God's guidance is available in His book, the Bible. We can check our understanding through the "Faithful Guide" who is present to instruct us. We can develop a submissive spirit to His guidance through prayer. But having followed these steps we can still lack confidence and clarity in doing God's will.
Confusion can reign. Some of it stems from differing interpretations of the Truth.
Such confusion may result from untested principles.
How shall we overcome confusion and respond to God's guidance with clear obedience to His will?
II. We will walk in the light we already have Read Eph. 5:8.
We must develop a curious and quick mind in Him. We must know we do not have all of the answers, but that we are committed to Him who does. Otherwise we'll be deceived by our adversary, the Devil.
Walk in the light that you have. If one wishes to become a long-distance runner, doesn't his first running begin with short distances? If a goal is to be able to speak a language fluently, shouldn't one first learn to speak a sentence?
No, our walking in the light does not mean we always walk with as much stability as we might. But the little child learning how to walk doesn't stop if some of the walking means falling down. In walking poorly we begin to walk with stability.
III. We will test in order to approve what is acceptable unto the Lord
The purpose of the test in any school is to aid the approving process. Confusion about knowledge is eliminated. Our conduct is to be subjected to the testing process for the purpose of being acceptable to the Lord. By this testing, we experience clarity in guidance.
Where does this happen? Right out in the world where there is darkness. Out in the world, we are to rely upon all of the testing devices we can, beginning with the Bible and with the Holy Spirit's guidance. Read Phil. 2:13. In addition to the Word and the Spirit, there are at least four other testing devices.
A. The conscience of the person being tested. This inner computer stores information we have received from other resources about what is right and what is wrong. As we make decisions, our conscience either affirms or puts down the attitudes or actions we are about to take. Though the conscience that has been exposed to the darkness is not fully trustworthy (see Titus 1:15), yet when we have been taught the truth, the conscience bears witness to the Holy Spirit (Rom. 9:1).
B, The counsel of other Christians. Believers are instructed to teach and admonish one another (Col. 3:16). No believer is to become our highest authority on truth, yet more experienced believers who show by their lives obedience to the Word should be sought for advice in these confusing issues.
C. Common sense. Titus 2:12 tells us to "live soberly," which means sensibly, or having a sound, healthy mind. Common sense is never to be accepted as complete sense. God frequently leads us in ways that do not seem sensible. At the same time we ought to use these minds in the testing ground.
D. Circumstances. Let's say from your relationships with your children and with children in the church that you think you should be a school teacher. Yet your education has not equipped you to teach. You cannot get a teaching certificate because of it. Your circumstances show you that you either have to go to school again or forget this vocational choice. Yet circumstances alone are never sufficient as a testing device.
Putting these four aids together plus the inspiration of God's Word may verify and clarify God's guidance.
IV. We will reprove the unfruitful works of darkness
To reprove means to rebuke or to silence so as to bring out conviction or confession of guilt. We may do this by our words, but more significantly by our conduct. God's guidance is offered to show us how to live and influence people in an evil world.
A minister's portrait given by John Bunyan has "his back to the world, his face toward heaven, and a Book in his hand." However, it would seem a bit more precise to say in the light of this text, "He has the Book in his mind, his eyes on Jesus, and his body with the world." In this manner we demonstrate the truth and call others to it.
We discover God to be our refuge. Likewise, we discover the church in togetherness serves as a shelter from the storms.
But God's guidance must be tested out in the world. This is where the light and the darkness meet. We may be frightened by the conflict, but all that God provides is more than enough as we walk in the light we have, as we test for the purpose of approving what is acceptable to God, and as we reprove the unfruitful works of E darkness by our words and deeds.
Elbio de Meneses is a pastor in the South Brazil Union.