Knowing God’s Will: The Bible Tells Me So
One of the complaints that is heard a lot in the Christian life is how hard it is to know what God’s will is. We wish that God would spell it out, put handwriting on the wall, or even whisper what He wants us to do in a still small voice – anything as long as it’s absolutely clear as day that this is the way we should go.
The most obvious way is when it is spelled out in Scripture. There are portions of the Bible where it specifically says “this is the will of God” and is directed towards the Church as a whole, meaning that it is the will of God for every single believer.
Sometimes what is the will of God goes against the culture. It makes us seem like we’re prudish or old-fashioned. Yet if we want to truly follow God, we have to hold fast to these regardless of what others think. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 says, ” For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; ” To be sanctified is to be set apart for a purpose. We should be counter-cultural. We should be odd, because they don’t know our God and we do. We should be like Him, not like the world. Part of being like Him is living in purity even if it’s hard, even if it gets us mocked and ridiculed. It is His will for all believers to control their body in purity.
His will for us is always beneficial in some way. in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 we see more things that all believers ought to do in order to be in His will. “Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Rejoice, pray, give thanks. Those three things are the will of God for all of us. To rejoice sets us apart from the grumbling, whiny attitudes around us. Praying without ceasing keeps our hearts and minds focused on God. Giving thanks reminds us of how blessed we are and helps us to be satisfied with what God has graciously given us. When we do these things, our attitudes are completely altered. We stand out in a good way, and God gets the glory.
A few years ago I decided to make 1 Thessalonians 5:18 my verse for the year and did 366 days of thankfulness. I didn’t know when I chose it that it was going to be a difficult year. Both my dad and my grandpa had serious heath issues that year, a friend of mine from youth group died unexpectedly, and I spent so much time at the hospital that one day when I was driving to the library that was near the hospital I almost turned into the hospital parking lot out of habit. It was difficult some days to come up with something I could be thankful for, but every day I found something. I was amazed at how giving thanks allowed me to rejoice even in the difficult circumstances. It helped me to switch from a “poor me” or “why me” attitude to a “Praise God” focus. I noticed little blessings that I had never considered, and I was able to see my whining, coveting, dissatisfaction for what it truly is – sin. God’s will is for us to rejoice, pray, and be a people of thanksgiving every single day.
One last way to be following God’s will is to be respectful and honoring to those in authority – even to those we don’t agree with. 1 Peter 2:13-15 says, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.” It’s not easy, especially when those in authority seem to be making decisions that are terrible (and that’s putting it mildly), but this is what God wants us to do. Remember God is the one who sets people in power and takes them out again. Yes, we still vote, yes, we still stand up for what is right, but we do so with respect. In Acts the apostles say that they ought to obey God rather than men, and so should we. When a law is made that is not God-honoring, we stand for the truth, but we do so, not with condemnation or ridicule or unkindness, but with love and respect. Amidst the yelling and screaming over every political event, we should be a calm voice of reason. Why? Because it’s God’s will so that we can take away any argument they have against us. They don’t know any better because they don’t know God. But when we are behaving in the way God leads us to, they have nothing to say in response. It’s tough, I know, but remember that when Peter was writing this, there was intense persecution of the Church at the hands of the very emperors that he told the congregation to be subject to.
Sometimes God’s will is more clear than we think. Sometimes it’s literally written in black and white. That’s why it’s so important for us to study His words.
I hope that you’ll enjoy this little study with me. For the next several blogs I’ll be looking into other ways that God reveals His will to us. God has laid this on my heart lately, and I hope that it speaks to your heart as well.
“Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”