Proverbs 14:12....."There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
So how do we know when something that seems right is right? How do we know what seems right is the leadership of the Spirit and not our natural reasoning leading us into a way of destruction? There are three tests that can help us answer those questions.
Test One - Is the way I want to go contrary to scripture? The Holy Spirit will never contradict the word of God. We may try to wrest the scripture around to give us the answer we want, but if instead we will honestly read the Bible and heed it's teachings, it will help us interpret our "feelings" as to the way we should go. The Bible should interpret our lives...not vice versa. If I have to reason away scripture to pursue my chosen plan, I am probably on a way of death. If scripture supports and encourages my actions, I am probably following the Spirit.
But sometimes scripture is silent on a specific topic. Sometimes there is no definite right or wrong. How do we know what to do then?
Test Two - Does it offend my brother? Sometimes we don't need to do something for the simple reason that it harms our brethren, it is a stumbling block to them....it makes their Christian walk harder. In the fourteenth chapter of Romans, Paul gives us this lesson. To summarize, some of the early Christians thought eating meat was sinful. Paul, acknowledging that a person's diet has nothing to do with their devotion to God, advises the meat eating brethren to abstain from partaking of meat in front of their weaker brethren. He does not tell the weak brethren to just get over it. He tells the meat eaters to stop and to instead pursue 'the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." So if scripture is silent on a matter, and our brother is offended by our actions, to continue to pursue those actions could be a way of death.,,,death to fellowship and to peace. Ceasing from offensive behavior will yield blessings. Scripture is filled with praise for peacemakers. The world is full of problems that could be avoided if we better applied this test in our decisions. I want to be a pursuer of peace. I would love to be known for that. That is a New Year's Resolution worth striving toward!
So if scripture is silent on a matter, and my brother is not offended by my actions, then I am good to go...right? I think there is still one more test to pass before I say my choice is safe.
Test Three - What is the still, small voice saying? The world has many names for this still, small voice; intuition, gut feeling, inner voice. For the child of God, I believe the quiet voice inside yourself, guiding you toward right and away from wrong, is the Holy Spirit placed within you at regeneration. But often, we are too busy to listen to this voice. So before any big decision is made, I think it is of the utmost importance to STOP moving, talking, and doing; and to just BE STILL and LISTEN. Don't try to justify or support the way you want to go. Just be quiet, and honestly check to see if something inside of you is saying "no." If the still, small voice says no, then wait. Maybe later it will say yes, or maybe it won't, but to take off willfully ignoring that voice is dangerous.
The trick is to know if fear is saying "no", or if the Spirit is saying "no." That is why it is important to spend time every day trying to find that quiet voice within yourself. Then you will recognize that voice when you need guidance. It just "sounds" different than fear.
So there they are. Three tests to help determine if the way that seems right is right. I am sure others have different ways, better ways, and I would be thrilled to hear what they are.