According to Genesis 6:5-8, the ancient world was so filled with wickedness and evil that God was grieved and sorry He had made mankind. Therefore, He decided to blot out every living creature on earth. But in the midst of all the corruption, Noah “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” and was rescued from the destruction of the flood (v. 8). Our world today is also filled with sin and corruption, and as Christians, we are called to walk as Noah did—in the favor of God.
The favor of God is expressed by His approval, acceptance, support, provision, power, and joy. This is what He showed to Noah and to Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:28), and it’s also what He has manifested to everyone who has been saved by Jesus Christ.
But to receive His favor, we must learn to listen to God. This is a basic lesson for anyone who wants to live a godly life. The Lord doesn’t save us and leave us to do the best we can, but desires to communicate with us if we’ll listen.
Listening to God demands our time and attention. The Holy Spirit who directed and led the apostles is the same one who indwells and guides us. We have been tremendously blessed, yet we often think we’re too busy to listen to Him. Our minds are so crowded with other concerns that we can’t hear Him, but there is nothing more important than heeding His voice and operating under His control.
To listen to the Lord, we must learn to identify His voice.
- God’s voice will be consistent with the scriptures. The Holy Spirit will never say anything in violation of God’s Word. The Bible is always our standard of measure.
- God’s voice may be in conflict with human reason. Because the Lord is infinitely wise and omniscient, His ways are higher than ours and may not seem logical to us.
- God’s voice will clash with fleshly desires. The desires of the Spirit are in opposition to those of the flesh (Gal. 5:17). Therefore, the inner conflict we feel when we’re tempted is the Spirit leading us in the opposite direction.
- God’s voice will challenge us. Sometimes the Spirit leads us to do something we feel incapable of doing.
- God’s voice calls for courage. Obedience is not always easy, but God’s commands are always accompanied with His power and strength.
- God’s voice will speak quietly. He doesn’t shout but speaks softly through our conscience and into our minds, whispering, “This is the way, walk in it” (Isa. 30:21).
- God’s voice will speak clearly. He wants us to know what He is saying, and has been speaking to us since the day of our salvation. First, His voice clearly convicted us of sin and moved us to repentance and salvation. Now He continues to communicate with us to bring us to obedience and surrender in our daily lives.
- God’s voice will speak personally. He loves and cares for us individually and guides us in every situation or concern.
- God is always speaking, but we must listen. We won’t hear His voice if we fill our lives with other things.
Although we may become hard of hearing, we can never silence the Lord. However, the Spirit of God may withdraw to some degree, and as His children, we’ll then find ourselves under His discipline. Our only response needs to be that we return to Him and open our hearts—and our ears—to His voice.
This article was originally published on September 18, 2018, and is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message, “Walking in the Favor of God—Part 1, which aired this weekend on TV.”