Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God. John 8:47
I once thought that being a Christian insulated me from addiction. I grew up in a Christian home, I believed in God from a young age, and I’ve genuinely known a personal relationship with him. I knew that the believer is set free (John 8:36) and is a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). I falsely assumed then, that my spiritual pedigree would preclude the possibility of becoming addicted. Armed with this belief, I listened to and followed my own nature without much fear of consequence. I’m forgiven. I can do what I want.
As I listened to the voice of my own appetite more and more, I became deaf to God’s voice. It wasn’t that he abandoned me. The pursuit of my own way, by definition, came at the cost of following God. In my addiction, I got to the point where I just didn’t want to hear God’s voice. He kept saying crazy things like, “Confess. Go to treatment. Get help.” But I didn’t want to hear it, so I simply stopped listening.
In today’s passage, Jesus addressed this selective hearing. In the story, he told the Pharisees that they followed their father, the devil, and as such, they simply couldn’t hear the truth of God. They’d made their choice of whom to follow (not Jesus) and in this condition, they remained deaf to the truth.
The temptation for us as Christians, is to read this passage and to think that we’re automatically on the side of the truth, simply because we say that we’re Christians. This was the same mistake I made and it’s the same mistake the Pharisees made. They didn’t call themselves Christians of course, but they believed they followed God and therefore must be on the side of truth.
Jesus insisted however, that they were deceived. The proof was not in their claim to faith, but rather in whether they heard, listened to, and followed the truth of God. This is the same measure for us. Do we hear God’s voice and follow it? Or, do we practice selective hearing? Do we claim to be Christians, but then go our own way, listening to and following our own voice, thereby deceiving ourselves? Those who are truly of God, will hear and obey his voice.