5. How to make the right decisions.
We have the ability to make the right decisions
Deuteronomy 30:19-20, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you, life and death, blessing and cursing; Therefore, choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; “
Life and death, blessing and cursing are a result of the decisions we make. We are a product of our decisions and not our backgrounds or circumstances. Many people who came out of a terrible background are blessed today because of the decisions they have made.
The most powerful gift that God has given to us is our free will. It is so powerful, that neither God, nor the devil can over-ride or stop us from making decisions. We have the example of Adam and Eve, when they chose to disobey God in the Garden of Eden. Even God could not stop them! God and the devil can influence the decisions we make, but the final ability to say, yes or no still belongs to us.
In 1 Corinthians 10:13 we read, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it..” God will never allow us be tempted above our ability to stand against the temptation of the devil. If He knows that we are too weak, He will not allow us to be tempted. He will either give us the power to stand against the temptation, or He will give us a way out. For example:
Firstly, we can pray when we are tempted. Prayer gives us the power to say “no” to temptation! Jesus said to Peter and the disciples on the night before His crucifixion “pray lest you fall into temptation.” (Matthew 26:41) Unfortunately, Peter slept instead of praying and he denied Jesus. If he had prayed, maybe he would not have denied Jesus.
Secondly, we can resist the devil. In 1 Peter 5:8-9, we read, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith...” This is what Jesus did in the wilderness when the devil tempted Him. He said, “away with you Satan!” (Matthew 4:10)
Thirdly, we can walk away from the temptation. Paul said to Timothy, in 2 Timothy 2:22, “Flee youthful lusts!” This is good advice especially to young people. Not only should we walk away from those who tempt us, but we can “walk away” and switch off the temptation that comes from the electronic media.
Fourthly, we can apply the principles of the cross and reckon ourselves dead to sin. InRomans 6:11we read, “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We can believe and declare that sin no longer has power over us, because we have died in Christ. When the devil tempts us, we can simply say, “This has no power over me, because I am dead to sin, and dead people are free from sin!”
There is no demon in hell that can force us to do things against our will, because the power of decision is more powerful than the power of temptation. There was once a famous witch by the name of Doreen Irvine, who lived in England. She was a prostitute and a witch. She became the most powerful witch in the world and was called, the “queen of the black witches”. She could set a building alight with her words and even kill the birds in the air with a curse. She had such a close relationship with the devil that she could walk through fires, holding the devil’s hand.
One day she walked past a church and read on a notice board that a famous evangelist was preaching there. She decided to go into the church and listen to the message. When the evangelist invited people to come forward and receive Jesus, she decided to give her life to Jesus. She said the demons in her were screaming, “no, no, no,” but they could not stop her. She gave her life to Jesus and became a preacher. If the demons could not stop her, they cannot stop us either! The best example in the Bible is the Gadarine demoniac. Six thousand demons could not stop him coming to Jesus, falling at His feet, and following Jesus. He became the first missionary in the New Testament. Therefore, there is nothing that can stop us from making the right decisions.
God also influences our decisions by His grace. We read in Titus 2:11-12, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” The Bible also says in Philippians 2:13that “God works in us to will and to do of His good will.” The grace of God can influence our hearts and make it easier for us to say “yes” to Jesus, but the final decision still belongs to us. This is what happens when we pray for people. God will influence their hearts by His grace, but He will not force them to say “yes.” That is why some people will never turn to God, because they have made their decision to turn away from Him.
Every temptation we face is an opportunity for blessing and breakthrough, if we make the right decisions. We read in James 1:12“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” Not only will we be blessed on earth, but also in eternity. In verse 2of the same chapter, we are given very good advice, “count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Therefore, when we rejoice in a time of temptation, we will receive the power to conquer the temptation.
Some things that will help us make the right decisions:
1. The Bible. We read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The more we read the Bible, the easier it becomes to make the right decisions. In Joshua 1:8we read, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
2. The Holy Spirit. We read in John 16:13, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.” As we let the Holy Spirit lead us, we will always make good choices.
3. Godly advice: Proverbs 11:14, “Wherethere is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” God has put wise spiritual people in the church to help us make the right decisions. Therefore, we should never make an important decision without discussing it with our spiritual leaders.
4. Fasting.We read in Acts 13:2, “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said…” We have another example in Ezra 8:21, “Then I proclaimed a fast, to humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way...” In verse 23we read, “… and He answered our prayers.” It is wise to fast before we make any very important decision.
5. The importance of the peace of God: In Isaiah 55:12says, “You shall go out with joy and be led out with peace.” In Colossians 3:15it says, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts!” The word “rule” can imply, “be the umpire.” If we do not have peace when making a decision, then it is the peace of God, blowing the whistle and saying to us, “don’t do it!”
We should be careful not to make decisions when…
1.When the decision is based on negative emotions:for example, anger, offence, frustration, jealousy or depression. If we are experiencing any of these negative emotions, we should be careful and wait till we have peace. We have the example of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. He nearly lost his miracle and made a bad decision, because he was offended with Elisha. We have the example how David nearly murdered innocent people because he was angry with the husband of Abigail. We should first get healed, or rid of negative emotions before we make important decisions. For example, don’t just sell your motor car because you are angry with it! Or a wife should not just divorce her husband because she is offended with him. Or someone should not just leave the church because they are offended.
2. When the decision is motivated by fear. The Bible says that God has not given us a spirit of fear. (2 Timothy 1:7) Fear is from the devil, and fear will cause us to make bad decisions. We should only make decisions, because we believe it is God’s will. For example, we want to live in another country because we are afraid of the economic situation in our country. One of the worst fears that cause us to make bad decisions is the fear of people. We are afraid of our relatives, our parents,and what others think. Some people are afraid to leave the church, because they are afraid of the pastor. We have the example of how Saul made a bad decision and disobeyed God, because he was afraid of his army.
3. We should never be motivated by the expectation of people. We have the example of Jesus. They told Him that Lazarus was sick and they expected Him to come immediately. However, He waited two more days because He knew it was not the Father’s will for Him to go immediately. We need to be especially careful when it comes to the expectation of our family and relatives. Jesus is our Lord, and it is what He wants us to do that should influence our decisions.
4. We should never make a decision when we are under pressure: Sometimes people try to force us to make fast decisions. They may tell you, “I need money right now, if you don’t give me money I will lose my car. I promise that I will return it in a week!” It has been my decision, that when I have been forced to make a quick decision, it has always been the wrong decision. It is usually better to wait, pray about it and make the decision when we have peace in our hearts. This can also happen when certain preachers try to force us to give. Paul says we must not give grudgingly but from a willing heart. (2 Corinthians 9:7) This may even happen in a shop when there is some bargain. They may tell us that if we do not buy it now, we will lose the bargain. My experience is that there is often a better bargain later! In Isaiah 55:12it says, we shall be led out with peace.
Further thoughts on decisions
One or two good decisions can cancel out a lot of bad decisions in the past. We have the example of the Prodigal Son. He made many bad decisions when he left his father. Then one day he made one very good decision, he said, “I will go and return to my father…” (Luke 15:18) When he made that one decision, everything came right in his life. There are a number of life changing decisions that we can make that can cancel many bad decisions that we have made in the past. For example, we can go to church, we can forgive, we can repent, we can tithe or we can just simply obey the word of God.
Great grace is released when we make clear radical decisions. We have the example of Joshua. On the last day of Joshua’s life, he said, “Choose this day who you will serve. As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) The people of Israel responded with the same decision,“We will also serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:24) That decision was so strong, that the Children of Israel served God for the next forty years. I have seen this in my own life. The strong radical decisions that I have taken in the past, have released God’s grace to have victory in certain areas in my life. For example we can make a strong decision to repent, obey Jesus, forgive, love and obey God, etc.
Finally, God can restore us even if we have made bad decisions in the past. If we have made bad decisions in the past, it is not the end of the road. We have the example of David and Bathsheba. He made a terrible mistake when he comitted adulterywith Bathsheba. He repented with all his heart and God forgave him and restored him. God is a God of restoration, and if we have made bad mistakes in the past, we can try again, and make good decisions in the future.
Therefore, we can be blessed today and have God’s abundant life if we make good decisions today. The Bible says, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; Therefore, choose life.” Amen.