Direction and Motivation

What Directs and Motivates Your Life?

Article bR

Obviously God is to direct and motivate our life, rather than our personal theories or understanding, or the influence of men. Proverbs 3:5-6 reads, "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths". This Scripture in saying "lean not on thy own understanding" yet does not mean God expects to direct our paths without us understanding or perceiving. To follow God's Spirit and direction, we obviously must follow our own (yet God given) understanding and perception of God's direction. If we would have no perception or understanding we would be worse than dumb animals, and could not follow direction at all. To not lean on our own understanding as taught in this Scripture simply means we dare not lean on an understanding or conclusion that is controlled and distorted by our fleshly and (carnal) desires, but rather must honestly and with discretion follow God's laws. The "not lean on your own understanding" quote clearly does not mean we should refrain from studying and mentally understanding God's will and laws. The Scriptures surrounding the "not lean on your own understanding" quote very much advocate seeking wisdom and understanding. Note leaning on our own understanding clearly does not give one permission to thoughtlessly and blindly follow the crowd.

To often Christians permit their fleshly desires control their reasoning and beliefs, rather than allowing discreet reasoning and beliefs to control their desires. When Christians permit their fleshly desires to distort their reasoning (understanding) they are leaning on their own understanding rather than acknowledging God and allowing Him to direct their paths.

God has planned that the Christian be guided and motivated by numerous sources. The Christian is to be guided by the Holy Spirit, guided by the Bible, guided by his personal knowledge (study), guided by other Christians, and guided by his conscience. Yet as the Christian is not to be guided by only one of these sources of direction, how should and do these five vital sources of direction work together in directing the Christian's life? Each one of these five sources of direction will be considered below.

The Christian's desires must yield to the above five sources of direction. If the above sources of direction do not condemn one's desires, then one's desires are pure and may be fulfilled. Four Scriptures particularly speak of God granting His children their inner desires, which Scriptures are Psa 10:17, 37:4, 145:19, and Pro 10:24. When one's desires are santified and honestly yielded to God's Spirit, the Bible, personal knowledge, other Christians and to one's conscience, then one's personal desires may also have a part in directing their life. May we find that sanctification wherein God can grant us our inner desires as spoken of in these four Scriptures.

Direction From the Conscience

With regard to conscience, it is a very different source of direction than the Holy Spirit, the Bible, personal study, and other Christians, in that the conscience cannot teach the Christian new things as can the other four sources of direction. The conscience rather than being an initial teacher, as are the other sources of direction, is taught and molded by them. The conscience is like a battery that is charged, or a pond that is filled, by outside sources of direction. Yet after the conscience is charged and filled, it has a powerful influence upon the Christian and very much prompts one to follow the combined direction which it has received. The conscience often times does not allow individuals to merely follow any one particular source of direction, but prompts one to follow that direction which seems appropriate to all sources of direction and seems to be comfortable, even if one does not even know for sure why that direction seems comfortable to him. Such direction may be comfortable to one because of past experiences and traditions, or possibly because the Holy Spirit is motivating one's conscience. To determine if one is being lead particularly by the Spirit or particularly by his conscience can be very difficult.

The word conscience derives from the Greek words 4893, 4894, 4862, and 1492 which Greek words pertain to being aware of, and a companion that sees and knows. The word conscience appears 31 times in the KJV Bible, yet only in the New Testament. Most of these 31 verses speak of conscience as being something that is always right, yet some of these verses also speak of conscience as something that might not be totally correct (1 Cor 8:7&10&12; 1 Cor 10:25-29).

Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter eight, three times speaks of a weak conscience, while he also asks why his liberty should be judged of another mans weak conscience (1 Cor 10:29). Paul also speaks of one's conscience being seared with a hot iron (1 Tim 4:2). Although the conscience often times is right, yet one's conscience can be significantly faulty through erroneous training and influence. Yet regardless of what one's conscience might require of him, to avoid condemnation one must endeavor to honestly follow his conscience until it is further enlightened. Romans 14:22-23 reads, "Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. {23} And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.". Personal study, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and other Christians can help one's conscience become properly formed.

Since one's conscience often is not easily changed, some might for many years hold to traditions that outside of conscience are unnecessary. A distinct difference existed between the Jewish and Gentiles Christian standards in the early Church, because the consciences of the Jewish Christians were very deeply established with many Jewish laws, while the consciences of the Gentiles had no feelings for such laws. The different standards as existed between the Jewish and Gentile Christians is considered in chapters 3 and 4 of article bA.

Direction Through the Holy Spirit

With regards to the Holy Spirit, such is a most important source of direction. Many Scriptures speak of the importance of the Holy Spirit. Following are several such Scriptures;

Jesus speaking of the Holy Ghost said,

(John 16:7) "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."

(John 14:16-17) "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." (Note John 15:26, 16:13 also name the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth.)

Notice how this verse calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth. Those who claim they have the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but lack a honest hunger and willingness for the truth, should consider whether it is possible to have the Spirit of Truth dwelling within them while they in reality are resisting the truth.

Apostle Paul speaking of the great importance of the Holy Spirit said;

(Rom 8:9) ":..Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."

(Rom 8:14) "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."

(Eph 4:30) "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."

It appears the Holy Spirit speaks to the Christian in numerous ways. Sometimes the Holy Spirit may simply impress a message into one's mind. Sometimes he may speak with a audible voice. Sometimes He may speak through dreams and visions. Joel 2:28 reads "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:"

One individual said he, the morning after being saved (born again) was almost ready to light up a marijuana cigarette as he was accustomed to doing in the past, when he heard a voice that was new to him saying "don't do that". This was the voice of Holy spirit speaking to him which voice was new to him. Yet this individual could not expect to hear that voice repeated just like that again and again regarding this thing. Rather this individual now needed to simply follow that new knowledge the Holy Spirit had given him. Note the voice of the Spirit as here revealed, might simply have been a message impressed upon the mind.

Another individual said the morning after he was saved (born again), he was ready to make some unkind remark to his sister, when a voice that was new to him said "don't do that". This individual neither could expect to hear that voice repeated as such again and again, but now simply needed to continue to follow that instruction to be kind, which was told him by the Spirit.

Apostle Peter had the Holy Spirit very distinctly inform him saying, "Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them." (Acts 10:19-20). Possibly the Spirit here spoke in an audible voice, or possibly simply impressed this message upon Peter's mind.

In studying how the Holy Spirit, conscience, and knowledge might work together in directing our lives the following occurrences should be considered;

After Peter had followed the leading of the Spirit, gone to Cornelius house, baptized various Gentiles, and eaten with them then, "they that were of the circumcision [Jews at Jerusalem] contended with him, {3} Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them." (Acts 11:2-3). Why did these Christians at Jerusalem content with Peter as this? Were these Christians not led by the Holy Spirit since they contended with Peter as this? It must be considered that those who contended with Peter about this thing, felt totally different after their understanding was enlightened, as they received sound knowledge and reason from Peter (Acts 11:4-18). This reveals how proper knowledge and understanding is very important in knowing the truth and not only Holy Spirit direction.

Another occurrence to consider in considering how the leading of the Holy Spirit and knowledge might work together is as follows; After Paul was converted he went up to the Christians at Jerusalem, but the Christians at Jerusalem were afraid of him and did not believe he was a Christian (Acts 11:26-29). Could not these early Christians feel the flowing and presence of the Spirit, and were they not led by the Spirit, since they could not believe Paul's confession that he now also was a Christian? Yet after these Christians heard Barnabas (an individual whom they had confidence in) tell of Paul's conversion and doings, and understood Paul truly was a Christian, they then felt as one with Paul. Considering the above it becomes clear that knowledge and not only the Holy Spirit is to be expected in knowing the truth.

Concerning Direction

From Personal Knowledge and Study

Some self confident individuals think that their instinctive impressions and choices, are so wise and reliable that they can simply trust them, and don’t even need to carefully reason or study to know the truth. Proverbs 26:16 speaking of one who thinks he can trust his own impressions without learning or reasoning reads, "The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason."

God has planned that Christians should study the Scriptures to understand God's ways. Jesus said "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." (John 5:39). Many Scriptures advocate study, knowledge, and wisdom. Yet Jesus very much advocated one must have a pure and honest heart. If one lacks a pure and honest heart, no amount of study will bring him to a good understanding. One who is not honest and pure in his studies will exaggerate the Scriptures and issues that suit him and will minimize the Scriptures and issues that he doesn't like, to thereby come up with the conclusion he likes. Such ones as Jesus said will strain at gnats and swallow camels as they defend the doctrines and beliefs that they want to hold to (Matt 23:24). Such ones have an evil eye and their who body shall be full of darkness (Mat 6:23, Luke 11:34)!

Many Old and New Testament Scriptures advocate study, knowledge, and wisdom. God wants Christians to honestly and carefully use the head and brains he has given them. Jesus had good reason for the things He taught, and often put others to silence who really did not know why they believed as they did. Jesus also wants His followers to have good reasons for what they believe, and reasons that cannot be refuted by the honest seeker.

Concerning arguing a belief with those who lack real honestly, and who do not discreetly consider all issues, and who are basically out to defend whatever they were taught or have accepted as truth, Jesus said we should not cast our pearls of truth before them because they simply will turn again and rend us (Matt 7:6). It is very sad that many have fully given themselves to a spiritually insanity in their efforts to believe as they want to believe. Such as continue to reject the truth will become more and more spiritually retarded at time passes and they will never learn the truth. How sad. Those who lack a honest and pure heart will very much lack having sound knowledge as a source to help direct their lives because their knowledge and study is corrupted. Concerning such ones the light of their body is evil and thus their body shall be full of darkness (Matt 6:22-23).

Yet all this does not mean we should not study and learn but rather means we need to study and learn with a honest and pure heart. Those Scriptures which advocate study, knowledge, and wisdom are for real. Christians need to know and understand the truth with their minds, and yet know the Author of truth with their heart and spirit.

Direction From Other Christians

Numerous Scriptures speak of the importance of learning and getting direction from others. Proverbs 11:14, 15:22, 24:6 all speak of their being a blessing or safety in a multitude of counselors. Proverbs 12:5 speaks of one that hearkens to council as being wise. Christians are not to be independent and unteachable!

Yet it must be considered that just because a multitude is saying the same thing does not mean it is right. Often times multitudes in large Churches erroneously say the same thing, because they all are ignorantly following the blind leadership. The secret of multitude safety lies in all the counselors truly being honest and knowledgeable counselors, rather than the multitude simply being ignorant followers. In considering the multitude safety aspect one should consider in the mechanical world if a machine doesn't work, one person who is knowledgeable in that subject and really knows what he is doing, can fix that machine much more than a great multitude of people that are ignorant about that machine and are unitedly but ignorantly trying to fix it. Yet if a multitude would all really know what they are doing in the mechanical field, it is even more likely they could diagnose and fix a machine with a very severe problem. Truth matters more than numbers.

God very much expects His people to honestly listen and learn from other Christians, yet God does not desire His children to be blind followers of other Christians. God's people should not expect others to listen to them because of thinking themselves to be a special people, but rather should have good reasons for what they say. God does not want His children to believe someone unless they give good reasons for what they say. Prov 14:15 concerning this reads, "The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going."

Although Christians very much do need to be teachable and willing to be follow other Christians, Christians yet can very erroneously succumb to peer pressure and to being unwilling to stand apart for the truth when needed. Even Apostle Peter fell prey to such and was reproved to his face by Paul (Gal 2:11-14). May God help us to find direction from other Christians as we should, and yet help us not to be blind followers.

Direction From the Bible

Clearly the Bible is a most important source of direction for the Christian. Yet it is sad that many Christians and churches are reading the same Bible and some how are coming up with all kinds of opposing beliefs while all saying it is direction from the Bible. One must read the Bible and follow the intent and spirit of the Scriptures to know truth. One also must give due regards to all Scriptures in the Bible rather than exaggerating those that suit them and minimizing those they don't really like. Christians must be very honest and careful to rightly divide the words of truth as Paul said we must (2 Tim 2:15).

Discerning What Motivates Us

Too many Christians are directed and motivated by their fleshly desires and the influence of others, rather than directed by God's Spirit and a personal understanding of truth. Although most Christians claim to be directed and motivated by personal conviction and by the Spirit, it is very possible that many do not really know what directs and motivates them. It is even possible that one's strong and seemingly personal convictions are founded upon the teaching of men, rather than based upon the leading of the Spirit and a personal understanding of truth. One might quite strongly believe he is lead and motivated by the Holy Spirit, but find that he rather is mostly lead and motivated by blind leaders and by a distorted conscience. Yet in all this God very much knows the honest heart and will not cast away those who honestly desire the truth. One can rest assured if they really love the truth, God will grant them sufficient truth to be saved even though much innocent ignorance might exist.

To find out whether a group of Christians are personally directed by the Holy Spirit, or mostly by each other, Christians need to see how much unity they might have on an issue without them having any idea how their fellow Christians might feel about it.

In determining whether your convictions are truly personal and based upon a personal understanding of truth, or only based upon the teaching of others, you should consider whether you would continue to believe as you do, even if for some reason all your teachers and acquaintances would say we have taught you wrong and begin to believe different than you do.

In dealing with writings and documents, copies of the original can easily be made. After a copy is made it then can be quite difficult to tell which paper is the original and which paper is the copy. Some Christians, like papers, are only copies rather than originals. True Christians are an original product of God's Spirit, rather than, merely a copy of other Christians. Those who are merely copies of other Christians, are really not Christians at all. Romans 8:9 reads, "...Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." In some situations it is quite difficult to tell if a Christian is an original or merely a copy. The emphasis of Christian mission efforts must be to create originals not copies! May we all examine ourselves and see if we be in the faith as Paul said in 2 Cor 13:5, lest we be mere copies. May we truly hunger and thirst after righteousness, rather than for our own honor and pleasure, for then we will be filled with God's blessing, although possibly persecuted and rejected by man (Matt 5:6). Farewell.

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