When you turn off the sound of a warning message are you still be responsible for the consequences?
The story is told of a park ranger at Yellowstone National Park who was leading a group of hikers to a fire lookout. The ranger was so intent on telling the hikers about the flowers and animals that he considered the messages on his two-way radio distracting, so he switched it off. As the group neared the tower, the ranger was met by a nearly breathless lookout, who asked why he hadn’t responded to the messages on his radio. A grizzly bear had been seen stalking the group, and the authorities were trying to warn them of the danger.
As God speaks to us through His Word we may become weary of the constant warnings against sin, maybe considering these warnings to be unimportant or just unnecessary to follow. What are the consequences of this decision? Consider the warning of God’s Word;
“He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” (Proverbs 28:9)
Keep in mind that the Bible says, “ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) ALL the words of the Bible are the very words of God. They are beneficial for teaching (what is right), convicting (what is wrong), correcting (how to make the wrong right), and instructing in righteousness (how to stay right).
To “turn away from hearing the law” is to turn off the sound or mute the voice of God. This action speaks of a person having a lack of value for the message of God’s Word. This is a very dangerous attitude and action. God’s Word was given for us for the benefit of knowing wisdom in order to live an obedient life. Here is a tremendous warning that must be heeded. To turn away from hearing the law is to neglect opening up God’s Word and therefore rejecting its truths. How often is the Christian guilty of this? How often are you guilty?
We wonder why our prayer lives are so ineffective. For many this is the reason. God is trying to give us His counsel, yet we refuse to listen. We reject His words of wisdom. But when we are trying to get what we want from Him we wonder why He doesn’t seem to be listening.
God’s response to this selfish activity is to see our prayers as an abomination or something repulsive. The cry of the unrighteous shall not be heard (Proverbs 21:13) for the unrighteous is only seeking to please himself as he cries out to the Lord. “The sacrifice [prayer/ worship] of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: BUT the prayer of the upright is His delight” (Proverbs 15:8). These “prayers of the upright” are the prayers of those who are being diligent in turning up the sound of God’s Word by listening and doing what He says. The warning here is to be ever diligent to seek the Lord with a pure heart. “The sacrifice [worship] of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind [intent]” (Proverbs 21:27).
Consider the comments on Proverbs 28:9 from the Life Application Study Bible: “God does not listen to our prayers if we intend to go back to our sin as soon as we get off our knees. When we forsake our sin and follow Him, however, He willingly listens—no matter how bad our sin has been. What closes His ears is not the depth of our sin but our secret intention to do it again. God hears our intentions as clearly as He hears our words.”
“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss [wrong motives], that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:3)
James tells us that we don’t see our prayers answered because we are going about it the wrong way with the motive of “consuming it upon our lusts.” In other words, we are seeking to “waste it on our own selfish pleasures.” Our human nature drives us in a direction of pride and selfishness, yet we too often give into it at every turn. Let us learn what the Bible says about prayer and learn to practice it in the proper way—that is God’s way.
Prayer is not conforming God’s will to my will! Biblical prayer is conforming my will to God’s will.
Do you ever feel as if when you pray that your prayers just bounce off the ceiling and do not reach the listening ear of the Father? Why do you think this is?
Consider the Psalmist’s warning when he says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” (Psalm 66:18)
The Psalmist then makes this eye-opening statement, “If I regard iniquity in my heart.” As he is giving testimony of God’s goodness in his life he pauses for a moment to give a warning with regards to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.
Warren Wiersbe writes that “the verb regard means to recognize and to cherish, to be unwilling to confess and forsake known sins. It means approving that which God condemns.”
Often a believer is convicted of sin and yet they disregard the conviction as they “regard” the iniquity that is present and unconfessed. This is willful disobedience. In these times God has clearly spoken to us through a guilty conscience. He is communicating to us that we are in sin and we must confess it before Him.
Is there anything that you continue doing even knowing that God condemns it? Have you at one time been convicted of it and now you realize you are justifying it?
The psalmist goes onto say, “the Lord will not hear me.” To “hear” is hearing with intention or paying attention with the intent to act upon what is heard. As we are made aware of unconfessed sin being present in our lives, yet go before God to worship Him, He actually does not listen because He cannot look past the sin that we are dismissing and therefore justifying.
At these times He has communicated to us our sin. When we draw near to God in prayer we are seeking to communicate with God. When we are “regarding iniquity in our heart” we are telling God that what He says is not that important because of our action of willfully disregarding His convicting words. The Psalmist clearly states that in these times of “regarding iniquity in our heart” God does not and will not pay attention to our prayer.
Consider what our sin does to our fellowship with God. “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He WILL NOT hear.” (Isaiah 59:1-2)
God hears all things in the sense that nothing is hid from Him, but God does not heed or pay attention to a prayer from a heart that is covering sin. There is a need for reconciliation before proper worship can continue.
Now consider the Psalmist’s confidence. God has heard his prayer. “But verily God hath heard me; He hath attended to the voice of my prayer.” (Psalm 66:19) How can he be so confident? The answer is that he knows that nothing is hindering his prayer because he has a clear conscience with God. He has been searched by the Spirit of God. He has gone before the Lord asking Him to reveal any unconfessed sin to him. He has dealt with his sin and he is confident of his right fellowship with God.
As a result he says emphatically, “But verily God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer.” He is confident his prayer has received divine attention. How often are you confident that your prayers received divine attention?
The Psalmist is encouraged by the fact that he is confident that God is listening because he has come into HIS presence with a heart that is right before HIM—he is humble and repentant. God pays attention when our heart is right. He pays attention when we obediently confess our sin.
David confidently says, “The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear Him: He also will hear their cry, and will save them.” (Psalm 145:18-19)
Turning off the sound of God’s Word has drastic consequences but listening and obeying has great blessing. We must learn to come to God NOT seeking to conform His will to our own, but seeking to conform our will to His. This is done as we turn up the sound of His Word by reading it and heeding (obeying) it. The precious truth that we are confronted with is that we can have confidence that God hears our prayers with the intention of acting upon it. Know God’s warnings and choose His blessings.