Lesson 5 - Obstacles to Hearing God's Voice - Part 3:
C: Sin and Forgiveness
As previously noted above (Psalm 66:18) "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened", failure to deal with sin in our lives stops communication between God and ourselves. God won't listen to us. It also prevents us from being able to hear God's voice and makes us vulnerable to attacks from the enemy. We are also open to deception when trying to hear from God.
Sinful beliefs, doubts and fears which have hindered our hearing God's voice can be brought to death on the cross and forgiveness and cleansing received. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9).
We see the effect of sin in the priesthood in Eli's time. "In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions." (1 Samuel 3:1). God will not keep speaking to those who live in disobedience and refuse to listen. "Then they will call to me but I will not answer; ... since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord." (Proverbs 1:28-29). David speaks of the effect of his sin of adultery and murder in Psalm 51.
Whatever the sin we can know God's mercy and grace extended to us as we repent, just as David did. "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions." (Psalm 51:1)
The disciples had authority to forgive sins and heal, and do the things only God could do, because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them - they were one with the Father just as Jesus was. The very person of God was within them. Jesus promised them that this would happen:
"Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." (John 14:11-14)
Lack of forgiveness often blocks us from hearing God's voice - either we need forgiveness or we have to forgive.
Are you beginning to see what it means to be a follower, or disciple, of Jesus - Christian? It is not about believing something, or doing something, or being good. It is about you and Father God being one, and thus doing what the Father does - as Jesus did.
And what did Jesus do that set him apart from others?
He clearly heard God's voice in all the things of life - and acted upon what he heard, whatever it was. He walked in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25)
"Jesus lived in union with the Holy Spirit continually. The miracles He accomplished came through the power of the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit He saw the things the Father was doing; He heard the words the Father was speaking." (Francis Frangipane, "Walking in Eternal Life" - See Resource Sheet 10)
D: Illness Impeding Hearing God's Voice
Ill health and physical wellbeing affect our ability to hear God clearly. Tiredness, anxiety, headaches, chronic fatigue and depression cause a dullness or fogginess so that God's voice cannot easily be heard clearly. Some illnesses include the hearing of voices so that it is hard for people to hear God's voice at times.
Leanne Payne concludes her chapter on Hindrances to listening prayer as follows:
The only platform from which the holiest saint on earth is ever heard in heaven is that mentioned in Hebrews 10:19: "We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus." There is no other way to come into the presence of God. As human beings we approach God and pray acceptably only through the "piece of God" that He has given us. (Oswald Chambers, Prayer: A Holy Occupation. Grand Rapids, Mi: Discovery House, 1992, p.11)
By and large we Christians do not understand Romans and Galatians, our freedom in Christ. We lack understanding because we have relegated that "piece of God" to the abstract world of doctrine. We do not grasp the greatest, most concrete reality we have as those born of the Spirit - Christ in us. (Colossians 1:27) Our tendency is to remain in or come back under law and condemnation rather than to walk in the Spirit, listening to and obeying our Lord. Paul cried out to the Romans:
There is no condemnation for those who are united with Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the life-giving law of the Spirit has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2 NEB)
The occasion for his outcry was the Romans going back under the law. They were straying from listening to God and the vital walk in the Spirit to which mature Christians are called. Certain teachers were taking them back to the law in order to better 'control' and rule over them. This is exactly what happens to Christians today when they fail to come into the freedom of the realized, mature self in Christ.
This is a place where we can always dare to celebrate our smallness and inadequacy apart from Him. We can always acknowledge the fact that He alone is our righteousness, that we cannot keep the law; that He - the Holy Other - must do it for us, and that we alone, apart from Him, cannot hear the Father.
To walk in the Spirit, listening, is to live in the present moment, looking to Christ, practicing His presence, moving in tandem with Him. It is to live from the locus of the true self as the old one is being crucified. This is the centre where we are in union with Christ, that completed self that hears and obeys God.
With this we glimpse the eternal child who will be eternally talking to the Father. This self is in stark contrast to the under-the-law, immature, wounded and complaining child we know as the old self. Oswald Chambers asks, "Is the Eternal Child in you living in the Father's House? ... Are you so identified with the Lord's life that you are simply a child of God, continually talking to him and realizing that all things come from his hands?" (My Utmost for His Highest: An Updated Edition in Today's Language, Aug 7th). Yes, indeed, that is how it is. To all who are anxious about us and would keep us in an immature state, we can say with the twelve-year-old Jesus, "Why were you searching for me? Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49) (Listening Prayer: Learning to Hear God's Voice and Keep a Prayer Journal, pp. 147 - 148)
Bibliography and Suggested Reading
Click on a title for more information about a book
- Bennett, Rita, You Can Be...: Emotionally Free . Gainesville, Florida: Bridge-Logos Publishers,1998.
- Chambers, Oswald, My Utmost for His Highest: An Updated Edition in Today's Language. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House, 1992.
- Chambers, Oswald, Prayer: A Holy Occupation. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House, 1993
- Dawson, Joy, Forever Ruined for the Ordinary: The Adventure of Hearing and Obeying God's Voice. Seattle, WA: YWAM Publishing, 2006.. Seattle, WA: YWAM Publishing, 2006.
- Dearing, Norma, Healing Touch, The: A Guide to Healing Prayer for Yourself and Those You Love. Grand Rapids: Chosen Books, 2002.
- Francis Frangipane, Walking in eternal life. From his website The Ministries of Francis Frangipane (www.frangipane.org/) 18 Feb 2005.
- Goll, Jim W, The Beginner's Guide to Hearing God. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2004.
- McClung, Floyd, The Father Heart of God: Experiencing the Depths of His Love for You. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2004.
- Packer, J.I., Knowing God. Downers Grove: Ill: IVP, 1993.
- Payne, Leanne, Listening Prayer: Learning to Hear God's Voice and Keep a Prayer Journal. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1999.
- Seamands, David, Healing Grace: Finding a Freedom from the Performance Trap, Indianapolis, IN: Light & Life Communications, 1999.
- Smalley, Gary and Trent, John, The Gift of the Blessing, Nashville, TN: Nelson Books, 1993.
- Williamson, Tracy, Voice of the Father (Hodder Christian Paperbacks). Lond: Hodder & Stoughton,1996.