As I was preparing for a Bible study, I took notice of something I had NEVER noticed before! It’s something I had thought of but not blatantly seen and taken notice of in this Scripture. Loud and clear, as I read through Romans 3-4, Paul was shouting, “Whose voice are you listening to?”
Who are we listening to?
This is such an important question to honestly answer for several reasons:
- Who you listen to is who you follow.
- Who you follow determines major decisions in your life.
- Is the loudest voice in your ear, the Word of God or is it someone interpreting God’s Word?
So what does Romans 4 have to do with whose voice we are listening to? Isn’t chapter four all about how Abraham was justified by faith and we are too? Yes, that is one of the main points. Another point is revealed when we dig a little deeper and I love to dig! For twelve years I wanted to be a paleontologist. I would practice digging all over our yard, the school yard and the Arbuckle mountains. Little did I know God would use my passion for digging to dig into his Word! Oh, I love how He works in our lives, don’t you!?!
Anyway, so here we are in Romans 4, which is written to a group of believers in Rome and Paul is trying to help them understand the Scriptures better. Well, the Scriptures are what we call the Old Testament. So Paul is constantly quoting the Old Testament and trying to explain it in further detail.
A Technique to Parallel & Dig Deeper
One of the techniques often used in teaching was to quote a part of the Old Testament assuming the crowd new the rest of the passage or would look it up. In Romans 4:7-8, Paul directly quotes Psalm 32:1-2:
Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.
What an amazing proclamation! But what does the rest of the Psalm say? Let’s read it and see what else Paul may be referring to:
When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions
to the Lord” —
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you
while you may be found;
surely when the mighty waters rise,
they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go:
I will counsel you and watch over you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.
Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!
By Whom are We Controlled?
Isn’t it interesting that here we see a contrast between those who readily come to the Lord, confess their sins to Him, receive forgiveness and protection, and listen to Him versus those who lack understanding and will not come readily to the Lord?
The Lord will instruct us and teach us in the ways we should go and those who trust in him will be surrounded by His unfailing love!
Were the Romans controlled with understanding or were they being controlled by the words of others?
Are we allowing the words of others to control us?
If we are trusting that someone else will read and interpret the Bible for us instead of digging into God’s word ourselves, we are literally handing over our freedom and protection in Christ to someone other than God. I just got chills! I want my Savior, Jesus Christ, to be holding my freedom and no one else!
If we truly want God to guide us and we want to follow Him, then we need to read His words instead of only relying on someone else’s interpretations of His words. We should investigate the Scriptures ourselves. Be like the Bereans in Acts 17 and make sure what others are preaching or teaching lines us with Scripture. Reading the Bible and praying for understanding is so important. We can be led astray so easily when we don’t. The Lord promises in James 1 to give wisdom to anyone wisdom who lacks and asks for it. The Lord would be happy to answer this prayer.
But what about our preachers, highly respected teachers, or even our parents…can we not rely on them for guidance? I am not saying that we should not be challenged by others who have studied, but we have to have our own faith built on the word of God. No one else can do that for us but ourselves. If we become lazy and allow others to study for us, then we are essentially putting our trust in them and we are more vulnerable to attack.
Satan knows the Scriptures and he loves to twist them to pull us away from our Lord and Savior.
Satan tried to trick Jesus, when Jesus was in the desert after he was baptized. Satan twisted Scripture and presented it to Jesus as the truth. Jesus spoke the actual truth from Scripture right back to Satan. This is a powerful lesson for us. It shows us that if Satan was willing to twist the word to the one who spoke it, then he will surely twist and try to confuse the word in order to tempt us away from Christ too. We must also be able to fight the lies with the truth.
Let Jesus be the loudest voice in your ear.
God made is crystal clear who we should listen to, so there is no doubt about who we should be listening to. If we are putting anyone else’s words above Jesus’, them we can know we are not truly following Christ.
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”