Noise affects human behavior. In one experiment carried out by psychologists, a student leaving a library intentionally dropped an armload of books. In 50% of the cases, a passerby stopped to help the student pick up the books. Then the experimenters brought out a lawn mower without a muffler and started it near where a student would again intentionally drop the books. This time, only about 10% of the people who passed stopped to help. It was clear that behavior changed because of the earsplitting sound of the nearby lawn mower. In experiments in Los Angeles, researchers found that children who lived in neighborhoods near the airport could not complete certain tasks undertaken when jets were landing and taking off as easily as children who lived in quiet neighborhoods. Some studies of prison conditions have shown that the high level of noise causes more complaints by prisoners than the food or other prison conditions do. (http://classic.net.bible.org/illustration.php?id=6648)
There’s a whole lot of noise in our lives right now, isn’t there? Does anyone wish they could just run away and sit at the beach until 2020 is over? I know I’ve had that thought a time or two. Life is loud. I need less noise in my life for sure. I’m to the place where if even the music in a restaurant is too loud, I would rather get it to go. Some restaurants are like a buffet of noise with multiple TV’s going on all different channels.
The news media is loud. Network media anchors talk loudly. Social media is loud. You can almost picture the facial expressions and tone of people as they argue back and forth through their written exchanges. The Corona Virus is loud. We have heard about it day after day after day for almost nine months. It has dominated our daily conversations and the volume is loud because opinions are so strong about it.
Have you ever seen someone try to talk with someone else who doesn’t speak English and heard the English speaker just talking louder in hopes that added volume will all of the sudden make the Spanish speaker understand? It doesn’t work, does it? Louder doesn’t make it understandable. It just makes it louder.
Am I alone in my conclusions? Does anyone else find the noise to be overwhelming a lot of the time? Have you said this year, “The noise in my life is so loud, I can’t even hear myself think?” What kind of noise are you personally dealing with and how can you learn to control the volume in your life? Better yet, how can you turn it off completely? I’ve identified some sources of noise that we need to learn to silence in order to hear God’s voice and to know God’s heart. They are the sounds that come from Satan and the world. Let’s talk first about why we need to silence the enemy.
Silencing the Enemy
Satan is not a mythical creature or some human-concocted ideology. He is a real adversary. He is roaming the earth. He is a predator. (I Peter 5:8) He is looking for souls to incarcerate for life and for eternity. He is a real and present danger. He is actively seeking to discredit and disqualify you. In Revelation 12:11 he is called our accuser. He acts like a prosecuting attorney who is just filing charge after charge against us. He is working overtime to convince us that we are damaged goods, that we are on borrowed time, that God isn’t pleased with us, that we are a failure, that we are ugly or unlovable or will never succeed. He uses threats and intimidation, isolation and fear to keep us from living well.
Satan’s noise is relentless, and it often isolates us from the Body of Christ at times, disconnecting us from people who could be lifelines to us. It isolates us from Christian service when we allow him to convince us that we are unusable by God because of mistakes we have made. Listen, if you are dwelling on past sins that have already been confessed and forgiven by God, and you can’t get free of thoughts of unworthiness, that is Satan at work to disrupt and destroy you. Your sin and mistakes will not keep you from living, but destructive thoughts will. You need to exercise strategies to shut Satan up.
If there is unconfessed sin in your life, like if Satan does have something over on you, the fix is quite simple; Just confess those things to the Lord. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins to God, He will forgive us,” and when we are forgiven, we strip Satan of any opportunity to use what we have done against us. When God forgives us, we go free as if we hadn’t ever done whatever it was in the first place. And if you are dealing with something you can’t get free from, if you are continuing to be tripped up by something, confess it to a trusted Christian friend as well, so that they can cover you in prayer and give you some accountability. Once you know Satan has no spiritual legal right to harass you, you can exercise some additional strategies to shut him up.
If you have submitted yourself to God through the confession of your sin, then James 4:7 says you can resist the devil and he will flee from you. How do we go about doing that? Revelation 12:10-11 tell us that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of our Testimony.
The blood of the Lamb refers to the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God whose blood was shed for us on the cross of Calvary. The cross represented death to those who saw Jesus’ sacrifice, but to us who have received Christ as Savior, it has become a symbol of life and victory. Satan cannot stand to be reminded of the blood because he cannot deal with the reality that on the cross, through the shed blood of Jesus, he was defeated and his eternal fate was sealed.
When Satan tries to accuse you of something you have already surrendered to Christ tell him you have been acquitted by the blood. Tell him you have been washed in the blood. Tell him you have been cleansed by the blood. Tell him you have been given right-standing with God through the blood. Tell him you have been made righteous through the blood. Tell him that you have been guaranteed eternal life and abundant life in and through the blood of Jesus. Tell him that he can never undo what Jesus has done in your life because what Jesus accomplished on the cross through His blood was a one-time sacrifice good for every believer in every failure we may experience.
My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin, not in part but the whole is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul. So, plead the blood of Jesus over your mind and your confidence and your challenges and your future and your health and your relationships to shut Satan up! Jesus’ work was finished on the cross, but His blood is still working to cover you every day. The blood of Jesus doesn’t have an expiration date! Hallelujah! The blood will never lose its power!
The second way we silence Satan is through our testimonies. We overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. We tell him about the transformation in our lives. We remind him of how Jesus has saved us, and of the ways God is at work in our lives to remind us that we are children of God. Have you ever thought about how Jesus, Himself, testified to God’s work in His life? When He rose from the dead, He didn’t appear in a body that was devoid of the nail marks and the scars that represented a spear that pierced His side. No. When He was resurrected from the dead, when He was given new life through the Father, He still had scars to tell the story of all He had been through.
I’m glad He kept the scars, Church because those scars told the Gospel story. He WAS pierced for our transgressions. He WAS bruised for our iniquities. Listen, when we come to Jesus, our past isn’t erased, but it becomes evidence of the grace of God on our lives! Let your scars tell the story of God’s grace in your life! Let them point the the victory God has won for you. That’s a story Satan can’t stand to hear. It is a mini-series he won’t stick around to watch. Do you realize that a scar is just a wound that was healed? Give testimony to God’s healing touch in your life.
I love the contemporary song that says
“So I’m thankful for the scars
‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart
And I know they’ll always tell of who You are
So forever I am thankful for the scars.”
Satan is busily at work to create noise in your mind because he doesn’t want you to be a walking testimony for Jesus. You can’t erase your past, but you can control how it will be used. You do not need to allow it to be used against you, but you can use it FOR Jesus. When you make that decision, you take all power away from Satan to use it against you.
Silencing the World
We sleep with three fans and two white noise devices on. Now, we like to have fans blowing on us, but the whirring sound is certainly a plus. The white noise devices are there to drowned out any other unwanted noises. Perhaps I use them to help me tune out the noise of the day because it seems worldly noises keep speaking and ringing in my mind long after I have removed myself from the source.
We have allowed a lot of noise pollution into our lives through the world around us, both the physical and virtual worlds. Have you noticed how noisy life in general is? When commercials come on television and the volume suddenly increases, that is on purpose, isn’t it? Someone wants your attention. That someone’s attempt to get your attention is done through increased volume that often causes aggravation.
Have you noticed how loud many restaurants have become? It can be quite a challenge to hear the conversation at your table due to the bumping bass on the stereo. Have you ever said to yourself, “Why can’t I just eat in peace?”
I have never been a fan of airports because of the looping recordings that remind you not to leave you bags unattended or that constantly inform you of what level the threat of terrorism is at that moment. Currently, I can’t even shop in a grocery store without hearing that all shoppers must wear a face-covering and maintain social distance and it plays on repeat. I hear it in the bread aisle, the canned goods aisle, the breakfast aisle, the snack aisle, and so on. I has become my incentive to do the grocery shopping as fast as possible just so I can get out of the store and not have to listen to that recording on loop.
It’s almost as if our lives are now lived with a background tape of noise. You can’t even pump gas most places without hearing noise that begins with, “Did you know that…” and is followed by an ask for you to purchase something. The noise doesn’t just seem to be informative, but at times it feels compelling and controlling. Noise is underscoring almost every part of our lives.
Our watches and cars talk to us, there are constant rings, dings, whistles and reminders that we have somewhere to be or that we have a deadline to meet. The world is processing life in a noisy way. There is anger and frustration that is being revealed through insults, arguing in rioting. Noise, noise, noise. The clamor is almost deafening at times. It seems that people have adopted the axiom, “He who has the loudest voice, wins.” The world is constantly shouting at us, telling us how to process our feelings, how to educate our kids, how to vote, what to wear, watch to watch, what to eat, what to buy, and how to spend our time.
We are told in Romans 12 not to allow ourselves to be squeezed into a mold or a certain way of thinking or behaving by the world. How do we know when and if we are being negatively impacted by the world’s noise? I suppose if we are angry after scrolling Facebook, if we keep returning to people’s page with whom we are angry to see if anyone has set them straight yet or to see if we can add any fuel to the fire, we might be being squeezed by the world’s noise. If our anxiety increases after we check our Instagram or Twitter, if we can’t get someone’s post out of our mind and are losing sleep night after night because of the chaos in the world, we might be putting ourselves unnecessarily in a situation where we are being man-handled and manipulated by the noise of the world. We might need to get off of social media or unfollow some people or at the minimum, take a break. If the rhetoric of the pundits is disrupting our peace and overruling our minds and what we have always known to be true, we need to consider shutting off the TV, deleting the app, and stepping away from the constant strain of news. If we can’t even be satisfied with just one screen at a time but have to have multiple devices going, multiple sources of noise bombarding our hearts and minds all at once, could it be that we have become addicted to the noise? We might pride ourselves on our ability to multi-task when in reality we are just slaves to the taskmaster called noise.
Obviously, we know we can’t just hibernate from the world in its entirety, so how can we be in the world, but not of it? How do we distinguish between our need to know what is going on and what might be distressing us unnecessarily? Do we need to ask our family and friends if we are communicating and responding from a place of peace and soundness of mind, or are we more cranky and argumentative because of loud, worldly noise?
Is your phone always on? Is the news the first thing you turn to in the morning and the last thing we listen to before we go to bed? Are you constantly checking your messages and posts to see who has said what? Are you regularly checking our news app to see if anything interesting or distressing has happened since the last time you checked it thirty minutes ago? Are you inviting the noise of the world into our lives in ways that aren’t helpful and that cause you to view and process things in an unholy way? If so, it is time to intentionally step away from the world’s noise.
Noise, whether from Satan or the world, will steal your joy and peace, but stillness, in the presence of the Lord, will keep you from feelings of insecurity and instability when life is chaotic around you and when it might look that evil somehow has the upper hand on God.
Psalm 37:7 says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.”
Stillness will give you the spiritual fortitude to wait for God’s will and timing to be revealed in every situation.
Why is it critical that we get a handle on the noise in our life? It’s important to control unwanted noise so that we can hear God’s voice and so that we aren’t shaped by and don’t follow the way that the unwanted noise would suggest.
In John 10:27, Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow Me,” but how can we listen to His voice if we cannot even hear Him? In Psalm 46:10, God invites us to be still and know that He is God. In Psalm 23:2 the Psalmist says, “He leads me beside quiet waters.” Is that happening in your life? Are you ever letting God lead you into a quiet place? Psalm 4:4 says, “Search your hearts and be silent.”
The noise in our country right now is at an all-time high volume. If you are questioning if God is in control or if He cares or if He is at work, perhaps you have been listening to the noise of Satan or the noise of the world. I want to ask you, “How much time in the last month have you spent in stillness before God? How many times have you intentionally unplugged and gone to a quiet place with the Lord this week? Have you invited unnecessary noise into your life and also neglected the silence to which God is calling you? There are some things we don’t have any control over, but there is a lot of noise we could shut off and shut out if we wanted to.
If strength comes to those who wait on the Lord, Isaiah 40:31, if perfect peace comes to him whose mind is stayed on Jesus, Isaiah 26:3, shouldn’t we be availing ourselves to the strength and peace that quiet submission to the Lord will produce in our lives? Listen, if we can make time to be busy, can’t we also make time to be still? If we can entertain the noise, can we not also choose to entertain the stillness?
Ecclesiastes 3:7 says there is a time to be silent. We schedule everything else. Can we schedule some time to listen for the whisper of God? If God wanted to speak to us in a whisper like He did with Elijah, with the noise in our lives at its current level, would we be able to hear Him? Do we need to turn down the volume? Are there some friends who have gotten in our ear about the way we should live or the things that we should do? Where is the noise in your life coming from? Is it trashy TV shows that are wreaking havoc on your homelife because the constant drama in the shows is now bleeding over into the way you communicate with your spouse?
There were times Jesus had to withdraw from the noise. He even had to withdraw from the needs of the people around Him sometimes in order to spend quiet time seeking help, guidance, and strength from His Heavenly Father. If quietness is the way Jesus was renewed, we would do well to consider our need for the same. When I was a teenager, I remember my youth leader talking to our group about having a daily quiet time with the Lord. He said it wasn’t something we would feel naturally inclined to do, but it was something we needed to do in order to ground ourselves in the Lord, in faith, and in spiritual truth. It was unlike anything else we would do during the day. It would be a dedicated time, perhaps just a few minutes, but time with just God and us. No outside noise. No outside distractions. There, we would learn how to hear God’s voice.
I believe our ability to be faithful to God is contingent on our ability to hear Him speak. I say that because we cannot obey God when we cannot hear Him speak. Perhaps even during this service, it has been hard for you to turn off the noise in your life. Maybe you have felt compelled to check your messages, to scroll your social media, to snap or text a friend or to get into your email through your phone. Why is it that we have to stay so connected to the noise? I suppose we could be afraid we might miss something, but what if, because of the noise, we are missing the most important thing? The whisper of God, the peace that comes through stillness, the courage and confidence that come in and through being in the presence of God as you read His Word. What if you miss the Divine appointment or next step that God is planning for you because it is more important for you to engage in the noise of the world than in stillness with God?
Which noise might it be for you? What do you need to silence this morning? Do you need to silence Satan or do you need to silence the world or both? Can you schedule time to silence the sounds in order to hear the voice of God? Church, what you live for will be determined by what you listen to. I believe God is calling us to silence the noise in our lives so that we can clearly listen to and live for Him.