When we come to the New Testament searching for how God would have us make decisions, what categories do we find? Rather than directions on how to discern the individual will of God we are given principles of decision making. Rather than pointing us to hunches, inner voices and promptings, we are pointed to scriptural guidelines that enable us to make wise choices to the glory of God. The New Testament paints a picture of a believer who knows and obeys Scripture, indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit, and who has been given a mind whereby he is able to think, reason, discern and choose. He is an individual who is quite capable (due to regeneration, the Scriptures and the renewing of his mind) of making wise decisions which please God. It is for these reasons that God does not call for Christians to make subjective choices based upon what they “feel” God might be telling them. Rather we are to be students of the Word, knowing how God wants us to reason and choose based upon principles He has given us. It would be far easier, and to some it would appear more spiritual, to have God tell us our every move. Why do Bible study to discern the most prudent pathway when we can just close the Book, shut our eyes and listen to God’s inner voice? Of course, if the New Testament informed us that this is how God leads us today, then we go with it. But you will search in vain for such teaching.
We usually think of God’s will as a place, but it is primarily about who we are as a person. If you will be what He wants you to be, then He will show you what He wants you to do. A plethora of problems, mistakes, errors, and false living could be avoided if we would just begin with Scripture. This is a simple principle that is far too often ignored. The habit of many, even some leaders, is to begin with an idea, philosophy, personal preference, pet peeve or observation, and then go back to Scripture to find a few verses to support their theory. If we do that, we might be able to convince ourselves of almost anything. But if all we do and believe emerges from the Word itself, we will be able to discern the value, or lack thereof, of all other ideas.
When you begin with Scripture, in the realm of decision making, you will be able to make your decisions on the basis of solid biblical precepts, commands and principles. The Bible will not tell you what house you are to buy, but it will frame that decision with financial, ministerial and family guidelines. It may not tell you to move to 334 South Grant Street, but it will present issues such as: Are your financial priorities biblical or are you thinking only of your comfort; how much can you truly afford; are you buying for prestige or in order to meet the needs of your family and better minister for the Lord; will this move be the best thing for your spouse, etc.? It is biblical concepts such as these that enable us to make decisions that honor Christ.
1. We must expect God to direct us. This is illustrated in the life of the apostle Paul. Note Acts 16:6-10 “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.”
God’s will for your life is not determined by whether the “door is open” or the way is easy. Paul’s journey to Macedonia resulted in his beating and imprisonment (Acts 16:23).
2. We must seek godly counsel. The Scriptures are replete with encouragement for us to seek the counsel of wise and godly people (Proverbs 12:15; 13:10; 15:22; 20:18). Additionally, Paul tells the believers that they should be involved in counseling one another (Romans 15:14). The counsel of wise, godly, and scripturally knowledgeable people is an important source for making wise decisions, but we must keep in mind that such counsel is not infallible. It is a piece but it does not solve the puzzle.
When we have yielded our lives to God in obedience, we can trust the Spirit to guide us. After examining the Scriptures and consulting godly counsel, we can move forward with confidence. Psalm 37:4 “Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” When are hearts are yielded to God’s Word, then the Lord is in control of our desires. God often works through our desires. What is it that we want to do? is a good question to ponder. In 1 Timothy 3:1 Paul writes that those who desire to be pastors desire a good thing. But carefully note, Paul did not tell Timothy to grab all who desire the office of pastor and install them. Rather, he lays out for Timothy the requirements that a pastor must meet (1 Timothy 3:2-7; see also Titus 1:5-9).
If you have yielded yourself to God and are listening to His voice, then go forward trusting God to guide you!