Let's Tell The Truth About The Will Of God
If you want to learn about love,you turn to 1 Corinthians 13. The subject of thenew birthis explained in John 3, and the doctrine of the resurrectionis given in 1 Corinthians 15. One of the basic texts on “The will of God” is Romans 12:1–2—a familiar text, but an important one.
Nobody has to argue the importance of knowing and doing the will of God. Doing God’s will is important to us personally, because it is the secret of a joyful, fruitful life. It is important to those who are a part of our lives. David stepped out of the will of God and plunged his family and the nation into great difficulty. But our doing the will of God is important to God—He has things He wants to get done in this world, and you and I are the ones to get them done.
There are three aspects of the will of God I want us to consider, as found in Romans 12:1–2: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
The Mistakes Made About The Will Of God
1. “God’s will is dangerous!”It is amazing how many people think that the will of God is a dangerous experience! “I’m afraid to do His will,” young people tell me, “because He may ask me to do something that will hurt me!” The will of God is not dangerous; being out of the will of Godis what is dangerous! Abraham got out of God’s will and almost lost his wife; Jonah got out of God’s will and caused a storm; David got out of God’s will and 70,000 people in Israel died.
Psalm 33:11 solves the problem for me: “The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations.” God’s will comes from God’s heart. The will of God is the expression of the love of God for you! Never be afraid of God’s will. He chooses for you because He loves you and wants you to have the very best.
2. “God’s will is distant.”Why think about God’s will todaywhen it involves the future? Teenagers in particular make this mistake. They have the idea that sometime in the future they will do God’s will, so there is no need to consider it now. What a mistake! If I am not in God’s will today,it is not likely I will be in His will in the future! Like a rocket that gets off course, my life can gradually drift away from God’s purposes; and that drifting begins today.Every Christian needs to be guided by God’s will today.
3.” God’s will is divided.”They get this from a misinterpretation of Romans 12:2—“that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Like the mail order catalog, God’s will gives you three choices! Not so! God has one willfor your life, and that will is “good, acceptable, and perfect.” If you are saying, “I accept God’s good will, but not His perfect will,” then you are confused.
4. “God’s will is difficult to discover.”It is difficult only to those who do not really want to know it and do it. Jesus promised, “If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the doctrine…” (John 7:17). Knowing the will of God is part of our spiritual birthright (Acts 22:14). Can you conceive of our loving Father not wanting His children to know His will? It may take prayer, waiting, and sacrifice; but we can know God’s will if we really want to.
The Means For Determining God’s Will
1. There is something to present—the body.This is a once-for-all dedication of the body to the Lord. Of course, we reaffirm this dedication every day, just as the high priest presented that burnt offering every morning. The first thing I do each morning is surrender my body to the Lord to be used by Him that day for His glory.
Why does God want your body? Because your body is God’s temple,and He wants to be glorified in it (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). Your body is also God’s toolthat He can use to accomplish His work (Romans 6:13). Your body is also God’s treasury.“We have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Corinthians 4:7). How much He has invested in us! What a price He has paid for us! Now, all He asks is that we yield our bodies to Him, not to die, but to live.We are “living sacrifices” for His glory. This is the first step toward knowing the will of God.
2. There is something to purify—the mind.Never underestimate the importance of your mind when it comes to determining the will of God. “Understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). God speaks to us in our minds through His Word; He expects us to use our minds as we seek His will. “Lean not unto thine own understanding” in Proverbs 3:6 does not mean “Stop thinking!” It means, “Don’t trust your unaided thinking. Don’t lean on human wisdom.”
How is the mind “transformed”? By the Word of God. The Christian who fills his mind with worldliness is going to have a hard time discerning God’s will. But the Christian who spends time daily reading the Word, meditating, memorizing—he will develop a “spiritual radar” and be able to determine God’s leading. It is the Word of God that reveals to us the will of God. The better we know the Word, the easier it will be to make life’s decisions.
3. There is something to prove—the will of God.This word “prove” means “to prove by experience.” How do you learn to water ski? By reading books about water skiing? That would help. By watching others as they ski? That would help, too. But the best way to learn is to get on the skis yourself—and get wet!You may swallow some water, and even make some mistakes; but if you stay with it, you will learn by experience how to water ski.
So it is with the will of God: the more you do it, the easier it is to do it. We learn by experience,as we walk with the Lord. We discover what He enjoys, and what He hates; we discover how He speaks and why He directs as He does. The will of God is a personal thing, from His heart to your heart; and it cannot be developed without that personal fellowship with the Lord.
Sometimes we make mistakes, and even deliberately sin. Then what? Does this mean that God is through with us? No! Almost every saint in the Bible disobeyed God and made mistakes, and yet God accomplished His will through them. To be sure, they suffered chastening, and the sad consequences of disobedience; but God did not forsake them.
The will of God is not a machine that falls apart when one part is broken. Then will of God is a living thing—not a machine, but a livingbody—we are living sacrifices. When one part of my body does not function properly, the rest of the body compensates for it until I can get the diseased or damaged part repaired. God rules and overrules. No Christian should ever think he is “on the shelf” because of some mistake or sin. God gave Abraham another chance after his disobedience in Egypt; God gave Jonah another chance; He forgave and restored Peter. No believer can say that he always does the will of God. Our loving Father in heaven is constantly compensating for our errors, so long as our hearts are right and we sincerely want to do His will.
Motives For Doing God’s Will
Some people do the will of God out of fear: they are afraid God will punish them. Well, the fear of the Lord is a legitimate motive, but I would hate to live like a slave when God has made me His son! Jesus said, “I call you not servants…but I have called you friends…” (John 15:15). Why live under the dark cloud of fear when you can enjoy the sunlight of fellowship?
A second motive is selfishness:people obey God’s will in order to get something from Him. Some Christians even bargain with God! This can be a selfish experience that makes my relationship to Him very commercial.
The highest motive for wanting to know and do the will of God is—LOVE. “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, because of the mercies of God…” When you read the epistle to the Romans, you come face to face with God’s mercy! Those first eleven chapters magnify the grace and mercy of God. “Now,” says Paul, “after all He has done for you—isn’t this the least you can do for Him?” The Christian who understands the grace and mercy of God will have no problem yielding his all to Christ and discovering the glory of God’s will.
The will of God is not something we do;it is something we are.As we daily yield body, mind, will, and heart to Christ, we experience the will of God and we become the will of God. What a thrilling life it is! Problems? Yes—along with marvelous solutions! Obstacles? Of course—along with miraculous power to surmount them! There is no substitute for living in the will of God—and living in His will begins today.