We ALL, with no exception, have an influence or philosophy that guides our lives. That is true, even if we are not aware of it. We make decisions, and act on those decisions, based on some belief or opinion.
There are three statements we often hear that reflect the prevailing guiding philosophy in today’s culture. Read them and see if they sound familiar. Then, consider whether they are valid for directing your life.
1. Let your conscience be your guide.
2. If it feels right, do it.
3. If it makes you happy, go for it.
Honestly, on the surface, all three look reasonable. Shouldn’t we be guided by our conscience? Can’t it keep us on the straight and narrow? Aren’t we supposed to follow our gut instincts, listening closely to our feelings? And who wants to be unhappy?!!
Within every Christ follower there is a desire to do life His way, even if we don’t always accomplish it. That means we have to know what His way is and follow it. Included in that is the need to evaluate what we hear and see in the world, in prevailing culture. So, with that in mind, let’s look a bit more closely at the three statements above…
1. Let your conscience be your guide. Not necessarily! That all depends on what is feeding your conscience. Our conscience is an internal moral compass that has to be set to true north. When we feed it with the wrong information, it gives back wrong information. The Bible clearly says that our conscience can be messed up. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,” I Timothy 4:1-2 A “seared” conscience is one that no longer is bothered by sin, by wrongdoing. When nerves are seared or burned, they are no longer capable of sending a warning message of pain to alert us to pull back from danger or get help. When the conscience is seared, it no longer is sensitive true right and wrong.
2. If it feels right, do it. Although our feelings or gut instincts may be right sometimes, relying on them alone is dangerous! Here again is what the ultimate authority, the Word of God, says. “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man accoding to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:9-10
3. If it makes you happy, go for it. If happiness is our motivation, we are in trouble! Happiness is always tied to circumstances. Realistically, no one always has happy circumstances! A Christ follower’s ultimate aim in life is not happiness, it is to honor God. “for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” I Corinthians 6:20 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31
By now, it should be fairly clear what guides the lives of Christ followers! “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 The Bible is the true north to which we set the compass of our lives! It will regulate our consciences, our feelings, and our motivation. As Christ followers, we must consistently feed our minds with the Word of God and guard our minds against accepting the views of prevailing culture!