The Bondage of "Guidance"

February 20, 2008

This will be brief.  The way many Christians practice seeking God’s will before they make a decision amounts to spiritual and emotional bondage.  Christ has died to give us liberty and freedom (Rom. 6; Gal. 5; I Peter 2).  We can only know the truth about God’s will by what His Spirit reveals to us.  He has revealed God’s mind authoritatively in His Word.  We should give ourselves to study what He has revealed.  Personal reading, meditation, sermons, friends and books are all available to us to help us to better understand God’s revealed will.

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.

A subjective sense of leading–when we’ve asked for it (as in James 1:5 we ask for wisdom) and when God freely gives it–is wonderful.  The desire for such a subjective sense of leading, however, is too often, in contemporary evangelical piety, binding our brothers and sisters in Christ, paralyzing them from enjoying the good choices that God may provide, and causing them to wait wrongly before acting. 

Beware of the bondage of "guidance."