What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. (1 Corinthians 2:12 NIV)
One of the most amazing things that happens when we build a relationship with God is that the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. The Spirit dwells within us and gives us guidance in every area of our lives. Maybe you’ve been praying about a job opportunity for months, and you’ve finally come across an offer–but something about the opportunity might cause you to shift your priorities in a way that distracts you from your walk with God. Maybe you’re in a romantic relationship that strips away at your relationship with Him. Or maybe you’re hanging out with people who lead you to compromise areas of your faith. If we’re being honest with ourselves, there are many situations in which it’s quite easy to see when something or someone is not right for us. Then we hold onto that thing or person, and there’s pain that follows from rejection or the consequences from the negative choices we’ve made.
1 Corinthians 2:12 says that by the Spirit we can understand–recognize–the good things that come from God. But what about the things that are not of Him? How do we prevent ourselves from stumbling into them and falling into a trap?
Maybe you see the signs.
You know exactly what you’re about to get yourself into if you continue down a certain path. We are made new as Christians–don’t accept the old baggage and mistakes from the past. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
The Bible teaches that the best way to rid of temptation is to flee from it, and I couldn’t agree more. If you keep someone around who is continuously hurting you, chances are, you will still get hurt by this person. The best way to detach yourself emotionally and psychologically from something is to first physically distance yourself from it.
Maybe you’re feeling quite torn.
Guess what? God isn’t going to leave you alone to fend for yourself. Satan knows our weaknesses, and he knows exactly how to infiltrate our minds or use situations to keep us in a situation–especially emotionally. Confused about what you should do about a relationship you’re in…or that job that seems appealing? Seek God earnestly–purposefully and diligently set out time to quiet yourself before Him.
Taking action while in a state of confusion can be our biggest downfall. Being still may not be our first instinct because we live in a very fast-paced world. We want answers now. We want clarity–which isn’t a bad thing to want–but what if we have to wait? Our emotions–fear, excitement, infatuation–can sometimes be the loudest voices in our minds and drive us to make rash choices. But who is to say that we must accept this for ourselves? It’s astonishing how many verses call us to wait on God.
Be still, and know that I [am] God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalms 46:10 KJV)
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. (Psalms 37:7 KJV)
The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. (Exodus 14:14 KJV)
My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation [is] from him. (Psalms 62:5 KJV)
Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred. (Job 6:24 KJV)
Accept rest. Understand that God does not give us confusion. He already knows how confused we are! He provides clarity through the mess.
When in doubt…
Aim for the decision that will glorify God. Sometimes, when you ask yourself…”Will this honor God?” or “Will this bring me closer to God?” you get the clarity you’re looking for. When you prioritize that relationship with Him, you are better able to distinguish what is right for you and what is not.
Think of it this way: people often say that when you know who you are and what you want, you are able to avoid the things that do not serve you. So, when your identity–who you are and what you want–is rooted in Christ, you are able to avoid the things that do not serve you.
Ultimately know that there can be great danger behind people and circumstances.
Be open to God’s will, His voice–because He may surprise you. Proverbs 12:15 says that a fool’s ways seems right to him. Proverbs 3:7 tells us not to be wise in our own eyes. God places commands in His Word for a reason–because unfortunately, we tend to do the opposite of these commands (i.e. the unwise things). We want to trust our instincts, but we have such a limited view of the world and our circumstances that it will always be wiser to put our trust in the Lord, who holds the future and knows the hearts of men.
The worst mindset we can develop in our circumstances is one that is based on conditions: If this does not work out, then I will never trust God again. If this happens, I will never forgive that person. If this falls through, then I will be miserable. Absolutely not! Reject those thoughts. Don’t allow the enemy to trap you in a dry season by making these negative promises to yourself.
Understand that anything can occur in life. Sometimes, you do the right thing, and the right thing happens. Sometimes you do the wrong thing, and the right thing happens. Sometimes you do the wrong thing, and the wrong thing happens. And the hardest one of fall: Sometimes you do the right thing, and what we might perceive as the “wrong” thing STILL happens. If you base your mood on the results or responses you get in your life, you have already lost. People and circumstances are unpredictable.
The Word calls us to delight ourselves in the Lord. He blesses those that mourn. He blesses the meek. He blesses the righteous. One of the best ways we can delight in Him is to recognize situations that won’t honor our relationship with Him and avoid them. God doesn’t call us to reject these things to make us “miss out” on things or be “miserable”–He calls us to do these things, because He knows us so well that He knows exactly what will harm us.
When the Holy Spirit places caution on your heart, don’t ignore the signs.