2 Peter 1:2–21
Every day we are required to make many decisions. Most are small, such as which foot to put out of bed first or what to eat for lunch. Other decisions, though, are bigger. If you are in Senior School, you must soon decide whether to go to university or get a job. Then you need to decide what job at which company, or what degree course at which university.
As Christians, how should we make decisions? We all know that the guiding principle for many non-believers is to determine what decision will bring them the greatest personal benefit, the most money, or the strongest power.
Those principles were no help to me when I had to decide if it was God’s will for me to leave my country and children behind, and move 5,500 miles to Jinju with my wife.
Those principles will be of no help to you as you struggle to make the right decisions in your life. For the next couple of weeks I want to talk about God’s guidance and how we, you and me, should make decisions as Christians.
Everyone wants to make good decisions that turn out well. But believers have another goal too. In 2 Corinthians 5:9 it says: ‘Our goal is to please him.’ Paul explains in Colossians 1:9-10 what kind of decision will please God. He says: ‘We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honour and please the Lord.’
In other words, Paul says the way to please God is to do what he wants. The primary job of the Christian in making a decision is to find out what God wants and then do it. That is simple enough, but it leaves us with a rather difficult question. How are we supposed to find out what God wants us to do when we have to make a decision?
There are various ways in which God has communicated his will throughout history. In the very beginning, he spoke directly through revelation. An individual would get a message from God and then explain it to others. This direct communication included visions, angels, and audible voices.
Over time these revelations were written down and people could refer to them.
Now they had two sources for God’s will. They had the book, and they had direct revelation. Eventually there was a complete revelation of God through his son Jesus and the writing down had been completed. In other words, it is all in here in the Bible. And 2 Peter 1:3 says, ‘By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.’ God has given us all we need to make decisions that please him.
When the Bible talks of God’s ‘will’ it does so in two different senses. The first of these is God’s moral will. These are all the commands and principles he has given us in this book the Bible to show us how to live.
Paul says in Romans 2:18 about the Jews: ‘You know what he wants; you know what is right because you have been taught his law.’ The Jews had God’s moral law, so their problem was not ignorance but disobedience.
The first principle of Christian decision making is obedience.
Whatever God commands we must obey. There are certain ramifications of this principle that come to light when we consider four characteristics of God’s moral law.
First, the moral will of God is fully revealed in the Bible. In the Bible we have 100% of the information we need to live in a way that pleases him. (2 Timothy 3:17 and Hebrews 1:1-2) The Bible is our final authority.
Second, God’s moral will is an expression of his character. Because of this it helps form God’s character in the lives of those who obey his will. When we obey God, it helps form his character in our lives. And this leads to living a full life.
Third, God’s moral will impacts every second, every aspect of our life. God is not concerned only with what we do. He is just as concerned with ‘why’ and ‘how’ we do what we do. God cares about our actions, and our goals, and our attitudes. God’s will affects our perspective on life, which is the context in which we make our decisions.
Goals are not the same as actions, they are more general. Our goals should reflect God’s purposes for our lives. Here are some of God’s major goals for our lives.
Christians should seek to:
Glorify God in all things. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Minister to others. (Romans 14:9)
Fulfil their God-given responsibilities. (1 Peter 4:10-11)
Share the Good News with the lost. (Matthew 28:19-20)
Do good works. (Titus 3:8)
Produce spiritual fruit. (Colossians 1:10)
Whenever we make a decision, we have to consider how that decision will advance these goals. But the decision we make must also reflect the right heart within us.
This means things that help shape the decision must include love, trust in God, humility, thankfulness, integrity, diligence, eagerness, generosity, courage, submission, contentment and joy.
God is concerned about our behaviour. Of course he is.
He is not saying we can do whatever we like if we are seeking his goals. The end does not, and never will, justify the means. After we have established the heavenly goals and we have deliberated with a heavenly heart, we must also consider whether our action would be lawful and wise.
The degree to which we pursue godly goals with right attitudes and wise actions will be determined by the way we see things. Our perspective on life is a major influence on how we make decisions. A Christian who has a paradigm shaped by Scripture will have a different sense of self-identity than a non-believer. Our deep knowledge that we are loved by God gives us a security that a non-believer cannot have. We know God has specifically equipped us to take part in his work.
We know we are on assignment in enemy territory, and we know that this brief material existence is the precursor to real life in the spiritual world. We know that there are real spiritual forces working on our behalf, as well as against us. Nothing in life is untouched by God’s moral will.
Fourth, because of all the above God’s moral will is fully able to equip us for every good work. It is written in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, ‘All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.’
In summary then the first principle of making decisions that accord with God’s will is this. We have to know what God has already said. All the guidance is here in this book, but it won’t do us the slightest bit of good if we don’t know what this book says. We need to ‘learn’ what God has already said.
In addition, we need to ‘do’ what God has already said. As Jesus told his disciples when he washed their feet at the last supper, ‘Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.’
Perhaps the greatest barrier to making a godly decision is a combination of ignorance and stubborn disobedience. If you want to make wise and successful decisions for your life you must start with knowing what God has already said, which means knowing what is written in the Bible, and by obeying all that God has already said.
This is a good start, but there is more for us to think about next week. This is a very important topic and I hope this helps you to think about how you are making decisions in your life.
So please, read your Bible assiduously and obey what it says diligently.