Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, October 6, 2011 4:42 pm
The Messenger, October 6, 2011
Thy Our Guide Part II
By CAMILLE KENDALL
Special to The Messenger.
Last week, we established that God has a plan for each of His children, and that He is capable of communicating that plan to us. How, then, do we begin to discern that plan?
Sadly, many Christians tend to go about determining God’s will in their lives the wrong way. We think of God as a holy “Magic 8 Ball” — ask Him a “Yes” or “No” question, and then keep shaking until we get the answer we want. God’s will is for me to have what I really want, right? God gives us His Spirit to guide us through internal prompting, but we wrongly assume that our inward inclinations, apart from God’s written Word, are His primary method of guiding us.
Why is this? In “Knowing God,” J.I. Packer explains that we often think of guidance only in terms of vocational choices, choices such as which job to take, where to live and whether or not to marry. These questions are not answered directly from Scripture: There is not a verse that tells me I should live in Denver instead of Philadelphia. Given several lawful options, we must indeed rely on God-given prompting and personal inclination to guide us. Our error, however, is to assume that all issues of guidance are of this type and must be decided in like manner.
We must remember that our rational Creator calls us to know His will by knowing Him. This is done by knowing and understanding His written Word. Indeed, all Scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16). Yes, the Holy Spirit is our internal guide, but we should not forget that it is through the Holy Scriptures that He guides us. The Holy Spirit will always lead us according to the truth of Scripture, never against it. “But you have been anointed by the Holy One … His anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie …” (I John 2:20a, 27b).
In scripture, we are given sound guidelines for knowing and doing the will of God. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) “Depart from evil and do good” (Psalm 34:14). Scripture exhorts us to pursue wisdom, to strive for purity of faith and life, to feed the poor, to care for those in prison, to not be unequally yoked to an unbeliever. The list goes on and on.
So our first step toward knowing the will of God is to know Scripture and allow it to shape us. This means we must do the hard work of engaging our minds. “O that they were wise … that they would consider …” (Deuteronomy 32:29). Furthermore, we must develop the discipline of thinking ahead to the long-term consequences of our choices. Do the choices I am considering lie within the parameters given in Scripture?
When trying to determine God’s will for us in a particular area of life, we should also seek the advice of those who are wiser and more mature than ourselves, especially those who know our personal strengths and weaknesses. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” (Proverbs 12:15). Furthermore, we must be willing to question our own motives: our feelings of what is “right” can be deceptive. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23). Am I truly seeking to do the will of God, or am I using a “spiritual inclination” to indulge my own selfish desires?
Finally, if we earnestly desire to know and do the will of God, we must be willing to wait. God doesn’t usually give us the whole map at the beginning of the journey. Rather, as in the case of Abraham, He calls us to obedience one step at a time, revealing His plan for us only so far as we need at each step of the journey. If we are uncertain of God’s will for us, we can patiently wait on God, seeking Him in His Word and in prayer, knowing that He will give us wisdom and guidance as we need it.
We are children learning to walk in the holiness to which we are called. What happens when we stumble, when we choose a wrong path? Have we messed everything up for good? Nope. Remember, God has a plan, and He WILL accomplish that plan, despite our failures. Be encouraged: It is God “Who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:3).
Editor’s note: Camille Kendall is a wife, homeschool mom and redeemed sinner, who celebrates the family of Christ at Grace Presbyterian Church in Troy (www.graceunioncity.com).