Lesson 5 - Obstacles to Hearing God's Voice - Part 2:
B: Obedience and Clearing the Clutter
A marriage starts with a covenant commitment of the man and the woman to each other. It develops as the couple grow in intimacy and love and spend time speaking and listening to each other. Hebrews 8:8-12 speaks of the new covenant, a covenant sealed with the blood of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit through whom we come to know God. Once we have entered into this relationship with the Father it needs to grow. Only as we spend time with the Lord, growing in love and intimacy, will we develop our listening skills. God wants his children to spend time with him, to be able to share his heart with them. He longs for us to listen to him. It takes time to hear. Unless you want to hear God speak to you, you are likely to find it hard to hear him.
We like to live our lives our way. We may not have had dependable parents when we were growing up, so we had to manage on our own. This transfers to a belief that we cannot depend on God. Our independence often leads us to action without first asking the Lord to direct us. We think we have to manage on our own. David got his nation into a terrible mess through his failure to ask God before taking a census of Israel and Judah (1 Samuel 24). His response is recorded in Psalm 19:13 "Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then shall I be blameless, and I shall be innocent and clear of great transgression." (Amplified version).
If the Lord Jesus sought his Father's face in all matters, we too should ask him to guide in both large and small matters. (John 5:19). God is critical of "those who turn back from following the LORD and neither seek the LORD nor inquire of him." (Zephaniah 1:6).
Step One: Submit to his Lordship - let's ask him to help silence our own thoughts, desires and opinions
Step Two: Resist the enemy - we can use the authority Jesus Christ has given us as his disciples to silence the voice of the enemy.
Step Three: Ask a question and expect God's answer - then wait expectantly, believing ... we will be "filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." (Colossians 1:9).
We won't want to hear his voice if we are living in disobedience or afraid that he will tell us something we don't want to hear. "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46). If we have already made up our mind what we want to hear - if we have our own agenda - then we will not be able to hear if he tells us something different. Often our unwillingness to obey what he says is linked with our doubts about God. In Forever Ruined for the Ordinary: The Adventure of Hearing and Obeying God's Voice, p18-19, Joy Dawson, in the section on faith as one of the conditions for hearing God's voice, gives a list of God's characteristics:
- As a God of the knowledge of all that is knowable, He has the answers. He knows where he wants us to be, at what time, and what we are to say and do.
- As a God of limitless power, He has the ability to communicate in every language.
- As a God of infinite wisdom, He knows how and when to communicate.
- As a God of total justice, He will only tell us to do what is right and just for us and everyone else involved with our decisions.
- As a God of absolute righteousness, He will never tell us to do anything unholy or inconsistent with His character or the principles of His Word, the Bible.
- As a God of unfathomable love, He longs to communicate with us.
She adds other verses to encourage us to trust our God:
Deuteronomy 33:3 "Surely it is you who love the people; all the holy ones are in your hand. At your feet they all bow down, and from you receive instruction."
Exodus 15:13 "In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling."
Psalm 32:8 "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." Psalm 48:14 "For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end."
Isaiah 30:21 "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." "
Isaiah 48:17 "This is what the LORD says - your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go."
Isaiah 50:4-5 "The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back."
Commit heart, will and mind to the Lord
We can ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and show us anything that is blocking our willingness to obey what he says. If we have a false belief about God we can admit this sin, repent and ask forgiveness and then ask Jesus to reveal the true Father to us. You can decide, setting your will to be aligned with the Father's. Jesus promises that "If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own." (John 7:17).
Our minds are so full of our own thoughts, bombarded with images and ideas from outside that God's voice is often swamped. Or we do not recognise it. A new baby will have heard the mother's voice while in the womb but may not immediately recognise the mother speaking when it is born. It certainly does not immediately understand the words and their meaning. Feelings, not cognitive ability, are uppermost in the baby. Our minds often accept the truth of God's love and yet we do not feel loved. God will heal the cause of blockages as we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us to listen to our feelings, acknowledge the source of the blockage to experience his love. We need to learn to get in tune with the quiet nudges of the Lord and begin to 'hear' with our whole being.
New age practice teaches ways to empty the mind so that one can receive thoughts and impressions from outside. This is dangerous and makes one vulnerable to infestation by demonic spirits. The Bible gives us the right way to bring our thoughts and minds into agreement with the mind of Christ so that we can hear God's voice. Psalm 46:10 instructs us to "be still and know that I am God."
- Acknowledge that your thinking is faulty and your mind polluted by sin.
Isaiah 55:6-8 - "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
- Ask the Holy Spirit to search your mind.
I Chronicles 28:9 - "And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever."
Psalm 26:2 - "Test me, O LORD , and try me, examine my heart and my mind."
Psalm 139:23 - "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts."
Jeremiah 17: 10 - "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve."
Ezekiel 11:5 - "Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon me, and he told me to say: "This is what the LORD says: That is what you are saying, O house of Israel, but I know what is going through your mind."
- Turn from false thinking to seek God's wisdom.
Isaiah 55:6-7 - "Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. "
Ezekiel 33:11 - "Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?' " James 1:5 - "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." Isaiah 40:13
- Bring your mind into obedience to the mind of Christ.
Matthew 22:37 - "Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' "(Deuteronomy 6:5)
2 Corinthians 10:5 5 - "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
- Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the mind of Christ.
Isaiah 40:13 - "Who has understood the mind [Or Spirit; or spirit] of the LORD, or instructed him as his counsellor?"
1 Corinthians 2: 11 - "For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."
1 Corinthians 2:16 - "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ."
- Focus on Jesus.
Hebrews 3:1 - "Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess."
Hebrews 12:2 - "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
You need to take time to quieten yourself before the Lord, especially as you are learning to recognise the different voices around. "But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him." (Habakkuk 2:20). Being in a hurry to hear from God makes us vulnerable to hearing other voices, our own or Satan's. We do need to give time to listen. Psalm 131 gives wonderful advice for a heart attitude to cultivate.
"My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore."
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it." (Isaiah 30:15)
We must recognise that satanic and demonic powers can bring impressions to our minds. They can quote and misquote scripture and even direct us to specific scriptures. The voices of demonic spirits are often loud, urgent and insistent, as Satan is always trying to precipitate a crisis, and trying to get us to act hastily. Whereas, the voice of the Lord is quiet but persistent, motivating us to come aside and quietly wait and listen.
Lest you think that in the busyness of life you will be unable to hear the Father's voice, remember that the Lord Jesus was often surrounded by noise and clamour, with demands on his time and energy, and yet was able to hear the Father. His secret is ours - the Holy Spirit living in a human being. Therefore we too can learn to live in the Spirit since we too have the Holy Spirit living in us as believers. Read John's gospel for example, to see how Jesus lived in relation to his Father, dependent on the Holy Spirit, given at his baptism. Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him." (John 1:32) Promises, instructions and encouragements are given to the disciples that are ours to claim, obey and experience.
John 14:26 - "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."
John 16:13 - "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come."
John 16:15 - "All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you."
Romans 8:5-6 - "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man [Or mind set on the flesh] is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace"
1 Corinthians 2:9-11 - "However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."
Galatians 5:25 - "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."
Ephesians 1:17 - "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit [Or a spirit] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better."
Ephesians 2:18 - "For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit."