“Your own ears will hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way.’”
1, 2. How does Jehovah communicate with his servants?
JEHOVAH has guided his people throughout history. In the past, he used angels, visions, and dreams to reveal the future or to give specific assignments. (Numbers 7:89; Ezekiel 1:1; Daniel 2:19) Sometimes God selected humans to represent him and convey his direction. No matter how Jehovah’s people received his word, those who followed his instructions were blessed.
2 Today, Jehovah uses the Bible, his holy spirit, and the congregation to guide us. (Acts 9:31; 15:28; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17) His guidance is so clear that it is as if we hear him saying to us: “This is the way. Walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21) Jehovah also uses Jesus to convey His voice to us. He appointed Jesus to lead the congregation by means of “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45) We need to take this guidance and direction seriously because our everlasting life depends on our doing so.
3. What could prevent us from obeying Jehovah fully? (See opening picture.)
3 Satan knows that Jehovah’s direction will save our life, so he tries to distract us from listening to it. Also, our own imperfect heart may not want to obey Jehovah fully. (Jeremiah 17:9) In this article we will see how we can overcome these obstacles to hearing God’s voice. We will also see how listening to Jehovah and talking to him in prayer can help us stay close to him no matter what happens.
AVOID BEING TRICKED BY SATAN
4. How does Satan try to influence the way people think?
4 Satan tries to influence the way people think by using false information and propaganda. (Read 1 John 5:19.) Newspapers, books, magazines, radio, TV, and the Internet spread information over the whole earth. These sources offer some useful information, but they often promote conduct that goes against Jehovah’s standards. (Jeremiah 2:13) For example, they may say that there is nothing wrong with same-sex marriage. This leads many people to feel that what the Bible says about homosexuality is too strict.
5. How can we avoid being influenced by Satan’s propaganda?
5 How can people who love Jehovah’s standards avoid being influenced by Satan’s propaganda? How can they know what is good and what is bad? The Bible answers: “By keeping on guard according to [God’s] word.” (Psalm 119:9) God’s written Word helps us to see what is true and what is a lie. (Proverbs 23:23) Jesus said that we need “every word that comes from Jehovah’s mouth.” (Matthew 4:4) In the Bible, Jehovah gives us principles that we need to learn to apply. For example, long before there was a written law against adultery, Joseph knew that having sexual relations with Potiphar’s wife would be a sin against God. He never even considered disobeying Jehovah. (Read Genesis 39:7-9.) Even though Potiphar’s wife pressured him for a long time, Joseph chose to listen to Jehovah’s voice, not to hers. Today, we too must listen to Jehovah’s voice, not to the constant noise of Satan’s propaganda.
6, 7. What must we do in order to avoid Satan’s wicked advice?
6 The world is filled with confusing religious ideas, and many people feel that it is impossible to find the true religion. But if we are willing to listen to Jehovah, he makes the truth easy to find. We have to decide to whom we will listen. It is almost impossible to listen to two voices at the same time. Just as sheep know their shepherd’s voice, we need to know the voice of Jesus, the one whom Jehovah has chosen to shepherd us.
7 Jesus said: “Pay attention to what you are hearing.” (Mark 4:24) Jehovah’s direction is clear and right, but we need to have the proper attitude so that we can accept what he says. If we are not careful, we might listen to Satan’s wicked advice instead of God’s loving direction. Never allow worldly music, videos, TV shows, books, associates, educators, or so-called experts to control your life.
If we are not careful, we might be listening to Satan’s wicked advice instead of God’s loving direction
8. (a) How can our own heart make it easy for Satan to influence us? (b) What can happen to us if we ignore warning signs?
8 Satan knows that we are sinful humans. When he tries to make us give in to our weaknesses, it can be very difficult for us to remain loyal to Jehovah. (John 8:44-47) For example, we may have stopped praying, slowed down in our ministry, or started missing meetings. These are all warning signs of what is happening in our heart, and it would be dangerous to ignore them. If we are not alert, we might stop hearing Jehovah’s voice little by little. Eventually, we may give in to our desires and do something wrong that we never thought we would do. (Romans 7:15) But we can avoid making this tragic mistake if we stay alert to the warning signs and act immediately to correct matters. If we listen carefully to Jehovah’s voice, we will never listen to any apostate ideas.
9. Why is it very important to become aware of our sinful tendencies as early as possible?
9 When a person is seriously sick, there is a better chance of a cure if he finds out about his sickness early. Similarly, if we notice that we have a sinful tendency, we must act immediately, before we are “caught alive by [Satan] to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:26) What should we do if we realize that we have allowed our thoughts and desires to become different from what Jehovah requires of us? We must immediately return to him, seek his guidance, and follow it. (Isaiah 44:22) The reality, though, is that the results of some mistakes may cause deep pain even after a person returns to Jehovah. It would be so much better never to leave Jehovah in the first place.
REJECT PRIDE AND GREED
10, 11. (a) What are some signs of pride? (b) What lesson do we learn from the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram?
10 We must recognize that our heart can lead us away from Jehovah. For example, we could become proud or greedy. These qualities can cause us to make serious mistakes. A proud person may think that he is special and that he can do whatever he wants. He may feel that no one can tell him what to do, including his fellow Christians, the elders, or even the organization. He may get so far away from Jehovah that he can barely hear His voice.
11 Jehovah appointed Moses and Aaron to lead Israel through the desert. But Korah, Dathan, and Abiram rebelled because they were proud and wanted to worship Jehovah in their own way. How did Jehovah respond? He killed the rebels. (Numbers 26:8-10) We learn an important lesson from this example. Rebellion against Jehovah leads to disaster. The Bible says that “pride is before a crash.”
12, 13. (a) Give an example to show how greed can lead to disaster. (b) Explain how greed can quickly grow if we allow it to.
12 Greed is also dangerous. A greedy person often feels that Jehovah’s direction does not apply to him. He may think he can take things that are not his. Naaman, a Syrian army chief, had leprosy, and God’s prophet Elisha healed him. Naaman was so grateful that he offered Elisha gifts of money and clothing, which he refused. But Elisha had a servant named Gehazi who wanted those gifts for himself. Gehazi became greedy. Without telling Elisha, he ran after Naaman and told him lies so that Naaman would give the gifts to him. What happened to greedy Gehazi? He was struck with leprosy!
Greed can quickly grow from a small desire to something that can ruin our life
13 If we allow it to, greed can quickly grow from a small desire to something that can ruin our life. This is clear in the Bible account of Achan. He said: “When I saw among the spoil a good-looking official garment from Shinar and 200 shekels of silver and one gold bar weighing 50 shekels, I desired them, so I took them.” Achan should have rejected his wrong desire. But instead he stole the goods and hid them in his tent. Jehovah made Achan’s sin known to everyone, and that same day the thief and his family were stoned to death. (Joshua 7:11, 21, 24, 25) Any one of us could become greedy like Achan. That is why we must “guard against every sort of greed.” (Luke 12:15) Immorality is also a type of greed. Even though we may occasionally have a bad thought, it is vital that we control our mind so that wrong desires do not cause us to sin.
14. What should we do if we are tempted to do something wrong because of pride or greed?
14 Yes, both pride and greed can lead to disaster. Thinking about the effects of doing something wrong will help us to keep hearing Jehovah’s voice. (Deuteronomy 32:29) In the Bible, Jehovah tells us about both the benefits of doing the right thing and the effects of doing the wrong thing. If we are tempted to do something wrong because of pride or greed, it would be wise to think about how it would affect us, our loved ones, and our relationship with Jehovah.
MAINTAIN CLOSE COMMUNICATION WITH JEHOVAH
15. What can we learn from the example of Jesus?
15 Jehovah wants us to have the best life possible. (Psalm 1:1-3) He gives us the right direction at the right time. (Read Hebrews 4:16.) Although Jesus was perfect, he depended on regular communication with Jehovah. Jesus prayed constantly. Jehovah supported and directed Jesus in wonderful ways. He sent angels to care for him, gave him holy spirit, and guided him to choose the 12 apostles. Jehovah even spoke from heaven to show that he supported and approved of Jesus. (Matthew 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:12, 13; Luke 6:12, 13; John 12:28) Like Jesus, we too need to pray constantly and from our heart. (Psalm 62:7, 8; Hebrews 5:7) Prayer helps us to remain close to Jehovah and to live in a way that honors him.
Although Jesus was perfect, he prayed constantly
16. How does Jehovah help us to hear his voice?
16 Jehovah does not force us to follow his advice, but he makes it easy to find if we want it. We need to ask for his holy spirit to guide us, and he will give it to us generously. (Read Luke 11:10-13.) The Bible says: “Pay attention to how you listen.” (Luke 8:18) For example, if we ask Jehovah to help us avoid immorality but we continue to look at pornography or watch immoral movies, we are showing that we do not really want his help. To get his help, we need to be in places or situations where Jehovah’s spirit is, such as at our congregation meetings. Many servants of Jehovah have avoided disaster by listening to Jehovah during our meetings. When they realized that they were developing a wrong desire, they corrected the problem.
CONTINUE LISTENING CAREFULLY TO JEHOVAH’S VOICE
17. Why is it dangerous to rely on ourselves?
17 We learn an important lesson from King David of Israel. As long as he relied on Jehovah, David was able to do mighty things. When he was young, he killed the giant Goliath. David later became a soldier, and then a king. His job was to protect and make good decisions for the nation of Israel. But when he began to rely on himself, he was tricked by his own heart. He sinned with Bath-sheba and even murdered her husband. However, when Jehovah corrected him, David humbly listened, admitted his mistakes, and became Jehovah’s friend again.
18. What can help us to keep listening to Jehovah’s voice?
18 At 1 Corinthians 10:12, we learn that we must not trust in ourselves. The Bible clearly says that we cannot successfully guide ourselves, so we will be guided either by the voice of Jehovah or by the voice of Satan. (Jeremiah 10:23) It is vital that we pray constantly and follow the direction of the holy spirit. Yes, may we always listen carefully to Jehovah’s voice.