Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Will of God

When I spoke about the will of God in the past, I was always speaking in terms of vocation and marriage.  I wanted to know what (job) was the will of God for my life and who I was to spend it with.  My problem was that I did not have a relationship with God in the first place.  That was the reason I had difficulty in finding God's will.  Sexual purity, both externally and internally must be pursued to have any clue as to what the future will of God should be for you.  If you want to know God's will for your life, the first thing you must do is pursue a holy life. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8.  Not external holiness but internal holiness.  What is going to happen is that you are going to find out that you are unable to attain it.  You will not be able to attain a holy life but you must pursue it.  If you don't pursue it you will never attain it.  But if you pursue it you will never attain it until you get to the point where you hate your sin so much that you don't know what to do.   

You should get to the point where you are willing to do anything and everything to rid yourself of your sin that you hate so much.  I found that in studying the holiness of God, particularly the attributes of God, that I fell far short of God's standard of righteousness.  I was far from his standard in every area of my life when I really started to examine it.  After reading books in which I was called to examine my prejudices, selfishness and pride, I realized how lost I was.  I thought I was saved but realized that I was not in the will of God.  In fact, I had done what seemed best to me and I had assumed that God's will was strictly limited to what kind of job I had and who I would marry.  Suffice it to say, my understanding of the will of God was very shallow!

One observation on this view of the will of God: this is a very selfish way to think.  When you think of God's will only in terms of yourself and what YOU will be doing and who YOU will marry, whom are you thinking of?  You are not thinking of GOD's interests.  You are thinking of YOURS.  Why not change the entire way you think about God's will?  Why not think about OTHERS?  I am learning to think more about others and less about myself and am seeing that God values other people as much as he values me.  I am no one special.  In fact, I am no better than any other Christian around myself.  When I focus on my own importance in the realm of God's workings on this earth, I will inevitably let God's will be shaped by what I want.

When we think of God's will, while being focused on ourselves and are inflated as to our own importance, we choose ministries that massage our egos and give us something in return for our hard work.  Let me try to relate this to my own life.  I began going on mission trips.  I thought that this was a very godly activity to engage in and I admired the missionaries and viewed them as very godly people.  I began desiring to return because I met people that I was attracted to.  I was attracted to the lifestyle because it appeared carefree and fun. 

Let me point out here that up to this point, all my concerns with the mission work were self-centered.  I did not have a burden for the salvation of the people that I had gone to minister to.  I was concerned with how I felt and with what other people felt about me.  During the mission trips, I enjoyed close comradeship with others who I wanted to like me and the fact that people in other countries appreciated the fact that I took time and money to minister to their needs.  These were all things that made me feel good.  The problem was that these things in themselves do not have anything to do with the will of God.  The person that I was concerned most with was myself.  That is the point that I am trying to make.  I lived my whole life for what felt good and what made me seem the most important and got me the most admiration. 

I want to say at this point that it is fine for someone who doesn't know God to live their life concerned with doing what makes them feel good.  This person knows that they don't know God and must repent and trust in God for their salvation through Jesus Christ.  I want to say here that what we do is not good or bad by what it appears to be externally.  God looks at our heart reasons for doing things.  Being a missionary or doing a normal 8 to 5 job are both great pursuits to do if that is what God has called you to do.  The problem is not with the thing you are doing.  If your reasons for doing anything are rooted in selfish desires, no matter what you are doing, it is not a God-pleasing activity. 

1 Timothy 5:8 says, "But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."  This means that if someone professes to have faith but thinks only of himself and sees a need for his family but refuses to do so, he is not really a believer.  He has "denied the faith" that he professes to believe.  This is a helpful examination point that we can use to determine whether we even know God in the first place.  When we think of the world in terms of how it can benefit us first, we see our needs as the highest good and will find any way to justify our selfishness, even as far as finding verses in the Bible to support our selfish decisions.

Romans 14:14-15 says, "I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love."  This situation had to do with the Jewish idea of what meats were clean or unclean.  If they saw you eating meat from an unclean animal, but they had just converted from Judaism, they would be tempted to eat that meat in violation of their conscience and sin against God.  Even if something is permissible for us to do but violates our conscience should not be attempted until our minds are well informed as to what the Bible says and our hearts are shaped by the Bible and not by old prejudices.

To summarize what I am trying to say here, let's take the two principles we learned and make an observation:  Selfish people are concerned with themselves and can't know the will of God until they repent.  They will trample on other people who get in the way of what they desire.  Whether that has to do with their pocketbook or their rights to engage in pleasurable activities, they will be unconcerned with what is loving or respectful of others' well-being or good conscience.   A selfish person who pretentiously follows God but lives for themselves, will inevitably become a Judas Iscariot unless he repents of his selfishness by confessing his sin of living for himself and calling it living for God and throws his life into the arms of Jesus to live the life that is pleasing to Him.

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