The will of God in our lives (1)

Joel Portman

(Romans 12:1-2, Psalm 40:6-10, Hebrews 10:5-7; Ephesians 5:17, Hebrews 10:35-36, 1 Peter 3:17)

How important is God's will in our lives arid in the decisions we make daily? One would hardly voice a question that the subject of the will of God is most important in the Scriptures and must also be important in our exercise for God. In the midst of a world in which the will of God is disregarded and rejected, believers are called upon to live in that will and to express it, as we are a kind of firstfruits of His new creation (James 1: 18). That anticipated creation is one in which the will of God will be completely expressed in all creation (Eph. 1:9-10). Every expression of rebellion and rejection of His will shall no longer exist (Isa. 2:3; 26:9), and He alone shall be exalted in that day (Isa. 2:11,17). This is a day and a condition toward which God is working constantly and will one day bring into reality. We have been privileged to be brought into a knowledge of His will, and we are thus enabled to express, in anticipation, that will in our present lives for Him. It should be the exercise of every spiritual believer to live daily in the knowledge and practice of that will, for the honor of our beloved Lord. But we must ask practically and honestly, "Is His will genuinely imperative and preeminent in our lives from day to day?"

In these passages we read about Delighting in the will of God. (Psa. 40) This indicates having a strong desire toward it, an inclination (lit "a bending towards") that causes deep appreciation for that will and all that is involved in it. This is the verb form of the word in Psalm 1:2 "..,His delight is in the law..." Psalm 40 expresses that delight of the Lord Jesus in relation to the act of His coming to accomplish God's will. In view of that coming, it was with a prior and continuing; delight in that will and with all it involved for Him. To be in the will of God was most pleasurable and joyful to Him. Literally, it is the idea that what brought pleasure to His God was His pleasure as well. He delighted in God's delights. It is as the Hebrew servant of Deut. 15, who delighted in his Master and all the matters of his house. His attitude of favorable inclination produced willing subjection to His authority for life. What was seen perfectly in our blessed Lord is to be our attitude as well, and it is essential if we are to do the will of God. If we truly delight hi ]His will and see its preciousness, its value, its importance to God and to us, we will, without doubt, seek to carry it out. We should ask ourselves if our obedience to His will is outward, perfunctory, only because of a sense of obligation and toward man? Or does it flow from genuine delight and appreciation for its perfection and beauty?

Discerning (Proving) the will of God (Rom. 12:1-2) is to know it, determining what it is in every particular circumstance, since it may not always be the same. God may lead one way at one time and another way under a different condition. We dare not and cannot assume that it will always be the same in every circumstance. This also means that we are to work out that will, displaying it, testing it by our practice and proving its reality in practical living. Clearly, in the context of this passage, it is directly linked with our living lives that are sacrificially devoted to Him with conformity to His purpose as our only ambition. A believer cannot truly claim to be exercised about the will of God IF he has not presented his body as a living sacrifice that is to be holy and wellpleasing to God, an act which is manifested in a determination not to be conformed to this world and which expresses transformation of thought, attitude and life to live for His Lord. To do less is to hypocritically claim to be seeking the will of God but without the inward reality that He expects and demands.

Doing the will of God (Heb. 10) is linked with the presence of the Lord in this life of His humanity that was the result and expression of His obedience, now to do the will of God at all costs, to carry it out according to God's desires. This is to be our standard, not to seek our own will but to follow and practice that which was exemplified by Himself in His obedience. His was a purpose that would not be turned aside from doing the will of God no matter what it would cost Him. There is always a cost associated with doing God's will. Are we willing to pay that cost at all times? We learn that this obedience is more important than sacrifice and burnt offering, though those acts were also part of His will for that time. God could say to Saul through Samuel in 1 Samuel 15:22, "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifice, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?" Obedience must take precedence over every outward expression of our service for Himself. It is not, nor can it be, a halfhearted or occasional obedience, but it is to be the consistent expression of the exercise of our hearts, though we fail in the perfect expression of it. The valuable aspects of a believer's life stem from a heart of obedience to Him and an expression of complete submission to Him alone.

Difficulty knowing the will of God.

Believers express great difficulty knowing the will of God in their lives. This is good in one sense, because it indicates a strong desire to know and realize Divine Guidance, a desire that is the result of salvation that has changed our attitudes and desires. Yet it is also sad that we find it so difficult to know that will. This difficulty is not the Lord's desire for us, but it seems that this difficulty is caused by several things:

1. The natural resistance of the flesh to the things of God, not wanting to know and do the will of God. The flesh lusts against the Spirit to prevent obedience (Galatians 6:17). If we allow the flesh to prevail or to exert its influence in our lives, we will find it more difficult to know God's will. The more we live to the flesh, allow it to have its expression in various forms, and fail to judge it in the light of God's Word, the more it will oppose any obedience to the will of God, especially if there is a cost involved with that obedience. If we are absolutely honest, we will admit that much of our lives are spent in this way and not subject to the abiding control of the Spirit.

2. The fact that we are often at a distance from the Lord in spirit. We dare not imagine or pretend that we are near the Lord in fellowship with Him when in reality, we are walking afar off and at a distance. This hypocrisy only deceives our hearts and prevents us from having the exercise we ought to have to seek for recovery. When Peter followed afar off, he denied the Lord and was moving far out of the will of God and thus needed recovery. It is when we recognize our distance and departure and honestly confess it that we can take necessary steps to recovery through repentance, confession and seeking the Lord in a fresh way. The difficulty is that our moves toward departure are so gradual and over such a long time, that we fail to realize that we are away until there is a great distance that has existed for many days.

3. Our reluctance to actively seek to know and do His will constantly, and when seeking His will, to be willing to do it when He reveals it. If we are not cultivating in our daily lives an attitude of inwardly, constantly seeking the Lord's will, submitting all we undertake and are involved in to Him and His control, we become used to determining our own way. We walk by sight, not by faith (II Cor. 5:7). We do as the Israelites, "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (judges 17:6). The result is that we become dull in our spiritual sensitivity to His guidance and fail to wait on Him to reveal His will. If we are not obeying His Word in what He has revealed for our lives and conduct, we will lose that sensitivity and ability to discern His will in the particular circumstances of our lives.

4. Our failure to be willing to wait patiently until the will of God becomes known. We often want to know His will immediately, but that understanding may take a longer time to unfold as He seeks to sharpen our spiritual desires by making us wait His time that we might know His will. We cannot force God to meet our particular timetable due to our impatience with His own ways.

We can be absolutely sure that the Lord wants to guide His people and to make known His will. He is not seeking to hide it from us, nor to deceive us in it. We should never think that His purposes are served in preventing us from knowing what He desires for us. However, it can also be said that He may test us, as He has others, to see if we truly delight in His will, seek to know His will, and are willing to do it implicitly.

- To be continued