Taking the Mystery Out of Knowing God’s Will (Selected Scriptures)

It is always a joy to be able to turn to the
word of the living God, in fact, the living word of the living God, to be instructed from
the mind of God for our own blessing and for his glory. One of the subjects that is at the very center
of Christian experience is the matter of the will of God, the will of God. Throughout all of my life, I have heard people
tell me they were looking for the will of God, searching for the will of God, trying
to find the will of God. In fact, many, many years ago, I wrote a little
book called, The Will of God is not Lost. Because it seemed to me that so many people
were acting as if it was lost, as if God had placed his will in some obscure place, as
if God were some sort of a divine Easter Bunny who had stashed the golden egg in some bush
and all he did was sit in heaven saying, “You’re getting warmer,” or, “You’re getting colder,”
as we meandered through the shrubbery of life trying to find the egg. There are people who think that the will of
God is the most undesirable thing, that it’s like a diet. If it doesn’t taste good, you can eat it. But the will of God is everything that you
don’t want to do, that God is sort of a cosmic killjoy who says, “There’s one having fun,
get him.” As if God wants to make life painful and somber
and sorrowful and hard. There are those who think that the will of
God is sort of like, I guess you could say a serendipitous traumatic experience, like
you’re running down the street, trying to catch a bus, your foot slips on a banana peel
and you land on a map of Argentina in the gutter. And, “Ah, I’ll go to Argentina as a missionary,
this is a divine calling.” There are people who approach the will of
God in those ways. Some people think the will of God is like
a lottery ticket. Not but a few are every gonna get one and
if you get one, you become really, really blessed and most of us just throw away old
tickets and never know what it is to win the will of God. Then there is the dot spot idea that the will
of God is this specific dot and only that dot that there’s one man for you and woman
for you and one house and one car and one career and one school and one this and one
that. And you’ve got to go through life trying to
connect the dots because if you miss the dots, you’re going to be off track. And when it’s all done, the picture of your
life won’t make sense. And so there is this dot theology and that
really doesn’t come across very easily to the people trying to find the dot because
just as soon as you think maybe this is the right, let’s say, girl that you ought to marry,
you wonder whether there isn’t a better dot somewhere else or a more specific expression
of Gods will. And are you really right and are you really
wrong and all your options and alternatives and you go through life trying to find the
specificity that is way beyond anything God ever intended. What is God’s will for your life? That’s really the big question. It’s really not the question about purpose. It’s a question about the will of God. It’s not about what should you be based on
your skills and your gifts and all of that. It’s really about what is God’s will for your
life. That’s a very foundational question. And we all, as Christians, ask it. And it has to do with everything in our lives
– all our relationships, all our choices and directions in life need to be guided and directed
by a compelling desire to do the will of God. In fact, I would say that’s probably the most
foundational and essential pursuit in Christian living – doing the will of God. In Psalm 143 in verse 10, David prayed that
prayer. Listen to what David said. He said, “Lord, teach me to do your will.” He didn’t say, “Teach me to understand your
will.” He didn’t say, “Teach me to know your will.” He didn’t say, “Help me find your will.” He didn’t say, “God, please disclose your
will, reveal your will, manifest your will.” He said, “Lord, teach me to do your will.” Which carries the presupposition and the assumption
that it was not a matter of information, but it was a matter of obedience. It wasn’t a matter of knowing it, it was a
matter of doing it. He doesn’t ask God to reveal his will, he
simply says, “Empower me to do it,” which assumes that he knew what it was. Our Lord set the example for a life devoted
to doing the will of God when even facing the horrors of the cross and the wrath of
his own father in divine judgment heaped up him as he bore the sins of all who would ever
believe. He said this, “Not my will but yours be done,”
Luke 22:42. He was totally and constantly and singularly
devoted to his father’s will. He lived his life on that commitment. In John 4:34, he said, “I am come to do the
will of him that sent me.” Twice again in the gospel of John 5:30, 6:38
he put it this way, “I do not seek my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” And then our Lord went on to extend that beyond
himself when his disciples said, “Teach us how to pray.” He said, “Pray like this. Our father who art in heaven, your will be
done.” Pray in the direction of God’s will. Set your life in the direction of God’s will. In Acts 21:14, there was some concern on the
part of some believers about what was going on among the apostles. And their response was this statement, “The
will of the Lord be done.” The apostle Paul says to the believers at
Rome in chapter 1 verse 10, “I want to come, but I want to come to you by the will of God. That is if is consistent with the will of
God.” He says the same thing at the end of Romans,
15:32, that I may come to you in joy by the will of God. Jesus lived his life in the pursuit of the
will of God. Paul lived his life in the pursuit of the
will of God. We are told to pray that God’s will will be
done, not beyond us and outside of us, but in our own lives. Peter says believers are to live the rest
of the time in the flesh – the rest of your time on this earth for the will of God, 1
Peter 4:2. And the goal of all apostolic ministry is
that believers would, quote Colossians 4:12, “stand perfect and fully assured in all the
will of God.” And so the very essence of the Christian life
is to do the will of God, to be obedient to what God wants, what God desires and what
God requires out of love, out of gratitude, out of worship, out of honor, out of holy
aspiration and desire, out of the pursuit of blessing and usefulness. For every reason we pursue the doing of the
will of God. I think the most magnificent treatment in
Scripture of the heart of a true believer longing to do the will of God is Psalm 119. In Psalm 119, there are 176 verses, 175 of
them are heartfelt longings by the psalmist that God would enable him to do his will. He says it 175 different ways, but it’s all
the same longing and desire. “Enable me, oh God, to do your will, to follow
your path, to keep your commandments.” This is why we live and for what we live – to
do the will of God. Now just what is this concept of the will
of God? I want to give it to you in two parts because
there are two ways that you must understand it. Open your Bible to Psalm 33. Let’s look at Psalm 33 for a moment. This will help us to see one perspective on
the will of God and that is that will of God, which God himself fulfills, that will of God,
which God himself accomplishes, that will of God which God himself does. In verse 6 of Psalm 33, we read this, “By
the word of the Lord, the heavens were made and by the breath of his mouth all their host,
he gathers the waters of the sea together as an heap, he lays up the deeps in storehouses.” This is picturing God, of course, as the creator
of the entire universe, the entire universe , the heavens all the way down to the earth
and the water that is on the earth and therefore, in verse 8, “Let all the earth honor the Lord
or fear the Lord or worship the Lord as the source and creator. Let all the inhabitants on the earth, that
is those of the world, stand in awe of him, for he spoke and it was done. He commanded and it stood fast.” This, of course, calls us to give honor to
the creator of the universe and everything that is in it. And then comes verse 10. “The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations. He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the
plans of his heart from generation to generation.” That is introducing us to God’s sovereign
will. That will of God, which he sovereignly does
himself. He will set at naught all the plans of people. He will set aside all the counsel of nations. And he will do exactly what he has planned
to do in every generation and forever. This is the sovereign will of God. It is the, as some theologians call it, the
decretive will of God, he decreed it, or the determinative will of God, he determined it,
or the absolute will of God, it is inviolable, it is inflexible, it is unalterable. God said he will do it and he will indeed
fulfill what he has said. Turn to Isaiah 46. Here is another magnificent summary of this
aspect of God’s will. Isaiah 46, and perhaps we can start in the
middle of verse 9, Isaiah 46:9, “For I am God and there is no other. I am God and there is no one like me. Declaring the end from the beginning and from
ancient times, things which have not been done, saying my purpose will be established
and I will accomplish all my good pleasure.” Simply said, God determined what he would
do at the beginning and he will do it all the way to the end. His purpose will be established and he will
accomplish all his good pleasures. Simply, God does exactly what he wants. In fact, Psalm 135:6 says, “Whatever the Lord
pleases, he does.” Whatever the Lord pleases, he does. He is the sovereign of the universe. Whatever he has purposed he will do. Whatever he has willed, he will accomplish. In Daniel chapter 4 and verse 34 and 35 when
Nebuchadnezzar, who had been judged so severely by God, came back to his senses he offers
praise and worship to God. Verse 34 of Daniel 4, raises his eyes toward
heaven and Nebuchadnezzar says that “I blessed the most high and praised and honored him
who lives forever.” And here is how he describes God. “His dominion is an everlasting dominion. His kingdom endures from generation to generation
and all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing. But he does according to his will in the host
of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth and no one can ward off his hand or say to
him, ‘What hast thou done?'” God does exactly what he wills to do in heaven
and on earth. In Ephesians, chapter 1 and verse 11, we read
this, “God does according to his purpose, working all things after the counsel of his
will.” Few will draw the right conclusion from all
of those verses and that conclusion is this – that there is a will of God which he brings
to pass perfectly. He works all things after the counsel of his
will. There is a will of God which belongs fully
to him in which no person can bring about any consequence, any event, any circumstance
that would change that eternal purpose. It is the will of God which belongs fully
to him, is determined in his purpose and executed by his power. It will be done, it will always be done and
nothing other than it will be done. So, in the big scheme of things, history of
the created universe moves from a divine beginning to a divine end and God controls absolutely
everything. And he will do exactly what he desires to
do. But, on the human level, God has a will for
man. And that will is not done, for the most part. What is God’s will for man? He has revealed it in his holy law. God’s law is simply the revelation of what
God desires from man. And for the most part, we do not do it. The amazing reality is, however, that our
failure to do the will of God for us on our part has no negative effect on God accomplishing
his own will as predetermined in eternity past. God will providentially – providentially overrule
all those contingencies and all those choices and synthesize them perfectly in the accomplishment
of his will. This is called divine providence. This is a massively significant description
of the character of God who can take the infinite number of human choices and contingencies
and work them to his own glorious ends. So we’re not talking, in our discussion today,
about the will of God which God himself will do. We’re talking about the will of God expressed
toward us, which we will or will not do. Nothing that I do or don’t do will alter the
end of the plan. But everything I do and everything you do
will have an effect on our blessing, our joy, our obedience, our usefulness now and forever. So it’s important to me to know God’s will. I want to do it. I don’t want to be in the dark. And I can’t trust my own intuition because
I don’t have any apparatus. I don’t have any physical apparatus. I don’t have any buttons or buzzers or lights
that go on when I’m doing God’s will, I can’t trust my own intuition. I don’t live in the sign age. So where am I going to go to find God’s will. How do I know what God’s will for my life
is? Where can I find a reliable indication of
the will of God for my life? Well, I’ve already given you a hint. And now I’ll expand on that a little bit. God has a will for your life. We know that. If God has a will for your life, he wants
you to know it. That’s obvious. And if he wants you to know it, then be sure
of this, he didn’t hide it. It’s not tucked obscurely under some convoluted
interpretation of Scripture. It’s not left to some transcendental experience
of intuition. It’s not dependant upon some private, personal
angelic delivery. It’s not ever dependant upon some serendipitous
coincidence. If God has a will, and he does, if he wants
you to know it, and he does, and he holds you responsible for it, and he does, then
you can be sure he didn’t hide it. He would place it in the most obvious place. And the most obvious place would be his word. You can know the will of God for your life
from Scripture. And it’s unmistakable, absolutely unmistakable. I’m gonna give you six things to think about. Okay? Number one, God’s will is that you be saved. God’s will is that you be saved – delivered
from sin and death and judgment and Hell. That’s what the word saved means – that you
be rescued from eternal damnation, eternal punishment. God’s will is that you be saved. 1 Timothy chapter 2 verse 3, “This is good
and acceptable in the sight of God our savior who will have all men to be saved and to come
to the knowledge of the truth.” God’s will is that you be saved. Listen to 2 Peter 3:9. “The Lord is not slow about his promises. Some count slowness, but is patient toward
you not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.” God is willing that you be saved. God wills that you repent. It is God’s will that you be saved from eternal
destruction. This is the will of God. So much is it the will of God that he planned
the plan of redemption. So much is it the will of God that he sent
his son to become the sacrifice for our sins, to make that salvation possible. The son of man has come to seek and to save
the lost because the salvation of the lost is the will of the father. In fact, in a number of incidents in the New
Testament, this becomes clear as an expression of the will of God. In Mark chapter 3, Jesus is teaching in a
particular place. His mother and brothers arrive. They stand outside the place where he’s teaching. They call to him, but the multitude is around
him and so the message comes filtering finally to him through the crowd. Verse 32, Mark 3, “Behold your mother, your
brothers are outside looking for you. And answering them he said, ‘Who are my mother
and my brothers?'” In a sense he’s saying, “I don’t recognize
earthly relationships. I don’t recognize family. And looking about on those who were sitting
there, the crowd, he said, “Behold, my mother and my brothers for whoever does the will
of God, he’s my brother and sister and mother.” He is saying, there are no more family relationships
with me that have any spiritual value. The only relationship with me that matters
is that you do the will of God. And what was the will of God? God himself said it. “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well
pleased, listen to him.” God’s will is that you embrace Christ. God’s will is that you put your trust in Christ. That’s the will of God. That’s the will of the father. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus essentially
said the same thing, many are going to say “Lord, Lord we did this and we did that in
your name.” And he’s gonna say, “Depart from me, I never
knew you,” because not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven,
but he who does the will of my father – and what is the will of the father – that you
embrace the son, that you put your trust and saving faith in the Lord Jesus. That’s the will of the father. In 1 John chapter 2 verse 17, “The world is
passing away in its lusts, but the one who does the will of God abides forever.” The one who does the will of God has eternal
life. What will of God? The will of God to believe in the son. The will of God to put your trust in his son. God’s will is that you be saved. In John chapter 6 and verse 38 there’s just
a statement along this line, running down through verse 40, “I have come down from heaven,
not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. I came to do my father’s will.” Then verse 40, “For this is the will of my
father, that everyone who beholds the son and believes in him may have eternal life.” God, the father, wants you to behold the son
and believe in him. That’s his will. And then have eternal life. So no person who has rejected Christ, no person
who does not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ can ever know the will of God. It’s pointless to seek the will of God in
a marriage or a relationship or a job or a career or a life decision of any kind. If you’re not saved, then you don’t even have
the right to ask God to disclose his will. No one who has not come to Christ in true
repentance, no one who has not come to Christ in true saving faith has any claim on knowing
God’s will about anything else. Listen to 1 Corinthians 2:9. “Just as it is written,” borrowed again from
Isaiah, “things which eye have not seen and ear has not heard and which have not entered
the heart of man.” There are things that people can’t see. There are things they can’t hear. There are things they can’t know. All that God has prepared for those who love
him. What God has for those who love him, the people
who don’t love him can’t know. God’s will starts, then, with being saved,
which means committing your live in repentant faith to Jesus Christ as the Lord and savior. That’s God’s will. That’s where it starts. If you’re asking other questions and you haven’t
done that, you’re not in a position to receive anything from God whatsoever. Secondly, God’s will is not only that you
be saved but spirit-filled. Turn to Ephesians chapter 5. “God’s will is that you be spirit-filled.” Ephesians chapter 5 verse 17, “So then do
not be foolish.” Do not be foolish, affrone, frone from the
verb fernao, which is to think, ah, the alpha privative to be unthinking, to be ignorant,
to be destitute of knowledge, to be simple minded. That’s the idea. Don’t be ignorant, but understand what the
will of the Lord is. Now, if you don’t understand the will of the
Lord, what are you? Foolish, ignorant, might even say stupid. You say, “That’s pretty strong language.” It is because the will of God is not lost. It is not obscure. It is not hidden. If you do not understand what the will of
the Lord is then you are just simple-minded, you’re just ignorant because if you keep reading,
he’ll tell you what it is. Here it is, verse 18. “Do not get drunk with wine for that is dissipation,
ossotea, excess, but be filled with the spirit.” Alright, secondly his will is that you be
spirit-filled, spirit-filled. First of all, God’s will is that you be saved,
that is clear. That is crystal clear. The father sent the son to do his will because
his will is that all who believe in the son will have eternal life. His will, secondly, is that you not operate
in ignorance and foolishness, but that you understand that God’s will is that you be
filled with the Holy Spirit, rather than being drunk with wine and conducting yourself in
a dissipated way. Why is that comparison there? Because the issue here is control. The issue here is control. Filled is perao in the Greek and it has the
idea of filling in a controlling sense, not filling in a static sense, like wind filling
the sails of a ship moving it along. A way to translate this would be allow yourselves
to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. I can give you a number of illustrations of
how this word is used, that carries that meaning. In John 16 and verse 6 the statement is made,
“Sorrow has filled your heart. Sorrow has filled your heart.” What that means is sorrow has taken over control. If you say someone is a little bit sad, that’s
one thing. If you say they are filled with sorrow, you
simply mean that they have lost the ability to balance out their sorrow with positive
thoughts or good thoughts or hopeful thoughts. And they have literally succumbed to the dominating
power of sorrow. In Luke 6:11, it talks about being filled
with madness. Being filled means totally controlled by and
dominated by madness. You’ve lost all ability to balance off the
experience and emotional response with some sense of reason and you’re filled with madness. Or in Luke 4 verse 28 talks about being filled
with wrath. You no longer can control your anger and have
a moderation of hostility. You’ve lost it completely and you’ve gone
off into a rage. Or in Luke 5:26, you have the idea of being
filled with fear where fear so totally dominated you that your ability to find hope and sanity
in the midst of a terrifying situation is forever – or for that moment anyway gone. And so to be filled with fear or anger or
madness or sorrow or to be filled with the Holy Spirit means to be so dominated by that
force as to be under its complete control. That’s the idea. He compares it to being drunk. Alcohol is a controlling substance. When a person becomes drunk, they have abandoned
sanity. They have abandoned reason. They have lost the ability to control their
behavior, their speech, their emotion, their mind. They have come under the control of that drug. And by the way, in Ephesus, they did this
on purpose. IN the ancient world, this is one of the ways
that they worshiped the false gods, through drunkenness, gluttony and sexual orgies. They thought that as they lost themselves,
they transcended the temporal world and ascended into communion with the deities, the more
debauched and the more drunken, the more transcendent and the more likely to contact the divine. The truth of the matter is they were drunk
and contacting the demonic. The apostle Paul says that is not the right
approach to religion. A Bacchanalian Feast – that’s the way they
did in the Temple of Bacchus. I’ve been there in Baalbek by Damascus. All the artifacts are still there to demonstrate
this kind of approach. This is what they did in the worship of Dionysius
in Ephesus. Paul says, “You’re not going to get to God
that way. But you are, if you’re filled with, controlled
by the Holy Spirit.” What does that mean? Well we all possess the Holy Spirit. “If any man have not the spirit, he’s none
of his,” Romans 8:9. We all possess the spirit. We’ve all been given the Holy Spirit. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who came to dwell within us
at the time of our salvation. But we’re not always controlled by the Holy
Spirit. That’s the critical thing to understand. Let’s look back at Ephesians 5 and see what
it means. There – as I said, there aren’t any lights
that go on. There aren’t any buzzers. There aren’t any sort of manifest feelings
of the spirit-filling in your life. So there’s nothing you can look at physiologically
or experientially to identify this. But there are some results of it. If you’re filled with the spirit, verse 19,
you speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. You sing, make melody in your heart to the
Lord. All of a sudden you’re lost in wonder, love
and praise and dominated by worship. Not only that, you’re heart is thankful. Verse 20, you’re giving thanks for everything
in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the father. You’re just overwhelmed with thankfulness
no matter what’s going on in your life. You’re just literally filled with praise. Also, verse 21, you’re subject to one another
in the fear of Christ and there’s a dominating humility that comes into your life that makes
you submit yourself to those around you. If you’re a wife, you’re subjected to your
husband willingly and gladly. If you’re a husband, you’re loving your wife. And he goes on to describe that, chapter 6,
verse 1, if you’re a spirit-filled child, you’re obeying your parents. If you’re a spirit-filled parents, you’re
not provoking your children to anger. If you’re a spirit-filled slave or servant
or employee, you’re obedient to your masters as if to Christ. If you’re a spirit-filled master, then you’re
going to do the things to your employees that honor the true master, the Lord himself. These are all the behaviors that flow out
of being controlled by the Holy Spirit. And this is very interesting and very important. A life of worship, a life of humility, a life
of joy, a life made right in the family, a life made right in the environment of the
world where you work and serve, everything finds its appropriate place when you are totally
controlled by the Holy Spirit. And that’s not mystical. Let me show you a passage. Colossians 3:16, it’s so important. Colossians 3:16, this will give you a comparison
that will explain what it means to be filled with the spirit, or controlled by the spirit. Verse 16, Colossians 3:16, Paul writes, “Let
the word of Christ richly dwell within you.” Plusios, in the Greek, extravagantly. It’s a big word. It’s a lavish word. Let the word of Christ extravagantly, lavishly
dwell within you. Now watch the result. “With all wisdom, teaching, admonishing one
another, psalms, hymns, spiritual song, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Exactly the same results come from this as
came from being filled with the spirit, only this is let the word of Christ lavishly dwell
in you. And what’s gonna happen? Worship and praise and gladness and thankfulness. Whatever you do, you’re gonna do in the name
of the Lord Jesus. You’re gonna give thanks to him. Verse 17, wives are going to subject themselves
to their husbands. Husbands are going to love their wives. Children will obey their parents. Fathers are going to not exasperate their
children. Slaves or servants are going to obey their
masters. And chapter 4 verse 1, masters are going to
be just and fair. See, you get the exact same result – two causes. Ephesians, filled with the spirit, here, let
the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Conclusion: the same thing. What does it mean to be controlled by the
spirit? It means to be dominated by the word. The word is inseparable from the spirit. The spirit is the author of Scripture. He is the author. He is the interpreter. He is the applier. He is the enabler of his own word. So when we talk about being spirit-filled,
we’re talking about being controlled by the spirit. The spirit controls us when we’re saturated
with the truth, when we’re saturated with the word, when the word dominates us, the
spirit controls us. The word takes hold of our mind. The word takes hold of our emotions and the
word takes hold of our will. Nothing mystical. This isn’t something that happens to you when
you have an esoteric experience. This doesn’t come because you spoke in tongues
or somebody laid hands on you and you fell over backwards. Being filled with the spirit means being controlled
by the spirit and the spirit will control you by applying the word of God to your life
and you cannot apply what you do not know. And so you become lavishly enriched with divine
truth, which then becomes the controlling truth by which the spirit directs you toward
the will of God. God’s will, what is it? That you be saved and spirit-filled. Before you say, “Oh God, what girl should
I marry?” Or, “Oh God, what guy should I marry?” Or, “Should I go there?” Or, “Should I go here or do this or do that?” These are the questions that are more foundational. God’s will is that you be saved and spirit-filled. Thirdly, turn to 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. If you don’t know God’s will what are you? Foolish, because it’s there for you. And here is another blunt and straightforward
statement. 1 Thessalonians 4:3. “For this is the will of God.” Wow. Doesn’t leave much to speculation, does it? It’s not hard to figure out. It’s not obscure. This is the will of God – your sanctification. Big word means separation. Separation from what? From sin. To be separated from sin. God wants you saved, he wants you spirit-controlled
and he wants you separated from sin. It’s exactly what it says. You ought to, verse 1, walk and please God. You ought to excel more at that. And you know what commandments we gave you
by the authority of the Lord Jesus. You know what it is to live a holy life. It’s revealed in the word of God, which is
where the Holy Spirit gains control of your life, when the word dominates you. You know all of this and so the will of God
is that you obey it and separate yourself from sin by obeying God’s holy law. God’s will is that you be sanctified. Now what does exactly that mean? Let’s get real practical. Four things he says. One, that is, i.e., that you abstain from
sexual immorality. Now we’re getting real practical. Stay away from sex sins. Somebody says, “How far away?” Far enough away to be separated from all sexual
sin – very practical. This is God’s will. Sometimes you have a couple come in and want
to get married and they sit in the office and I say, “Tell me a little bit about yourself. When did you meet?” And so forth and so forth. And through the years, I’ve always asked a
question somewhere on the line, “Are you engaged in sinful sexual behavior?” It’s a direct approach. And then you see these, sometimes shining
faces saying, “No,” and you know, “We’re waiting until marriage.” Sometimes these faces fall and sheepish looks
and my response is, “Well, if you’re conducting yourself knowingly out of the will of God
and are unwilling to obey the will of God which is revealed, then why would you assume
that it’s the will of God for this relationship to go on?” Sometimes they’ll say, “You know, we think
it’s God’s will for us to get married.” The first question is, “Are you committing
sexual sin together? Because if you are you’re not in the will
of God now. You got to back up. Go back, reestablish that relationship on
a pure level. And when you have been obedient to that which
is known to be the will of God, you’ll be in a position for God to disclose to you,
pretty clearly, what is his will about what is not revealed.” Stay away from sexual sin. And of course it’s ubiquitous. It’s everywhere, always has been, there’s
nothing new under the sun, just comes in different forms. Stay away from sex sin. And he gets more specific, verse 4, “Each
of you should know how to possess his own vessel,” that’s body, “in sanctification and
honor.” Handle your body to honor God. Handle your body in a pure way. Keep your body pure. He goes further in verse 4, “Not in lustful
passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God.” Don’t act like Godless heathens. Don’t act the way the world acts. Stay away from sex sin, handle your body to
honor God like 1 Corinthians 9, beat it into submission if necessary. Don’t act like godless pagans. Fourthly he says that no man transgress, go
across the line and defraud his brother in the matter. Wow, what does that mean? Don’t take advantage of other people. Don’t take any advantage of any other people
for any reason, particularly in the sexual area, I tell young people. Especially girls, you beware when some guy
comes along and says, “I love you, I love you, I love,” and then wants to steal your
virginity. That’s not love. That is lust, lustful passion that has nothing
to do with love. Love is much nobler than that, much more glorious
than that, much grander than that and a true and a pure love says, “I love you so much
that I would not do that. I love you that much.” This kind of defrauding that goes on is not
the will of God. It is the will of God that you be separate
from sin. Stay away from sexual sin. How far away? Far enough away to be completely separate
in all forms. Handle your body to honor God. Don’t act like the godless heathen around
you act. Do not take advantage of other people for
your own gratification, your own lustful fulfillment. In 1 Peter 4:2, Peter says as I quoted earlier,
“We are to live the rest of the time in the flesh.” Listen, “No longer for the lusts of men, but
for the will of God.” It’s not about lust anymore, it’s about the
will of God. God’s will is that you stop lusting. The lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes,
pride of life, stop lusting and start pursuing sanctification. The will of God’s so important because, verse
6, “The Lord is the avenger in all these things.” Just as we also told you before and solemnly
warned you. You don’t get away with that. There’s a price to pay. Verse 7, “For God has not called us for the
purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.” By the way, verse 8, “He who rejects this
is not rejecting man, but the God who gives his holy spirit to you.” If you reject this, you’re not rejecting me. You’re not rejecting the man who wrote that. You’re rejecting the God who gave you his
holy spirit so that you have the power to be pure. So what is God’s will? To be saved, to be spirit-filled, to be sanctified. That’s the will of God. Start there. Number four, and we’ll look at this briefly,
that you be submissive. Submissive. In James chapter 4, it says in verse 7, “Submit,
therefore, to God.” That’s the first point of submission. “Submit, therefore, to God.” Also, Ephesians 5 says, “Submit to one another. Submit to one another.” This is talking about humility, folks. Be submissive. Be submissive to God. Be submissive to one another. Wives, be submissive to your husbands. And husbands, be submissive, in the sense
that you love your wives and you seek that which fulfills their desire. Hebrews 13 tells us, verses 7 and 17 to submit
to those that are over you in the Lord, to submit to the pastors and elders of the church
who lead and direct you. 1 Peter chapter 2 verses 13 and you can look
at 1 Peter chapter 2 for just a moment. It says, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s
sake to every human institution, to kings, ones in authority, governors, etcetera. Verse 15, “For such is the will of God.” It is God’s will that you submit to the government
so that you never, ever cause the gospel to bear a reproach. He says, “By doing this, you will silence
the ignorance of foolish men.” By being a good citizen, submitting to the
authorities that God has placed over you in human government, you will silence those who
criticize the Christian faith. You submit to government. You submit to the authority in the church. You submit in family. You submit to one another. You submit to Christ as Lord. You submit to God. Humble submission, your life should be characterized
in all things by humility, submissiveness, on all levels. That’s the will of God. Humble yourselves, humble yourselves and in
due time, God will lift you up. This is his will. Number five, his will is that you suffer. While you’re in 1 Peter, look at chapter 3,
if you’re in 1 Peter, if not, you can look there. 1 Peter 3:17, “It is better,” writes Peter,
“It is better if God should will it so that you suffer for doing what is right rather
than for doing what is wrong.” God wills our suffering. That’s right. God wills our suffering because he knows what
it does for us. Back in chapter 2 verse 20 he says, “If you
do what is right and suffer for it and endure that suffering, this finds favor with God.” God is pleased when we suffer and we endure
it. Chapter 4 verse 19, “Let those who suffer
according to the will of God,” that’s what it says. “Let those who suffer according to the will
of God,” 1 Peter 4:19, “and trust their souls to a faithful creator in doing what is right.” So you’re doing what is right. You keep doing what is right. You start to suffer for doing what is right
and you endure that suffering and trust in your soul to a faithful God. And you are, in a sense, following the example
of Christ, who, being perfect, still suffered. Suffering is part of what God wants to do
in your life. Suffering is what perfects you. Not talking about sinful suffering. Suffering for doing what is wrong, that’s
discipline. God wants you to face this hostile world in
such a godly fashion, living such a godly life that it will bring reproach and scorn
and difficulty and alienation from family and friends and who knows where. And all of that suffering will cause God to
perfect you. Can’t have all joy, when you fall into various
trials, they have a perfect work. 1 Peter 5:10, “After you’ve suffered awhile,
the Lord make you mature, perfect.” Suffering for righteousness’ sake, living
such a righteous life in and unrighteous world that the unrighteous world reacts when confronted
by such virtue and such devotion and such truth as we live and proclaim for Christ. All who live Godly in this present world,
2 Timothy 3:12, will suffer persecution, some more than others. It is the will of God that you suffer for
doing what is right, that you might thereby be humbled and strengthened. In 2 Corinthians chapter 12 the apostle Paul
tells us that he had embraced his suffering. He embraced it because he saw in it the hand
of God. He says he was given a thorn in the flesh. He said, “I asked the Lord to remove it three
times.” He said, “My grace is sufficient. For you, power is perfected in weakness.” God knows that your spiritual power is dependent
upon your weakness and your weakness is the product of your suffering. “Most gladly,” writes Paul, “I would rather
boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me so I’m content with
weakness, insults, distress, persecutions and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For when I’m weak, then I’m strong.” I’m not talking about suffering from doing
wrong, but suffering from doing right. Take that suffering and be bold and be courageous
and let God do his perfect work. And finally, there’s one other thing. God’s will for you – this is his will for
your life, that you be saved, that you be spirit-filled, that you be sanctified, that
you be submissive, that you be suffering and finally, that you be saying thanks. That you be thankful. Listen to 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything,
give thanks, for this is – what? God’s will for you. A constantly grateful heart rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks. Constant joy, constant prayer filled with
constant thanks. Is that what your life is like? Is that you? Are you just overwhelmed with thanks? Are you just pouring up thanks? This is the will of God for you. There’s no mystery here folks. NO mystery at all. God’s will is that you be saved, spirit-filled,
sanctified, submissive, suffering, and saying thanks all the time. That’s God’s will. You say, “Ah, come on. You’re cheating me. I thought I was gonna get an answer about
the girl I’m supposed to marry.” Oh, I’m gonna give you that. I’m gonna tell you exactly what to do. You say, “I want a specific answer.” Well that’s good. There’s one final principle and you’re gonna
like it. You’re gonna like it. If you’re saved, spirit-filled, sanctified,
submissive, suffering and thankful – you ready for this? Do whatever you want. Do whatever you want. Marry whoever you want. Go wherever you want. Work wherever you want. Choose whatever you want. You say, “Whoa. Are you sure?” Absolutely. Because if this is true of your life, guess
who’s controlling your wants. Do whatever you want. People say to me, “Why did you come to Grace
Church?” I wanted to come. There wasn’t nothing mystical. I didn’t hear voices in heaven. Did I know all this would happen? No, I just came here because I wanted to come. I said, “That’s a good place. They want me. Nobody else wants me. I want to go.” It wasn’t like I had a lot of options. Still don’t. People say, “How did you decide to decide
to marry Patricia?” That was easy. I wanted her and no one else. And I said, “God, that’s the one I want, right
there. And I believe you’re controlling my wants.” You say, “I need a verse for that. That’s way out there.” I’ll give you a verse. I know, you’re used to getting a verse. Here’s the verse. Psalm 37:4, you ready for this? “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will
give you the desires of your heart.” That doesn’t mean he’ll fulfill yours, it
means he’ll plant his. You delight in the Lord, saved, spirit-filled,
submissive, all of those things. You delight in the Lord and he will plant
his desires in your heart. Why am I in the ministry? Because I wanted to be. Why am I at Grace Church? Because I wanted to be. Why do I go here and do that? Because I want to. And I just want to make sure that the wants
that are coming out of my heart are the reflection of the desires that God would have for my
life. And so if I follow what I know to be God’s
will, then what I don’t know to be God’s will is simply a matter of following desires that
God has planted in my heart because I’m delighting in him. “I, being in the way,” Genesis 24:27, “The
Lord led me.” Just get in this path and the Lord will lead. Another way to say it is verse 5 of Psalm
34. “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in
him and he’ll do it. He’ll fulfill it. He’ll actually fulfill his will if you just
delight in him and commit to him. Father we thank you for the wonderful word
given to us. May we be faithful to do your will like the
psalmist, Lord teach us to do your will. Now the God of Peace who brought up from the
dead the great shepherd of the sheep, who, through the blood of the eternal covenant,
even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do his will, working in us that which
is pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ to whom be the glory forever and ever, Amen.

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