Have you ever found yourself caught in the crossfire of contradictory Christian counsel? What do you do when the counsel of a Christian friend or minister is in conflict with a decision that seems best? Does everyone always agree about the “will of God?”
As recorded in Acts 21, we find the Apostle Paul en route to Jerusalem. The decision to travel to Jerusalem was painful (20:16, 22), perplexing (21:3-4) and not popular (21:11-14).
Christian counsel ought to be one of our most valuable assets (Prov. 11:14; Heb. 10:25). But what is a Christian to do when the counsel received is a contradiction? Our answer is 3-fold.
Some Counsel is to be Flatly Rejected
When it violates biblical principles (Ps. 119:9-11) and patterns (1 John 4:1), counsel should be flatly rejected. In regards to biblical principles, there is only one opinion that really matters, and that is the opinion of God (Rom. 3:4). Concerning biblical patterns, there are 4 situations which should raise caution flags in the minds of believers.
- Is the Christian counselor serving on a financial basis (1 Cor. 9:18; 1 Pet. 5:2)?
- Is the Christian counselor under the authority of (sent out by/commissioned by) a local church (Gal. 6:1; Prov. 27:6)?
- Does the Christian counselor have a good relationship with said church leaders (1 Pet. 5)?
- Does the Christian counselor work alone, or is there a restorative team (Gal. 6:1)?
Some Counsel is to be Reflected Upon Carefully
While it is possible that the Apostle strayed from God’s will, as some commentators think, along with those recorded in Acts for their confrontation of Paul; we should note:
Paul lived by the leading of the Spirit (19:21; 20:22-23). And, Paul’s life offers us some insight into knowing the leading of the Spirit today?
- Paul’s conscience was clean (Acts 23:1, 24:16)
- Paul’s motives were right (Acts 24:17-21)
- He wanted to bring an offering (v. 17)
- He wanted to live in harmony (v. 18-20)
- He wanted to testify of Christ (v. 21)
What could have caused Paul’s fellow-servants to provide counsel that was contradictory? Their opinions were formed:
- Through personal involvement (21:1 – “we were torn away”).
- With only partial knowledge (21:3-4).
- Through pragmatic concerns (21:10-12).
Some Counsel is to be Received Gladly and Heeded
Regardless of the situation or circumstance, there is some counsel that ought to be followed by the believer:
WHEN THE COUNSEL IS BASED UPON THE WORD OF GOD (Ps. 119:105; John 17:17). Our conscience and our conduct must be bound and tethered to the Bible (Is. 8:20).
WHEN THE COUNSEL IS CONFIRMED BY THE SPIRIT (Acts 21:13-14). Remember, the one mark (fruit) of Spirit is selfless Love; and this love will be seen in things like joy, peace, goodness, gentleness, meekness, faith, self-control, patient endurance, kindness. When counsel is given but no hope, faith or love are instilled, then one can be sure the counsel is not from God’s Spirit.
*I acknowledge the following study is not my own. The author is Chuck Phelps; but I quickly add that the reader should remember the Disclaimer on the “About” page of this blog. Not all persons or ministry philosophies are condoned and/or promoted by their being posted here at Lamb’s Harbinger. The study has been slightly modified from its original wording and format.