Fight or Flight? Weighing Your Instincts Against God's Word
- 2008 22 May
Everyone has decisions to make. Most people make dozens of decisions daily, whether they realize it or not. These decisions range from the not-so-important to the more significant.
Think about how many little decisions you make in a day. What route to take to work, what to cook for dinner, whether to drink a bottle of water or a Diet Coke, whether or not you’re going to hold your tongue when you get cut-off in traffic…They add up over time, and the really intimidating aspect of those decisions is that that they reveal our character. What we decide to do, how we decide to act, what we decide to say all make up who we are.
When faced with a difficult choice, you’ve probably heard this advice: “Oh, just go with your instincts” or “Your instincts are never wrong.” Sound familiar? Well, I beg to differ!
There are times in our lives when our instincts, however pure our intentions may be, are dead wrong. For example, I’m nearing the end of my first pregnancy, and boy, has gaining weight been hard! Not physically – I’ve haven’t had any trouble packing on the pounds, as my doctor requested. But mentally, well, that’s been an entirely different story. When I gain weight, all my mental and emotional instincts tell me to diet, to work out more, to push myself harder, to lose inches…all of which are obviously bad choices for a pregnant woman! Since I’m used to being in shape and being active in my gym, this weight thing has been a real struggle for me. If I were to listen to those instincts, I’d be placing myself and my baby in danger.
Then there are times our instincts tell us to flee when we shouldn’t. We feel the battle we’re engaged in is too exhausting, that we don’t have enough energy or aren’t fully equipped to fight. We think we’re too tired, too old, too young, too sick, too weak. We believe the problem is bigger than our resources.
But when we look at Scripture we see many situations where God told people to fight that instinct to flee and to ignore that sense of inadequacy. The book of Ephesians tells us to “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
We often see God at His biggest when we’re feeling at our smallest. What victories we would miss if we hid under the covers instead of believing and trusting in His word—our impenetrable armor.
And just as there are times when our instincts tell us to flee and the Bible instructs us to fight, there are also times when the Bible tells us to flee and our instincts tell us to fight.
Temptation towards sexual immorality makes a great example. Sometimes we think we’re strong enough to click on that website or “just look” at that guy or girl without falling. We think we’re not going to slip into the sins of adultery, pornography, or premarital sex. We think we’re tough enough on our own to stand our ground, so we women think nothing of “innocent” workplace flirtation. In the same regard, men think nothing of “innocent” compliments made to the waitress in a low-cut top or to the pretty woman passing him on the street.
Let me tell you -- it’s a trap! A lie from hell. Sexual immorality is one war the Bible tells us to run away from. 1 Corinthians 6:18. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
It doesn’t get much clearer than that. Next time you hear your instincts whispering “Yes I can,” check what the Bible says. God’s Word might just tell you “No, you can’t”!
God gave Christians the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us. If we shove aside the wiles of the flesh, we can hear His gentle voice coaxing us in the right direction. The Holy Spirit will never lead us in the wrong direction.
Sounds simple enough, right? But therein lies a dilemma. How can we tell if it is the Holy Spirit’s prompting or our own instincts that are so often wrong? How do we know who is doing the whispering? Next time you’re faced with such a problem, ask yourself these questions.
1. What does the Bible say about my situation?
2. Does the prompting I feel line up with God’s word?
Remember, the Holy Spirit does not lead toward temptation. He will never guide you toward more sin. Wipe the dust off that Bible on your shelf and learn the Word—it’s the only way to shield yourself and to make the best decisions. Shine that armor.
What battle are you fighting today that the Lord has called you to put down? Are you drowning in an area of sin that you’ve convinced yourself you can pull out of on your own? Are you resisting His help and standing your ground when you’ve been instructed to flee? Turn and run, dear brother or sister. It’s the only way to freedom. Run from that trap and into the safe arms of our Savior. He’ll fight that battle for you.
Or - what battle are you avoiding today that the Lord has called you to fight? Are you procrastinating in obedience? Has God asked you to start a Bible study, volunteer in the church nursery, reach out to someone at work, or witness to the homeless man on the corner -- and you’ve put it off? Maybe you’ve convinced yourself someone else will do it, or that you’ll do it next year when your life isn’t so hectic. Maybe you’re avoiding His call and trying to tell God He’s asked the wrong man. Regardless of the excuse, stop immediately and pick up that sword of the Spirit. Wield that shield of faith. March to the beat of His words.
It’s a battle worth fighting.
Betsy Ann St. Amant resides in northern Louisiana with her husband, Brandon. Betsy has a bachelor's degree in Christian Communications from Louisiana Baptist University and is actively pursuing a career in inspirational writing. Her first published Christian Fiction novel, Midnight Angel, is now available on amazon.com. You can contact her at email@example.com.