Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #235 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 2 Corinthians 2 today and our focus is on How Do Christians Make Decisions? We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new in listeners in SWAZILAND! Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
One of the things that is striking about 2nd Corinthians is how much of a letter it is, and how many personal details are in it. Some “books” of the Bible are actually letters. Some of those letters, like Romans and Hebrews, might read a bit more like a book, but 2nd Corinthians has lots of personal information in it that reads like a letter, which is quite enlightening and personal in some ways, but can also be confusing. The Corinthian church of the first century certainly understood the context of Paul’s statements, but we do not. For instance, in vss. 5-8, which reads:
5 If anyone has caused pain, he has caused pain not so much to me but to some degree—not to exaggerate—to all of you. 6 This punishment by the majority is sufficient for that person. 7 As a result, you should instead forgive and comfort him. Otherwise, he may be overwhelmed by excessive grief. 8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. 2 Corinthians 2:5-8
Is Paul referring to the man who was having relations with his stepmother from the first letter of Corinthians, or somebody else entirely? We aren’t sure – any answer would be speculation.
I also find vs. 12 to be interesting:
12 When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though the Lord opened a door for me, 13 I had no rest in my spirit because I did not find my brother Titus. Instead, I said good-bye to them and left for Macedonia.
In our passage two days ago from 1 Corinthians 16, Paul discussed how a door for fruitful ministry had been opened to him in Ephesus, so he would stay on for some time there, even in the face of fierce opposition. In vs 12-13 of today’s chapter, Paul seems to indicate another door had been opened for fruitful ministry, but Paul couldn’t or wouldn’t go through it, because he was so concerned about his friend/brother Titus, so he left and went after Titus. Two similar open doors are presented to Paul, and he makes two different decisions! I believe we can glean from this that there is grace to handle similar situations in different ways. I believe the Bible demonstrates that we have a certain freedom to make decisions in absence of God’s direct commands. The Bible never commands us to pray about certain decisions until we hear or understand the perfect will of God. Yes, the Bible does command us to know God’s will, but does that mean we must know His direction on every decision in life? Must we pray until God tells us to marry Jenny or Janet? Go to Auburn or Alabama (or Michigan State, even?!), buy a home on Elm or Oak street? Paint our bedroom a shade of beige or blue? Many Christians believe that we must pray until we know ALL of God’s will on those kinds of decisions, but the Bible never teaches that, or demonstrates that – instead we have situations like Paul faced with two similar open doors and two different responses, neither of which appeared to miss God’s will. How can we know God’s will? I like how Kevin DeYoung explains:
The will of God is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). Again, we see that understanding the will of God is a good thing. But if we keep reading in Ephesians 5 we’ll see that the Lord’s will is that we don’t get drunk and that we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Which, in turn, means addressing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; singing to the Lord with all our hearts; giving thanks always and for everything; and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. So what is the will of God that Paul outlines in these verses? Gerald Sittser summarizes it well: And what is that will [of God]? Is it some specific, secret plan God has for us and wants us to spend days, weeks, even years discovering? Not at all. Rather it consists of a sober life, living in the power of the Holy Spirit, and offering praise and gratitude to God for his goodness. Paul’s main concern is about how believers conduct themselves in ordinary life.2 Simply put, God’s will is your growth in Christlikeness. God promises to work all things together for our good that we might be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28–29)…. He promises to make us loving, pure, and humble like Christ. In short, God’s will is that you and I get happy and holy in Jesus. So go marry someone, provided you’re equally yoked and you actually like being with each other. Go get a job, provided it’s not wicked. Go live somewhere in something with somebody or nobody. But put aside the passivity and the quest for complete fulfillment and the perfectionism and the preoccupation with the future, and for God’s sake start making some decisions in your life. Don’t wait for the liver-shiver. If you are seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, you will be in God’s will, so just go out and do something.
DeYoung, Kevin. Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will (pp. 58-59). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.
With that, I suggest a five step process for biblical decision making:
- Where God commands, we must obey.
Should I marry an unbeliever? – the Bible leads us – clearly – to say no to that question. We are not to be unequally yoked together with those who don’t follow the Lord.
- Where there is no command in the Bible, God gives us the freedom to choose and sovereignly orchestrates and leads our choices for our ultimate good, His glory and to accomplish His will.
So – WHO should I marry? Does God have the perfect person picked out for me and I have to pray until I get a shiver, or a Word whispered in the night….Jessica….or Janet… – Is that how big decisions work? NO We have freedom and trust that God orchestrates our decisions in His sovereignty.
Psalms 37:23 A person’s steps are established by the Lord, and he takes pleasure in his way.
Proverbs 16:9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
3. Where there is no command, we follow the example of Jesus and devote significant time to praying – trusting that God will divinely lead us and lead our decision.
Luke 6:12 12 During those days he went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God. 13 When daylight came, he summoned his disciples, and he chose twelve of them
- Where there is no command, God calls us to seek wise counsel, walk in wisdom and make a decision.
Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14
- When we have chosen what is moral and wise, we must trust the sovereign God to work all the details together for good.
Passages that show our freedom to choose when God hasn’t commanded us:
Romans 14:5 One person considers one day to be above another day Someone else considers every day to be the same. Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 Whoever observes the day, observes it for the honor of the Lord. Whoever eats, eats for the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; and whoever does not eat, it is for the Lord that he does not eat it, yet he thanks God Romans 14 – Sabbaths, eating certain foods, and being a vegetarian.
‘Let each one [give] just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver’ (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Hopefully this will help you avoid decision paralysis, trust in God’s sovereign direction in your life, and realize that you don’t have to discern His hidden will for every decision.
Bible Memory verses for the month of August: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, 5 is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
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