“He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 11:15.
Christ says this over and over in the new testament. I’m no historian, but I have learned one very interesting fact regarding the culture in Jesus day. In our society today, if we want to get a point across, we raise our voice. But to a Jew in the days of Christ, they had a more effective way of getting their point across. According to history, in the first century, if I Jew wanted to get his point across, he would repeat himself over and over. Upon closer examination of scripture, the bible is full of constant repetition. Specifically when it comes to the words of Jesus and the commands of God.
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:9.
I don’t know what it was about this verse, but recently it has haunted my mind. Why would Jesus make such a simple statement like this repeatedly? I mean, everyone has ears! That’s like saying, “Everyone who is alive….breath!” It’s one of those statements that leave most people scratching their head. It’s a verse that can be easily overlooked. Cast aside in exchange for a more relevant scripture for our daily devotion. It would be easily dismissed, but it keeps coming up over and over. Regardless of where I try to flip in the pages of God’s word, this passage continues to find me.
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7.
God has gotten my attention within the past few months. He is teaching me something, leading me to a greater understanding of Him, and deepening my own personal repentance. Jesus repeated this phrase on so many occasions, I can no longer overlook it. It is apparent he is desperately trying to get his point across to us. If he were on the earth in human form today, he would be screaming this command. It is that important. So how do we come to a conclusion as to what Jesus is saying? What is it he so eagerly wants humanity to understand? Jeremiah 29:13 says to know God, we must seek him in scripture.
“When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Luke 8:8
Jesus goes on a few verses down in Luke to give insight to the meaning of this urgent message.
“‘…though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’” Luke 8:10
There is a difference between seeing and hearing and actually seeing and hearing. A few years ago, a strong hurricane was forecasted to hit the pan handle of Florida where my wife and I were living at the time. The whole town was taking appropriate measure, boarding up their houses and evacuating the town before the storm arrived. Our next door neighbor was one of the few people who decided to stay in town. In spite of all the numerous warnings to evacuate the city, he expressed to me that he really didn’t think it was going to be that bad of a storm. He had even planned a party of sorts with a few other friends of his who had the same mindset as he did.
My family along with most of Destin Florida evacuated until the storm had passed. When we returned to our home, we had some minor roof damage, but our doors and windows were unharmed due to the fact that we boarded up our home. My neighbor was not so lucky. His home had endured major damage. He went on to tell me how wrong he had been in his thinking, and how he evacuated the city right in the midst of the hurricane, barely escaping to safety.
My neighbor had heard the warnings of the coming storm repeatedly with his ears, but he hadn’t heard with his heart. It didn’t sink in the urgency of the matter even though the signs were all around him. And it almost cost him his life.
“It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 14:35.
One area of my life that has been in need of great repentance has been my method of hearing God. He desires us to seek him and know him in scripture. However, many times I substitute this with studying sermons and reading books on theology. But this is no substitute for the word of God. Last night I was settled in bed getting ready to listen to a preaching message online, but instead, I felt prompted to pick up the bible.
I turned to the book of 1 John, and I began to read. And immediately, I was captivated. I was amazed at how clear and relevant God was speaking. How have we miss this? When did the commands of the creator of all that is and ever will be get reduced to a book that we pick up when we are bored or at the end of our ropes? In reading 1 John last night, it dawned on me something that I’ve heard a thousand times, but for the first time, I heard it with my heart!
HIS WORD IS LIFE!!
Our culture is so deaf to the words of God, that Christian theology has practically been reduced down to a form of witchcraft! We rest our assurance of salvation on a little incantation we quote called “The sinner’s prayer.” And so we pray like most preachers taught us at youth camp growing up and ask Christ to come live in our hearts. And one of the very first truths our fallen minds grasp to regarding the nature of Christ is that he is a forgiving God. We cling to this. Partly because many believe this allows them to hang on to that free pass to sin.
It is true, we all fall short and are all sinners. But again, this is another verse the worldly Christian clings to! They have the mindset of, “Well I can go out and sin even though I know its wrong, but I did say a prayer to ask Christ in my heart, and we are all sinners, and Jesus does say he forgives, so I have the best of both worlds!” But honestly, this is kind of like a husband who tells his wife, “We made vows that said til death do us part, and I love you, but I’m going to see other women.” When a husband and wife commit to one another in marriage, they agree to love each other and put aside other men and women. Marriage requires you to put aside your old nature and commit to fully to your spouse. And following Christ is no different. It is a committment that requires us to cast aside our sin nature and strive to love him with our whole lives!
Three verses jumped out at me in my reading of 1 John last night. They all said the same thing, yet in different ways. God could not have made himself more clear. And again, in reading these verses, I have to ask myself, how is it that so many professed believers have totally missed this!
“No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” 1 John 3:6
“Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” 1 John 3:8
“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” 1 John 3:9.
Look at the wording of these verses. Does this sound like in Christ, because he is a forgiving God, we have the right to continue to live in sin and claim deliverance from eternal damnation due to a profession we once made? Whoever makes a practice of sin is not saved! A practice is something you do on a regular basis. A practice is something that is a staple in your life. A practice is something you have gotten used to and can be hard to give up.
Facebook is the clearest example of this. In the age we live in, internet sites like this have made it very hard to hide who we really are. So many people put on that Sunday School face in public. So many people will claim they love Jesus and are saved to your face. Some of them are very convincing as they can be involved in tons of church activities. Yet their posts on Facebook tell a different story.
Pictures of drunken parties, inappropriately dressed pictures of themselves personally shot with a smart phone, and vulgar language headlining their pages. People live together and have sexual relations out of marriage and even homosexual relationships. There are those who profess Christ yet continually slander and gossip about others. These are not sins people try to turn from. These sins are their pet sins. They are common practices. These sins become who they are. Yet they will tell you to your face that Jesus is the Lord of their lives. All due to the continual practice of sin.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Matthew 7:21-23.
There is a verse in the book of Hebrews that says it this way……
“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,” Hebrews 10:26.
I truly believe the world will stand before God on that day of Judgement and literally have no excuse except a deafness to His word in their damnation. There is no room for confusion here! Yet as God says in the book of Hosea…..
“My people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6.
We don’t even realize the state of our separateness from God because we know not God! We may know what we’ve heard in Sunday school, or what the scripture on the back of a t-shirt says, but so few professing believers actually seek Christ personally in their lives.
1 Corinthians 15:57 says, “But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We quote verses like this and file into church singing hymns like, “Victory in Jesus.” But if the bible is true, and those in Christ are victorious over sin, why are so many constantly surrendering to the temptations in their life?
“Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 13:43.
God is speaking. He hasn’t stopped speaking to us. In fact, he is screaming at us through the repetition of his word to turn from our sinful practices. He is warning us that if we can continue on living in sin willingly after professing him and point to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as our justification, then as the verse above in Hebrews said, that sacrifice no longer remains over you. Pray for God to search you as David did in the book of Psalm.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24.
Examine yourself and seek Christ in scripture! The promise of Christ is that we will be victorious over the sins that once enslaved us when we truly place our faith in Him. The clearest way to tell if you are truly saved is to examine yourself in light of scripture. Do you now hold a victory in your life over that sin that was once so prevalent? Or has very little changed since making your profession of faith? If the latter hold true, then as Mark 1:15 says, “Repent and believe!” Begin to read the Bible. But don’t just see it, see it clearly for what it says for quite possibly the first time. Dont just hear his words, but let them penetrate your heart as well as change you from the inside out! A prayer wont save you. Baptism wont save you. A transformation and seeking Christ as Lord of your life is the only road that you will encounter true saving grace.
“Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. …” Psalm 119:33-41.