"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes." (Rom. 1:16)
"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
"Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:" (Ephesians 4:13)
The enemy has had many devices that have been used to discourage and distract us from this "high calling" in Him "unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ". His purpose is to keep us from hearing the voice of the Lord speaking to us in our spirits. If we cannot hear him, how are we to follow Him? He will even use the scriptures to take the place of following Christ who IS the Spirit of Truth. Knowledge of the scriptures alone is unable to lead us; we need to be able to hear CHRIST who IS the Word, only He is able to lead us into a "perfect man".
The Pharisees could not accept who Jesus was even though they had memorized and knew the scriptures because they could not hear the voice of the Father in their spirits speaking to them of His Son. Read what Jesus said to them:
"And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." (John 5:37-40)
The scriptures are meant to point us to CHRIST to be led of HIM. Scriptures are a witness of Christ just as WE should be a witness of Christ, but WE are NOT the Christ and neither are the scriptures. Apart from Christ neither we, nor the scriptures can pierce the hearts of men nor can we or the scriptures discern the thoughts and intents of the heart, ONLY CHRIST the Living Word can do this. We and the scriptures are a dead word without Christ.
Christ has to be HEARD in the hearts of men. He wants a relationship with His people that will hear his voice, recognize it and follow Him; this is how he will lead His own to become the Sons of God that He desires them to be. This has been His plan since before the foundation of the world.
You can understand why Satan would not want us to hear the voice of the Lord. If he can keep the people using their own understanding of scriptures, following men, their doctrines and traditions, he has defeated them and they are no threat to his kingdom of darkness. But any that would be more spiritual and have a desire to hear from the Lord and to be led by him, Satan has to defeat them in other ways. There are so many different devices at his disposal, the desire for the things of this world, the approval of men are just a couple, but all of these can be traced back to our flesh and the lack of the cross in our lives.
If we are to hear a clear word from the Lord we must die out to our own wants and desires. Just as Jesus prayed in the garden let us pray, "Not my will, but thy will be done", and pick up our cross and follow Him. We are warned in scripture that if we keep any hidden desire in our hearts apart from Christ's will, we risk His answering us according to these "idols of our hearts" and He will allow us to believe a lie while the whole time thinking we have heard from the Lord. (See Ezekiel 14:4 2 and Thessalonians 2:10-11)
We should always be praying as David did. - "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if [there be any] wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24) If we earnestly pray this kind of prayer to our Lord, let us TRUST that He has heard us. Let us BELIEVE if we "asked for bread, He would not give us a stone" (Mat7:9-11) and "He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him" (Hbr 11:6)
After all this, the biggest hindrance we face is TRUSTING that we will be able to hear from the Lord. Satan comes at every opportunity to discourage us, reminding us how wretched we are, how undeserving we are, making us feel that we are not able to hear from God. This has caused many to fall back to relying only on other people to teach them, with carnal understanding the scriptures and so forth. But thanks be to God that he judges the intents of our hearts and He is long suffering, bearing with us. He gently guides us in these things until we are able to come to the faith in Him that He desires for us.
We have to remember that this is HIS plan and not ours. Can we believe that since this is His plan that He is also able to perform it? He said His sheep will hear his voice and they will not follow another. Thank God it does not depend on us; we do not have this ability in ourselves. But, He will cause us to hear His voice if we will deny ourselves and seek Him with our whole heart, for indeed He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. And if we miss this mark from time to time, this is part of our learning process. Get back up and go to Him again with our whole heart trusting in Him and He will soon be there leading us again.
Let us encourage one another in this. We have an enemy that is constantly putting us down discouraging us, (remember he is called the accuser of the brethren) let us not agree with the enemy and end up fighting against the Lord. It will steal our faith to believe the Lord is able to perform this perfect work in us he spoke of in Ephesians 4:13. In doubting we can only see our own inabilities in reaching such high places in the Lord, never realizing it is not our responsibility to "achieve it" as it can only come by hearing and following the Lord in faith. In reality, we are judging God in His ability to work out His plan in those that will submit to His will. But, "With men, these things are impossible, but with God all things are possible". If we trust Him, it is HIS responsibility to "get us there". Remember, it is HIS plan!
Yes, it is a process, as we learn to depend on the Him, He will teach us through many trials and tribulations. He uses these to burn out our old nature and replace it with His life and His nature. He is loving and he comforts us through these trying times and gently leads us along. Let us trust Him that He is able to do it, giving Him everything, for He is trustworthy! And then STAND AND SEE THE SALVATION OF THE LORD.