How Not to Make Decisions

We live in a feelings based culture and I find often times my counselee's live there too. When it comes to making decisions many are looking for a “feeling” that they assume comes from God. Frankly, it is discouraging to hear this kind of talk from Bible believing Christians: “I feel that God wants me to go to …..”

It sounds so spiritual and noble and it’s based on a feeling that amounts to the person saying “God told me” to do this or that or not do this or that.”  The “feeling” is elevated to the status of a specific command to do this or that, thus adding to the Scripture.

There is a huge emphasis on subjectivity and there is little to no accountability when a person “feels” God is telling them to do this or that. After all, who are you or I to argue with what God told someone? 

Most Christian are sincere about wanting to be in God’s will, we hear this prayed for all the time. The truth is, God’s will is never revealed in some spooky feeling. 

We are an “emotional” culture.  If it “feels right” then it must be right. So, if I want to buy a new house and I want to be in God’s will, what I would look for is a “sense of peace” in my heart. If I do not have this sense of peace then perhaps I’m not in God’s will. And that’s what they equate with using the Bible for their decision making.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:15 

Many Christians think they are using the Bible in their decision making because they remember something about this passage but there are a couple of things wrong with claiming it and using it as I suggested above. 

Primarily, it is a misapplication of what this passage means. The interpretation and application of the passage hangs on what is meant by “the peace of God.” Nowhere in the context of this passage is it implied that this peace of God is related to making decisions.  Instead, the word “peace” is in reference to the call of God to salvation. Remember, that the unsaved person is at war with God-he is not neutral. In salvation, it is God who takes the initiative to make peace. Then this peace refers to the attitude of rest or security we have in God because we know now He has made peace with us (Romans 5:1). 

Yet, so many people continue to use the word “peace” as if God gives them a sense of it when making a decision. Honestly, you can have a sense of peace, going out and getting drunk, carousing and debauchery but God did not give that sense of peace-you gave it to yourself.  Sensing “peace” is a bad plan for decision making and not found in Scripture. 

Another method often used is hearing God speak through prayer. One member of a mission’s team who decided to go on a mission trip arrived at her decision this way: she said,” I prayed about it. And when I pray, I don’t talk to God, but I listen to him. And through prayer he told me to go.”  This person believes she has received special revelation either audibly or via “the small still voice” method.  Also, If God told her through prayer to go, then it’s a command for her to do so. 

Psalm 46:10 is often used to justify this perspective:  “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  

What it really says is found in the NASB: “Cease striving and know that I am God”  

So then, how do we know God is communicating through His Word? It is quite simple really! First, do not separate the Word of God from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of Scripture and does not trump it in extra or special revelation.  

Ephesians 5:18 says, And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit;  and Colossians 3:16 says, Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 

Both of these verses tell us to in essence be dominated by the Holy Spirit by having God’s Word dwell richly within. 

Second, pray for a greater understanding of Scripture (Psa. 25:4).  And third, pray for more wisdom in applying it (Jas. 1:5). Proverbs says; if you do nothing else in this life get wisdom and understanding. Both come when God’s Word is deeply implanted in the heart of a woman. Then, you will be strong in the Lord and you will not be susceptible to every wind of teaching and the foolish wisdom of this age.