A Christian is faced with hundreds if not thousands of decisions everyday. Most are instinctively made with little to no thought. They are habit decisions and we often don’t even realize we have made them. Others require a little more attention. They require a quick pause and an internal evaluation. In the span of a few seconds the decision is made with little to no pain. Then there are the rarest of decisions, the really big ones. These require much of us. These are ones we can fret over. These are the ones that we seek counsel in making. These are the ones we worry about making the “wrong choice.” In this category are the decisions like whom to marry, jobs to take, whether to move or not, college major, etc. These are the life changing kinds of decisions. These are the times when the Christian will finally ask, “what does God want me to do here?” Here in lies the problem with the American Christian. I suspect it is the same all over the world. The average Christian makes most of his decisions without even thinking about it. He spends little to no time considering what the Word of the Lord has spoken regarding the details of his life. He lives on autopilot, an autopilot that was set with no regard to where the Lord has destined him to go. How is the Christian to live his life and make his daily decisions in the light of his salvation? Sadly, this most basic of questions has either been ignored or poorly answered.
The Christian culture in America has failed to answer this question from a thoroughly Biblical basis. The most common method is an appeal to “community consensus.” The answer to what is right and wrong is defined by the group. The “Christian community” tells us how to feel about abortion, work, marriage, war, politics, money, education, and every other topic under the sun. A Christian will find a “Christian community” that is most compatible with the ethics that he already holds dear. There is very little change needed in his life. He is comfortable. If his life is mostly in line with his “Christian community” then he tends to feel at ease with his Christianity. The problem is that communities can get it wrong, even covenant communities. Israel did on several occasions. The history of God’s covenant people is filled with a record of the community doing “evil in the sight of God” or everyone doing “what was right in his own eyes.” This is the echo throughout the book Judges. You don’t think that is a problem today? Christians are engaged in the same activities as their pagan neighbors. They are encouraged by fellow believers to worship sports, have small families, send their kids to government schools, have debt, and yes someday retire. Their community has confirmed that these things are Christian. The problem is if the community does not turn to God’s Word and law it will not provide the right direction. Our “Christian communities” rejected God’s law long ago. The path they lead us down leads to rebellion and disobedience.
There is another way that a believer seeks to deal with the question of what should be his guide to his lifestyle and his personal decisions. He knows he should live for God. After all, we are talking about a true Christian with the indwelling Holy Spirit. He desires to live a life pleasing to God. He knows the Bible is the only source of truth and direction. The problem with this believer is, he does not know how to apply the scriptures to his life. He wants to live for God, but in the details of his life he doesn’t know how to apply God’s Word to the specific decisions he is faced with. The sole guide for his ethics is vague Biblical principles that have no teeth on them. Allow me to give an example. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.“ It is indeed the greatest commandment. The command to “love your neighbor as yourself” is a command that must be taken to heart, for it is “like the first.” However, these commands are not useful if kept in the realm of generalities or overarching principles. Yes, these commands are absolutely binding upon all Christian behavior, but to obey them takes more information than is found in these commands alone. The principle to “love your neighbor” can and has led to all manners of unbiblical behavior. “Love your neighbor” has been used as a carte blanche for all sorts of sins that the Lord hates (i.e. welfare, socialism, infidelity, penal system, etc.) Well meaning Christians desire to fulfill the command to “love your neighbor.” What they do not realize is that these two great commands are a summation of more specific commands found elsewhere in the Bible. They do not know their Bible. The details of what it means to “love your neighbor” that have been defined and spelled out in the Old Testament are not consulted. They are left forming their personal ethics (making daily decisions) on the basis of very broad principles. They have not seen how God has put teeth on these principles. It is another path that leads to destruction.
So what is the solution? We must turn the God’s Word for instruction, divine instruction. R.J. Rushdoony pointed out that “torah means instruction, authoritative direction.” Torah is the Hebrew word for law.
“The Biblical concept of law is broader than the legal codes…It applies to the divine word and instruction in its totality.”
Thus it follows that if we want instructions from God on how we are to live, we must have some understanding and insight into Biblical law. We must be honest about how we make our decisions. Do we follow our Christian communities? Do we follow some great high level commandment without the knowledge of how the Bible fleshes it out? If we want to live a life that is pleasing to God, we must know what pleases God. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The Blessed Path is a path of obedience to God and His commands. Next post we will examine the usefulness of the law in guiding our decisions.
“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!” Psalm 119:1