Battlefields of the Christian Life: The Ears

There is a reason why God gave us two ears. He wants us to listen. Too often we have a tendency to talk more than we listen. As Christians, we need to learn to be good listeners. Satan is constantly putting a bunch of noise and busyness in our lives in order to keep us from hearing what God wants us to hear. This attack of Satan is nothing new. For centuries, Christians have missed out on great things from God because they have failed to pay attention and listen. As a matter of fact, the Bible describes the children of Israel, all the way back in Jeremiah’s day, as a people that simply would not listen. Notice what the scripture says in Jeremiah 7:21-28. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. 22 For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: 23 But this thing commanded I them, saying, uObey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. 24 But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and bwent backward, and not forward. 25 Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, ddaily rising up early and sending them: 26 Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers. 27 Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee. 28 But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the Lord their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth.”[1] People are called upon to listen attentively to God’s Word, to His Son, to the Holy Spirit, and also to His words of wisdom. Christians must not only listen to God’s Word, but they must put it into practice. Those who refuse to listen to God’s Word are condemned.

The Importance of Listening. (1) To God’s Word and His spokesmen. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God reminded the children of Israel that the one thing He requested of them was obedience to His Word. Unfortunately, the children of Israel did not pay attention to what God was saying to them. “The Lord is telling the people that they may as well eat the burnt offerings, as they do other sacrifices, since none of their offerings and sacrifices are acceptable to him.”[2] The principle that we see throughout scripture is that obedience is better than sacrifice. In our language we may say, ‘obedience is better than religious tradition.’ You see, God is more concerned about your obedience to His Word, than He is about your religious practices. In order to be obedient to God’s Word, we must know His Word. God has given us His Word in two basic ways. He has given us His written Word, the Bible. He has also given us men of God to declare His Word to us. Therefore, as Christians, we should read the Bible everyday and we should listen and learn from those God has given to us to teach us and instruct us in the Word.

(2) To Jesus Christ. As Christians, we should also listen to Jesus. Matthew 17:5 says, While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”[3] On the mount of transfiguration, the voice of God the Father tells Peter, James, and John to listen to Jesus. You and I should also listen to the words of Jesus. We should pay close attention to the words of Christ recorded for us in the Bible. It is the ultimate goal and destination of every believer to be just like Jesus. Our aim in life should be to be more like Him every day. Therefore, the words Jesus spoke should be precious to us. We should cherish those words. We should listen to those words over and over again. We should memorize the words of Jesus. The more we listen to Him, the more like Him we will be.

(3) To the Holy Spirit. The moment one places his or her faith in the Lord Jesus for salvation they are indwelled by the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is given to us as our comforter and guide. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Word of God. Since the Holy Spirit is inside of us, He brings to our memory the things of God and steers us in the direction of becoming more like Jesus. When we sin, the Holy Spirit convict us and reminds us of who we are and how we have no need to sin since we have been set free by the blood of Jesus. The Holy Spirit impresses upon us what God’s plan is for us in various situations. As believers, we should be in tune with the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit whispering in our ears. To hear His voice, we must be listening for Him. Unconfessed sin in our lives will hinder our listening. Failure to listen to God’s Word will also hinder us from hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.

(4) To words of wisdom.  Not only is it important for we as believers to listen to God’s Word, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit; but, it is also important that we listen to words of wisdom.  In Proverbs 19:20, the English Standard Version says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” [4] I had a college professor that would say, “Get all you can, can all you get, and sit on the can.” In other words, get all the instruction, advice, and education you can possibly get and store it in your memory. There will come a day when you can apply what you know to situations you face in your life. However, if you never pay attention and listen to instruction and advice, then when the time comes when you need such wisdom, the struggle will be all the more difficult.

The dangers of listening to false prophets and ungodly counsel. Jeremiah 23:16 says, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.”[5] The prophets that God’s people are warned about are those who speak their own philosophies and ideas rather than speaking ‘thus says the Lord.’ There are many such false prophets in our world today. Many preachers have given in to the trends of the day. Many will preach what people want to hear rather than what they need to hear. Very few preachers today will preach the truth about heaven, hell, sin, salvation, Jesus, holiness, and many other essential truths. As Christians, we should place ourselves under men of God who are bold enough to speak the truth even when it is not popular. We must also be careful to discern between godly counsel and ungodly counsel. The only way to do this is to know God’s Word. If we do not know what is right, then how can we discern between what is truth and what is not?

The plight of those who do not listen. Those who refuse to listen to God’s Word and godly counsel run the risk of condemnation. In Jesus’ instructions concerning church discipline, notice what He says in Matthew 18:15-17. “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”[6] Christians who refuse to listen to instruction and refuse to repent of sin, they are to be treated as if they are unbelievers. They are to be removed from church membership and they are to be looked upon as someone who has never truly believed. You see, those who are truly saved cannot ignore God’s Word for very long. We may go through seasons where we are not living as we should. We may go through times of spiritual apathy and complacency. However, a true believer will always return. A true believer will not stay in sin. A true believer will not ignore instruction. They will respond and they will listen.

The result of listening. As Christians, our listening should result in our doing. In other words, we cannot just hear God’s Word, but we must obey God’s Word. This is the message God gave to Jeremiah to share with the people. Obedience is better than sacrifice. God desires our obedience to His Word, not just our religious practices. James 1:22-24 says, But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.”[7] It is one thing to listen to the Word; it is another thing to practice it. Those who put God’s Word into practice will maintain a life that exemplifies what a true believer in Christ really is.

Satan is working overtime to distract you from listening to the Word of God. He brings everything imaginable across your path in order keep your ears from hearing. What are you listening to? How are you responding to what you hear?

 

[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Je 7:21–28). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] Newman, B. M., Jr., & Stine, P. C. (2003). A handbook on Jeremiah (p. 221). New York: United Bible Societies.

[3] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Mt 17:5). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Pr 19:20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Je 23:16). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[6] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Mt 18:15–17). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[7] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Jas 1:22–24). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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