Man is made in the image of God, or more correctly, he was made in the image of God. He was created to know God and to fellowship with Him; but he chose instead to dwell in the dungheap of the world and to fellowship with lost and carnal creatures. That changed the whole ballgame; man’s spirit died and his body, which God intended should be immortal, became mortal instead. But God has provided an avenue for man’s re-creation through quickening of the spirit and regaining immortal life, which is to know the only true God and the One He sent, Jesus Christ (John 17:3).
To help us in that task He has given us His Holy Word and His Holy Spirit. The purpose of the Bible is to prepare us morally and spiritually for eternal life, and to accomplish that purpose God has sent to us His Holy Spirit, whose role it is to be with those who love Christ forever (John 14:15-16), to teach them all things and recall to our minds all that Jesus said (John 14:23-26), to bear witness of, (John 15:27) and glorify, Jesus (John 16:15), to lead those that love Christ into all truth (John 16:13), to disclose to them what is to come (John 16:13), speaking only what He hears from Jesus (John 16:13).
Our contribution to the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification is firstly, to hear and then to obey. The Great Shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13:20) said Himself;
“My sheep are hearing My voice and I know them and they are following Me” (John 10:27).
These verbs “hearing” and “following” are both in the present continuous tense; we are the sheep of the Great Shepherd to the extent that we are hearing and following Him.
To hear, we must be listening and listening is not talking; in our meditation we must give time to God to break through the cloud of carnality and worldliness that surrounds us; that means waiting. In our mortality, we are conscious of the limitation imposed by impending death and so, very often, we are loath to wait for God, preferring to get up and get going, hoping that God will be part of our endeavour as we do what we imagine to be His work. But unless we wait for Him, we will be doing things in our own strength, and our work will be fruitless.
On the other hand, if we truly wait, we will hear; and in God’s timing, not ours.
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. (Psalm 62:5).
If we learn to wait, God can will reveal to us the most important things that we need, to know – His ways;
Your ways O Lord, make known to me and teach me Your paths, guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation and I wait for you all the day (Psalm 25:4-5).
But not only will we learn God’s ways as we wait on Him, we will be strengthened to deal with the fleshly nature; always remembering that what He wants is for us to crucify the flesh;
Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:31).
The other contribution we can make to hearing God speak is to memorise scripture; it will be difficult for the Holy Spirit to “call to your mind all that He said” (John 14:26) unless we first put it there.
To a great extent, modern Christianity hears what it wants to; it has tuned out to the voice speaking to us from heaven (Hebrews 12:25) and has chosen, instead, to listen to the doctrines of men, which focus on God’s covenant promises rather than our covenant obligations. These watered down doctrines, which cherry pick the scriptures and trivialize the whole counsel of God’s Word, are brought to God’s people by “a different spirit” and amount to “a different gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4), which “distort the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:7), bringing false assurance and a false salvation.
Everything that we need for eternal life has been done for us; all we have to do is surrender, or, in the words of the hymnist; “Hear and Obey, there is no other way”.