Saturday, October 6, 2007

What is God's will vs Christian Liberty ?

I wanted to share a very good article that I found on Brian Flynn's website (author of a book I recently finished titled: Running Against the Wind. It's very good and I plan to post something from it a bit later.)

However this article is about Christian Liberty -- as in what are we at liberty to choose in certain areas if it's not specifically mentioned in scripture; since scripture is His revealed will? This article is written by Bob Dewaay.

Here are a couple of paragraphs from the article, and it's helped clear up some of my thinking on the topic.
How do we find out God’s will in matters of Christian liberty? By making an informed choice and living out all the ramifications of that choice to God’s glory by His grace. God’s providential will is known after we make the choice ─ it is whatever we chose. If that choice does not transgress anything revealed in Scripture, then it cannot be a sinful choice unless we make it with evil motives. Examples of choices that the New Testament expressly says are within the realm of Christian liberty are things like marriage, food, circumcision, and holy days to be observed. Some choose a more rigorous and restricted approach to life (see Romans 14), and others less restrictive. What we are not free to do is judge others on matters that rightfully fall into the category of liberty. These are matters God has not dictated in Scripture.
and a few paragraphs later he adds this --
Paul was in prison when he wrote to the Philippians: “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12). Paul was in prison because civil authorities put him there. Thus God’s providential will was revealed. There is no assurance that by learning to follow some secret “inner voice of God” we will be more pleasing to God and be more “in the center of His will.” This idea hinders true Christian liberty and leads to many sorrows.
Many think that God will feed them information about all their decisions and give them the “Midas touch.” This concept is false. God does not tell us which stocks are going up, which car will never break down, which house will go up in value, and other turn by turn directions that will lead us to bliss and success in this life. In God’s wisdom He has granted us freedom to make these decisions freely, and without recrimination for the results. It is not a sin to make decisions within the realm of Christian liberty that we regret later. As earthly parents, we will judiciously allow our children to do the same. It is a central part of our human freedom and dignity to make decisions and watch the consequences play out in life. It sounds good to have the “Midas touch” but if it existed it would be ruinous as it was in the fable.
I think that the idea of making the 'right decision' to be sure what we're doing is in God's will comes from the evil one. I've certainly tied myself into mental & emotional knots over it, and I think it's part of what sends people to psychics and the like. However, I do think that praying over a decision before you make it can probably keep you out of harm's way in some cases. The Holy Spirit does indeed communicate with us, but that doesn't mean He needs to put his 'stamp of approval' on every matter before you can do something. My current thinking, after reading this excellent article -- would be that praying over things / decisions is a good idea. Particularly if it's a big decision, like who to marry or where to live or go to church, and the like. If the Holy Spirit gives you guidance or words of knowledge (which don't always come immediately!), then go with that. Otherwise, make your best decision and move forward. For a really good book about the Holy Spirit, I like Chuck Smith's book 'Living Water'.

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