This is the title I gave to the study with the yabber (young adults bible somethingorother) group from church last week. I took the girls and Alan took the guys.
These are the introductory scriptures we looked at:

Rom 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Hebrews 5:14 says, “Solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

Philippians 3:15 “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”

From these we see:

  • If God owns us, then any decisions we make are naturally subject to him and thus, need to be in accord with his will. (transformed minds allow us the knowledge of it)
  • God wants us to be not just good, but excellent decision makers. (we know this because of his commitment to transform us).
  • Wise decisions will be the fruit of correct thinking, growing discernment, understanding the way things really are. (constant practice, maturity)

We looked at the idea that God limits us in order that we know true freedom. Quote: from EE. Like a sailboat is free to sail, only when it follows laws of mathematics, physics and nature.

Other points we discussed were God’s Sovereignty and How we were created to ‘Be’.

  • Quote: “You may choose what you want, and you may plan what you will do. But your will is not free to accomplish anything contrary to the purposes of God. Neither have you any power to reach your goals but that which God allows you.” Dr. C. Matthew McMahon
  • If we want to know how we are meant to be look and imitate the Trinity and look and imitate Christ. All of Christ’s decision were to do his Father’s will and to love and serve others.

Another area which is often not considered relevant to decision making or a view of Christian life is our created sexuality:

  • · Lack of correct knowledge has led to problems in church and personal lives.
  • · God established boundaries of masculinity and femininity at creation. We see it in Adam and Eve as created, also the achetypes of Christ and the church, the bride of Christ in Revelation and also there are negative examples, some in the OT but also whore of Babylon in Revelation.
  • · In Christ, we must make decisions which will affirm the maleness of the men around us and the femininity of ourselves and other women.

Acquiring wisdom and discerning areas of freedom:

There are many decisions we must make which haven’t a directive in scripture. They are areas that we do have freedom to choose between alternatives. We must acquire wisdom here. One thing we can’t do is just follow the world and stop if/when it gets “too much” or we feel uncomfortable.

Hebrews 5:14 says, “Solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

The world doesn’t ‘constantly practice’ making these distinctions. We gain maturity in it, by actually making decisions. It is an active thing. Constant practice. It will even mean in the cases where there is no directive, where we have freedom, learning to judge between good and better.

BUT we need to realise:

Jeremiah 17: 9-10 ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”’

Prov 28:26 “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool”

Too often people make mistakes because they have deceived themselves, trusting their own hearts. Here are some ways it can happen*:

  • You focus on issues instead of motives. You say, “There’s nothing wrong with (a concert, drink, movie),” instead of looking at motives/intent. Better questions: “What is my heart saying by this?” “Is this, not just good, but best?”
  • You justify yourself because of good intentions or perceived maturity. You think, “I’m mature enough. I can handle it.” Or “It doesn’t affect me. I need to relate to people (by doing this) to win them over.”
  • You question God’s standard. You think, “God will forgive me.” “Did God really mean that?” We don’t take him seriously.
  • You’re more comfortable with confusion than clarity. You think, “I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing even if I’m not sure it’s right — it’s easier that way.”

Need for accountability (particularly to older people):

Proverbs 18: 1-2 “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire. He breaks out against all sound judgment. A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

12:15 “The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice”

Forming convictions and loving others:

I think it’s easy for us to have a very simple understanding of our lives as being “ok.” The outworking is that basically we can be like everyone else so long as we don’t sin in that. But “being convinced” (Rom 14:5) implies looking at all sides of the issue; debating it with yourself so to speak, forming a conviction. There is no area of our humanity on which God has nothing to say to us.

Yet, how can we hold convictions when we must hold them as less important than our relationships? Rom 14:15

Romans 14:1 – 15:7 answers these questions and give sound reasoning too. Go through it use your pencil to mark the verses you notice that deal with either forming convictions or loving each other. Find reasons.

[my summary:

Reasons to form convictions: to live a purposeful life, (v6-8) we give an account for ourselves to god (12) (when I die and go to heaven…) So you can live in freedom, (22) prevent ourselves from sinning by lack of faith (doubt) or sinning against own conscience (23) Won’t be blown about by others opinions (1 Cor 10: 28-30 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience – I mean the other’s conscience, not your own. For why should my liberty be subject to the judgment of someone else’s conscience? Eph 4:14

Reasons to love: God accepts both (3) so we don’t judge others (3,4, 10) allow God to work without our interference (4b)

Not to cause to stumble, but rather strengthen (13) our freedom can cause distress (15) we’ll be pleasing God and men (18) peace and edification (19) build up others (15:1) imitate Christ (3) bring glory to God (7)]

Conclusion:

Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

Things function best when they operate according to plan!

* This suggestion from: boundless.org (Article: Gray Matters – Five Principles of Discernment)

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