“What do you do when you don’t know what to do?”
Are you serious, or are you presenting me with a conundrum?
“No. I’m dead serious. I have a decision to make as to whether or not to do something. I’d like to do it but I don’t know whether its something that the Lord would approve of.””
Ah. I see.
“And it’s been bugging me for days. I can’t tell you what it is, either. I have to keep the matter quiet until I decide. Without any data, do you think you can help?”
Possibly. Let’s consider the matter abstractly—strictly from the side of the principle involved.
“You mean, in something like whether or not I feel a prompting in my spirit or not. Or whether I feel peace about the matter? Both of those ideas have been suggested. But the problem is, I don’t feel anything but confused,”
“Good? What do you mean good? Do you approve of me being confused?”
Certainly—I’m glad you haven’t had any feelings that you interpreted as God’s direction. Those ideas are never taught in the Bible, and have led many people into serious trouble. To try to follow feelings as a guide is like trying to catch a wave. They’re never the same. Feelings are up one day and down the next with the weather, or what you sate for lunch. Even apart from not being a Bible instruction, it’s on its foolish when you think about it.
“It didn’t feel right, I’ll admit.”
Didn’t feel right? There you go—depending on feelings anyway!
“What I meant is it didn’t seem right.”
A bit better. But what if you had said, “I considered the matter, and I didn’t find any biblical basis for proceeding with it?” Don’t you think that a statement something like that—where you are looking for an objective answer from God’s Standard would have been better? Of course, you would have had to do so to be honest.
“Well, I did look at the Bible, and I couldn’t find anything to help.”
There is a biblical principle that may fit your case.
“Tell me about it.”
It’s found in Romans 14.
“I thought that book was all about theology, and stuff like that.”
Well, there’s certainly allot of theology in Romans, for sure, but that’s not all that’s there. Some very practical matters are there which—rightly so—are based on theological principles.
“Oh. Well tell me about Romans 14.”
O.K. Here’s what he writes in verse 23,
But whosoever doubts is condemned if he eats, because he doesn’t eat in faith; and whatsoever isn’t done in faith is sin.
“But my problem has nothing to do with eating.”
I didn’t think that it would.
“Well, then, why bring it up?”
I told you we were going to examine a principle that might help you. The principle is “whatsoever isn’t done in faith is sin.”
“How does that help?”
Just this way. There were Romans who didn’t know whether or not they should eat certain foods—we needn’t go into that here—because they thought that doing so might be sin. Paul says, until you are sure that it isn’t sinful to do so, don’t. It’s that simple. I like to call it the “Holding principle.” You put the matter on hold until you can determine biblically whether or not it is or isn’t sin to do something.
“Hmmm I think O see it now: to move ahead in this matter would be sin if suspect it might be. But what if it isn’t sin?”
At this point, that doesn’t matter. Until you determine from the Bible (not from feelings) that it isn’t sin, you should take no further action. Of course, if you determine it is, that settles the matter. But of you’re not sure, you shouldn’t go ahead because if you do, you are doing something that you think might be sin, can you do that in God’s sight ? Of course not! To so what you think might be sin (even if it really isn) is sin on your part because of your attitude . . .”
“What do you mean my attitude?”
Simply this, you would be willing to do something that you thought might be sin—that is a sinful attitude. So even if the act—whatever it is—isn’t sin; your attitude in doing it is sin.
“Got it! I put it on hold until I’m sure, biblically, that it’s OK to move ahead.”