ask advice from if one does not have a director - be selective and particular. Some people, however, are unable to rest continually asking for advice on the one matter from different people and cannot understand why they are confused. Too many cooks can indeed spoil the broth.:thumbsup:


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