Sometimes I’m guilty of not listening when my wife speaks. I may be looking at here and pretend to be paying attention, but my mind is elsewhere and I don’t really hear her. I’m sure most husbands have been caught in that one time or another. It’s embarrassing and painful (for both of us). How much more so, though, when God speaks and we don’t her.
Some Christians say they never hear God speaking to them, but if you are a Christian, you have heard God speak to you. It has definitely happened or you wouldn’t be a Christian. And you were paying attention as well. For most of us, the first time we heard God speak to us He was convicting us of sin, showing us our need of salvation. Jesus said, “When the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me” (John 16:A7-11). I Thessalonians 1:4-5 says the gospel comes to us with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.
To Ezekiel God complained that “these people have ears to hear but they never hear, eyes to see but they never see” (12:2). Jesus repeated this complaint several times as well.
When we look at these occurrences we see they can be grouped into five areas of revelation. God spoke conviction, information, encouragement, enablement in ministry, and revelation of Himself.
Of course we all know that how we respond that that conviction is a free will choice each will need to make.
In the 1640s George Fox, founder of the Friends or Quaker movement, wandered the fields and lanes of the English countryside, seeking someone who could show him the way to peace with God. He finally became convinced that “there was none among them all that could speak to my condition. And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could I tell what to do; then, oh! Then I heard a voice which said, ‘here is one, even Jesus Christ, that can speak to thy condition’; and when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy. Then the Lord did let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give him all the glory.”
One way in which God speaks to us is to show us the sin in our life. He does this before salvation so we will see our need of Him. He also does this in the lives of those who have freely received His free gift of salvation. He shows us sin so we can confess and remove it.
Charles Stanley wrote: “As we read God’s Word, we nearly always come to what I call a ‘gulp point.’ Something we read challenges us to change something in our lives, to gulp and say, ‘Wow! That really hit me. I need to do something about that.’ Sometimes it’s a conviction about sin in our lives. Sometimes it’s a correction in the way we have been taught or the way in which we act toward others. Sometimes it’s a clear call to engage in a new discipline or area of ministry.”
The problem is that we have a tendency to only listen to what we want to hear. A doctor can give us good advice about diet changes or needed exercise, but it’s very easy to ignore his counsel if it means changes we don’t want to make.
I’ve learned to recognize God’s Spirit when He convicts me of sin. He warns me ahead of time through my conscience. He also censures me after I have sinned. While we may not want to hear these things from Him, we can thank Him for faithfully bringing sin to our attention. Suppose He didn’t?
John 16:7-11 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me;
1 Thess 1:4-5 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.
Thank God for speaking to you to show you your need of His salvation. Then ask Him to show you any sin in your life that you need to confess. Listen to what His Spirit says and confess that sin. Learn to recognize God’s voice speaking in that way so whenever there is sin to be removed you do so.
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)