I am often asked how a person can know the will of God. We live in a feelings based culture and I find often times my counselee’s live there too. When it comes to making decisions they are looking for a “feeling” that they assume comes from God.
I have been told, “I feel that God revealed to me I have to divorce my husband.”, “I feel that God wants me to go to …..”
That’s spooky. Frankly, I hear this kind of talk from Bible believing Christians all too often. It sounds so spiritual and noble however, 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. Believers are not led through subjective, mental impressions or promptings to provide direction in making life’s decisions—something Scripture nowhere teaches. So then, if I don’t follow my feelings, what do I follow?
John MacArthur says that God’s Spirit objectively leads His children sometimes through three primary means:
1) Orchestration of circumstances (Acts 16:7) can be one way, but He primarily primarily through
2) Illumination, divinely clarifying Scripture to make it understandable to our sinful, finite minds (Luke 24:44, 45; 1 Cor. 2:14–16; Eph. 1:17–19; cf. Eph. 3:16–19; Col. 1:9); and
3) Sanctification, divinely enabling us to obey Scripture (Gal. 5:16, 17; 5:25).
If you do not remember anything else remember this…God’s will is never revealed in some spooky feeling.
The “feeling” is elevated to the status of a specific command to do this or that, thus adding to the Scripture. As noted earlier, much of this is do the influx of the charismatic movement which is experience based, thus very subjective, rather than objective. With an emphasis on subjectivity there is little to no accountability if a person “feels” God is telling them to do this or that.
Most Christian are sincere about wanting to be in “God’s will.” We hear this prayed all the time. People think they are using the Bible in their decision making because they remember something about this passage:
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:15
You have heard me often say that we are an overly emotional culture. If it feels right then it must be right. All to often a verse like Colossians 3:15 is used as a diving rod for knowing God’s will in a specific thing.
For example, if I want to be in God’s will in buying a new house, I would look for a “sense of peace” in my heart about that house. If I do not have this sense of peace then perhaps I’m not in God’s will if I buy it and then all sorts of bad things will happen because I did not listen to God and am out of the center of His will for my life. If find this kind of rational is equated with biblical decision making.
There are certainly several things wrong with this approach. as it’s a complete misapplication of what this passage means. The interpretation and application of the passage hangs on what is meant by “the peace of God.” I personally think the “feeling based” church culture we live in, a culture, largely ignorant of theology or the principles of interpretation are responsible for the wide spread misuse of the verse. No where 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. Friends, 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 is not found in Scripture.
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