Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Discernment and Christian Liberty

MacArthur in chapel at TMC recently preached a message on Christian Liberty and Decision making with ten points, all beginning with the letter “E.” He called them the E's of Decision-Making. These are questions we can ask ourselves when the Scriptures aren't explicit on a particular activity... I'll go back through these later and fill in the Bible references MacArthur cited.

Expedience - will it be profitable?
Edification - will it build me up?
Excess - will it slow me down?
Enslavement - will it bring me into bondage?
Equivocation - will it cover for my sin
Encroachment - will it train my conscience in the wrong direction
Example - will it set a helpful pattern
Evangelism - will it lead others to Christ?
Emulation - WWJD?
Exaltation - will it glorify God?

I think the best way for Christians to learn discernment is to subscribe to the Chapel @ TMC Podcast and start listening to this and other great sermons! :)


Anonymous said...

good post Mike

P Matthew said...

This is a great, concise list of ways to gauge whether you should or should not do something. My concern would be that if we were to memorize this list, or carry it in our pockets, and then make a habit of evaluating our choices based on this list, then we may be in danger of shifting from a spirit-led life to a formula-led life. Don't get me wrong, it is a great and biblical list. We just have to make sure that we are operating out of a passionate heart and not a regimented legalism. There is something to be said for dancing in the winds of grace.

I would liken it to...
When you first take driver's education, you learn all of the legal rules of the road. You also learn all of the non-legal, but practical rules of driving. In your first weeks and months, those rules govern your driving. You are constantly following the formulas you learned ("I'm 1000 feet from the turn, turn on my left turn signal, look left and right, look in the rear-view, begin to brake...DID I FORGET A STEP??"). After you become a seasoned driver, you get to the place where you no longer panic over the exact formula. You drive naturally. (And still do most of the things in "the formula.") You are still cautious, watching for anything out of the norm, but you are more relaxed, and quite frankly, a much better driver. I'm always afraid of "careful drivers". The type that always have both hands on the wheel and sit forward, never letting their back touch the seat behind them. These type of people have never tried to do doughnuts in the parking lot after a snow. So what? So they probably are not as prepared for losing control of their car in a snowstorm!

I see the Christian life much like this. We have the rules, and we are far more conscious of them as we begin the journey. But as we grow and mature, we begin to intuitively make decisions (rooted in our experience of following the Spirit and evaluating based on Scripture). We feel a freedom to do doughnuts. We become more comfortable and joyful in our walk. We would never want to go back to thinking through the formulas, as necessary as they were in the beginning.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about getting away from Scripture - I'm talking about getting away from a type of thinking, a mentality that can be rigid and joy-killing.

From the Wilderness... said...

This is a great topic Mike! Actually, I think this is one the big things that all christians have to think through at some point, or all through their lives. I agree with what Preston said about this.
I have thought about decision making like this...
We have the scripture first of all which, in this regard, acts as an upper and lower restraint for us. But there is a lot of room in the middle which is grey. Maybe there are multiple decisions that we could choose from all of which seem good in some ways, or fulfill the 10 Es. How do we choose between these choices? Getting rid of the bad choices is the first step, that is those choices which are obviously against God's Word to us. But to chose between the good choices, that is where it gets harder. I tend to lean toward believing that it is the Holy Spirit who has the final and decisive word here (or should). But this is where things become subjective. How does one discern the leading of the Holy Spirit? Some christians would say that will of the Holy Spirit and the direction from God's word are the same thing. I think this type of thought is more prevalent among baptists, but not exclusively. On the other side, pentacostals and charismatics seem to lean so much toward subjective guidance that they could possibly violate the clear guidance of God's Word.
What do you guys think about maintaining the tension between the Spirit and the Word in christian decision making?

Anonymous said...

Here is an excellent article by one of my favorite theologians - Phil Johnson on guidance

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