What to Do About It

Jay Adams“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!

“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.

You did. Blessings!

 feedback@nouthetic.org

What to Do About It

“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, by 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!

“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 waves. They’re never the same. Feelings are up one day and down the next with the weather, or what you ate for lunch. Even apart from not being a Biblical instruction, it’s on its face 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—but 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’t) 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.”

You did. Blessings!

feedback@nouthetic.org

Let It Snow

I’m not gloating over the fact that I no longer live in Baltimore where they just had a once-in-a-lifetime-snow. We got rain, and up a bit North of us, a few flurries.

WOW! Snow up to your armpits (if you’re short enough).

I’ve had my fill of shoveling snow—no snow-blowers in my snow days!

What will happen to all of the runoff when the sun comes out and it melts? Bound to be some flooding, if no floods.

God sends what He sends, and we must be satisfied with it. For some reason that snow is a great blessing (ask the kids, they’ll give you some reasons). But, while we must be satisfied with what God sends, we also have some responsibility in the matter of whether or not we get snowed in. Because it’s so unlikely for anyone to have that happen in SC where I now live, I made sure when I moved to take up residence here. I had other reasons, but that was surely a large factor!

This reminds us that we are responsible for the decisions we make. Now, it isn’t possible for everyone to move to SC (thanks for that!), of course. But if you could and you didn’t, well—let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

We’re talking about decisions you make that are based on options that are clearly yours to make—and which you could make either way! How often we complain, blame others, and curse the snow—when whatever it is that we are facing is due to our bad choices. Little more need be said. I’ll leave it there, except to say that before we blame other—or God, as many do—don’t forget who made the decision—you. Yes, you who just got your hat knocked off by a snowball!

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Decisions

In making  a decision it is always wise to check out what the Bible says about the matter,  Often, you will find a direct, specific command: “You shall not commit adultery.”  There will be no doubt in your mind as to what God’s will is in the matter.

There are, however many decisions about which there is no biblical command.  If you read that you are not to commit adultery and you happen to be involved in that very sin when you read the command, and are convicted, you may (should) want to stop immediately.  Now comes another decision—how should you break off the sinful relationship?

About this latter decision there is no specific command. Should you go personally to the other party and tell her/him your decision? Send an email?  A letter? Perhaps phone? Possibly go together with your pastor to break the news?  How will you make this decision?

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Always Read Carefully

“What would you like for supper?”

That’s what the waitress asked. Well, if you’re like me, I prefer taking a minute or two to go over the menu before answering—especially if it’s a new restaurant where I’m about to dine. I don’t like being rushed by some waitress into making a quick decision. And, when I hesitate, I especially dislike her hovering over me, pencil poised to write.

It’s at that point I usually regret having to say something like, “I think I need a minute or two longer to decide,” or words to that effect.

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