John 10:27 ~ "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."
How many of you who read this are struggling to understand the voice of Christ? Many have thought they were listening to the voice of God when, in fact, it was their own hearts speaking to them--for that is the voice they are familiar with. A great danger occurs when we think we are listening to God and do not actually know how to discern the difference between our own hearts and His voice. Listen to what it says in Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" And so, people are often deceived in their belief that God has spoken to them, when their own emotions and dispositions are the only voice they know.
Consider an illustration:
A child is born, and there he grows up in the midst of the family of his origin. Surrounded by the speech of his parents, and the language of his nation, the young child learns to converse with his family.
Through proximity and familiarity, there is no question--all things being equal--that a newborn will eventually adopt and understand the language of his culture. A baby born in Holland will invariably learn Dutch, and one born in Kenya probably will understand Swahili. And, once that individual is full grown, the challenge for learning a new language becomes increasingly difficult. Why? Because it is during the young stages of life that a person becomes familiar with language.
And now, reflect upon the beginning stages of your life in Christ. Jesus said that we must be "born again" (see John 3:7). A new life must be formed and a new nature given. Thus, like a newborn in a home, a new Christian begins to learn the language of the Lord. In 1 Peter 2:2 we read, "Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation." That "pure spiritual milk" is the milk of the Word of God. And the longer we linger in the Scriptures and the more we hold proximity to the teaching of God's word, the more familiar we become with the voice of the One who gave it.
When I was a young man, I could be in a crowded room full of dads and sons, and, though separated from my own father, the moment I heard his voice I had no doubt that it was him. All the other voices in the room had no influence on me, for I was very familiar with my dad's voice. Jesus said in John 10:5, "A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." And yet, there are many who hearken to the strange voices around them and do not know how to discern between that and the voice of Christ.
But, as a Father with his children, the Lord God wants His people to learn how to hear His word. Stop and think for a moment at what God did to bring us His word. Through kings, priests, prophets, apostles and, ultimately, His Son, the Father in Heaven made sure that His Scripture was provided to His people. He did not leave us without the means of learning from Him, soaking in the richness of the Bible, so that we can grow more familiar with Him and His voice.
Yet there are those who, in their Christian infancy, listened to various teachings and ideas that were not entrenched in the Scriptures and thus learned to hear other voices, even the foolish voices of their own heart, and assumed it was God. And now, having grown familiar with those voices, find it difficult to come back to the very basic language of Christ in the Scriptures and relearn all over again. It's not impossible, but it requires greater effort.
Hebrews 5:11-14 speaks powerfully to this, "About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil." For those willing to listen to all manner of other voices rather than the word of God, their powers of discernment have never been trained and thus they struggle to understand the voice of Christ.
So, beloved, linger long in the Scriptures. Become familiar with the Bible through constant use. Proximity to the voice of God is always going to be nearness to the Word of God. If you want to know that you are listening to the Great Shepherd, it will always be in His word.
In His Grace,
From the Mountains to the Sea
Every step we take on this journey called life ought to be used for greater understanding. I've lived from the mountains to the sea, and this blog is my personal thoughts and observations with a desire for Biblical understanding. Welcome.