Yesterday I posed one of the most important questions in life: how can I know the “right” thing to do in whatever situation I’m in? Ultimately your life is nothing more than the sum of all your decisions. Make good decisions and you’ll probably find yourself in a good place. Make bad decisions and you’ll find the exact opposite. The question for us is: HOW DO I MAKE THE RIGHT DECISIONS?
I mentioned yesterday that sometimes it seems (emphasis on the word “seems”) that Jesus was inconsistent in His decisions. Sometimes He would heal people and sometimes He wouldn’t. Sometimes He’d raise the dead person, other times He wouldn’t. Sometimes He’d speak softly and compassionately; other times He spoke sternly and harshly.
How did He know when to heal and when not to heal? How did He know when to say yes and when to say no? How did He know the “right” thing to do?
That’s the million dollar question and today we’re going to look at the million dollar answer. The key verse is this: “Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.” (Mark 1:12)
It’s not the wilderness I’m interested in here, but rather the process by which Jesus went to the wilderness and knew that that was what He was supposed to do. It says “the Spirit drove Him” there.
Question: is the wilderness the right place to go to or not?
Answer: if the Spirit leads you there, then YES. If not, then NO.
There’s no magic formula here. There’s no gimmick or trick or one-size-fits-all approach to making decisions that will always yield the correct answer. We aren’t talking about math class where everything breaks down into a nice and neat formula. We’re talking about life. Life isn’t always black and white.
So how do I know what to do? You need the Holy Spirit to guide you.
The answer won’t always be clear or easy to see. In fact, sometimes the answer will change in different situations. Like we saw with Jesus – at times it was the right thing to heal someone and at other times it wasn’t. At times, it was right to be compassionate and at other times it was right to stern.
How can we know the difference? What formula can we use to figure it out? There’s no formula – but there is the Holy Spirit living inside of us.
“When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:13)
I gave you a trick question yesterday. There’s no right answer to the question “how do I know the right thing to do?” It isn’t about figuring out an answer to a question; but rather it’s about having a living relationship with the Spirit of God.
It’s about our relationship with the Spirit, not about our obedience to a set of rules.
The same Spirit that tells you to do one thing one day may tell you to do the opposite the next day. He may tell you “take this job” today and then tell you “leave the same job” later on. He may tell you “spend more time at home” one day and then say “I need you to leave your comfort zone” another day. It’s about a living relationship with the Spirit, not about obedience to a set of rules.
Life isn’t static. It’s dynamic and constantly moving. So too is your life with Jesus. He came to “make all things new” (Revelation 21:5) – meaning He wants to work in new ways in your life. He wants to teach you new lessons and open your eyes to new mysteries that you never before experienced. We need to stop relying on a preconceived notion of what's right and what's wrong - instead we need to rely daily on the living Spirit within us to guide us into all truth.
Prayer is good and Bible reading is good, but that isn’t how you know what to do. You need the Holy Spirit. And yes the Holy Spirit will work through your prayer time and your Bible reading – but never lose sight of Him. Never get so focused on the practices that you miss the Spirit behind them.
“But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:10-11
For discussion: what can you share about your experience of living with the Holy Spirit? What helps you live in tune with His leading?