On one hand, it seems Abraham took a step of faith and listened to his wife Sarah's suggestion of sleeping with her slave (Genesis 16:2). In other words, Abe may have thought that this was the means by which God would keep His promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:2; further elaboration in 22:17).
On the other hand, In Acts 16:7, Paul and his companions tried to go a certain way, but "the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them" to go that way.. See also Acts 27 where the ship would not go the way they wanted it to.
So, on the first passage, it might seem that Abraham may have taken a step of faith with no divine intervention and the second set of passages, Paul took a step of faith and God intervened.
Does this mean that there is a contradiction in faith or something like that? Does it mean that there is a contradiction in the Bible? Before we get too anxious about this, let’s take a minute to analyze the situation.
In Genesis 2:18 where God reasoned (for our sake) that it was not good for man to be alone, in the SAME sentence, He states that He will make a helper suitable for him. In other words, God provided the need (woman) for the need that He created in man (the desire for a woman). On the Seventh Day, God saw that it was good. He saw that what He created was complete and flawless. Anything more than that or less than that would be “not good.”
With all of this in mind, we can now understand that in Abraham’s case, he was out of the will of God by sleeping with his wife’s servant. In other words, Abraham (like any human) built up in his mind an idea and ran with it. He had a case of what I call, “green light fever.” Green light fever is when you're sitting at a stoplight and all of the sudden you see the green arrow for the left lane turning on but you are not in that lane and you slam on the gas pedal because you know you saw green, somewhere at least, and then you realize you're sitting in the middle of the intersection because you are now trying to correct your mistake because you realize that you jumped the gun, so to speak. The pseudo-green-light for Abraham was that he saw a way for God to fulfill His promise; it made perfect sense to him at the time, and he didn’t seem to feel the need to question it.
Now we all know the affect this had on Abraham’s family unit: “He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai [Sarah] said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.” “Your servant is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think [is] best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her” (NIV Genesis 16:4-6). As the above scripture reveals, there was serious emotional pain and stress between Sarah and Abraham because of this event. There is obvious mistreatment between Sarah and Hagar and not so obvious mistreatment between Sarah and Abraham. In any event, it is clear that the event caused emotional stress on their marriage... something that was clearly not considered before the act of adultery. Though it might not have been called that at the time, that is exactly what it was. God provided for Abraham’s need (as a man not being left alone) and at the same time, kept His promise (to make his descendents as numerous as the sand).
The instance of Paul in Acts 16 and 27 did not involve sin; therefore God’s hand was close to Paul, and guided Him in the direction of the Lord’s will. This is the difference between a person’s will and God’s will. If we allow God to do His work in us, and not have green light fever, we will be more at peace, we will be more comfortable, and we will be more effective in our daily walk of life.
Recognize times when you are confronted with a decision to sin or not to sin. Be prepared for these times. God chooses not to stop us from sinning. This is where mankind has power. We decide this kind of stuff. Should I sin or not sin? This is where our will and the will of God differ. Our will in the flesh is to please the flesh, but God’s will for us is to please Him. God cannot look at sin (Habakkuk 1:13) because of His holiness, therefore He would not stop us from sinning. Consider the temptation to sin an opportunity to please Him. Recognize the temptation to sin and put a stop to it immediately. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that God provides a way to escape sin. Look for those ways to escape sin, allow Him to guide you and strengthen your relationship with Jesus.
Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus