Saturday, October 19, 2013

Decision Making and the Will of God (Part 2)

(Read Part 1 here.)

What seems to be the determining factor for a lot of people is a feeling. It can be a feeling of being led or a feeling of peace. The problem with this is that feelings can originate in a lot of places. Feeling can originate in our flesh; they can originate because of some emotional state brought on by other circumstances. Feelings can originate through our physical state such as whether we are well or sick or have some kind of hormonal or other chemical imbalance at the time. Feelings generally cannot be trusted as to their source or meaning. Even so, people lean on their feelings as the primary source for direction as to what the will of God is for them.

Basically Friesen reminds us that the emphasis of Scripture is on God's moral will. He says that the teaching of Scripture may be summarized by these basic principles: (page 151-152)

1. In those areas specifically addressed by the Bible, the revealed commands of God (His moral will) are to be obeyed.

2. In those areas where the Bible gives no command or principle (nonmoral decisions), the believer is free and responsible to choose his own course of action. Any decision made within the moral will of God is acceptable to God.

3. In nonmoral decisions, the objective of the Christian is to make wise decisions on the basis of spiritual expediency.

4. In all decisions, the believer should humbly submit, in advance, to the outworking of God's sovereign will as it touches each decision.

In light of number 2, “some Christians experience feelings of guilt after making a decision that is not specifically addressed by Scripture. Why? They fear that they have missed God's individual will. Such guilt is not intended by God. If His moral will has not been violated, there has been no sin. If there has been no sin, there should be no guilt. It's as simple, and profound, as that.” (page 171)

The key is to develop the kind of wisdom which the Bible encourages. Such wisdom comes from the faithful study and meditation on the word of God. God calls us then to make decisions using Scriptural principles of wisdom and with freedom when no moral obligation is required in a particular decision.

Some people get hung up on the open doors philosophy; that being that open doors are indicators of God's will. I don't have space to go into it here, but even Paul skipped at least one open door and made a different choice without violating the will of God. Open doors are opportunities for the use of discernment and godly wisdom and they can be entered or not as you choose. There is a tremendous amount of freedom in understanding this. But if you've been taught to believe in the detailed will approach, it can leave you feeling vulnerable and almost like God is not personal any more because he isn't specifying each and every step you take. But that need not be the case. Our emphasis needs to be on developing a personal relationship with God where we focus more on who God is and who we are in relationship to him than on which car he wants us to buy. We need to be developing a deeper and stronger moral understanding of God as well as the kind of wisdom that he wants to have so that our decisions are based on that strong foundation.

To summarize then the point is that the Bible contains all of the guidance needed for decisions in life. Those decisions not spelled out in Scripture such as which college to go to should be made with wisdom using the principles the Bible contains. Since this is not a moral decision, there is no sin in “getting it wrong” because there is freedom to choose wisely. Those decisions that involve morality should be made in obedience to the Scripture. Finally we need to trust God as He works out His sovereign will in our lives.

Many of you will have questions over particular scriptures. What about this verse..., or what about when God said this to Peter, or what about Gideon? I strongly encourage you to get a copy of “Decision Making and the Will of God” and read it thoughtfully and carefully with your copy of the Bible right there. Sometimes it's hard to lay aside long-held beliefs, but we need to be willing to do so when we find out we've been wrong. Understanding that God has given us the freedom to make decisions within his moral boundaries is very freeing.

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