[“Oh, how I love Your law!” (Psalm 119:97). How deeply I share the Psalmist’s desire! (read here) Such a passion for God’s voice sparked the flame of every revival in Scripture. Yet, I sense our joyful devotion to God’s word is deeply eroding today by our elevation of emotion (here), our love for money (here), our desire to be accepted (here), and our pursuit of worldly success (here). In today’s post I’ll explore what I believe to be the underlining reason why we grow dull of hearing God’s voice.]
Why does Bible study get so boring? Perhaps the poor skill of a Bible teacher is at fault. Or, maybe you just need a new Bible version to spice things up. Or, possibly a new emotionally charged worship style will do the trick. Or, so we think. Yet, such external maneuvers lack the power to change the hunger of the soul. According to Scripture the flame of faith can only be ignited by a new passion for God’s Word.
The reason for our spiritual boredom lies more deeply and personally within us. Our ears grow deaf to the word of God because of the presence of sin in our lives. Oh, none of us wants to admit it. We look for some external reason, and we grasp for the newest fad. Yet, the reality is that spiritual truths don’t resonate in our hearts because they are tuned to the world.
This can happen to the best of us. For example, David’s adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah lay hidden in the recesses of his heart when one day the prophet Nathan came in with an appalling story:
“Oh King, there was a poor man who had a little lamb that he loved and treated like a daughter. It ate from his table and he embraced it like a child. But, his rich neighbor ripped the lamb from his arms, slit its throat and roasted it for some random guest, in spite of the fact that he had thousands of lambs of his own.”
Enraged, David leaps from his chair shouting, “In the name of the Lord, this man shall surly die!” Nathan’s eyes narrowed and his finger rose as his voice spoke, “You are that man!”
David had shouted, “Preach on brother Nathan! This is outrageous! Something must be done!” yet he was totally unaware that he is the lead in the story. How could he miss it? His unaddressed, unconfessed sin kept him from getting the point when the man of God preached.
Sin in our lives keeps us from hearing and understanding God’s word. James makes this connection when he writes, “lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). Before we can receive the saving message we’ve got to get rid of all filthiness. The word for “filth” in this text is a medical term that means “wax in the ear.” The word picture James uses is this, “Sin in your life plugs up your desire to hear God.”
The Scriptures have a bland taste to those who are driven by selfish desires. Peter put it like this,
“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” (1 Peter 2:1-3)
Craving after God’s word only comes from a heart that is starved of sin and selfishness. D.L. Moody famously said, “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.”
Whenever we diminish the demands of Scripture to fit our lifestyle, sin is making us deaf to the voice of God. Whenever we demote the prominence of Scripture to accommodate our pleasures, sin is making us deaf to the voice of God. Whenever we go days without hearing God’s word, sin is making us deaf to the word of God. None of us is immune to such deafness (Mark 8:18; Matt. 22:23,29), but there is something we can do about it.
Earnest Preparation. In the desert of Sinai God gave His people two days to prepare themselves to hear His voice. They spent every waking hour “consecrating themselves,” “washing their clothes,” and “separating themselves” so they could hear the voice of God. These physical activities reminded them of the importance of coming before God with a pure heart (Exodus 19:10-15). Likewise, we must approach God’s word with a keen awareness that the One who speaks is the Creator of the world and Discerner of our hearts. We must be pure in life and purpose in order to hear His voice.
Honest Confession. We need an honest evaluation of the motive of our hearts, and a willingness to confess any selfish ambition we may discover. The people in Nehemiah’s day “confessed their sins” and “read from the book of the Lord their God” (Nehemiah 9:2-3). Get honest about the motives behind your actions and desires, or your selfish desires may make you deaf to God’s word.
Have A Passion For Growth. If you have not tangibly and recently grown in your discernment, service and understanding, then you are stuffing cotton in your ears every time God’s word is read (see Hebrews 5:11 – 6:12). The joyful clarity of God’s Word is reserved for those who walk most closely to His teachings (Matt. 11:25).
See His Holiness. When you stand before the Judge your feelings, your pleasures, your wants, and popularity will not matter a bit. We will stand before a Holy God who will ask, “Did you hear and follow My word?” (John 12:48; Matt. 7:21-23). Then we will know—His voice is all that matters!
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart. (Psalm 24:3-4)
“Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Corinthians 16:14)
A Song: Speak, Lord
Here is a simple song to help you declare your devotion to hearing, living and speaking God’s Word
How Much Time Do You Spend Listening To Media?
Here is a surprising article about how much time Americans spend with different media devices. Now, for the first time, Americans spend more time with digital devices than watching TV. How many hours? Check it out! (This is a pdf. I’ve created, so it’s safe to click on it.)
Quotes About Sin and Spiritual Deafness
Movies have hours of video which is left on the cutting room floor. Below are a few of the sentences that were left on the cutting room floor as I wrote the article above. After reading them you may think, “I know why he cut that one!” But, perhaps you’ll find something helpful among the debris. 🙂
We will not listen to God until we see our need for Him. Yet, when we confess our sinfulness, our helplessness, and our ignorance we are driven to our knees before the God of all wisdom.
Unexamined motives often lead to disastrous results.
It is foolish arrogance to promote the sound of our voice above the clear ring of His.
Is there some area of your life: your marriage, your hobbies, your clothes, your spending habits, your pleasures; where if God’s word contradicted what you were doing you’d get mad, you’d fight back, you’d walk away? Defensiveness is a barrier to having a teachable spirit.
We don’t hear what God wants to say to us because we are tuned into a different station.
The path to spiritual vitality is the way of purity.
The flame of faith is set ablaze by a fresh hunger for God’s word.
The answer to our spiritual monotony is rarely found by changing externals.