“Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do; He reveals to you Who He is.”
Have you ever wanted so badly to know the specific will of God in your life that you resorted to seeing messages from heaven in every little thing? It is natural to have a desire to know what to do and what the future holds. Perhaps you’re like me, I long for a detailed roadmap where I make no mistakes or disappoint God. But has this actually worked? Do these messages give us direction or do they confuse and frustrate our walk with the Lord? We must find a balance between looking for signs from God in every grilled-cheese sandwich, and professing to love God and yet making every decision in strictly human terms.
One of the greatest dangers in our effort to discern the will of God is to make it into a method of discovering the future. In my previous post we talked about how a Christian’s longing to discern and do the will of God is modeled in Scripture, is essential to what we do and it is expected by God. Unchecked, this desire can lead us in the wrong direction and cause us to miss the beauty of trusting the Lord. The Bible says very little about discerning the will of God to foreknow what lies ahead. We must be careful in choosing this method to seek God’s wisdom so that we do not turn discerning God’s will into divination.
Divination is “the attempt to influence or control people or events through supernatural forces.” History reveals that humans have always sought to know the mind of God through all sorts of divinations such as fortune telling, prediction, soothsaying, casting lots and clairvoyance. The motivation for these practices is mostly fear and desire for God’s power, but also craving to tap into God’s intelligence. Some Christians believe that divination is Biblical because in the Old Testament we read stories where, under specific situations, God revealed his will to his people through certain divination practices (prophets, dreams, casting lots, signs and even sacred lots and stones). They interpret these circumstances to mean that it is OK for Christians to engage in divination. This is using passages of the Bible as proof text to our personal agenda.
God also warned his people not to practice any form of divination that undermined dependence upon Him and circumvented His laws, as in Deuteronomy 18:9-13: “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.” These were the “detestable” practices of the nations who did not worship YHWH. In Acts 1:24-26 we find the last documented use of sacred lots to replace Judas. But, there is no evidence of the use of any divination practices to seek God’s will after Pentecost, when believers were filled with the Holy Spirit. God now gives guidance to His people through the Word, prayer and by the power of the Holy Spirit. The danger of resorting to divination is that we separate ourselves from our Almighty Father and therefore cannot hear His voice.
Another way we try to secure our future is by our religious life. In our search for divine guidance, Christians can easily fall into the temptation of resorting to divination through religiosity and legalism. We might not even notice the equation that can start to dominate our approach to this subject: if we do this, then God will do that, and our lives will be great. Subtly, we start to believe that if we make the right choice, we will receive God’s favor, fulfill our divine destiny and succeed in life. Sometimes this leads to a crisis of faith when things don’t work out as we expected. John the Baptists chastised the Pharisees and Sadducees for relying on their heritage, temple practices and strict obedience of laws to insure God’s blessing (Matthew 3:7-10). Christians can drift toward relying on their good deeds, attendance to church and even their fervent prayers to demand from God clarity about their future. Manipulation perverts our relationship with God and deflects His powerful grace and mercy. We subconsciously turn God into a genie, responsible of granting all of our wishes, and then we cannot experience God’s faithful love.
It is part of our fallenness to seek to control of our destiny so that we can take charge. I have to admit that I am a control freak. What if I make the wrong decision? Am I alone in this? When we embrace that there is a God, our Creator (Genesis 1) who loves us so much that he sent his Son to die for us (John 3:16), gave us the Holy Spirit (Acts 2), wants us to know Him intimately (John 10:14, Hebrews 10:11), and has plans to prosper us (Jeremiah 29:11), we can easily turn the relationship into a quest to know or control our future.
As for me, it has never worked out well when I try to take control of God’s agenda, but I find myself trying all too often, which is why I am passionate about this subject. Our destination with this study is not to figure out with precision what our future might look like, but to understand what God wants us to know about Him and His will. As followers of Christ, we need to focus on what the Bible teaches about the way our God guides His people to do what He desires. This will be the subject of our next post.
Which one of these dangers are you most likely to underestimate?
See also Longing for Guidance
 Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1375.
 Bruce K. Walke (1995), Finding the Will of God; A Pagan Notion? (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.), p. 41.