Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.
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If there is confusion scripture tells us that God is not the author of confusion. Therefore when any event or issue tugs at your heart, you must ask what you are being led to do about it. Check then with scripture. If it lines up with scripture and does not create confusion, the tugging could be from God. If the tugging persists and the effects are helping, edifying, and building the church while adhering to the Gospel each day, then you will know in your heart the tugging is of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. So even if you get tricked God will use it somehow someway to His purpose. What is a tugging on your heart may be a small nudge to someone else, so discussing these issues with mature Christians is another way to test these tuggings. One scripture tells us to study the word to be approved. We are all at different levels of faith, so one can never be too careful, for ours is not a war against humans but against principalities. Praying and asking God is also mentioned. Jesus even fasted for answers, strength and guidance. So prayer, reading the word, fellowship, testing and fasting. Waiting on the Lord is another good way to find out where the tugging is coming from. The most important thing is understanding that sometimes it is not so much where it is coming from but how you deal with it. Job was beat up and tossed around by Satan but Job just kept on being thankful to God. If you answer all with a Job like appreciation for God and a conversation with God like Jesus and a research of the Word like a disciple, your tuggings will become known and how you deal with them will be uplifting. Not a theologian just a common man filled with the Holy Spirit
By the accuracy of the tug's contents. If the message you seem to be receiving contains any untruth, it is not from God. "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth." (John 17:17) ESV "...in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began." (Titus 1:2) Holman Christian Standard Bible.
What The Bible tells us is that "My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me". John 10:27 It also says John 10:14 "I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know Me." These verses used to concern me because, like your question, I was never sure whether that voice I heard was the Holy Spirit, the enemy or just my imagination. But look at what those verses say. They do not say "my people" or even "my followers" know me. It says "my sheep." Jesus is using a metaphor of the relationship between a shepherd and his sheep for many reasons, but the principle one I want to point out is this: Do the sheep know what the shepherd is telling them? It has been said that sheep are not very bright creatures (Christians would be guilty of that sometimes too.) I doubt that sheep understand many words. But that is not what Jesus says. He said they know His voice. Let me ask you this: If you bought a flock of sheep and told them you were their shepherd, would they immediately know your voice? No, it would only be after you spent a lot of time with them (and they with you) that you as sheep would begin to know that voice and even then, you wouldn't understand the words but you would TRUST the voice to lead you to water, provide for and protect you. So the answer to your question to me is you just need to spend more time with Jesus. In prayer and probably more so in His word, the Bible. Just as the way to spot a counterfeit is to know the original so well that any difference is obvious, knowing the Bible and Jesus will help you recognize the Truth. One of the best times to spend extra time with him in prayer is when you hear that "tugging". Pray that He lead you and show you how to accomplish His will and trust him as your shepherd to lead you there.
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