If we would stop to consider it we would discover that our sense of hearing is literally bombarded throughout the day. It could be by TV or radio, a CD of our favorite music; cell phones or plain workplace conversation, even just the noise of cars on the street. Add to this cacophony our inner voice, our conscience, and realize that rarely does anyone experience total quiet. There’s almost always a voice intruding or beckoning.
Turn to John chapter 10. We have referenced the verses in this chapter before when discussing Jesus as a door and also the nature of Christian sheep, but this time we are going to look at Jesus’ claim that those who are his, Christian believers, hear and know his voice. “My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me.” (v 27) It is common in Christian circles to use terms such as “God spoke to me” and “I was clearly told by God to go in this direction”. The implication is that the person had audibly heard God and He told them what to do. Now, I’m not saying that this cannot happen but it is rarely a physically heard voice through which God speaks to us. The question then becomes, “How do I know I’m hearing God’s voice?”
Well, how do you recognize anybody’s voice? You spend time around them listening to them. Through repetition you become familiar with their accents, vocal inflections, speech patterns, and tonal ranges of their voice. I’m sure everyone has gotten a phone call where the caller did not readily identify himself yet you knew who it was; you knew him by his voice.
So how does one recognize God’s voice? It’s by the same method, only this time the repetition is in reading and studying God’s Word. By seeking to understand God’s ways and preferences, we begin to hear his direction, to hear his voice and because of this repetition we then recognize that it is his voice and not that of a stranger. (v 5) Consider those whose job it is to discover and trace counterfeit money. They don’t study the counterfeits; they study the genuine to the extent that they are able to immediately recognize when something isn’t right. In this same way, the more that we become familiar with what Scripture says, the less likely another voice will turn us onto a path that we should not take. He’s already spoken; we only need the ears to hear.
Whether we realize the depth of their influence or not, we live with and respond to those voices with which we surround ourselves. We are constantly courted by the voices in the news or in our entertainments and, though God can use these voices to direct or convict us of our actions, they themselves are not the words of God. God does clearly speak to his people, sometimes as a shout but sometimes as a still, small voice, yet He consistently speaks to us through His written Word. If he speaks to you, will you hear him through the din, and more importantly, will you recognize his voice and know that it’s Him.