"For I earnestly exhorted your fathers in the day I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, until this day, rising early and exhorting, saying, 'Obey My voice'.
"Yet they did not obey or incline their ears, but everyone followed the dictates of his evil heart; therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant".
God is calling people today into Fellowship with Himself. Its an awesome privilege to know God personally. But many people would prefer a kind of middle ground. They want to be loosely aligned with God, and keep some of the commandments of God they consider important, but this idea of zealously drawing near to God and hearing His voice seems a bit extreme and unrealistic.
The problem with that is this:
Jesus expects us to hear His voice and obey His voice.
God even expected this of the Israelites, as we see in the Scripture above.
Jesus will vomit the lukewarm out of His mouth, those who feel no need for a close relationship with God, but are satisfied with hanging around church, believing certain doctrines and running their own lives.
I want to show from Scripture what God's attitude is on this subject, and you can then judge for yourself if I am being fanatical, unreasonable and legalistic, as someone who doesn't really understand the grace of God, or whether what I am saying is the truth of the Word of God.
Jesus said "One Thing is NEEDED"
And she [Martha] had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word.
And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.
"But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."
I encourage you to read this story in context, for it contains valuable lessons for us. But I have arranged the verses above in a certain way, to make it plain that there is something THAT JESUS CONSIDERS NECESSARY.
What is that one thing?
Is it acts of service for the Lord?
Is it taking care of business?
From this passage, it doesn't look like it. According to this passage, Mary was doing the one thing necessary ("that good part"). What does the Scripture say Mary was doing?
Mary "sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word".
This is what we today also must do. We must sit at Jesus' feet, which is adopting the stance and attitude of a learner, a pupil, a disciple, a servant … and we must HEAR his word.
The difference between those who will inherit eternal life and those who do not is simply this: those who inherit eternal life are those who, given the chance, learned to hear and obey the voice and Word of the Lord. Those who refuse this kind of relationship, however religious, will be lost.
"… in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His power".
If you have heard a gospel in which there is NOTHING TO OBEY, you've heard a false gospel. The true gospel is about Jesus, the KING, who has come to redeem those who are willing to hear and obey His voice, and renounce the principle of slavery to sin through the cross of Christ.
This Scripture makes it exceedingly clear that it is vital that we learn to hear and obey our Lord.
There are others.
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life."
We see the requirement once again is to HEAR THE WORDS OF JESUS. Without hearing, we cannot truly BELIEVE, because "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17)
Jesus defines his sheep as follows:
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (John 10:27)
Are you the sheep of Jesus?
I think there is room in the kingdom for little lambs who have not yet learned to discern and follow the voice of the shepherd all the time. Such little lambs should hang around mature sheep and feed on the good pasture the shepherd leads them to until they too learn to know the shepherd for themselves.
Satan does all he can to snare us so we lose confidence in God, and get deceived concerning what the Lord is truly saying. How can people avoid this?
First of all: we should not be ignorant of Satan's devices.
To overcome the snares, pitfulls and traps on the way to consistently hearing and obeying the voice of GOd, we should be aware of what they are.
I will list a few.
1. Religious tradition. Your church experience tells you one thing, the Word of God and the Spirit of God are telling you something else. You figure there is safety and respectability in numbers so you go with the crowd. Bad move. You'll stop hearing the Lord's voice pretty soon.
2. Unforgiveness. You are so obsessed with what some Christian or non-Christian has unjustly done to you that you cannot properly focus on the Lord. You had better tear up the I.O.U. so to speak without waiting for an apology, or you could be robbed of every blessing, including the ability to hear God's voice.
3. Unwillingness to meditate on God's Word You want to hear God's voice and you imagine that you do, but you won't humble yourself to actually take the Scriptures and deeply meditate on them. Many times, if not most times, God will use the Scriptures as a key to hearing His voice, and neglecting the Scriptures and sound biblical doctrine will cripple you in your ability to hear with faith. We need the renewing of our minds in order to hear God, and this process doesn't happen simply by adopting a passive approach. We have to study and meditate on the right things.
4. Unbelief – You actually do hear God's voice sometimes in your mind, but you shrug it off because you assume it is just your own thoughts. You do this because you don't believe that you can expect to hear God's voice as an obedient Christian disciple.
5. Love of Pet Sin / Idols – If there is something in the world you love more than God's Word and God's presence, it is going to greatly hinder your ability to hear and know God. The Bible say, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols". If you go to a prophet or man of God while holding on to your idols, you may get a false word. See Ezekiel 14:3
6. Pride and Hardness of Heart The proud man thinks he doesn't need God's voice in his life, and will frequently sin against God and others. Persistence in pride leads to hardness of heart.
What is the Cure for these things?
The cure was provided by Jesus at the cross. But to appropriate the victory, the following things should be pursued.
3. Pursuit of the truth – godly teaching and personal study and meditation
4. Pursuit of God's presence – through the Holy Spirit, through praise and worship
5. Repentance from known sin.
6. Forgiving those who have wronged you, apologising to those whom you have wronged and seeking a righteous resolution.
7. Calling upon the name of Jesus.
Will you go after God from today on? Will you pursue the knowledge of His Word, and the knowledge of His voice? Will you submit your life to Jesus Christ? I pray you will, and that you will be blessed and be a blessing through this, just as Abraham was.