We are barraged by choices. Most of them are easy access, just a click or two and a credit card away. Others are free. They come before our eyes and ears in the form of media that seeks to sell us products, agendas or opinions. It’s very easy to be swept away, following the course that entices.
If we don’t put up some boundaries, we can be swept away in a direction that we never intended to go. It’s happening more and more and people don’t realize that in some areas they gave up control at one hard-to-pinpoint moment. Scripture addresses the need for us to be vigilant as Christians, actually warning us that we are vulnerable to deception and acceptance of anti-Christian ideas.
We may feel spiritually mature and discerning, confident that we will know a demonic teaching when we hear it.
I Timothy 4:1-2 is a passage of Scripture that may sound dramatic to the average Christian. It says;
“Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.”
It’s wise to examine what the Bible advises to keep us from falling unknowingly into deception and sin. Instead of making spontaneous decisions about our time, money, energy and relationships, there are several things to consider. By running decisions through these tests, we can avoid many potential pitfalls that could lead to trouble and lead us to eventually turning our faces away from God.
5 Ways to Make Good Choices
1. Intentionally tune into the Holy Spirit. Some decisions may seem too small to “bother” God about. This is not the case! Psalm 37:23 says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Not only is God not bothered, but He enjoys being invited into the details!
We aren’t expected to make decisions on our own.
We are given help when we ask for it and listen to our consciences. Sometimes we will be asked to forgo things that aren’t sinful in themselves, but, unknown to us, may contribute to our leaving our previosly-safe boundaries. Sometimes we feel not right about doing or hearing or buying something. Trust your intuition. It’s usually the Holy Spirit helping us to keep our paths straight.
2. Forego things that may cause another person to stumble. Sometimes it’s difficult for us to understand how much our behaviors affect other people, even people we don’t know. Romans 14:13 says, “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”
Sometimes we have to give something up in a situation because it’s best for another person.
If we look around and make sure our decision won’t cause another person to sin, the body of Christ becomes a much safer place for anyone to make a decision. Romans 14:19 summarizes this goal; “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
3. Choose Godly friends. We should not spend a lot of time with people whose bad choices can rub off on us. 1 Corinthians 15:33-34 explains, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.” In this verse, Paul recognizes the importance of hanging out with people who love God and want to honor him.
If you step back, who is leading in your friendships?
This doesn’t mean that we can’t have “sinners” for friends. Jesus did! But when the day was done, His closest friends were those who chose God’s ways. He stayed well-connected to the friends who shared His priorities. If you step back, who is leading in your friendships? Are you compromising morally to be accepted and included? Are you turning your eyes away from sin, saying nothing so that you don’t offend people? The Holy Spirit will prompt us when our relationships are out of balance. We never should sin to be included or accepted, and sometimes we are tempted to cross the line. Our friends should encourage us to stay within the boundaries that God has put in place.
2 Corinthians 12:15 says, “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” Find friend and companions who will encourage you to stand firm in Godly choices, and return the favor.
4. Accept that good choices may require sacrifice. The bottom line is that we can’t do whatever we want to, regardless of what the world may tell us. When we understand that Scripture is to guide us to keep us safe and protect us from inviting evil influences into our lives, it’s easier to reject things that tempt us.
Physically avoid the things that can ultimately harm you spiritually.
In Matthew 5:29, Jesus says something that can be difficult to understand. He says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.” Jesus is not telling us hurt ourselves. He’s telling us to go to great lengths to avoid sin. He isn’t saying, “Just close your eyes and ignore temptation.” He’s saying cross the road to avoid temptation, skip the movie if it will lead your thoughts to unholy places, x-out the website that is attempting to lure you into anything from sexual temptations to political opinions that mock God and Jesus. Physically avoid the things that can ultimately harm you spiritually.
5. Don’t be led by you emotions. We may avoid tremendous troubles if we wait to make decisions, then base them on God’s Word instead of our emotions. Don’t underestimate the power of reading Scripture! It can help firmly establish God’s boundaries in our minds and hearts.Deuteronomy 13:4 says, “It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.” Scripture is the best test, always.
The Holy Spirit helps us discern when our emotions are clouding our judgement.
“Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.”
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.”
Spontaneity is fun, but it's not always best to rush into something that you're unsure about. Think about that movie or book. Read reviews, ask opinions of the people you spiritually respect. An activity may be innocent in itself, but deeper involvement may lead to to darker spiritual connections as you become more involved in it. “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet” also means to think where your path is headed. Choose paths that lead to peace, not harder choices.
It’s important to realize how small decisions can put you on wrong paths and unintentionally influence people away from Godly choices. One neutral decision probably isn’t going to hurt you or anyone else. A series of neutral decisions may displace a series of good decisions, and may steal from you. The more you know God, the more you will want to please Him, and the more instinctive good and edifying decisions will be. Good choices put us on the path to receive the best that God has for us.