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Mark Dever pastors Capital Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D. C. He writes a short and on-target note about guidance. I heartily agree with Mark’s conclusions.

The Bondage of “Guidance”

by mdever

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.”


One Comment

  1. Sam, Thanks for including that quote. I was listening to a Pastor teaching on a similar topic and he used the example of waiting to jump into a double dutch jump rope game. Think back to childhood or watching the girls jump rope. There was always someone who was just waiting and waiting, they’ve got their foot out in front of them, they’re ready, their arms are stretched out in front, they’re ready, they lunge in and back off…lunge in and back off. You got the picture in your mind? I was always one of those kids. I was always afraid that I might trip, get hit by the rope, embarass myself. If I would just go ahead and jump in, I would end up enjoying it very much.

    This is exactly how some of us are when God places something on our hearts. We wait, we study the situation, we pray, we seek guidance, we research it, we wait some more and before you know it a great deal of time has passed. I don’t advocate just jumping right in to everything. We must be careful to not get caught up in the waiting and use things like seeking guidance as an excuse. There is just too much at stake. Time is short. There’s alot of work to be done for the kingdom.

    We miss you and Ruthe a bunch. I hope all is well for you.

    Christy Leake

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