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Romans 8:12-17 NKVJ 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
1 Kings 19:11-13 NKJV 11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
James 3:13-18 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Let’s shift gear a little this morning and focus on living a ‘Spirit-Filled’ and ‘Spirit Led’ life in this world. This is our mandate as believers and we should have an understanding of what this means. One way to live a spirit led life is to tune your spiritual hearing so that you will be able to discern when you are hearing from God, or hearing your own ambitions. There is one other voice that you can hear in your spirit and that is the voice of satan, or the worldly voice. This message is designed to help to point you in the right direction about your spiritual hearing, but this is a broad subject that could easily be a series of teachings.
Rom. 8:14 tells us that those who are led by the Spirit of God are the Sons of God. It is our privilege as the people of God to hear from our Heavenly Father through His Spirit. This is possible because the Spirit communes with OUR spirit. The Spirit will tell you things, and reveal things to you. But this is still not enough. You must be LED by what the Spirit is saying. This means that you have to be sure that what you are hearing is really from God.
The Word of God has given us many guidelines that we can use in order to check our hearing. Let’s explore some of them.
In 1 Kings 19:11-13the Lord instructs Elijah to go to a mountain because He wanted to speak with him. We all know the story about the wind, the earthquake, and the fire. The manifestation of God was all around Elijah, but these things were not God’s voice. It was a gentle voice after all of the noise that was actually the voice of God.
This is a clue about when God is speaking. Many times it is in the whisper instead of the dramatic that God speaks to us. This is especially true when we are going through hard times like Elijah was in this text.
I think that we need to be very careful that we don’t confuse the voice and the will of God when there is high drama happening around us. Even if the atmosphere we are in seems to be very spiritual in nature, it is usually the small voice, the still and steady voice that contains the wisdom of God.
Have you ever made a large purchase like a used car after being caught up in the rhetoric of a salesman. The atmosphere in a store or a dealership is purposely designed to get you to be agreeable. There are actually laws on the books in many states that give you three days to back out of a contract that you may have signed when you were caught up on a moment of high drama like this. It is the same thing in the realm of the Spirit. The noise might get your attention, but make sure you wait for the voice.
Many times when we are waiting on God to give us an answer we look for the proverbial ‘writing on the wall’. (See Daniel 5:5). But remember that God was talking to someone who was not His child here, and the news He gave the King was not so good for him. More often than not God speaks with a still small voice to His children.
How the word comes to us is important, but we also need to consider the ‘what’ of the perceived word as well. James 3:14-17 helps us with this. He makes a distinction between ‘worldly’, or carnal wisdom, and the wisdom that comes from God.
James says that wisdom that comes from God is: pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, good, impartial and sincere.
All of these are characteristics of God and His children. If you get a ‘word’ from God you have to ask yourself first does this sound like God? Is it truly godly? Will it bring peace to a situation? Does it consider the rights or feelings of others? It this just about me or is this for everyone? Is it judgmental without considering the plight others might be in?
Ask yourself if you are really willing to submit to higher authorities in the matter, or if you are I bent on having you way no matter what? Is this really sincere? Is this hypocritical? Is this who God is, and who I am?
In contrast James said it is possible to hear a ‘word of wisdom’ that is not from God at all. This wisdom is earthly, nonspiritual, of the devil. It is characterized by envy, selfish ambition, disorder, and evil practices. So in evaluating something that we heard we need to ask ourselves again, “Does this seem like a GOD WORD to me, really’?
Is it all about something earthly, and not at all about heaven? Will it cause disorder? Is my personal agenda, and selfish ambition in check? (This is a good one. Remember that this is what got Lucifer put out of God’s presence).
Does it sound like God, or like satan? Could this really be about a deep seated envy that I have against someone? Is this word leading toward some means to an end that will incorporate evil practices?
By the way. If we can hear things that are not of God in our spirit, it is also possible to hear the wrong things in a church service or setting as well. We believe in the gifts of the Spirit but I have seen so much confusion started because someone gave, and someone received a perceived ‘word’ in church. The setting in a church service can be very similar to Elijah’s earthquake, wind, and fire settling. We still have to know if it is really God speaking or not before we begin to act upon what was said.
1 Corinthians 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
Two words stick out here, common, and good. Too many times prophets and preachers are preaching for their own good only, and not for the good of everyone in the church. This is so very dangerous, especially if there seems to be a manifestation of a move of God. We still need to be careful.
This ‘word’, does it benefit the body of Christ? Does it encourage someone to do better? Does it bring comfort or push people away? Does it edify which means build someone up?
In my conclusion let me read what Paul said about the 5 fold ministry gifts:
Ephesians 4:11-16 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
I think that says it all. The Lord wants the church to be strong so He will speak to us, and give us wisdom from time to time. We need this wisdom to be sure, but let’s check our hearing to be sure that we are truly hearing from God. When we do this we can begin to put into action things that God will truly be pleased with.
Bishop Horace Ransom Jr. is the Senior Pastor and Founder of New Covenant Church International in Detroit, Michigan. He is a Jurisdictional Bishop and serves on the Board of Presbytery for the Jabula International Network, North America. Bishop Ransom is an outstanding teacher of the Word of God with a passion for challenging believers to become the best that they can be. Faith, Purpose and the Kingdom of God are frequently the subject matter of his dissertation.