Usually there are three possible responses to a decision someone makes: regret, uncertainty, or peace. But how you feel about a decision does not necessarily speak truth about that decision. You may regret doing something even if it’s right, simply because it’s uncomfortable. You may feel at peace about a decision because the alternative would have been to feel pain. Or you may feel uncertain about your decision because your feelings conflict with your reasoning, leaving you confused. So can you really trust your feelings in your decisions?
Matt Rogers, pastor and writer for The Blazing Center, has written an article titled “You Can’t Trust Yourself. Or Why Peace is a Terrible Basis for Decision Making” on TheBlazingCenter.com. Rogers explains,
“Our internal sense of peace serves as the ultimate rationale for decision-making and, the great thing is, no one can question us. It’s the ultimate mic-drop—akin to saying that God told you to do something. Who’s gonna say that God didn’t tell you this or that your sense of peace is wrong?”
It is possible for Christians to feel at peace in the wrong decision due to the fact that we still fall prey to sin and strongly desire comfort. Our culture reinforces this with mentalities of “do what you think is right,” “if it feels right it must be right,” “no one can tell you what you can’t do” and so on.
“Unfortunately our internal compass is fundamentally broken due to the fall. Apart from Christ, our feelings are wildly deceptive. Our depraved nature actually aligns our internal sense of peace with those actions which betray God’s good design. We feel a sense of peace when we embrace our inherited sin nature because we are acting in line with our fallen nature when we sin. We are acting out who we are—rebels destined for destruction.”
The heart of a true Christian is transformed, and sin will no longer be fulfilling as it once was, especially as the person continues to grow spiritually, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be tempting. Rogers relays that sometimes sin may bring conviction at first but if the alternative is discomfort and pain that person may start to justify the sin. This means we need to look to something outside of ourselves when we make decisions.
Rogers recommends first looking to the Bible; he states,
“If the Bible authoritatively speaks to an issue then it doesn’t matter how you feel, the Bible is always right.”
Even if you feel uncomfortable or know that pain awaits you, you will know what the right decision is because the Bible’s standard of right and wrong trumps your feelings of right and wrong. Our culture has an issue with absolute truth, but the Bible doesn’t.
Rogers suggests Christian community as the second check-point in coming to the right decision. But his advice comes with a warning:
“We have to be careful here, though. We can always twist and distort the Bible to rationalize our actions and we can always find a professing Christian or two who will justify our actions as well. “
We need to make sure that we’re in a church that puts truth above comfort, and within that church we need to make sure we’re surrounding ourselves with Christians who are eager to grow spiritually even when it’s painful. These are Christians who will hold you accountable, and they will not be afraid to offer tough answers when you’re longing for something different. Those pursuing holiness will humbly walk beside you understanding your challenges all too well and encouraging you through difficult decisions.
So when and how should we consult our internal compass for decision-making? Rogers answers,
“The problem isn’t the question, it’s the order. If we first ask what brings us peace, then we will make the Bible say what we want and find other people who agree with us. But, if we first ask what the Bible says, then what true believers support, we can put our sense of peace in its proper place and walk confidently into the decisions that will shape our lives.”
Asking ourselves if a decision provides peace is not bad in itself, but it does matter when we ask ourselves. Have we consulted the Bible first, prayed about our decision, and surrounded ourselves with Christians who will encourage us in gospel truth? If so, then knowing what the right answer should be ask yourself if you feel at peace about it.
If you don’t, ask yourself why … is it because the decision causes you discomfort, is it because you feel like you don’t understand what the Bible says about it, or do you feel misunderstood by the Christians you sought out? Don’t be afraid to continue seeking God’s Word and godly counsel; ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, whether in conviction or encouragement until you have come to a better understanding.
To read Matt Rogers’ article in its entirety, please visit TheBlazingCenter.com.
Crosswalk.com Contributor Kelly Balarie shares 4 foundational truths that breed confidence:
1. "There is no effective building of anything unless the Lord truly resides over everything."
Christians don’t do things for their own benefit; they work for the glory of the Master.
2. "God’s work is less about what you do and more about what He’s already decided to do."
When you’re making a tough decision ask yourself, does this glorify God and edify His church?
3. "You don’t need to fear, God protects you from the snares."
The greatest thing you have can never be taken from you.
4. "You don’t have to know where you are going, just that God is going there with you."
God’s presence is greater than any discomfort you will face on this earth.
Seizing Spiritual Confidence: 4 Foundational Keys
Publication date: October 3, 2016
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.