Friday, April 13, 2012

How faith factors into Godly decision making

Romans 14:22-23 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

Over the past several days we have looked at Romans 14 in search of principles or absolutes that enables a Christian to make godly decisions about areas that are termed "gray" or debateable:

1. The Lordship principle - Will this decision enable me to live obediently for Jesus Christ?
2. Love your brother principle - Will this decision enable me to proceed unselfishly for the glory of God?
3. The Spirit-led principle - Will the given decision enable me to be Spirit-led rather than self-led?
4. The Building-up principle - Will whatever decision I make tear down others or God's work or build up others or God's work?

Today we will consider the fifth and final principle in this illuminating 14th chapter of the Book of Romans: Principle #5 - The Faith Principle - Will whatever decision I make encourage greater faith or hurt faith?

The Faith Principle - A closer Look
The clearest definition I know of faith in the Bible is Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  The King James Version renders those two underlined words as "the substance" of things yet hoped for and "the evidence" of things not yet seen.  When I look at the nature and character of faith in the scriptures, I see two emphases: Faith is all at once proof and persuasion.

God brings me the "substance", the "assurance" of things hoped for, the proof of what He says and who He states Himself to be in His Word.  Atoms compose our material world.  They are the "stuff" of this visible world.  Though unseen, yet they are "substance".  Faith is the "stuff", the "assurance" of the unseen realm.  Now Faith is also persuasion, meaning that God Himself personally persuades me.  It is described sometimes as "I know, that I know that I know". 

Without faith, we cannot please God. (Hebrews 11:6).  As much as we proceed along the lines of principles in Romans 14, without faith, we cannot see the value nor partake of God's grace to live them out.  As the end of Romans 14 states: anything done apart from faith is sin.

Why our decisions must factor in the health and well-being of faith
Christian faith brings it with it the ability to think clearly and act rightly for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 2:16)  Whenever I'm faced with a decision where I'm not sure on what to do, I need to ask myself whether or not that course of action will enable me to act in accordance to faith.  Jude 20-21 states: "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. "

So whatever job you're thinking of taking, relationship your want to pursue, hobby that your desiring to take up, past time that you love, friends that you have - ask yourself: "are any of these things contributing to my faith in the Lord or taking away?"  However you answer that question will tell you whether or not it is a decision you need to make or an activity you need to keep on pursuing.

How to tell when you have made a decision because of a conviction of faith, rather than just a preference
In both Romans 14:22 and Hebrews 11:1, faith is described as a God-given conviction.  When making a tough decision, a helpful distinction to keep in mind is the difference between "conviction" and "opinion".  Convictions are those things that you would die for, whereas a preference falls more into the realm of opinion.  Preferences are those motivations that I could go either way; whereas convictions are based upon "I know, that I know, that I know".  Preferences keep thinking more on "what if", whereas the conviction based upon faith deals in the realm of "what is". 

Is what you are wanting to do or decide just a preference, or a real conviction of faith?  Faith is vital in your decision making.  May the Lord guide you through these principles of Romans 14 as you work through the decisions of life. 

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