Ears to Hear
By Mary Kroeger
Ears are very important to us! They give us the ability to communicate with others and to enjoy sounds. They also help to give us balance due to an organ in our inner ear, the labyrinth, for it plays an important part of our balance system. It's amazing how intricately God weaves the various systems together to function as one harmonious body! Without ears our life would be very lonely!
God has given us spiritualears as well as physical ears to enrich our lives. We easily understand and appreciate our physical ears, but we are not as aware of our spiritual ears. Their hearing ability grows as we spend time with our heavenly Father and develop a relationship with Him! Gradually we learn that His words, "I have loved you with an eternal love”, carry a precious truth! A sense of security and love overwhelms us! This knowledge is foundational for entrusting ourselves to His leading and guidance. It is foundational for an intimate relationship! It is foundational for trusting Him, listening to Him and obeying Him even when we don't understand why. It is foundational for having the desire to spend time with Him and to obey His directives when we face difficulties and exciting challenges!
God usually speaks to us in a still, small voice. It is very easy for us to dismiss it. Often we are like little children who get so involved with their fun activities that they don't listen to their mother's call. Their ears hear, but they do not pay attention. They are so self-absorbed in their play that they do not want to listen! We too have to be careful that we don't put our will above God's will.
God has always emphasized the importance of hearing - the hearing that obeys His words. The first man, Adam, heard God's words but did not obey them. No wonder that after Moses had received a message from God to give to Israel, he began with, "Hear O Israel." (Deut. 6:4) In Proverbs 8:34 it says, "Happy are they who listen to Me."
In spite of all the teaching God's people had received, they did not listen to His words. Neither did they listen to Jesus! Over and over again Jesus ended His teaching with the admonition, "If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." (Mark 4:23; 7:16; Matt. 11:15; 13:9; 34; 25:29; Luke 8:8; 13:9; 21:4) Each of the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation received the admonition, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." It is so important to hear what the Spirit is saying, for "faith comes by hearing". (Rom. 10:17) The hearing that produces faith also produces obedience. Paul calls this the obedience of faith. (Rom. 1:5; 16:26)
It's interesting to notice that the scriptures do not tell us how to learn to hear the voice of the Spirit. We want to learn, but we wonder how we can know the difference between the voice that has its source in our natural carnal brain, and the voice of the Spirit. Our ears are listening all the time, for they do not have lids like our eyes. But they have to be trained to hear the voice of the Spirit and to shut out every other voice.
Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (John 10:17) Sheep know the shepherd's voice. They have learned that obedience to that voice leads them to green pastures and fresh water! They have a relationship with the shepherd and have experienced his loving care! They have learned that he is their sustenance! Their ears are trained to listen to his voice. They have discovered that obedience to that voice brings great dividends!
Adam and Eve had not learned that. They listened to another voice. They obeyed a voice that promised them godhood in disobedience to God. By believing the lie, the lie became their truth. Obeying a voice other than God's voice brought death! Through Adam we have all inherited this mind that is against the mind of God. When God speaks to us, our carnal mind either loudly promises a better and easier solution or it tells us to us that we don’t have to pay attention to them.
God's ways are higher than ours, so we don't understand His logic. We don't know how His directives can be the solution. This gives our carnal mind the opportunity to promote its ideas. Which voice will we obey? The first voice or the voice that wars against it? We need to remember that we first have to have truth before we can have error - the counterfeit of truth!
When we analyze the message, we will find that God's words to us carry an element of surprise! This tells us that those words did not come from our natural mind. Therefore they had to come from God.
Hearing carries accountability with it! It calls for obedience! Obedience does not count the cost! It may even call for a willingness to change our life style! Even though we may not know the reason for the requirement, obedience is an absolute necessity! Our natural mind objects to that. It wants to follow its own logic! A warfare between obedience and disobedience may erupt! A hearing ear authors the faith that fully obeys! Jesus demonstrated this!
Notice that Jesus did not say, "My lambs know my voice." Lambs are the offspring of sheep. Lambs learn to know the shepherd's voice through their relationship with their mother. In 1 Peter 2:2 we read that as newborn babes, we are to crave the sincere, pure milk of the word so we can grow thereby. Before we can have this relationship with our heavenly Father, we have to be born of His Spirit! As newborn babes, we drink in the truth that Christ is. As we digest it and absorb it, we will grow spiritually. Even as food needs to be digested before it can bring health to our body, so God's directives need to be obeyed in order for growth to take place.
We will make mistakes, but God will correct us without putting guilt or condemnation on us. It is a learning process. We cannot bypass the process. As we keep on listening and obeying, our spiritual ears will get to know our Shepherd's voice.
Our pathway to hearing the Spirit begins with a hunger and love for truth. This hunger can only be satisfied by receiving truth. Since Jesus Christ is the truth, nothing else can be the truth. Truth reveals the lie. Without a love for truth, we will go astray. (2 Thess. 2: 9-10) Our love for truth makes us willing to forsake the lies that had become our truth. We have to be willing to forsake the traditions and doctrines that crucify the truth. The truth frees us from doing our will. It enables us to surrender our will to God, and to receive His will as our will! Jesus demonstrated this! We may not feel ready for the surprises God has in store for us, but they will come.
Think of the surprise Saul, who was later called Paul, had when he was on his way to Damascus. Suddenly he was enveloped by a light so bright that it blinded him. He heard a voice saying, "Why are you persecuting Me?" His belief system needed to be corrected and re-directed.
His zealousness to do God's will had been misdirected! God will also correct us and cause upheavals in our belief system! When we are willing to listen and obey His directives, a close relationship with Him will develop!
Even as Paul had to leave his traditions and the doctrines he had so zealously believed, we too have to be willing to leave all the lies we formerly believed were the truth. Listening and obeying the Holy Spirit is a walk in truth!
Crossing the boundaries created by denominations, organizations, or the rule of this world, may cause us to be ostracized by them and by our peer group. But we will find that the joy and freedom truth brings is more than worth the cost!
The scriptures are a witness of the truth. Jesus said that God's words are spirit and are truth. (John 6:63) Since they are spirit, they have to be understood spiritually! Letting our natural mind interpret them does not lead us into truth! Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth! (John 16:13) As we meditate on His words, and let the Holy Spirit direct us, He will show us great and mighty things that we were not aware of! These things are not the result of a high IQ! It is the voice of the Spirit teaching us about the realities that are in the unseen realm!
In summing up, learning to know the voice of the Spirit involves a love for truth (Christ) that is so great that it is willing to leave the lies we thought were truth! It involves a humility that receives correction. It involves a willingness to obey even when we do not understand why! Love for truth brings us into a wonderful, peace-filled and joy-filled relationship with our Father God! There can be no greater reward!