Have you ever found yourself wrestling with tough moral decisions, uncertain about discerning right from wrong? Trust me, I’ve been there too. In fact, it’s been a bit of a theme for me these past few weeks as I have felt challenged about the right course of action to take as a Christian. So much so, I thought I would unpack it and share some of my beliefs with those of you who may also be struggling to determine right from wrong as a follower of Jesus.
As believers, we should have a deep desire to honour God in every aspect of our lives, but let’s face it, the path to determining what’s right can be hard to figure out, especially with the world portraying contradictory standards and ways of living.
In this article, we’ll delve into the timeless wisdom of God’s Word, the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit, and the influence of our conscience. By the end, you’ll be ready to equip yourself with the tools needed to navigate the moral landscape and make choices that align with God’s heart.
Understanding God’s Standards: The Foundation for Moral Discernment
What does it mean to honour God’s standards as a Christian?
As believers in Christ, it is our calling to honour God’s standards in every aspect of our lives. Honouring His standards means recognising that He is the ultimate authority over what is right and wrong. It involves acknowledging that His Word, the Bible, serves as the unchanging guidepost for our lives. In Psalm 119:105, it says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” By immersing ourselves in the Scriptures, we gain wisdom and understanding, enabling us to align our thoughts, choices, and actions with God’s righteous standards.
How does our faith in Christ impact our understanding of right and wrong?
Our faith in Christ has a transformative impact on our understanding of right and wrong. Through the lens of the Gospel, we realise that our salvation is not earned through our own efforts or adherence to a set of rules, but through the grace of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Our faith prompts us to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who illuminates the truth of God’s Word in our hearts and helps us discern His will. With Romans 12:2 as our guide, we are encouraged not to “conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Why is it important to align our actions with God’s principles?
Aligning our actions with God’s principles is of utmost importance as followers of Christ. It is an expression of our love for Him and our desire to honour His name. When we live according to His principles, we reflect His character to the world around us.
In Matthew 5:16, Jesus says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 also urges us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Seeking Wisdom from Scripture: Unveiling God’s Truth for Moral Guidance
How can the Bible help us determine right from wrong?
The Bible serves as a reliable and authoritative guide for discerning right from wrong. It illuminates our way, providing clarity and direction in navigating ethical choices. Through its teachings, narratives, and commandments, the Bible reveals God’s moral standards, enabling us to make informed decisions aligned with His truth. To see God’s moral standards at play, you only need to read the Ten Commandments, a chapter of Proverbs or the story of Jesus .If you’re struggling with making ethical decisions as a Christian, I cannot encourage you enough to get into the habit of reading 1 chapter of Proverbs every day and feel the Holy Spirit convict you as God’s Word aligns your heart with his.
What are some key biblical principles for making ethical decisions?
The Bible presents numerous principles that guide us in making ethical decisions. One fundamental principle is found in Micah 6:8, which states, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” This verse emphasises the importance of justice, kindness, and humility in our conduct. Additionally, Jesus summarised the commandments as loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and loving our neighbours as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). This principle of love provides a framework for ethical decision-making.
You can ask yourself:
“Would the outcome of this decision be loving or self-serving?’
‘Would I be taking advantage of others if I took that course of action?’
‘Would I be living above reproach and bringing glory to God’?
Find your answer and you will see which of these options reflects the principle of love.
Why should Christians rely on God’s Word as the ultimate authority?
Christians should rely on God’s Word as the ultimate authority because it is divinely inspired and infallible. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
The Bible contains the wisdom and guidance necessary for every aspect of life, including ethical decision-making. By relying on God’s Word, we align ourselves with His perfect wisdom and submit to His authority, ensuring that our choices are in accordance with His will. As believers, we don’t believe in relative, subjective or personal truth. We believe God’s word is THE only truth, that like the nature of God, remains the same ‘yesterday, today and forever’.
Discerning the Holy Spirit’s Guidance: Navigating Moral Choices with Conviction
How does the Holy Spirit help believers discern right from wrong?
The Holy Spirit plays a vital role in helping believers discern right from wrong. John 16:13 says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” The Holy Spirit is our divine counsellor, who dwells within us as believers and guides us in understanding God’s will. By His presence, the Spirit convicts our hearts, illuminates Scripture, and provides inner guidance, helping us discern between right and wrong.
What role does prayer and seeking God’s guidance play in decision-making?
Prayer and seeking God’s guidance are essential in the process of making moral decisions. Proverbs 3:5-6 advises, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” By prayerfully surrendering our decisions to God, we acknowledge His sovereignty and seek His wisdom. Through prayer, we invite the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts, aligning our desires with God’s will and enabling us to make choices that honour Him.
How can we cultivate sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s promptings?
I love this question! Cultivating sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s promptings requires an ongoing relationship with God and a willingness to listen and obey. Galatians 5:25 encourages us, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Becoming sensitive to the Spirit’s promptings involves spending time in prayer, reading and meditating on Scripture, and cultivating a heart of obedience. As we yield to the Holy Spirit, He empowers us to discern His promptings, convicting us when we veer off course and guiding us towards choices that align with God’s principles. In a world filled with moral complexities and temptations, the Holy Spirit becomes our faithful guide, leading us on the path of righteousness and helping us make choices that bring glory honour to God rather than choices that would, in contrast, seek only to serve the flesh.
The Role of Conscience: Listening to God’s Inner Voice of Moral Conviction
What is the conscience, and how does it inform our understanding of right and wrong?
I would describe our conscience as an inner voice that God has placed within each individual, guiding and informing their understanding of right and wrong. Romans 2:15 explains that the conscience bears witness to God’s law, and it either accuses or excuses our thoughts and actions. Our conscience serves as a moral compass, convicting us when we deviate from God’s standards and affirming us when we align with His truth. I would say our conscience can be influenced by the Holy Spirit, but it is different to the person of the Holy Spirit.
How can we train and develop our conscience to align with God’s standards?
This is an important question, as I believe, our conscience can become dull and accustomed to the sin that we practise. For example, you may have felt immense conviction when you first began having sex prior to marriage, but if you continue to go against your conscience, over time, it can become dull. You may no longer feel that stabbing sensation that what you are doing is wrong. It becomes normal and your conscience has been trained to believe this way of living must be okay. If you have read my article about watching Bridgerton, this is similar. Perhaps the first time you saw explicit sexual content on television, you felt convicted but as you continued to watch these shows, it becomes normalised in your mind. Thus, training and developing our conscience to align with God’s standards requires a diligent pursuit of His Word and a willingness to be transformed by His truth. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” By immersing ourselves in Scripture, studying and meditating on its teachings daily, we allow God’s truth to shape our conscience. If you have stepped off the path, as we all do, it is not too late to cultivate a conscience that is in line with God’s Word and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Through prayer, we invite the Holy Spirit to illuminate God’s Word and guide us in discerning right from wrong.
What happens when our conscience conflicts with societal norms?
Ahhh, yes. When our conscience conflicts with societal norms, it can be a challenging moment indeed. We have the opportunity in these instances to live like the world, or to obey God. Acts 5:29 reminds us, “We must obey God rather than men.” As Christians, our ultimate allegiance is to God and His principles, even if they stand in contrast to the prevailing cultural values. In such situations, we should prayerfully seek wisdom and discernment, allowing God’s Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to inform our decisions. It will require courage and conviction to stand firm in our beliefs, but we can trust that obedience to God’s standards will always lead us in the path of righteousness.
Applying God’s Standards in Daily Life: Practical Steps for Moral Living
How can we practically apply God’s standards to our everyday choices?
Practically applying God’s standards to our everyday choices begins with a heart surrendered to Him and a desire to live in obedience. As James 1:22 advises, we must be “doers of the Word and not hearers only.” This requires intentional reflection on His principles and a commitment to align our thoughts, words, and actions with His truth. By seeking His guidance, praying for wisdom, and relying on the Holy Spirit, we can make choices that honour God in every aspect of our lives.
Are there specific areas where Christians often struggle to honour God’s standards?
Everyone is different and will have different experiences when it comes to honouring God’s standards in a world that does not. I’ll briefly highlight a few for you but this is by no means comprehensive and there may be other areas that you are personally working through at this point in time.
One of these areas where it can be difficult to honour God’s standards is with our sexuality, while we live in a society that promotes a distorted view, contradicting God’s design for purity and faithfulness. In a world that glamorizes casual relationships and sexual immorality, Christians may face challenges in maintaining sexual integrity and adhering to biblical principles. It can be easy to become like everyone else or to tell yourself, ‘Everyone is doing it’. If you find this is something you’re presently struggling with, I encourage you to read the section about cultivating your conscience and learning to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It’s never too late to get back on track and start living God’s way.
Another area many may struggle with is honesty, where the temptation to deceive or engage in dishonest practices can be prevalent. Whether it’s telling small lies, cheating, or participating in unethical business practices, Christians are called to be people of truth and integrity. However, the pressures of the world may make it difficult to resist the allure of dishonesty. Just yesterday, I was invited to participate in a MLM business scheme and my conscience was rattling inside me with proverbs from the Bible echoing through my head. I have no doubt these women are making big dollars. But in good conscience, I personally could not sell a dishonest product, even if it could mean financial freedom for my family. I choose to live by the Bible and not follow the teachings of the world. Instead, I’m placing my trust in God, that if I honour him with my business, he will honour my family.
Forgiveness is another area where Christians may find it challenging to honour God’s standards. While Scripture teaches us to forgive others as God has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32), the hurt and pain caused by others can make forgiveness a difficult choice. Bitterness and resentment may linger, hindering our ability to extend grace and forgiveness to those who have wronged us. Artists like Taylor Swift encourage us to hold on to bitter feelings from past relationships. The world tells us we have a right to feel hurt but the Bible teaches us that to be truly free, we need to forgive. It’s easier said than done, and sometimes letting go of hurt can take a lot of prayer.
Cultivating Your Gifts:
Stewardship is yet another area where Christians may face challenges. God calls us to be good stewards of our time, talents, and resources, using them wisely and for His purposes. However, the allure of materialism, the pressure to conform to societal expectations, or the temptation to hoard wealth can lead Christians astray from prioritizing God’s kingdom and practising generous giving. Society conditions us to live with a scarcity mentality, constantly telling us that we need more in order to be happy. By contrast, we should be placing our faith in God as our provider and living by the instruction of the Bible.
If you personally struggle with any of these areas (as I also do!) remember there is always hope. Overcoming these struggles requires self-examination, accountability within the Christian community, and a deep reliance on God’s strength and grace. By seeking guidance from His Word, leaning on the power of the Holy Spirit, and surrounding ourselves with fellow believers who encourage and support us, we can navigate these challenges and live lives that bring honour and glory to God.
Final Thoughts on Determining Right From Wrong as a Believer:
Hopefully you can see now that it is essential for believers to honour God’s standards and take the time to distinguish right from wrong in our own lives. By seeking wisdom from Scripture, relying on the Holy Spirit’s guidance, listening to our conscience, and applying God’s standards in daily life, we can navigate the complexities of moral choices. We will never be perfect and we will always make mistakes. Being a Christian is about having an ongoing journey of growth and transformation. By making decisions that align with the Word of God, we will become people who are more concerned with pleasing God than succumbing to societal norms. In turn, we will greater reflect God’s character to a world that desperately needs him. I hope this article has encouraged you to continue to pursue righteousness, to rely on God’s strength and leading and to make decisions that will ultimately reflect and honour God.