Bonus Content from May 5th

Sermon Question from May 5th (Isaiah 7)

When I proceed in faith, how can I make sure that the “sign” I’m asking for is truly what God has given me and not just my own confirmation bias?
 
This important question arose because in Isaiah 7, God invites King Ahaz to ask Him for a sign. When Ahaz refuses to ask for one, God disapproves and says He will give Ahaz a sign anyway.
 
For some of us, this leads us to think about asking for signs in our own lives. What sorts of signs are appropriate to ask for? How confident should we be in our interpretation of what we perceive to be signs?
 
In short, I’m not convinced that “asking for signs” is meant to be part of the ordinary experience of a believer today. I say this for several reasons:
 
– Old Testament believers did not have the Holy Spirit indwelling them to guide them. It is interesting that in the New Testament, when believers do have the Holy Spirit living in them, we don’t see any examples of believers looking for signs, and neither are we commanded to do so.
 
– People asked Jesus for a sign. This is how he responded: “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Mt. 12:39). By this, He spoke of His death. It seems that may be the only sign He intends to give. Now that we’ve seen that He’s resurrected, that ought to be enough.
 
– As you suggest in your question, signs are very easy to misread or interpret out of our own confirmation bias. For that reason, it seems better to consult Scripture, pray for guidance, ask mature believers for counsel, and seek the intersection of where our passions, gifts, and the world’s needs align.
 
It was only appropriate, then, for Ahaz to ask for a sign because he was in a unique situation in which God was explicitly inviting him to do so.
 
If you are trying to discern God’s will for your life right now, here is a helpful lecture that corrects some common Christian misperceptions about the decision-making process. It is entitled “The Problem of Waiting for God’s Will” by Kevin DeYoung.