Dever on Subjective Guidance: Discerning the Will of God

Mark Dever of 9 Marks Ministries has written a helpful post on “the bondage of guidance” in our Christian walk. Decision making can sometimes lead someone debilitated and paralyzed without the clear cut leading of the Spirit. This hits home with every believer from where one should work to who you should date. You will typically hear someone make his or her decision saying something to the effect of “I just don’t have a peace about it”. I typically stay away from cliché’s like this but there is some measure of truth to this statement. Discerning and making decisions with peace and wisdom are usually made easier with prayer, counsel, the study of Scripture, and meditation on Scripture. Unfortunately most people throw this statement around and use this statement based on the immediate emotions one feels. Granted there are times that even with prayer, counsel, and so on we can still find ourselves unable to make decisions not merely for fear of displeasing the Lord but simply because the signs are not pointing a certain way to make God glorifying choices. Everything seems grey! You’d think it would be simple either God’s wants me to do this or God does not.

Dever’s post comes helpful here as he points out that there is a subjective sense of leading that God has freely granted us to make choices. I pretty much pasted the whole post. 🙂 It is brief and to the point. Below is the excerpt:

I do believe that God’s Spirit will sometimes lead us subjectively. So, for instance, I am choosing to spend my life here on Capitol Hill because my wife & I sensed in 1993 that that is what God wanted us to do. However, I realized then (and now) that I could be wrong about that supposition. Scripture is NEVER wrong. I was free in 1993 to stay in England, or teach at a seminary, either of which would have been delightful opportunities. I understand that I was free to make those choices. But I chose, consulting Scripture, friends, wisdom, and my own subjective sense of the Lord’s will, to come to DC. And even if I were wrong about that, I had (and have) that freedom in Christ to act in a way that is not sin. And I understand my pastoring here not to be sin. So I am free. Regardless of the sense of leading I had.

Most decisions I’ve made in my Christian life, I’ve made with no such sense of subjective leading. Maybe some would say that this is a mark of my spiritual immaturity. I understand this to be the way a redeemed child of God normally lives in this fallen world before the fullness of the Kingdom comes, Christ returns, and immediate, constant, unbroken fellowship with God is re-established.

(HT: JT)


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