“So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
– Eph 5.17
Do you understand what the will of the Lord is? Much has been said about the will of God. We kill ourselves wondering which profession we should choose, who we should marry, where we should live, and other major life decisions, asking God for a sign or a direct revelation of His will. Since we often consider these types of decisions the main emphasis when considering the will of God, we are left to speculation and discouragement while trying to interpret dreams, circumstances and omens.
God, however, is primarily concerned with our hearts and sanctification. In fact, Scripture plainly teaches us that the will of God is that we are sanctified – that is, made more like Christ.
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification…”
– 1 Thess 4.3
God sent Jesus to live and die in order to pay the penalty for our sin and offer us salvation. God sent the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin and push us on to righteousness (John 16.8). The sanctification process, therefore, is us understanding what God defines as sin, allowing the Holy Spirit to convict and change us, dying to that sin, and living to righteousness. Both of these passages that speak so simply about the will of God give us very clear pictures of what that sanctification looks like:
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks…So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”
– Eph 5.1-11, 17-21
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.
– 1 Thess 4.3-7
Scripture clearly teaches us that everything we do can and should be done to the glory and honor of God. Eating, drinking, talking, working, etc. Anything you will do throughout your day should be done to God’s glory.
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
– 1 Cor 10.31
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
– Col 3.17
– Col 3.23-24
Therefore, we should be primarily concerned about our hearts and sin in relationship to the will of God. Then, as we are making decisions about work, moves, dating, marriage, child rearing, we have a clear standard by which to judge our decisions: Are we making these decisions to the glory and honor of God? Are we sinning or going against any of God’s commandments to make this decision?
There are also some big picture commandments that we are given, which we often neglect in making some of our major life decisions. The final commandment Jesus gave us, for example, was to go and make disciples of all the nations (Matt 28.18-20). Is your job, relationships, family, everything doing that? Is it enabling you to do that?
Perhaps we should reconsider how we pursue the “will of God”. We should remember that God is primarily concerned about our holiness, and therefore we should also be concerned about dying to our flesh, repenting of sin and living our daily lives every day to His glory and honor. Above that, as we are making our life decisions, we can simply ask the examining questions: Is it sin? Does it glorify God? Is it obeying scripture? Is it making disciples or enabling me to make disciples? It is possible that there will come a time when there are two equally God-glorifying options before us and in those (very rare) situations, we can be confident to do what we want. However, more often, we will clearly recognize that one decision will prove to be more effective at facilitating our holiness and obedience.
It is God’s will that we become more like Jesus. He is, at fact, at work within us to produce this outcome. Let’s join Him and understand His will.
“…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
– Phil 2.13