Why Jesus Did Teach His Disciples to Not Find the Will of God Through Consensus (Mark 8:33-37)
Illustration: The much-loved children’s story Pinocchio is about a wooden puppet whose nose grows long when he tells a lie. His friend Jiminy Cricket chirps, "Let your conscience be your guide." Pinocchio follows his advice, repents, and returns to Geppetto his creator, where he is given a heart of flesh and is freed from his strings.
There’s a principle in this story for God’s children. If we don’t listen to that voice deep down inside that tells us what we should and should not do, we live in bondage. But a cleansed conscience brings freedom.
Some people have no strong basis for making godly decisions. Their conscience is weak, and they can be easily swayed by the behavior of others. Then there are those whose conscience is defiled. The standard by which they measure good and evil is corrupted, polluted, and impure (Titus 1:15). But saddest of all are those who have a "seared" conscience (1 Timothy 4:2). They have resisted that inner voice for so long that they no longer hear what it has to say.
But you ask, "How can we have a cleansed conscience?" We must repent of our sin and return to our Creator. We must ask Him to conform our desires and behavior to His Word and then be careful to obey it. —David Roper
There is a treasure you can own
That’s greater than a crown or throne;
This treasure is a conscience clear
That brings the sweetest peace and cheer. —Isenhour
Conscience is a trustworthy compass when God’s Word is your true north. (Our Daily Bread)
1. Jesus knew that a majority view is often not gotten until evidence of success is obtained- especially among the religious leaders. Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him when He heard that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law and that he must be killed. But Jesus rebuked Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God but the things of men." (Mark 8:33) Ask the Lord to help you follow the will of God before you concern yourself with the consensus of some religious leaders.
2. Jesus knew that the ways of the world are often contrary to the will of God. The Lord Jesus said, "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. If they persecute me, they will persecute you also." (Jn. 15:19,20) Ask the Lord to help you be willing to go against the stream of popular opinion to accomplish the will of God.
3. Jesus often pointed out peoples’ faults that upsets the majorities’ opinion about Him. The great shepherd said, "The world hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. (Jn 7:7) Ask the Lord to help you speak the truth in love and grow up in all aspects into Christ regardless of the consequences.
4. Jesus taught that knowing the will of God involved a willingness to yield to His purposes over natural human tendencies. The Lord Jesus said, "If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own." (Jn. 7:17) Ask the Lord to be willing to do whatever God asks you to do regardless of how politically correct or acceptable it might appear.
5. Jesus knew that His identity, responsibility and future lay in heaven and not on earth. The Lord Jesus said to the Jews & Pharisees, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world." (Jn. 8:23) Ask the Lord to help you base your decisions on your God given identity, responsibility and future in eternity.
6. Jesus knew that He was working more for God than men. The Lord Jesus knew that Paul would write, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." (Col. 3:23) Ask the Lord to help you have purer motives to serve-wholeheartedly to please the Lord in all respects rather than to please people.
7. Jesus knew that cultural, emotional, experiential, political and inter-personal forces often influence decisions more than the leading of Biblical principles. Jesus said, "Sanctify them through your word, your word is truth." (John 17:7) Ask the Lord to help you make decisions based on sound Biblical principles rather than what seems popular or social-politically acceptable.
8. Jesus knew that people who seek consensus often are motivated by personal ambitions. One day an argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; for he who is least among you all - he is the greatest." (Lk. 9:46-48) Ask the Lord to help you be more motivated by Christ’s example than by what seems to advance your personal or social interests.
9. Jesus knew that evangelists and teachers of the scripture are often rejected and misunderstood. The Lord Jesus said, "When you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, "Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town." (Lk. 10:10,11) Ask the Lord for a holy boldness to let your live above peoples’ rejections.
10. Jesus knew that consensus often means a deterioration in God’s holy standards of righteousness and truth. The Lord Jesus said to the Pharisees, "Woe to you because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering." (Lk. 11:43,52) Ask the Lord to help you hold to Biblical standards of truth even if it means withstanding criticism, persecution and hatred from powerful people.
11. Jesus knew that the ministry of the kingdom is often divisive. The Lord Jesus said, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household." (Mt. 10:34-36) Ask the Lord to help you be willing to leave the security of your family and friends if it is necessary to prove your greater love for God. Jesus said, "Anyone who loves his father or more than me is not worthy of me." (Matt. 10:37)
Application: Ask God for help in deciding the will of God through the Holy Spirit’s leading and Biblical principles rather than the majority opinion.