“God told me x.”
“The Spirit is leading me here.”
“I feel like God wants me to x.”
“I sense the Spirit’s move in x direction.”
We’ve all heard it a million times. These are the excuses- er, uh, I mean, *reasons for the decisions Christian’s make. Maybe this is how you explain the decisions you make in your life.
But let me ask you, please don’t get mad, and please be honest: how do you know? You say God is leading you to do x. Well, how do you know?
The all too common answer to this is simply because “I feel like God wants me to…” So you know, because you feel like it? How do you know your feelings are right? Can we really make our feelings the standard by which we judge what God wants us to do? Of course not. At least not if you’re a Christian concerned about living consistently within the biblical worldview. This is how we got “gay Christianity.” “I feel like God wouldn’t make me this way if He didn’t want me to be this way.” This is the doctrine of Sola Feely – your feelings alone are the standard by which truth is determined. This of course is not Christian.
Before you get more mad, I’m not lumping all Christians who “feel lead by the Spirit” in with “gay Christianity.” You just need to know where the logic leads to.
Back to the top. Tell me, how do you know again, that “the Spirit is leading you to do x?” You don’t have to answer. If we’re honest, could it be, that maybe we don’t know? On the one hand, I don’t blame the many Christians who operate this way. After all, they’ve just been discipled well by generations of pastors and preachers who taught and modeled it.
Again, I get it, many Christians who live this way would never affirm “Sola Feely.” They would affirm in so much words, that if what they think the Holy Spirit is telling them contradicts Scripture then it can’t be right. And that’s good. But even with such a belief, the question remains: “how do you know God wants you to do x?”
Okay, I’ll just say it: I don’t think Christians are to live that way. We aren’t the patriarchs or prophets of old. We aren’t the apostles or in the apostolic era of supernatural spiritual gifts. Even if we were, we are still misunderstanding the way they thought and lived.
In short, Scripture is the infallible, authoritative, and inspired guide for Christian living. The way that the Scriptures tell us to live according to the precepts, principles, and patterns of Scripture, is the way the Holy Spirit is telling us to live.
“But how will I know whether I should take job x or job y? The Bible doesn’t tell me the answer to that!” Well, no, at least not in the way you want it to. And let me be clear: God still leads us along through life, but He does so providentially, not mystically.
So back to that job. How do you know which one to take? You must first determine if it is an acceptable decision to make based upon the precepts, principles, and patterns of Scripture. If it passes that test then obviously you ought to pray all about it, make your decision, and own it. I guess the thing that really bothers me is when people, especially pastors, say that the Holy Spirit is leading them to do x, when really He is not. Don’t use the Holy Spirit’s “leading” as an excuse for a decision that you just want to make. Just say that it’s a decision that you have come to make. And there’s nothing wrong with that (as long as it’s not sin)! Blaming the Holy Spirit for your own decisions can leave people confused, or worse yet, mad at God when they should be mad at you.
Pastor, what are you going to do when someone comes to you wanting to divorce their spouse because they feel God wants it to happen? Unfortunately I know what many pastors would do, because they’re doing it – they’re blessing the divorce, separating what God put together. I guess that’s all they can do, since they’ve given up the grounds for saying no. After all, they are just doing what you have taught them: following the “Spirit’s lead.” When you live by feelings, you die by feelings.
Let me reiterate. Yes, for everything in life, we ought to pray long and hard about it, and ask God for His help. We are to be fervent in prayer. Often times God can and will give us peace and comfort in a decision. But that never comes at the expense of the Word He has given us. It comes with it. I’ll admit, God can even lead and “confirm” us in various subjective ways. But they are just that – subjective. And when they are subjective, you don’t tell other Christians “this is what God told me.” When we live our lives guided by God’s Word, taking responsibility for our actions, we can look back at the end of life and no matter the bumps, bruises, sins, and mistakes, we can say, “Jesus lead me all the way.”