We can know God’s will for us. Are we willing to do it?
Our modern western minds tend to think of God’s will as what God wants us to do in a certain situation. God’s will as he presents it in Scripture is a little different than that. There are different types of God’s will (Sovereign decretive, Preceptive, Will of disposition) but that’s for others to teach. I’m writing about God’s will as revealed in Scripture.
These are all NIV. I added italics.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is true worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I don’t believe we can take God’s will out of this passage and change it to mean what we’d like, which often ends up being what God wants us to do at a particular point in time. I’m learning that it’s important to be careful to keep the meaning within the context.
As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of the foolish. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love your fellow believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
1 Peter 2:11-17
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
1 Peter 4:19
Suffering is obviously something that’s put on us, not something we choose to do, but continuing to do God’s will while suffering is God’s will, if you’ll allow me to write an intentionally strange sentence.
So with all of this general stuff about God’s will for us, how does he answer us when we ask him things? Psalms are a good place to look for this. It’s really a subject for another post, and probably by someone other than me, but I found this example. I can’t remember why I was looking at the NKJV, but the words chosen fit well. Again, our modern western minds might be disappointed in how Spurgeon doesn’t even touch on how God might answer us specifically in telling us what to do in a particular situation.
Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You.
Psalms 143:8 NKJV
David is pleading with God to ask Him what he wants him to do in order to be obedient to Him in a way that is right. Psalm 143:10 NKJV says:
Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness.
Spurgeon’s commentary on verse 8 is very helpful. If you’re interested in this subject, read the whole Psalm first and notice all of the things David is looking for from God.
“Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.” The Great First Cause must cause us to hear and to know. Spiritual senses are dependent upon God, and heavenly knowledge comes from him alone. To know the way we ought to take is exceedingly needful, for how can we be exact in obedience to a law with which we are not acquainted? or how can there be an ignorant holiness? If we know not the way, how shall we keep in it? If we know not wherein we should walk, how shall we be likely to follow the right path? The Psalmist lifts up his soul; faith is good at a dead lift [was Spurgeon into powerlifting?], the soul that trusts will rise. We will not allow our hope to sink, but we will strive to get up and rise out of our daily griefs. This is wise. When David was in any difficulty as to his way he lifted his soul towards God himself, and then he knew that he could not go very far wrong. If the soul will not rise of itself we must lift it, lift it up unto God. This is good argument in prayer, surely the God to whom we endeavour to lift up our soul will condescend to show us what he would have us to do. Let us attend to David’s example, and when our heart is low, let us heartily endeavour to lift it up, not so much to comfort as to the Lord himself.