1. DETERMINE TO LISTEN
a. How can we be sure that we are hearing the voice of God? John 10:27; Matthew 7:16–20, 24–27; Galatians 5:22, 23.
“The good tree will produce good fruit. If the fruit is unpalatable and worthless, the tree is evil. So the fruit borne in the life testifies as to the condition of the heart and the excellence of the character. Good works can never purchase salvation, but they are an evidence of the faith that acts by love and purifies the soul. And though the eternal reward is not bestowed because of our merit, yet it will be in proportion to the work that has been done through the grace of Christ.
“Thus Christ set forth the principles of His kingdom and showed them to be the great rule of life. To impress the lesson He adds an illustration. It is not enough, He says, for you to hear My words. By obedience you must make them the foundation of your character. Self is but shifting sand. If you build upon human theories and inventions, your house will fall.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 314.
b. What demonstrated that Jesus heard His Father accurately? How should this description of Jesus apply to us also? John 5:19, 20, 36.
2. LOOKING AT HISTORY
a. What has been the varied experience of God’s church through the ages with regard to listening to the Lord’s voice? 2 Kings 22:13; 23:3; Zechariah 7:11–13; Jeremiah 29:17–19.
b. What personal testimony did Jeremiah and David declare of their listening to the voice of God? Jeremiah 15:16; Psalm 119:57–60.
c. What can we learn from the experience of Jesus’ disciples in listening to God’s voice? Mark 7:5–8; Matthew 28:19, 20.
“It was most difficult for [Jesus’ disciples] to keep His lessons distinct from the traditions and maxims of the scribes and Pharisees. They had been educated to accept the teaching of the rabbis as the voice of God, and it still held a power over their minds and molded their sentiments. Earthly ideas, temporal things, still had a large place in their thoughts. They did not understand the spiritual nature of Christ’s kingdom, though He had so often explained it to them. Their minds had become confused. They did not comprehend the value of the scriptures Christ presented. Many of His lessons seemed almost lost upon them.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 670.
“In the commission to His disciples, Christ not only outlined their work but gave them their message. Teach the people, He said, ‘to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:20). The disciples were to teach what Christ had taught. That which He had spoken, not only in person, but through all the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament, is here included. Human teaching is shut out. There is no place for tradition, for man’s theories and conclusions, or for church legislation. No laws ordained by ecclesiastical authority are included in the commission. None of these are Christ’s servants to teach. ‘The law and the prophets,’ with the record of His own words and deeds, are the treasure committed to the disciples to be given to the world. Christ’s name is their watchword, their badge of distinction, their bond of union, the authority for their course of action, and the source of their success. Nothing that does not bear His superscription is to be recognized in His kingdom.”—Ibid., p.826.
3. LISTENING TO THE VOICE OF CONSCIENCE
a. From the apostle Paul’s experience, how important is it to listen to the voice of our own conscience? Acts 24:16; 1 Timothy 1:19; 1 John 3:21.
b. What will eventually happen if we neglect to follow the voice of conscience? Matthew 6:22, 23; Titus 1:15; 1 Timothy 4:2.
“When a person once neglects to heed the invitations, reproofs, and warnings of the Spirit of God, his conscience becomes seared, and the next time he is admonished, it will be more difficult to yield obedience than before. And thus with every repetition. Conscience is the voice of God, heard amid the conflict of human passions; when it is resisted, the Spirit of God is grieved.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 120.
“Singleness of purpose, wholehearted devotion to God, is the condition pointed out by the Saviour’s words. Let the purpose be sincere and unwavering to discern the truth and to obey it at whatever cost, and you will receive divine enlightenment. Real piety begins when all compromise with sin is at an end. . . .
“But when the eye is blinded by the love of self, there is only darkness. ‘If thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness’ (Matthew 6:23). It was this fearful darkness that wrapped the Jews in stubborn unbelief, making it impossible for them to appreciate the character and mission of Him who came to save them from their sins.”—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 91, 92.
c. What should we do with each impression or idea that we may have about what God is telling us? John 5:39; Hebrews 4:12.
“Impressions and feelings are no sure evidence that a person is led by the Lord. Satan will, if he is unsuspected, give feelings and impressions. These are not safe guides. All should thoroughly acquaint themselves with the evidences of our faith, and the great study should be how they can adorn their profession and bear fruit to the glory of God.”—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 413.
“If you are in doubt upon any subject you must first consult the Scriptures.”—Ibid., vol.5, p. 512.
a. What is God’s attitude toward any dishonesty? Proverbs 19:5; Acts 5:3–5.
“God hates hypocrisy and falsehood. Ananias and Sapphira practiced fraud in their dealing with God; they lied to the Holy Spirit, and their sin was visited with swift and terrible judgment.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 72.
“From the stern punishment meted out to those perjurers, God would have us learn also how deep is His hatred and contempt for all hypocrisy and deception.”—Ibid., p.75.
“In much of the service professedly done for God, there is self-emulation and self-exultation. God hates pretense. When men and women receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they will confess their sins, and, pardon, which means justification, will be given them. But the wisdom of the human agents who are not penitent, not humbled, is not to be depended on, for they are blinded in regard to the meaning of righteousness and sanctification through the truth. When men are stripped of self-righteousness, they will see their spiritual poverty. Then they will approach that state of brotherly kindness that will show that they are in sympathy with Christ.”—This Day With God, p. 326.
b. What can happen when we are not honest with ourselves in the study of Scripture? Ezekiel 14:3, 4. What can we do about this? Verse 6.
“Take up the Bible without prejudice and in a humble, teachable spirit, and, with the understanding open to the impressions of the Spirit of God, let its convincing power mold the life and conscience.”—The Bible Echo, September 2, 1895.
“You should not search for the purpose of finding texts of Scripture that you can construe to prove your theories; for the word of God declares that this is wresting the Scriptures to your own destruction. You must empty yourselves of every prejudice and come in the spirit of prayer to the investigation of the word of God.”—Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 308.
5. MEEKNESS AND HUMILITY
a. What essential character quality must each one of us learn from Jesus? Matthew 11:29; Psalms 22:26; 25:9.
“Meekness and humility will characterize all who are obedient to the law of God.”—The Signs of the Times, July 22, 1897.
“If our will is not in accord with the divine requirements, we are to deny our inclinations, give up our darling desires, and step in Christ’s footsteps.”—The Review and Herald, October 23, 1900.
“Each must have an individual experience and put forth personal efforts to reach souls. God requires each to put all his powers into the work and, through continual effort, educate himself to do that work acceptably. . . . All the workers must use tact and bring their faculties under the controlling influence of the Spirit of God. They must make it a business to study His word and hear God’s voice addressing them from His living oracles in reproof, in instruction, or in encouragement, and His Spirit will strengthen them, that they may, as God’s workers, advance in religious experience. Thus they will be led on step by step to greater heights, and their joy will be full.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 576, 577.
“If you are willing to learn meekness and lowliness of heart in Christ’s school, He will surely give you rest and peace. It is a terribly hard struggle to give up your own will and your own way. But this lesson learned, you will find rest and peace. Pride, selfishness, and ambition must be overcome; your will must be swallowed up in the will of Christ.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 5, p. 1091.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What evidence demonstrates that we have heard God?
2. What prevented God’s people in the past from hearing Him?
3. How can we maintain a good conscience?
4. How do we know if we are being honest with God?
5. What should we do if we find that our will is not in harmony with God’s requirements?