This article is the fourth part in a series on decision-making and the will of God. The previous articles can be found here: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
Having covered the Bible’s teaching on the will of God and having demonstrated the problems with the prevailing view, we are now ready to move on to a Biblical model of decision-making. There are several presuppositions and principles that we want to keep in mind as we make any decision.
The first presupposition is that the Holy Spirit’s role is to conform us to the image of Christ through the Word and to convict us of sin (John 16). We do not find any straightforward teaching in the New Testament that the Spirit provides normative guidance in non-moral decisions.
Second, because of the secret nature of God’s sovereign will, we cannot know His will ahead of time. Because He inevitably accomplishes it, we do not need to know God’s plan ahead of time. He alone is responsible and capable of accomplishing His secret plan. We can trust that His plan will always be done.
Third, Scripture is sufficient for all matters pertaining to life and godliness (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2Pet 1:3-4). There is nothing outside of Scripture that is necessary in order for us to walk faithfully with the Lord.
Fourth, it is essential to know God’s Word. Scripture is the guidebook for the Christian life and provides all the laws and principles that should guide us in decision-making.
In addition to these presuppositions, there are several principles that should guide us in decision-making. First, in those areas specifically addressed by the Bible, the revealed commands and principles of God (His moral will) are to be obeyed. Again, this necessitates knowing the Word. We can’t obey the word if we don’t know the Word.
Second, in those areas where the Bible gives no command or principle (non-moral decisions), the believer is free and responsible to choose his own course of action. Any decision made within the moral will of God is acceptable to God. For example, Scripture gives us several principles that provide a framework within which we may choose whom to marry. A believer should marry someone who: (1) is not already married (this follows from the prohibition of remarriage in certain cases - Matt 19:9; Rom 7:2-3; 1 Cor7:10-11); (2) is of the opposite sex (Lev 20:13; Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9-10); and (3) is a Christian (1 Cor 7:39; 2 Cor 6:14-16). The believer is free to marry anyone inside that framework (1 Cor 7:39).
Third, in non-moral decisions, the objective of the Christian is to make wise, loving decisions. More will be revealed about this in the next article, but the existence of the wisdom literature in the Bible indicates that God expects His people to use wisdom in their decision-making.
Fourth, in all decisions, the believer should humbly submit, in advance, to the outworking of God’s sovereign will as it touches each decision. James 4:13-15 reads, Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"-- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that."
Next, time we’ll look at a suggested process for making decisions biblically. Until then, consider how the above presuppositions and principles would guide you in the decisions you are considering today.