2009-07-29 - Summer Questions
2009 #4 ~ The Right Path
Joshua, 21:45, "Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass."
Today's Question: "Hello,I'm confused as to what and how do you know if you are on the right path? With so many opportunities out there, I try one, get discouraged, stop, try another, get discouraged, stop, try another. It keeps going and going. I get to the point where I don't want to do anything. I have prayed about it, but nothing is clear. I know I have to wait on God and his timing, but in the meantime do I keep on doing the above, starting and stopping. I guess you could say I'm impatient and want answers. Maybe you could put this in perspective for me, so I feel I'm not waisting my time starting and stopping." (sic)
Thank you for this question. I think it is very practical, and something that everyone of us, at some time or another, asks ourselves. In matters of faith I think we can simply say what Jesus says in John 14:6, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." As far as faith goes, this answers the question about what path we should be on. If you are following any person, religion, or any thing but Jesus and His revelation of Himself, salvation, forgiveness of sin, eternal life, and peace with God -- if you are looking for these things in any other place but Christ, you are on the wrong path and you can know it.
I don't really think that is what you are asking. I think your question is much more practical and life-today-focused. I think you are asking, "How do I know if I am in the right job?" "How do I know if I should send my children to Christian school or public school?" "How do I know if I am going to the right church?" If I can sum this up, "How do I know that my life is pleasing to Christ and in His will?" "How do I know if I am being led by Satan, myself or Jesus?" I hope this is what you are asking, and in one sense I think your comment that you pray about things and seek the Lord means that you have an essential basic down, but I hope I can give you, and us all, something else to take away from these thoughts.
Someone might say, "I had intended to live a good life and I have not been able to serve Jesus as I have wished with my life. I think the devil has hindered me in my life." This might be true, and it might not. One thing we do believe is that God's guiding and sovereign providence has best placed us, where we are, if we are His children. We should not always think that when things go "not our planned way," that Satan has hindered us. It is more likely that this is the providence of God in our lives.
How do we know when satan is hindering us? satan's grand object is to do anything that takes away from the glory of God. If something has gone on in your life that has prevented you from being holy, useful, humble, and/or sanctified...then we may wonder if Satan is at work. If there is something in your life that has turned you away from God, away from righteousness and into sin...That is the kind of thing that Satan has a hand in. The issues are deeper than surface matters such as job, school, recreation, or use of our time. Those are the things we see, but the matters that really lie at the core, behind what we see, are the spiritual matters that form the basis of what shows up in our lives. We know that God does not put things in the way of His children growing in His grace. That is the temptation that Satan leads us into, and that we are ever so prone to succumb unto. Anything in our lives that does not grow the grace of the Lord in our hearts, that cannot be sanctified to His glory, that - if we are honest - we would have to call sin. Those are the sorts of things that Satan works in us.
So when we come down to the specifics of our life, we ask questions regarding the various things we are given as opportunities. "How does this help my consecration to Christ?" If it doesn't in its present form, then how can we change this matter, so that we can grow spiritually in it -- or barring that, how can we eliminate it from our lives? Respecting things that are not opportunities but necessities, such as work, family, eating, sleeping, we might ask, "What is it about this that can be more sanctifying?" "How can I make this more advantageous to my growth in the grace of Christ?" I will give you a general rule: Whatever is an impediment to usefulness in your service unto or growth in Christ, even if it is pleasing and gratifying to you, consider it from satan. Seek to eliminate all aspects of the darkness of the practice, and seek to only do those things that your soul can prayerfully agree with, in accordance with God's Word.
This means we bring the Lord into everything -- every aspect of our lives. This means that if that TV show is the type of "recreation" that can only be called unsanctified...it is not recreation anymore. It is a certain tool of the devil, in which he takes our mind off the things of the Lord and sets them upon the things of this world. You can see how this transfers into all of life.
How do we know if we are on the right path? We ask ourselves if this is what Christ would have us be doing right now, at this moment, in these circumstances in our life. He may send us providential redirecting discouragements if we are on the wrong path -- and this is a blessing. I think there are two ways, and I am not saying that they are easy ways -- they require diligence on our part, to keep ourselves on the right path. The first is to prayerfully be a student of God's Holy Word and pray for the Spirit to help us apply it to our lives. The second is to take that application and live faithfully in God's presence, in all that we undertake.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Editor's Note: The questions in this series are stated in the exact form sent by the readers - unedited, unproofed, in order to remain true to the reader's original wording.