The couple had been married for years. They fell in love, got married and had a family. Their children were now teenagers and they all went to church regularly and engaged in family devotions, speaking about God and seeking to honor Him in their lives. When the husband’s high school reunion rolled around, he and his wife were excited to go; he to see old friends and reconnect, and she to meet people from his distant past and support him. When they arrived, he quickly saw his old girlfriend. They chatted. And the night was over.
But the connection was made.
It all began to unravel. They started talking, emailing, meeting up and ultimately he left his wife and children to begin a new life with this love from the past.
When confronted by the church about his decision, he stated that God had led him to the High School reunion to reconnect with his true love. His justification was this:
“I have prayed about this, long and hard, and I have a peace about it.”
Have you ever heard someone say, “I’ve been praying about this and I feel…” and follow it up with something outrageous? Sinful? Absurd?
Prayer is a powerful tool whereby we can connect with and commune with God. When Jesus died on the cross, he paid the punishment for our sins and removed the barrier of our guilt so that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence that he hears us when we pray. On our own. We do not need a priest or intercessor – other than Jesus – to get us to God. Prayer is a beautiful, powerful, wonderful gift. And many times God uses it to change our hearts to understand His will for a given situation.
But friends, if you are seeking peace about a decision, and you close your eyes and say, “God, I want to leave my wife because I love another, show me your will” and you conclude that God’s will is for you to do exactly that, that decision and peace is not from God. God will never condone or affirm a sinful decision, even if you pray over it. You have only murmured your desires enough to callous your heart to the truth, but since you spent time in meditation on the topic you can justify that the “peace” you feel is a gift from God. But truly it is the absence of conviction that you have spent days, weeks or months suppressing through fake prayer.
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
– 2 Peter 1.2-3
In the written Word of God, we have everything pertaining to life and godliness. What does that mean? It means that whatever decision is before you, you can turn to the Bible and find God’s heart in the matter. Would God ever condone abandoning your wife and children because a woman from your past has reemerged?
Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
– Prov 5.18
And the two shall become one flesh; so that they are no longer two; but one flesh.
– Mark 10.8
What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.
– Matt 19.6
No. God’s heart is never giving up one wife and family for another. The two are one flesh, God has joined them together, and no one should separate them. He has given us His word to speak finally, clearly and decisively on the issue and He will give no further or different revelation through prayer.
But someone might say, “Our culture is so advanced! We are more enlightened than the people of Jesus’ day, or Moses’ day. The Bible has to adapt to our culture because we see so much more.”
That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun.
– Ecc 1.9
What is it that is new today? Scientists believing that they are more informed than Scripture? Romans 1 says,
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
– Rom 1.21-23
Since the beginning, people have exchanged the glory of God for images of man, animals and crawling creatures. Did God create the universe? Or did we all emerge from primordial slime which had no genesis?
Is homosexuality new to today? Are we enlightened because men love men and women love women? Romans 1 also says,
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
– Rom 1.26-27
Paul gives a first hand account of worshiping creation and homosexuality as prevalent cultural norms. 2,000 years ago. We are not advanced and God has not changed his mind. There is nothing new under the sun, and spending time “praying” about it when we are merely seeking God’s approval is a waste of time. God will not approve what He has forbidden and declared sinful.
Rather, if we persist in it, He will turn us over to our passions and depravity:
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
– Rom 1.28-32
We often consider ourselves justified because we have the hearty approval of others. But the approval about which we should be concerned is God’s.
Every generation has faced the temptation to consider the Bible outdated and uninformed. Every generation has sought to add to it, to make it more “up-to-date”. Even Jesus and Paul would have known Adam, Abraham and Moses as historical figures. In fact they were more distant to Jesus than Jesus is to us. But God has promised us everything that we need for life and godliness in His word.
Therefore, when we pray, we must pray with our eyes open, reading His Word. We must say, “God I have this desire, help me understand your heart on the issue” and examine His word. The Bible might not use terms like computers, internet or retirement, but it speaks to the principles involved therein. There are godly ways to approach every subject and sinful ways.
So the next time we are tempted to justify ourselves by saying, “I’ve been praying about this”, let’s be ready to defend our peace and conviction by the Word of God. And let us learn to differentiate between the peace and guidance of God from numbness due to self-justification and unchecked passion and desire.