When Christians make decisions, they fundamentally only have two options. Either they can listen to the word of God or they can listen to themselves.
Admittedly, many of the choices that we make in this life are not directly mentioned in Scripture. The Bible says nothing about whether or not a person should eat at McDonalds as opposed to Burger King. The divine text does not tell Christians to skip basketball for piano lessons. And, the scriptures tells us little about which sofa to select.
But the Scriptures address the heart attitudes behind such decisions. Philippians 2:3-4 tells us,
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interests of others.”
If we choose McDonalds even though our wife hates it, we have sinned. If we put our kid in piano lesson because the lessons will help her thrive we have done well. If we force our husband to buy the chair that he hates because we love it, we have sinned. The actually eating, playing, and buying are neutral. One can eat McDonalds having a great heart. Another can eat there with a selfish heart. By addressing the motives behind our actions, the Bible speaks to all of our lives decisions even the gray ones.
The Bible also speaks to the black and white issues. The Bible condemns sexual immorality, adultery, drunkenness, anger, and greed. If we choose these things, we sin and we must repent.
The question then becomes, “will we listen?” Will we obey the Bible even when it tells us to do things we do not like such as staying with our spouse, such as loving our dishonest coworker, and such as caring for our sickly mother-in-law? If we answer no and reject what God’s word says, we are left only with our own opinions. We have decided like the people of Israel of Old, that we know better. Yes, sin and slavery were never really that bad, where they?
Often our answers are not this blatant. We mask our disobedience behind wanting to be happy, behind the well wishes of our friends, and behind the norms of society. We cannot imagine that God will still disapprove of our actions after we won the support of our earthly friends. But he does. Sin by any other name is still sin.
Though our own opinions seem right, helpful, and able to expedite our goal of attaining a happy, fulfilled life, they will ultimately do none of the above. The apostle Paul said it this way,
“To set the mind on the flesh is death…those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Roman 8:6-8). If Christians disregard scripture if they shut out the voice of God and if make become their own god, they will not find joy. They will find death, bitterness, and despair. As Bonhoeffer said, “The basis of all human reality is the dark, turbid urges and desires of the human mind.” (Life together p.31.). Do not listen to this voice, however, appealing. Do not listen to the voice in your head that promises life and happiness apart from the commands of God. The promise is a lie. It is the promise the snared Adam and Eve and brought death into our world. It is the promise, the continues to destroy relationship after relationship. And if you or I believe this promise, it will bring death to our lives. Do not listen to your mind and heart. Don’t listen to that demonic and alluring voice of death. Listen to God.
Will you stop listening to the voices in your head?