GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE (1)
Principles to Discern God’s Will
This may seem bold and audacious, but I want to tell you God’s will for your life. And when we finish the vast majority of your questions concerning God’s will for your life will be answered, including the nitty-gritty questions like where you should go to college, who you should marry or what career you should pursue. Does this sound too good to be true? Stay with me for two weeks and see if I live up to this promise. Six simple principles will help us to discern God’s will (We’ll look at three this week and three next week).
First, it’s God’s will that you be saved. If you’re not a Christian you are completely outside of the will of God. I picture a target that represents the will of God. The goal is to move towards the bull’s eye at the center. A non-Christian doesn’t even hit the target. Why should this person pray about God’s will for college or marriage or a career? If this person were truly interested in God’s will, they would fall to their knees and repent. The apostle Peter tells us, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Entrance into the will of God is through the front door of repentance and faith. And don’t look for a back door, or a side door, because there isn’t one. Salvation is the outer ring of the target. From there we can move toward the bull’s eye at the center.
Second, it’s God’s will that you be Spirit-filled and Scripture-saturated. Paul writes, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:17-18). Notice that being filled with the Spirit is contrasted with getting drunk with wine. As a drunk is under the influence and control of alcohol, a Christian should be under the influence and control of the Spirit. Results of being spiritually “under the influence” include “addressing one another in psalms…singing…giving…thanks always…submitting to one another” (vv. 19-21). These are the exact same results that follow when we “let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly” (Col. 3:16). Therefore, a Spirit-filled Christian is a Scripture-saturated Christian. “The key to Spirit control is Word control. We must know God’s standards and expectations before we can submit to Him. For example, the Spirit cannot control the area of finances if we do not know what God has said about money and material possessions. As we learn more and more about God’s truth in the area of money and submit to Him, the Spirit progressively gains greater control in that area of life. There can be no control where there is not knowledge of God’s Word. It is imperative, therefore, that we consistently study the Scriptures in order to understand God’s truth as it addresses the various areas of life” (Paul Benware & Brian Harris, Leaders in the Making, p. 15).
Third, it’s God’s will that you be sanctified: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God… For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness” (1 Thess. 4:3-5, 7). Sanctification is the life-long process of becoming less of a sinner and more like Jesus. Our concern with God’s will often relates to what we do. “Should I do ministry here or there? Should I do this or that ministry?” The perpetual question I hear is, “I wonder what God wants me to do?” It’s not necessarily a bad question, but a more fundamental question is, “Who does God want me to be?” God is concerned about who we are, since all that we do flows out of who we are.
Robert Murray McCheyne understood the importance of being a holy person. When he spoke at the ordination of a young pastor by the name of Dan Edwards, he said, “Mr. Edwards,…do not forget the inner man, the heart. The cavalry officer knows that his life depends upon his saber, so he keeps it clean. Every stain he wipes off with the greatest care. Mr. Edwards, you are God’s chosen instrument. Ac-cording to your purity, so shall be your success. It is not great talent; it is not great ideas that God uses; it is great likeness to Jesus Christ. Mr. Edwards, a holy man is an awesome weapon in the hand of God.” McCheyne was most likely thinking of 2 Timothy 2:21, when he ex-horted this young pastor. “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” Next week we’ll look at three more principles for discerning God’s will, but let’s begin with what God has clearly revealed.
Pastor Wayne Christensen, www.foxlakechurch.org, Nov. 1, 2015