Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Go With Your Gut?

By Dennis Pollock

My wife, Benedicta, loves to watch television contest shows which feature various individuals displaying their talents, with several judges discussing the performance afterwards. As the good and dutiful husband that I am, I watch these with her, even though I would rather be watching a classic movie or an action-packed western. One of the things I have heard the judges say, as they decide who gets to remain on the program and who is sent home is, I have to follow my gut.” It seems I have heard this saying hundreds of times as they announce their decisions about the eager contestants.

Not only do the judges say this, but sometimes a contestant, in declaring why he or she chose to sing a particular song or do a particular act, will say, I had go with my gut.” And sometimes when contestants that are doing well are asked to give advice to those at home about their particular dreams or ambitions, they will announce, Go with your gut!”

So the question is this: Is that good advice?” Should all the world, in any and every decision that must be made, always and continually go with their gut?” Technically a person s gut is their stomach and intestinal system, and we know they are not really suggesting that we depend heavily upon our intestines to steer us in the right direction in life. Rather they are suggesting that we rely upon our inner feelings, as opposed to making decisions based upon considerations of pros and cons, or an objective analysis of the situation. Whatever we feel on the inside, this is what we must do. This is going with our gut.”

Follow Your Dream”

There are other expressions which say essentially the same thing. Sometimes people say, Follow your dream,” or follow your heart,” or simply be true to yourself.” One song that was enormously popular in the 1960 s was I Gotta Be Me,” sung most notably by Sammy Davis, Jr. It is another way of saying we must go with our gut. The beginning lyrics are:

Whether I'm right or whether I'm wrong
Whether I find a place in this world or never belong
I gotta be me, I've gotta be me
What else can I be but what I am.

Of course for the Christian, the very first line of the song presents a major problem – the statement: Whether I m right or whether I m wrong.” For followers of Christ, being wrong is the one place we never want to be, and if being me” includes being on the wrong side of God or on the wrong side of divine morality, we had better find a different me” to be.

Are Inner Feelings Trustworthy?

But let s get to the main question that begs an answer: Is it safe, is it wise, is it reasonable, is it right to allow our inner feelings to govern us at all times and in all cases? Shall our decisions be made with a simple look inside ourselves to see how we feel about an issue or a choice? Now if you re a judge for a singing competition, that may be a reasonable thing. Your inner feelings are a referendum on how you liked the song, or a combination of the song plus the singer. Since preferences about music are totally subjective, if you like one person s song better than the other, then by all means go with your gut,” or in other words judge the performance based on how well you liked the song and the singer.

But when it comes to life choices that involve moral issues or matters that relate to the will of God for our lives, simply going with our gut” is about the worst advice we could ever receive. Many a married man has met an attractive lady at his workplace, engaged in a little flirtation, and ended up going with his gut,” divorcing his wife, abandoning his family, and marrying the new lady. After all, everything on the inside of him was screaming that he must have this new love; his feelings literally demanded it. How could he do anything else? He must go with his gut, never mind the fact that God s word forbade it, and that he had made vows to stay with his wife until death. Now his gut was telling him differently, and he must blindly obey.

Adolf Hitler went with his gut and killed six million Jews. Everything inside of him told him that this was proper and necessary, despite the fact that his cruel slaughter defied every moral tenet. All Hitler s inner feelings” demanded this slaughter. He could easily have sung the song, I ve Gotta Be Me” over and over again. And at the end of his miserable, wicked, hate-filled life, he could have sung another similar song: I Did It My Way.” Yes, he surely did it his way, but his way was cruel, monstrous, evil, and despicable. Our world would have been infinitely better off had he based his life on doing things Christ s way – the way of love.

Deceitful Hearts

Our inner feelings are entirely untrustworthy. This is especially true for those who have never been born again through faith in Jesus Christ. To go with your gut” or follow your heart” can lead to disaster, because your heart, or your gut, or your inner feelings, whatever you choose to call that inner core, is corrupt and defiled. The Bible says: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). A deceitful heart can trick us into doing things that we can justify a dozen different ways, even though what we are doing is completely evil, and recognized as such by almost everybody else. An evil heart can persuade an expectant mother to snuff out the life of her unborn baby. An evil heart can persuade a woman to desert her family for the sake of a lover, an evil heart can influence a young teen to join a gang, sell drugs, and plunge into a life of crime, all the while supposing that he is doing the right thing for himself. He may be going with his gut” but he is surely not following the leading of the Holy Spirit.

The Christian has an advantage over the non-Christian. When we were born again, we received the gift of the Holy Spirit, who comes and indwells us. We now can have inner urges and motivations that come directly from God. The Bible says, For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). The Spirit of God can give us counsel and influence our decisions. If anyone has a right to go with their gut” it should be the followers of Christ, who have God living inside them. Jesus declares, He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).

But even we must be careful. Even though God lives within us, we still have a sin nature in us as well. Not every whim, not every desire, not every instinct of the believer can be trusted. We may be hearing from God, but we could also be hearing from the evil one. And even Spirit-filled, Bible-reading, church-going, praise-singing followers of Jesus must evaluate the choices they make by the Scriptures. We do not do this by flipping through our Bibles, putting our finger down on a certain place, and then seeing which verse we landed on. We read the Bible again and again until we develop a God-based sense of morality. And the stronger this morality becomes in our lives, hearts, and minds, the easier many of our decisions become.

Two Ladies

Let s consider a young man who loves God and is eager to be married. He gets to know two different young ladies who obviously like him a lot and give hints that they would welcome a relationship with him. One of the ladies is prettier, has a better figure, and a bubbly personality. The only problem with her is that she does not seem to take God very seriously. She professes Christianity but never talks about God, never reads the Bible, considers church boring, and never gives God anything more than lip service. The other young lady is pleasant looking, but not so beautiful. She is a little on the skinny side, without much of a figure and is rather quiet. But she is deeply devout and loves Jesus passionately. Which to pursue?

The man wrestles with his decision. He feels powerfully drawn to the prettier girl with the fantastic figure; who wouldn’t? But he knows that the less attractive girl would be a far better match for him, spiritually. Should he go with his gut?” Well, in this case, he has two guts” talking to him. One voice, the more sensual one, is urging him to go after the prettier lady. But another inner voice is telling him that he would be foolish not to seek the affections of the quieter follower of Christ, rather than the bubbly party-girl. Two voices are speaking; which one should he heed? He wisely decides to pursue the girl who is more serious about the things of God. Part of his decision was based on an inner sense of the right thing to do, but another part was based on the Scriptures, which tell us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers.

As children of God it is right and proper that we seek to be led by the Holy Spirit, and directed by His still, small voice.” But we must also recognize that we are susceptible to deception. When we gave our lives to Jesus, our sin nature did not pack its bags and go away. It is still with us, and it will try to deceive us at every major junction of our lives. This is why we must pray, we must wait on the Lord to reveal His will, and we must carefully consider how the Scriptures relate to the decisions we need to make. In time God will make His will clear, and we can move forward with faith and confidence.

But the one thing we cannot do is simply assume that the first impulse we feel, the greatest inclination that surfaces, the loudest voice we hear on the inside is always the path we must take. And for the non-Christian, going with his gut is the very last thing he or she needs to do. It will lead to misery, failure, broken relationships, irresponsible decisions, and chaotic lives. Instead, run to Jesus Christ, believe on Him as your Lord, your Savior, and God s atoning sacrifice for your sins, and receive the Holy Spirit. And then spend the rest of your life learning to hear and heed the voice of the Spirit, as He quietly speaks to your heart, and reveals God s mind to you through the pages of your Bible. He will never lead you astray.



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