From the July/August 2017 issue of Discern Magazine

Gut Feelings: Is What Seems Right, Right?

Many experts tell us to follow our hearts or trust our gut instincts to make the best choices. But what does the One who designed and created us say?

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Consider these popular tips for knowing you’re making the right choice:

  • “How good you feel about your decisions is usually more important than how good they are objectively” (
  • “‘Go with your first instinct. The minute you second guess yourself or doubt your choice, then it goes all downhill from there.’—Kelsey Walsh” (
  • “‘Listen to your emotional instinct. If it feels good, authentically good, then go for it. If it does not, use caution and back away.’—Dedric Carroll” (

Contrast those bits of advice with some wisdom from God in the Bible:

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15).

God warns that for the big, important decisions in life, trusting our heart or our gut feelings is not enough.

Which way is right?

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” This message is so important, it’s recorded twice in Scripture, both in Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25.

But why? Why would we look at the road signs and think we are going the right way—when we are going diametrically opposite?

Part of the answer is that our first parents, Adam and Eve, made a choice for all of us. Under the deceptive influence of Satan, they chose to make decisions for themselves about what was “good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).

The Genesis account says their eyes were opened (verse 7), but not to see God’s truth and the pure way. Instead, Satan augmented their vision to see through the lenses of selfishness and self-sufficiency. This shortsightedness made it easy for him to create mirages and deceptions that made the wrong way look right and evil look good.

Their eyes were opened, but in a virtual reality designed by Satan, whose main goal is to lure us away from God and toward self-destruction.

Our human vision is so far from 20/20 in the spiritual realm that God calls it blindness.Our human vision is so far from 20/20 in the spiritual realm that God calls it blindness. All of our minds have been blinded by Satan until God calls us and takes away the veil of blindness (2 Corinthians 4:4; 3:16).

When God opens our minds, we also face the choice of which road to take. Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Using our natural vision (unknowingly influenced by the lenses Satan provides), we think the signs on the broad way are pointing in the right direction. No wonder it is popular. It’s got millions of reviews and a five-star rating! But we can’t see far enough ahead to see the sudden drop-off or the bridge that is out around a blind curve.

Still the Bible warns that those dangers are there. And it gives many examples of the result of the wrong road.

“Right in his own eyes”: The end of the road

At the end of the book of Judges, two of the most depressing stories in the Bible are summed up by this statement: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

Think about it. Even these stories of theft, idol worship, rape, murder, gore, retribution, kidnapping and utter depravity all started with each one doing what seemed right, going with his gut feelings. How quickly it all went wrong!

There’s still time to change the road you’re on

But God does show us how to get on the right road—to see the right way. As Jesus said, we should choose the narrow gate and the way that leads to life.

As He told the ancient Israelites through Moses, God tells us, “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments. …

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice” (Deuteronomy 30:15-16, 19-20; learn more in our article “Choose Life: Your Most Important Decision”).

Paul summarizes the two roads in his letter to the Romans: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Sin is breaking God’s laws (1 John 3:4). So, as Jesus said, “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). Breaking God’s commandments leads to death; repenting of sin and striving to be like our loving Savior by obeying God’s commandments leads to life.

Learn more about avoiding the wrong road and choosing the right way in our articles “Seven Steps for Overcoming Sin” and “The 10 Commandments for Today.” And when things seem unclear, find strategies to get the gray out in “Gray Areas: When the Right Decision Isn’t Obvious.”

About the Author

Mike Bennett

Mike Bennett

Mike Bennett is editorial content manager for the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, in the Dallas, Texas, area. He coordinates the Life, Hope & Truth website, Discern magazine, the Daily Bible Verse Blog and the Life, Hope & Truth Weekly Newsletter (including World Watch Weekly). He is also part of the Personal Correspondence team of ministers who have the privilege of answering questions sent to Life, Hope & Truth.

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