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CHRISTIAN LIFE - WISDOM TO DO GOD'S WILL -  John 6:40; 1 John 2:17; Proverbs 9:10 

WISDOM TO DO GOD’S WILL - John 6:40; 1 John 2:17; Proverbs 9:10 
    
The Bible uses the expression "will of God" in two ways.
•    God's sovereign will is His plan that determines everything that happens in the universe. It is unknowable except through history and prophecy. It is the sovereign will of God that those who accept Christ as Savior are assured of eternal life (John 6:40).
•    God's moral will consists of revealed commands in the Bible that teach how people ought to believe and live. It is the moral will of God that each person will believe in Christ the Savior and receive eternal life (1 Timothy 2:3-6).

The moral will of God is the expression of the character of God. These  traits should characterize believers because they characterize God:
•    holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16)
•    righteousness (1 John 3:7)
•    purity (1 John 3:3)
•    love (Ephesians 5:1-2)
•    forgiveness (Colossians 3:13)
•    compassion (Luke 6:36)
•    endurance (Hebrews 12:2-4)
•    submission (1 Peter 2:21-24)
•    humility and obedience (Philippians 2:5-8)
•    kindness (Luke 6:35)
•    generosity in giving (2 Corinthians 8:1-9)

God in His grace fully revealed His moral will in Scripture which was authoritative for Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:4-10; 5:18) and His apostles (2 Peter 1:19-21). The imperatives of God's moral will touch every aspect of life: goals, motives, attitudes, and actions. To put it differently, God is concerned with what we do and is equally concerned with why and how we do it. God's moral will shapes believers’ perspective of reality, the context in which they make decisions. The Bible equips believers for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The moral will of God is illustrated as the area enclosed by a circle containing morally binding commands and principles. Thoughts, attitudes, or actions that fall outside the circle is sin (1 John 3:4). Believers must learn where the perimeter of the circle runs by exploring God's Word. The process includes
• careful consideration (2 Timothy 2:7)
• search and inquiry (1 Peter 1:10,11)
• reading (1 Timothy 4:13)
• diligence in study (2 Timothy 2:15)
• meditation (Psalm 1:2; Joshua 1:8)
• memorization (Psalm 119:11), and
• learning from gifted Bible teachers (Philippians 4:9; 1 Corinthians 12:28,29)
This requires time and effort! Believers can expect that the Holy Spirit of truth will work to illuminate the Bible's meaning as they study diligently (2 Timothy 2:7).

As believers grow in their understanding of God's moral will, they must also grow in obedience to it. Obedience is an essential responsibility (1 John 2:17). Believers will give evidence that they are new creatures by their new lifestyle:
•    keeping the commands of God (1 John 2:3-6).
•    living a life of love (1 John 4:7-8).
•    believing in true doctrine (1 John 2:21-23; 1 John 4:1-3; 1 John 5:1).
These characteristics are not the basis for salvation but are evidence of it. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9) but genuine saving faith is not to be separate from good works, which follow from it (Acts 26:20; Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14-26). Obedience to the moral will of God is not optional as spoken by Jesus to His disciples (John 13:17). Jesus expected His disciples to “do” because they “knew,” and He has the same expectation today.

We have divine guidance because God is the Shepherd of His people.
•    He leads them (Psalm 23:1).
•    He sent His Son to lead them (John 10:3).
The very idea that God guides us implies that
•    We live according to the path which He has laid down.
•    Our lives have a purpose in the present.
•    Our lives have a destiny for the future.

Believers in Biblical times were forward-looking, going somewhere, expecting something in the future. Lot's wife is the example of unbelief. Warned to flee, she looked back (Genesis 19:26). By contrast, the heroes of the faith listed in Hebrews 11 are, without exception, characterized by anticipation, hope, and an expectation for the future (Hebrews 11:13). Children of God are  citizens of another world. Our residence here is temporary, and we do not really belong to this age. We are pilgrims (1 Peter 2:11), and our call to go home will one day come (2 Peter 3:10-13).  Meanwhile, we set our hearts on things above (Colossians 3:1).

The elementary principle of the life of faith immediately solves some problems in knowing God's will. When believers set their minds on establishing a life patterned on Heaven, many issues become irrelevant because life is lived on a different plane. The essence of the Christian life is that God should be glorified. This is what motivated Christ in His ministry (John 2:28; John 14:13; John 17:1-4). The purpose of our obedience and fruitfulness is always to bring glory to our Father (Matthew 5:16; John 15:8). When we have differences of opinion about a course of action, the decisive factor is stated in 1 Corinthians 10:31.

If we do not seek His glory, we cannot be walking in the way of His blessing. If we are seeking His glory, we can be sure that we shall discover that His light is shed on our paths. God wants to guide our lives so that they will reflect the glory of His Son. To accomplish this, He asks us to be imitators of Christ.
•    Jesus was called to lay aside His glory by taking the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7).
•    Christ humbled Himself and was exalted (1 Peter 5:6).
•    He suffered and then entered glory (Luke 24:26).
•    The shape of His life was the pattern of the cross.

A familiarity with the way God works will bring enormous stability to our lives. It will make it possible for us to trust the purposes of God, even when they seem to be most painful. We will learn the paradox of the Christian life: it a path to glory, through tribulations (Acts 14:22).
•    God leads us in the way of following Christ in bearing the cross.
•    Any "guidance" which contradicts this principle will lack the familiar autograph of Christ.
•    Any "voice" which beckons us to forsake this pathway will lack the accents of our Master.

We come to Christ and ask, "Will you be my Shepherd and my Guide through life?" He asks in return, "Will you take up the cross daily, and follow Me?" Is that really our ambition? Do we really want this kind of divine guidance? Have we counted the cost? Martin Luther gave this answer: "I know not the way He leads me, but well do I know my Guide"

People like a convenient and comfortable means of knowing God's will, but there is no way without reference to the state of our own soul. We sometimes seek God's will, desiring to know how to act in circumstances in which His only will is that we should not be found in them at all; and where, if conscience were really in activity, its first effect would be to make us leave them. It is our own will that has put us there. The dark path is not for believers (John 8:12). Instead of choosing the wrong path, believers should enjoy the comfort of being guided by God in a lighted path that we ourselves have chosen.

What does it take to walk in that path?  We have seen that it takes faith, trust, and obedience, but it also requires wisdom (Proverbs 4:7-9). The Hebrew word for “wisdom” refers to much more than an accumulation of facts. Anyone who had an unusual degree of skill in any given area of life was said to have wisdom.
•    a potter who created beautiful tableware
•    a composer who took notes and put them together to make beautiful music
Wisdom in the book of Proverbs might be defined as the ability to live life skillfully from God's point of view.

The first step in finding wisdom is simply to want it more than anything. Like everything in the spiritual realm, wisdom is free for the asking, but it will cost you all you have. No one becomes wise by accident. People must search after wisdom as if they were searching for silver or gold, setting aside everything in favor of that which comes only from God. You must turn from evil if you truly want wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), and you must actually hate evil (Proverbs 8:13). You can live in darkness, or you can walk in the light, but you cannot do both at the same time. God invites you to a brand-new life. Do you want wisdom? You can have it if you want it, but you must make the decision and pursue wisdom with all your heart.

The next step is humbling yourself, admitting your need, confessing your lack, and asking God to help you (James 1:5). Several times Solomon warns against the man who is "wise in his own eyes" (Proverbs 26:12; 28:11). If you want wisdom, you can have it. It's free, but it will cost you all you have. You must know the Lord intimately if you would walk in a way worthy of Him, and this is how to grow in the knowledge of God's will (Colossians 1:9-10). God guides one step at a time (Psalm 37:23). We often make a great mistake, thinking that God is not guiding us at all, because we cannot see far in front, but we have His promise that He is there.

It is easy to go to extremes in one direction or another while trying to do God's will. Some are so impatient that they find it hard to wait long enough to learn what God wants.
•    They plunge ahead in Christian activities hoping that God is pleased with what they are doing.
•    Such Christians may be active in Christian service committees, planning groups, evangelistic programs, all very good things if operated in His will, but are often lacking equally important functions of prayer, meditation, and study of God's Word.
•    In witnessing, they force the issue without waiting for the opportunities God's Holy Spirit gives and may often offend.
•    They are unskilled but enthusiastic carpenter’s helpers who, in their eagerness, bring boards and tools that are often unnecessary and clutter up the work area. Far from helping, they may actually impede the work.

At the other end of the spectrum are Christians who are so obsessed with the idea of waiting on the Lord that they do little or nothing in Christian service. They are concerned they may do the wrong thing and their activities in Christian service may be "of the flesh" and not according to the Spirit of God. Many Christians think of themselves as puppets activated by the Holy Spirit rather than partners in God's service. They spend time in prayer and Bible study, but become so involved with thinking about their own spiritual condition that they often find it difficult to give out a tract or engage in a teaching, pastoral, or gospel effort unless they feel especially mystically led by God to do so. Like some ancient hermits, they can become so concerned with themselves and their own spirituality that they are of little use to either God or to their fellow Christians.

To avoid both extremes, remember that the great followers of God in both the Old and New Testaments were persons of decisive action and of prayer. God's Word counsels you to exercise the same combination of patience and energy (Ephesians 5:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). By following all, not just part, of the scriptural pattern for the Christian life, you can be a useful and well-balanced Christian. It is our duty to do our duty. This simple fact takes care of a large area of life for which no further guidance needs be sought. You ask, “If God has a wonderful plan for my life, as many evangelistic tracts tell me, then why doesn't He tell me what it is? After all, my life here is a confusing mess of stops and starts, dead ends and open doors, possibilities, and competing ideals. I’ve too many decisions to face.”

The "will of God" is one of the most confusing phrases in the Christian vocabulary. We speak of things happening according to God's sovereign will and about being obedient and in the moral will of God. Most of the time what we are really hoping for is God's will of direction.

•    What does God want me to do with my life?
•    What job should I take?
•    Where should I live?
Here's the real central issue: Does God have a secret will of direction that He expects us to figure out before we do anything? And the answer is NO.  
•    God has a specific plan for our lives (Ephesians 1:1-14).
•    He has promised to guide us (Psalm 25:5; Psalm 43:3; Psalm 73:24; Isaiah 58:11; John 16:13) just as He guided the Israelites (Exodus 13:21).
•    He works things for our good in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:28).
•    If we look back, we can often trace God's hand.

Expecting God to reveal some hidden will of direction is an invitation to disappointment and indecision.
•    God is not a magic globe we shake up and peer into whenever have a decision to make.
•    He is a good God who gives us brains and free will, shows us the way of obedience, and invites us to take risks for Him.
•    The problem is we think He's going to tell us the wonderful plan before it unfolds.
The better way is the Biblical way: seek first the kingdom of God, and then trust that He will take care of your needs, even before you know what they are and where you're going.

When seeking the will of God,
•    We must not think that because we want to do something, it can't possibly be God's will. That attitude displays a distorted concept of God’s character (Psalm 37:4). As we delight ourselves in the Lord, our will and God's will begin to coincide.
•    We must guard against the temptation to take Bible verses out of context to get God's will. Some people seek guidance by randomly turning to a page and pointing to a verse. This violates the basic principle of interpreting the Bible in context, and God gets blamed for all kinds of things that are merely human stupidity.
•    We must not think that we can be sure we are in the will of God if we have no problems or stress. Frequently, just when we take a step of obedience, the bottom falls out of everything. Peace is not a guarantee of God's will.
•    We must not feel that every decision we make must have a confirmation or sign. People  don't act at all because they didn’t have some kind of liver-shiver about the whole thing.
If something is the will of God, often a whole series of other things are too.

Ask yourself questions to help evaluate your ability to make a God-honoring decision when faced with difficult choices.
•    Am I determined to obey and please God according to the Bible?
•    Have I asked for God's help?
•    Do I trust God in every area of my life, not merely in this decision?
•    Am I filling my mind with God's Word so that my mind is transformed?
•    Are there Biblical commands or principles that apply to my specific situation?
•    What are the alternatives and consequences of each possible option? Would waiting be profitable or detrimental?
•    Do my gifts, abilities, and weaknesses have a bearing on the decision? How?
•    What decision will glorify God, build me up spiritually, and edify others?
•    Have I sought out worthy advisors? Have I prayerfully evaluated the advice, not merely accepted or rejected it?

The first step of obedience is to turn to God in repentance and receive His salvation through faith in Christ. Believing that Christ existed as a good person and teacher is not enough. Heart trust in Christ is what's needed. In fact, God's judgment against sin has been "postponed" so that all will have time to respond (2 Peter 3:9). No excuse for rejecting Christ is excusable. Let’s put it this way: If you refuse Christ, be sure that you have a real good excuse thought up because it's the excuse you will give when you stand before God on judgment day. Do you intend to live your life according to God's will?

THE INVITATION
★    You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).
★    To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).
★    You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:
              Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed. Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.
              I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.
              Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.
                     In Your name I pray, Amen.

 

Dr. Nicholas J. Gray, Pastor   Broadway Baptist Church   Sedalia, Missouri   September 20, 2015