Interior Castle: Sixth Mansions: Chapter 3
“Locutions” or direct messages can come from God, the devil, or our imagination. Teresa teaches us how to distinguish locutions that come from God from those that come from other sources.
Teresa says, “Unless [the locution] agrees strictly with the Scriptures, take no more notice of it than you would if it came from the devil himself.” Strict agreement with the Scriptures does not mean the locution is identical to the Scriptures. We cannot reduce the Bible to a rulebook or a map to govern every aspect of our life. God, at times, speaks to us directly. Locutions are consistent with the scriptures, but they provide details and direction directly from Him.
If the locution doesn’t agree with the Scriptures it should be rejected. These locutions come from the devil or a “weak imagination”. Either way they should “be taken as a temptation against things pertaining to the Faith and must therefore invariably be resisted so that they may gradually cease; and cease they will, because they will have little power of their own.”
When people insist they hear God, but have a “weak imagination”, it damages the listeners. What’s worse is when people, especially spiritual leaders, say they “hear God” but haven’t given two minutes to serious prayer. These “prophets” make divine pronouncements and expect others to comply with their agenda. We’re better off managing things in our own power than pretending to hear God.
Teresa also warns that even if you do hear from God, “any good you may gain will depend upon how you profit by what you hear.” “After all, He talked a great deal with the Pharisees”. We are not anything special because of the hearing. We must act on what we hear. Remember the words of James: “[Be] doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” A “weak imagination” and the devil can blind us to the truth – but so can our failure to act on the truth we’ve already been given.