The following seven issues are commonly, but not necessarily correctly, considered for discerning God’s will:
1. Conscience: Should we let our consciences be our guide? Our conscience is a function of our mind and it can be defiled (Titus 1:15). The Holy Spirit is our guide. False guilt can produce a guilty conscience and a poorly developed conscience would sense no guilt. Salvation and growth in Christ cleanses our consciences. Paul says, “I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts
2. Fleeces. The idea of a fleece comes from the story of Gideon in Judges 6. Gideon was asking God for a sign to confirm what God had already revealed. Gideon wasn’t demonstrating faith in God. How many times does God need to say something before we are sure He means it? How much confirmation do we need to do what is right?
3. Circumstances: Some people are guided by the circumstances of life. If the circumstances are unfavorable, they conclude it isn’t God’s will, and if the circumstances are favorable they assume they are on the right path. Circumstances are not reliable guides. We need greater resolve to stay faithful when difficulties arise. Paul said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance” (Philippians 4:11).
4. The counsel of others: “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure” (Proverbs 11:14). It is always wise to seek godly counsel and gain the perspective of others. However, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked” (Psalm 1:1).
5. Gifts and abilities: God will always lead us in a way that is consistent with how He has equipped us. God will never ask us to be someone we aren’t, nor will He ask us to do something we aren’t qualified to do. Unfortunately, many never realize their potential by stepping out in faith, nor take the risks that faith requires.
6. Duty: Our calling is not to see what lies dimly ahead, but to do what clearly lies at hand. You don’t need any special leading to do your Christian duty, nor a subjective confirmation for doing what is clearly taught in Scripture.
7. Desires: Follow your natural desires and you will be led astray. However, “Delight yourselves in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4), but you delight yourself in the Lord first, and then your desires will change.
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