Why are the distinctions I made in the previous post important?
I believe there are many Christians, especially young people, who are tremendously frustrated. They have been taught that somehow they are responsible for KNOWING God’s will, while the Bible stresses that we are to DO it.
Romans 12:2 says, “ … that you may prove what the will of God is,” and this is somehow understood to mean figuring out life choices when there is not enough data to make decisions.
The view I think many have is that we are like contestants on a TV game show.
The contestant stands before two large curtains and the host (God?) says, “Mrs. Jones, behind these curtains stand two possible choices. Behind one curtain is a check for 5 million dollars, the deed to a million dollar home, a brand new top of the line Mercedes and a cruise around the world. Behind the other curtain is a coupon for a Happy Meal at McDonalds. Mrs. Jones – you must choose which curtain to open!”
The clock is ticking! The music plays louder and louder! The camera homes in on Mrs. Jones’ face, where beads of perspiration are rolling down.
The two curtains look exactly alike. There are no criteria with which Mrs. Jones can make her decision. But the host again says, “Mrs. Jones, you must decide!”
Is that the way it is? Is God like some sadistic game show host who has set impossible decisions before us and yet holds us responsible for those decisions?
I’m afraid that’s the way He is perceived by many.
But that’s not the way it is!
I believe that much of the problem is due to confusion between different aspects of God’s will (see previous blog). While I believe that God has determined what the future is (His Decreed Will), He does not expect us to know it, unless He has revealed it in His Word. This is not required of us. As the song goes, “God only knows, God makes His plan; the information’s unavailable to the mortal man.”
While we are not obligated to know what the future is for us, we are obligated, not only to know, but to carry out His Will of Desire as expressed in Scripture.
I find that this is tremendously freeing. We don’t have to look for some flash of revelation or some “call.” We can make our decisions based on criteria already revealed to us in the Bible.
The first criterion for decision making is a life that is committed to God and is in the process of transformation through mental renewal (Romans 12:1, 2).
Another related criterion is that we seek wisdom from God, the ultimate source of wisdom, through:
-- prayer (James 1:5, 6)
-- His Word (Psalm 119:9-11)
-- other believers (Proverbs 12:15; 13:20; 15:7, 12; 19:20; 22:17)
There are also a number of questions we should ask:
-- Will God be glorified in this action? (1 Corinthians 10:31; Romans 14:6-8)
-- Does the Scripture speak directly to this? Would this act violate a clear commandment? Would it help to fulfill a clear commandment? Would it hinder me from carrying out a clear commandment?
-- Do I have freedom in this area? There are areas where God has, in a sense, left the decision to us (1 Corinthians 7:21, 28, 29).
-- Am I completely sure this is a right action? (Romans 14:14, 23)
-- Is it beneficial? (1 Corinthians 6:12; 10;23)
-- Do I have control over it or does it control me? (1 Corinthians 6:12)
-- Does it build up my brother (1 Corinthians 10:23; Romans 14:19), or does it hinder him? (Romans 14:13, 15, 20, 21)
-- Does it hinder or enhance my witness to unbelievers? (1 Corinthians 10:27-32)
The above criteria are not meant to be a set of legalistic rules, but guidelines for the Christian who is free. Often we don’t think through these questions but merely decide. I believe that if our life is truly committed to Christ, we will make correct decisions. One old saint (whose name I don’t recall) called them “sanctified preferences.” And if later it appears that we made a wrong decision, we need to remember that we can never step outside of the love of God in Christ and His purpose to conform us to His image.