The Will of God (Part 4)
(Romans 12:1-2) “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Have you realised that God’s will is always good, acceptable and perfect and that whatever He does for us and in us and through us is always the very best thing that can ever happen to us in this life. We are all tripartite beings as God Himself is tripartite in nature being God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, one in three and three in one! We have a spirit, a soul and live in a physical body (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
Our inner spirit is that part of us that can experience a personal relationship with God, fused together with His Holy Spirit and of one spirit with Him. As it is written that; “He who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17). Our soul is made up of our intellect, our emotions and our will. The spirit and the soul are living in the body.
When one dies physically their soul and spirit leave their body and are jettisoned into eternity. Those whose inner spirit man has been spiritually regenerated by the Holy Spirit go immediately into God’s presence, both their soul and their spirit go to be with the Lord, being absent from the body but present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Those whose spiritual man is spiritually unregenerate go into Hades and there the soul is tormented awaiting the Day of judgement when they will go into the lake of fire where there is no rest day or night forever. There is no middle ground such as Purgatory, an erroneous doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.
To present our bodies to God as a living and holy sacrifice to God is an act of our will, not just a decision we make once now and then, but as a continuous practice every day and sometimes several times in the one day, because we all have a natural tendency to crawl off of the altar when we are struggling to deny the appetites and desires of our fallen fleshly nature. It was the late Derek prince who said “the cross is where our will and God’s will cross!”
When the Holy Spirit shows us something in our life that we need to put right with God, as an act of our will and that by faith, we need to give it to God and let Him deal with it. His cleansing blood will deal with it when it is confessed for what it is without offering any excuse (1 John 1:9). He always desires truth in the inner spirit man so that He may teach us His wisdom (Psalm 51:6). It is also written; “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). It is also written; “A bruised reed He will not break and a smouldering wick He will not extinguish” (Isaiah 42:3). “For He knows our frame; He is mindful that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14).
When we present our bodies to God as an act of our will He gets the contents as well. This attitude of heart is the foundation for all true spiritual worship. God Himself said to His people through the prophet Samuel; “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obedience to His voice? Behold, obedience is better than sacrifice, and attentiveness is better than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). Obedience will always bring God’s blessing. Disobedience brings a curse (Deuteronomy Chapter 28).
As fallen human beings our obedience as New Covenant believers is not perfect and God is teaching us how to be obedient children through the experiences of life both the good ones and the not so good experiences. He disciplines us for our good because we are not bastard children but His own blood redeemed children spiritually reborn in their inner spirit by the Spirit of God (John 3:3).
The author of the Book of Hebrews also writes; “Our fathers disciplined us for a short time as they thought best, but God disciplines us for our good, so that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen your limp hands and weak knees” (Hebrews 12:10-12). Also God commands us not to be shaped into the mould of this world but to be continuously transformed in our thought patterns so that we may prove that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.
A brother in the Lord told me years ago that Christians are walking battlefields and he was referring to the mind, to the thought life. Paul tells us that we have a choice when he wrote; “Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. The mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6).
This involves what we watch on television, on the internet and on our mobile phones or the magazines or novels we read, or the company we keep socially. In this modern world of technology the temptation we all face every day is to watch what is inappropriate spiritually and designed by the god of this world to spiritually seduce us and we must all fight the good fight of faith with a surrendered will. The fight of faith is a good fight that we win! In the Word of God it was when the whole of the sacrifice was laid upon the altar that the fire from heaven fell!
The only remedy for renewing our thought life is to expose our minds to the light of God’s Word and not to the light in the living room! Sometimes we might watch a movie or a drama or read a magazine but we must always be circumspect spiritually in evaluating what our eyes are being fixed on. We read in God’s Word; “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You” (Psalm 119: 9-11).
We can pray as the psalmist prayed; “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word” (Psalm 119:37). Also we read; “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105). God has given us his Word to spiritually enlighten us as to what really pleases Him and how we are to conduct ourselves in this present evil age as it is written; “The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple… Establish my footsteps in Your word, And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me” (Psalm 119:130, 133).
As I write these studies God is challenging me in regards to what I allow my mind and thoughts to think and eyes to watch. As I keep praying about spiritual discernment in these matters I am always drawn to what God has already said in His Word.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will garrison your hearts and your minds in Messiah Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:6-8).
In all of these spiritual matters the key factor is the surrender of our will daily to the Lord. If we are not willing are we willing to be made willing? Do we really want all that God has for us and wants to do in us and with us and through us? When our will is fully surrendered unconditionally to the Lord we will experience that good acceptable and perfect will of God. His peace will garrison our thought life. A garrison is a fortress. Whatever God asks us to do He will give us the means to accomplish what He has planned for us. With the surrender of our will to God it will be the best and sweetest thing in the entire world with no regrets attached!
We must work moment by moment of every day at bringing every thought and imagination into line with the thoughts of Messiah Jesus. The apostle Paul also wrote; “For though we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Messiah” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
Having control over our thought life and imagination can only be achieved by God’s power. If Satan can gain control of our thoughts and imaginations then we will experience spiritual defeat and ultimately be spiritually unfruitful in our service for Messiah Jesus. In this technological age with its visual imaging bombarding our senses we have to resist Satan’s seductions constantly and the only way to pull down these spiritual strongholds in our lives and in the lives of others is to use the spiritual weapons that God has provided for us.
We have the blood of the Messiah, the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, the armour of God and the God given ability to pray without ceasing in the Holy Spirit. Added to these things we have fellowship with other Spirit-filled believers which will also strengthen us in our fight with Satan and his minions from hell. You know a Roman soldier by himself was a well-trained fighter and had his shield that covered him from head to foot and his sword which he could use quite effectively.
However, when his shield was interlocked with the shields of his companions they were a solid wall of steel that the enemy could not penetrate. Between the interlocked shields was a narrow gap where the Romans swords could be used effectively. Added to this their shields were covered with a very thick layer of leather which would extinguish the fiery arrows of their enemies. This is the imagery used by Paul when teaching about the full armour of God. When a Roman soldier was on campaign in enemy held territory he remained alert and fully dressed for battle.
In these four studies we have looked at what the general will of God is for us as revealed in His Word. If we are seeking guidance from God to know what He has specifically willed for us then we need to be seeking to obey what He has already revealed in his Word. If we are not seeking to obey what He has already revealed why should He give us any further guidance? The more we seek to obey His Word the more light He will reveal concerning His specific will for our lives.
Dear brothers and sisters in Messiah God has a specific plan for every one of us and the gifts we need to complete the task He in His divine wisdom and foreknowledge has called us to do. What He has for one will be different for what He has for another. Some will go to the front lines as evangelists or missionaries. Others will be at home serving the Lord in their job or educational institution. Others will be involved in their local fellowships but whatever we do it must be what God has called and gifted us to do. Spiritual gifts are not natural talents but gifts given that are not dependent on human talent of ability. (This is a subject in itself which has been dealt with on this website).
We were saved to serve! The goal of all ministries is the salvation of sinners and the sanctification of the saints. All of God’s work is directed towards this end. For some God reveals to them what they are to do and it will take years to prepare them for that work. Others will not know but as they walk in step with the Holy Spirit God will reveal His will to them gradually.
The apostle Paul was called to be an apostle to the Gentiles but it took years for him to finally do that work. He spent several years alone in the desert wilderness and in that place God trained him for the rather daunting task that lay ahead of him in the future. He was down in the fellowship at Antioch ministering alongside other prophets and teachers including Barnabas. Both he and Barnabas no doubt were ready to do the apostolic work God had called them to do, but they only started their missionary work after they had been sent out by the Holy Spirit through the revelation He gave through other prophets and teachers at Antioch.
We read about this in the Book of Acts. “Now there were at Antioch, in the assembly that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:1-3).
How then do we find out God’s specific will and gifting for our future ministry and service for Him? What part do we have to play in this matter? There are several things we can do or start to do that will allow God to do His work and perform His will in us, and through us, to which we have been called and gifted for that task. There are steps that that we can take if we are to experience and accomplish everything that God has called and gifted us to do. It is not some human based formula as such but the way that will enable God to do in us and through us His good, acceptable and perfect will. Let’s now look at this…
1. We are to make sure there is no known or unconfessed sin.
David wrote in the psalms; “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18). Iniquity is sin but also goes much deeper in that it refers to a rebellious attitude in the heart. In the Book of proverbs we read; “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law (Torah), even his prayer is an abomination (something detestable)” (Proverbs 28:9). The apostle James wrote; “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3).
Many today want what God has for them but on their own terms as if God is a spiritual dispensing machine and hunger and thirst after blessings, prosperity, health, miracles signs and wonders and manifestations of one sort or another, but very few hunger and thirst after righteousness regardless of whether they receive any other added benefits or not. If we receive no other material benefits in this life we should be so grateful that God has saved us! Of course He will give us all things we need in Messiah both in spiritual and temporal matters. He will always give us what we need not what we want. God wants to bless us in every way and others through us but if we are holding on to some secret sin then it will block the water of the Spirit from flowing through us. Once that block is removed the water of God’s Spirit can freely flow through us to others who need to be spiritually nourished and refreshed in their own walk with God.
When we become conscious of a sin we need to confess it and with God’s help be willing to lay it side and he will cleanse us from it by the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:9). After it has been confessed and laid aside it is in bad taste to bring the matter up again to God because He has cleaned it and forgotten about it having removed it as far as the east is from the west! (Psalm 103:12).
2. We are to make sure that there are no ‘grey’ areas
A grey area is something in our life or an activity that we are engaged in but have doubts about continuing in it. It is not black or white, but grey. Of itself it may not look sinful or even be sinful in fact but it takes up time that could be better spent with God in prayer and getting into His Word that we might increase our faith in Him (Romans 10:17). If we are in doubt about some activity or pastime we are engaging in our life that leaves us with an uneasy sense that it might be grieving the Holy Spirit, or not pleasing to the Lord, then we need to lay it aside as an action of the will because we really do love God and what He wants for us in life.
Personally speaking for myself there are certain movies or Korean dramas I can watch with my wife who is Korean, but there are others that I cannot watch because I know that if I do it will affect the pattern of my thought life and evoke my imagination inappropriately. As an act of the will I must be vigilant and diligent every day to lay aside whatever it is that makes me feel uneasy spiritually speaking. This is a major way to receive the peace of God that transcends all human understanding and to enjoy the fellowship with Him as the Triune God for which I was created by Him to experience.
3. We are to make sure that we delight in His Word first and foremost daily.
The psalmist wrote; “I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. I will delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word. Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep Your word” (Psalm 119:15-17).
To meditate on God’s Word is to chew it over and over in the spiritual sense as a cow chews the cud over and over in the natural sense. As we mediate on His Word the fire of the blessed Holy Spirit will be fanned into flame on the altar of our heart and infused into out soul and ultimately expressed in our outward words and deeds (Psalm 39:1-3). In this matter we are also to ask God that He might deal bountifully with us in this because our fleshly nature of itself cannot be subdued by our own effort of will power but only by God’s power as we yield our will to Him to do in us that which we cannot do for ourselves or apart from Him (Romans 8:5-9) (John 15:4-5).
4. We are to make sure we are seeking to obey all He has already revealed in His Word.
The Lord Jesus said; “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).The apostle John wrote; “By this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome, because everyone born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith” (1 John 5:2-4).
Obedience to God and to His commandments does not happen overnight but is a spiritual process that starts when we are spiritually reborn by the Holy Spirit deep down on the inside of us when our human spirit man is made alive to God. Obedience is something to be acquired and God will teach us through life’s experiences, both the good and the not so good experiences and situations we face every day. Of ourselves we cannot keep God’s commandments by our own will power or effort but it is possible through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit who has written God’s Laws and commandments on our hearts and can enable us to do them (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Only as we walk moment by moment in step with the Holy Spirit and governed by the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, will we fulfil all of the demands of the Law, because walking under the control of God’s love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 5:5) (Romans 8:1-4, 9-14) (Galatians 5:22-25) (Romans 13:10) Our faith is a faith that works and is activated by God’s love (Galatians 5:6). A mark of our love for the Lord is keeping His commandments which we can do only through and by the power of the Holy Spirit who has set us free from that downward pull of the law of sin and death and from the dictates and demands of our fallen nature which fight against the desires of the Spirit deep down on the inside of us (Galatians 5:16-18). If we are not seeking to obey what God has already revealed as His will for us in his Word why should He give us any further guidance? Multitudes of church leaders and church members are praying for God to guide them but are not obeying what He has already revealed in His Word.
You can have programmes, famous speakers, modern music, prophecies galore, miracles, signs and wonders and manifestations of all kinds, but if the will is not laid down and obedience and adherence to the Word of God pushed to one side then all activity is in vain. Miracles, signs and wonders and manifestations prophecies and carefully crafted programmes may move people emotionally, but have no power to put to death the works of the flesh.
Much of what is purported to be revival these days in western Christendom is either the work of the flesh, the power of the soul, or that done by demonic power. We know that all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders empowered by Satan will precede the revealing of man of sin whom the Lord Jesus will slay with e breath of His mouth and destroy by the splendour of His Second Coming! (2 Thessalonians 2:8-9).
Only as we are yoked together with Messiah Jesus will we be able to keep His commandments. He who Himself said; “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
If we are spiritually yoked together with Messiah Jesus then keeping His commandments will not be a burden but a delight. The psalmist wrote; “I cling to Your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame. I run in the path of Your commandments, for You will enlarge my heart. Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, and I will keep them to the end” (Psalm 119:31-33).
5. We are to make sure our will is totally surrendered to God.
We can have all kinds of emotional spiritual experiences, dreams and prophecies and even visions and some may be valid if they are in accordance with God’s Word and not to be dismissed lightly, but the real secret of God’s power lies in the total surrender of the will unreservedly to Him.
With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). The surrender of our will is not something we do once but is a continuous action all through the Christian life. The word faith itself not only implies belief but faithfulness as well, both in the Old and the New Testament, otherwise our faith without works proceeding from it will be like stagnant water that has no capacity to sustain physical life. We are saved by faith and we walk by faith, and this also applies to the surrender of our will unreservedly to God with a willingness to obey whatever He tells us to do according to His Word. The surrender of the will then is the key to walking in all the will of God!