In this fast-paced world, we often find ourselves seeking reassurance and confirmation in our decision-making processes. And as Christians, it’s only natural to desire a clear understanding of God’s will and purpose for our lives. 

As a result, it’s not uncommon for Christians to read into things these days. We often look for signs, coincidences, an audible voice, a word of knowledge, or specific confirmations from God before making decisions or discerning His will. 

For instance, a Christian might notice a particular number or name recurring throughout their day and interpret it as a “confirmation” from God. Alternatively, they might have a dream, and if events unfold similar to what they dreamt, they might perceive it as a “prophetic” message from God.

This often stems from a noble desire to avoid making a mistake or worse yet, missing out on God’s will. Needless to say, I used to do this too.

In my case, attending a church where the use of the phrase “God told me” was common reinforced my belief that the Christian life ought to be a series of God telling me to do this or that. Those who made such claims were respected as “deep” and “spiritual”. And to be honest, I desired the same.

Hence, the idea that God could speak to me through other means apart from the Bible sat perfectly with me theologically.  And since Scripture won’t tell you precisely who to marry, which career to pursue, and so on, I believed it was okay to seek God’s will outside the confines of Scripture. 

But is this how Christians are supposed to find God’s will? Well, I wish to submit to you that it isn’t. Therefore, in this blog post, we’ll challenge that perspective and shed light on the importance of relying on the Scriptures instead.

“We can stop pleading with God to show us the future, and start living and obeying like we are confident that He holds the future.”
Kevin Deyoung

1. It undermines the authority and sufficiency of the Scriptures

The Bible is the primary means through which God reveals His will and character to us. They contain timeless truths and are filled with principles that can guide our lives. Hence, looking out for signs, dreams, visions, numbers, or events is not only unnecessary but also undermines the Bible’s sufficiency.

Psalm 119:105 beautifully illustrates the Bible’s role as “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path“, emphasizing that God’s Word serves as the foundation for discerning His will. This truth reinforces the idea that seeking signs, dreams, visions, or extrabiblical events can be unnecessary and even counterproductive when determining God’s will.

Furthermore, in  2 Timothy, Paul asserts, 

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

Although the Bible doesn’t go to great lengths about every subject, it’s replete with wisdom, principles, and teachings. This verse underscores that the Bible is not lacking in any way and is entirely sufficient to equip believers for every aspect of their lives.

Therefore, looking outside the Bible is a distraction from the wealth of knowledge available through studying and applying God’s Word.

Moreover, when Christians rely on external signs or personal experiences, it tends to lead to a dangerous prioritization of subjective feelings over the objective teachings of the Bible. This can result in individuals making decisions that are contrary to what the Bible clearly conveys.

Although they may be aware of what the Bible says, they will often choose to go by what they feel. And they will justify their actions by saying, “But, God told me…”

This is what happens when reading into circumstances or events becomes the pinnacle of discovering God’s will. We end up sacrificing God’s authoritative word at the altar of experience. But it’s a lie from the enemy that we can determine God’s will for our lives with our Bibles closed.

Sadly, he has managed to convince us that we can find God’s Will by ascribing divine meaning where there may be none. And in doing so, he persuades us of the very opposite of what the Bible declares to be true.

2. It’s inconsistent and unreliable

Unlike the Scriptures, signs, dreams, occurrences, and symbols are not a standardized language that God uses to communicate His will. As such they are by nature subjective and open to various interpretations. Often leading individuals to project their feelings, preconceived desires, and confirmation biases onto them.

This can pose significant challenges because our human understanding is limited. Not to mention, our desires and feelings are tainted with sin. As humans, we tend to gravitate toward things that gratify our flesh. Therefore, relying on the subjective nature of signs, symbols, voices, etc. to discern God’s will can easily lead us astray. 

I believe that this is one of the reasons why neither Jesus nor the Apostles taught that we should seek out coded meaning from natural phenomena or circumstances. In fact, nowhere in the Bible are we exhorted to discern God’s will in this way.

Moreover, mistaking random occurrences or coincidences as divine messages can have far-reaching consequences. Many people have made life-wrecking choices based on subjective interpretations of signs.

By choosing to see events that happen to us as coded messages from God that need to be deciphered, we inadvertently give up the voice of reason. And by failing to reason biblically, we can lead ourselves down the wrong path. This can result in confusion, frustration, and even disappointment in our faith journey.

3. It’s a ‘Christianized’ pagan understanding of finding God’s will 

The inclination to decode natural phenomena or coincidences in our circumstances is a common human tendency. Historically, pagan nations, lacking the revelation of God’s word through prophets, sought divine guidance through various means with the hope of discerning the will of their higher power.

As a result, they often employed unbiblical techniques to seek divine knowledge, typically from the realm of the spirit world. These techniques involved divination, fortune telling interpreting omens, sorcery, mediumship, and other forms of mysticism.

However, due to God’s covenant relationship with Israel, He appointed prophets as authoritative mediators to convey His will to them. Consequently, the Israelites did not need to seek God’s will through any other means besides His authoritative word. In the book of Deuteronomy, God emphatically prohibited the adoption of pagan means to discern His will, stating:

“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you." Deuteronomy 18:9-12 ESV

I believe that one of the reasons why God condemns divination as an abomination is because it attempts to replace His authoritative word. Furthermore, divination represents a form of idolatry that can easily expose individuals to demonic deception. While the information gained through divination may appear accurate, it does not originate from God but from evil spirits.

“When we seek to find God’s will, we are attempting to discover hidden knowledge by Supernatural activity. If we are going to find His will on one specific choice, we will have to penetrate the Divine mind to get His decision. Finding in this sense is really a form of divination.” 
Bruce Walkie

So when Christians are preoccupied with attaching undue significance to signs, symbols, names, numbers, events, etc. they inadvertently engage in a practice that is pagan in nature. It’s no different from interpreting omens. 

On that note, I think it’s important to mention that we ought to be wary of taking the Lord’s name in vain. For God has said that “He will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Ex 20:7). We commit the sin of blasphemy when we attribute to God a voice that is not His. Since God considers interpreting omens to be an abominable practice, we should not claim the He can speak to us in this way because He cannot break His command.

Furthermore, in Deuteronomy 29, God says:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." Deuteronomy 29:29 ESV

This means that we have no business trying to discover God’s secret sovereign decree over our lives. His secrets are His alone. We should instead devote energy toward understanding and obeying the revealed will of God in his word. 

“Many Christians become preoccupied or even obsessed with finding the will of God for their lives. If the will we are seeking is his secret hidden or decretive will then our Quest is a Fool’s errand. The secret counsel of God is his secret he has not been pleased to make it known to us. Far from being a mark of spirituality the Quest for God’s secret will is an unwarranted invasion of God’s privacy. God’s secret counsel is none of our business. This is partly why the Bible takes such a Negative view of fortune telling necromancy and other forms of prohibited practices.”
R. C Sproul

So, how are we supposed to discern God’s will? 

Here are some practical steps that you can follow:

a) Read the Bible: As Christians, we should ground our understanding of God’s will in the Bible. If I’m honest, the main reason why I sought signs and other forms of extra-Biblical messages is because I was lazy. I fancied the idea of “hearing’ from God directly, telling me exactly what to do because it seemed a lot easier. Rather than diving into His word to obtain Biblical wisdom. 

However, I was wrong. God’s Word provides the necessary foundation for discerning His will. Therefore, it should be our first source of guidance.

b) Think biblically: Sadly, most Christians have been led to believe that they can either be intellectual or spiritual. Not both. As such, using the mind is often seen as a hindrance to spirituality. 

Similarly, if there is something that relying on signs, dreams, visions, numbers, or events calls for, it’s disengaging the mind. But this is unbiblical, Christians should be both spiritual and intellectual. Romans 12:2 says, ”Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

This clearly shows that the mind is useful for testing and discerning God’s will. Hence why we should renew it with the Word of God.

“If you already know what God’s Word says on the subject, you already know what God’s will is on the subject.”
Michelle Lesley

c) Pray biblically: Biblical prayer is inseparable from the Scriptures. James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Even when it comes to seeking God’s will we should confidently ask God for wisdom, knowing that He will grant it to us.

This is different from asking God for a sign. It’s not about trying to make God bend to our will. Rather, it’s about seeking to align our will with God’s will as revealed in His word. It’s also about trusting that God is actively involved in our lives, guiding and directing us according to His purpose even when it may not seem apparent (Prov 3:5-6; Rom 8:28). 

d) Seek wise counsel: Seek godly counsel from mature Christians who read their Bibles.  Proverbs 12:15 reminds us “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”  Our personal biases can easily cloud our judgment and keep us from seeing things objectively. Therefore, seeking advice from those who have experience and Biblical wisdom can help us to make well-informed decisions and avoid potential pitfalls.

Final Thoughts

As Christians, we should embrace the fact that God’s will for our lives and future will always be a mystery. Instead of looking out for coded meaning in things and events, we should cultivate a lifestyle of prayer, studying Scripture diligently, and seeking wise counsel from mature fellow believers. By doing so, we can align our choices with biblical wisdom and safely trust God with the outcome. At the end of the day, God’s sovereign purpose for our lives must prevail (Prov 19:21).


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