Q: “It is confusing to me why nowadays people hear less well WITH the Holy Spirit inside them! My thought is that we should hear BETTER now…but what factors may be causing us to hear less from the Holy Spirit in the present age?”
A: The Holy Spirit is both the promise of the Father and the gift of the Son to His bride. The Holy Spirit enables each of us as believers to be overcomers of the present age and to walk victoriously through this world, but the key to the Spirit is that He is holy. His character and work will never move outside of His holiness, God’s plan, and His work to bring forth the plan of God in the lives of His people.
Jesus’ instruction to believers and the church is simple, “If you have ears, hear what the Spirit is saying.” The concept of ears has to do with actually possessing the ability to hear what the Spirit is saying. The problem is that there are a lot of voices, and as believers we must develop and fine-tune our spiritual ears to hear the Spirit. We fine-tune our ears by believing and obeying the Word that the Spirit inspired to bring forth righteousness in our lives (2 Timothy 2:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). We must ask (for more of the Spirit), seek the truth He wants us to understand about Jesus and His work, and knock until the door is open, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us into a greater understanding of Christ and the fruitful abundant life (Luke 11:13; John 16:13; Galatians 5:22-23).
Scripture is clear we can vex, grieve, and quench the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 63:10; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). We are first introduced to the presence and work of the Spirit in Genesis 1:2, “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” According to Strong’s Concordance, “move” in this text means to brood over, to flutter, and to shake.
The Spirit broods over God’s people, flutters at opportunities to move upon, in, and through them, and shakes when He does move to quicken, empower, and enable God’s people to carry out their commission, callings, and gifts. The truth is our souls, without the presence of the Spirit, are void and dark like the earth in Genesis 1:2, until God moves by His Spirit. “By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens” (Job 26:13a). The Holy Spirit’s work is to recreate or transform our souls so that we will reflect Jesus.
I mentioned the Holy Spirit’s character and work because by understanding His purpose, we can also understand how His work can be thwarted. He is all about change by transforming the environment to ensure worship and communion with the Lord. The Bible is clear that the Holy Spirit must have the freedom to move in the spiritual environment of our lives (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). The more we seek to truly hear what the Spirit is saying the more we will know what it means to walk after the Spirit in the ways of righteousness, be led by Him into a more intimate relationship with the Lord, and walk in Him to ensure victory in our lives (Romans 8:1; 14; Galatians 5:16). However, there are four enemies of the Spirit that will change the inward environment of our soul and cause Him to pull back because He is being quenched, withdraw because He is being vexed, and become restricted from moving because He is grieved. These enemies are the world that corrupts, a wrong spirit that perverts, sin that defiles, and the flesh that wars against Him (2 Peter 1:3-4; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Galatians 5:17)
Spirit is about coming into agreement with something that will ultimately influence your attitude, motive, and intent. For example, agreement with the world will dull our spiritual ears; agreement with a wrong spirit will produce bad fruits; giving way to sin will cause us to resist the Spirit; and the flesh will keep us from surrendering to the Spirit. The problem is that few test the spirit in operation to discern if the environment of their soul is correct (1 John 4:1). Many assume that if they are not in some major sin, they are alright, but the Lord warns us against such assumptions that will often turn into dangerous self-willed presumptions that refuse to be humbled in order to submit to what is right (2 Peter 2:10). It is for this reason that Jesus warns us to beware of how we hear a matter, always test the fruit of it, and to judge (examine) ourselves first before we incorrectly judge others (Matthew 7:16, 20; Luke 8:18).
As you can see, if any of these enemies are present, the voice and leading of the Spirit will be missing. As stated, there are many who assume that all is well, but such individuals may not be checking out their attitudes, the fruits being produced by their actions, or the type of testimony it is leaving behind. The problem is we can become accustomed to the fact that the voice or the presence of the Spirit is missing because as long we have a “few drops” of religion here, and a few encounters of “hype” there, we are “good for the week,” while sadly many of the sheep in the churches are wondering, “Where is the revival?”