There is an axiom I live by in my life. God is not trying to keep information from me… He is trying desperately to get revelational knowledge to me. I believe this with all my heart. God is a good God and desires to share Himself with those that love Him.
Having said this, sometimes it is difficult to discern the will of God, especially when the matter is not black and white. You have probably discovered that some issues in life are not mentioned in the Bible as sins or activities to be avoided. But as you discover afterward, you have actually grieved or quenched the Holy Spirit’s work in your life. Now the presence of God has faded from your life. Ouch!
How are we to know if it is ok to participate in certain activities? The anointing will help you. This scripture from Romans paves the way and reveals three doors for discerning God’s best for us.
17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. Romans 14:17-18
First Door: Righteousness
Before pursuing a course of action ask yourself, “If I do this activity will I lose my righteousness?” Your righteousness is your standing before God. In other words, if you choose to participate in this activity will it cause you to forfeit the righteousness you have in Christ Jesus? Will doing this violate your conscience, cause guilty feelings, and bring conviction from the Holy Spirit?
I am sure you know by now that some activities are not necessarily sin for most people. But God has already personally talked to you about those same activities. It may have been two or three years ago, but you already know that God does not want you personally involved. When you choose to participate anyway, your righteousness (right standing) before God is gone. There is a great verse in James which addresses this issue.
Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:17
(If you can make it through the first door without losing your righteousness, then move on to the next door.)
Second Door: Peace
Ask yourself honestly, “If I participate in this activity will I lose my peace?”
Your peace is the certainty that your relationship with your brothers and sisters is intact. In other words, if you participate in a certain activity will it hurt your relationship with other people. It might be ok with God, but others may have difficulty with you enjoying it.
I have been around certain Christians who thought playing cards was a sin. So while I was around them, I did not play cards. I personally felt it was alright to play cards. God had never convicted me about it. (Now I am not talking about gambling or strip poker, etc) But if I continued to play cards in front of other fellow believers knowing they believe it to be sin, then I will sin as well and lose my peace.
Peace is very important when visiting other cultures. While in I was in Israel visiting the Holy Sites, it was required for women to wear dresses and men to wear kappa’s (domes or skull caps). I would have lost my peace and caused others to stumble if I had just burst through and visited the sites without regard to their customs.
Someone once said, “It may be permissible for you to do it, but it may not be beneficial.” You can do it and be alright with God, but the saints will suffer.
(If you can make it through the first and second doors without losing your righteousness and peace, then move on to the next door.)
Third Door: Joy
The question to ask yourself here is, “If I do this activity will I lose my joy.” Your joy is the relationship you have with you. “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
Here is how it goes…You may get an ok from God and other believers may not care if you participate in this certain activity, but as you pray about it you feel the joy of the Lord depart from you. Why? Because inwardly you know it will not build faith in your life.
The Bible says, “for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Romans 14:23 In other words, the activity you are questioning is permissible. You can do it before God and man; but the problem is it will ultimately NOT build your faith. You may not realize it at the moment… but the activity will probably deter your faith, at least briefly.
For instance, in the past I have wanted to watch certain movies. It was ok with God and did not bother friends and family, so I went forward and viewed that movie. When it was all said and done…my joy was gone. Why? Because I just wasted two hours of valuable time. The whole activity did not build my faith. On other occasions, the issue was not about the time wasted. I discovered my joy was depleted and I just couldn’t put my finger on what exactly happened. Each believer must determine the activities in life that are neither good nor bad… but are simply “joy thief’s.” If you are a discerning Christian you will understand this issue.
Am I just being overbearing and picky about everything or is there some bigger picture here? We all must understand that if we want to grow deep in the things of God there is one word we are going to have to get accustomed to knowing and experiencing. The word is SENSITIVITY. The goal is to grow more and more sensitive in the knowledge and ways of God. Walking with the Holy Spirit is a very sensitive issue. Because He is sensitive, we are to be sensitive.
As we continue to grow in the Lord, all three doors can be summed up in one phrase, “am I sensitive to the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life?” The more mature we become the more important your righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit will become. His flow and presence will become your primary importance.
When I was in college I hung a homemade sign over my desk. It read: “Others may, but I can’t.” That little phrase sums up all three of these points. When it is all said and done, we are all at different stages. In order for you to continue to grow in the things of God, YOU WILL HAVE TO LEAVE SOME FOLKS BEHIND. They are not currently ready to be this sensitive to the ways and movements of God. It is not that they are bad and you are good. It is about you and the Lord, nothing more. I used to love to play “patty-cakes” with my kids when they were young. But I was ever so thankful when they moved on to bigger and better things. You and I cannot continue to play patty-cake with God. We must move on to deeper issues in the Kingdom.
Maturity in the Holy Spirit is when you stop living off of a “do’s and don’t” list. A spiritual person learns to flow in the things of God. God allows you to choose what is right and wrong. The Lord wants you to learn to choose on your own the right, Godly, and wholesome choice. He doesn’t want you to continue to reference a list. Lists are for the immature.
Some of you today need to move from the “made to do” stage of spiritual growth to the “let it flow” stage. If God or God’s word doesn’t clearly state “don’t do it”, you will ultimately do it. Why? You didn’t see it written somewhere. Believers usually state this phrase in the positive. “Well, God didn’t tell me I couldn’t, so it must be ok.” This is knuckle-headed faith.
When you talk to people, are you constantly telling others about the things you “cannot do”, instead of the flow of what God is doing in your life? There is a big difference. I am sure you love God, but in your mind and heart is God still a “made to” type of God to you? Are you ready to grow past all this?
Understand… Intimacy with the Lord is something you must pursue. Read my lips…It will not happen unless you get hot-hearted. God is not going to chase you down and force intimacy on you. This is why the Holy Spirit is grieved when we faint in our pursuit of the Lord. If you truly love someone, you will go after and pursue that relationship.
When I started to date my wife I thought she was pretty good gal to be around. In fact, it wasn’t long before she was just head over heals in love with me. No, I was in love. I constantly wanted to be around her.
Now what if……….
- my parents had to make me go over to her house to visit;
- my friends had to convince me to go out on dates with her;
- I never offered to pay for dates, but made her pay;
- (some of you ladies are saying you married that man;)
- I never held her hand;
- all I ever talked about was myself; and
- I rarely told her how I felt.
Do you think she or anyone else would have I believed I was in love with her. I doubt it.
Is there any doubt today that you love the Lord? Intimacy is intimacy… whether it is physical or spiritual. You cannot be intimate in a robotic way. Intimacy is a flow. God desires not only our obedience but our entire hearts as well. Our pursuit of Him reveals how much we truly love Him. The great thing about pursuing the Lord is that occasionally He lets us catch Him… This is glory!