walk in the word
Category: Spiritual Life
“Therefore, do not be unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:17
I talk to a lot of people who are frustrated with figuring out God’s will. They wrestle with it, argue over it, search for it. This doesn’t surprise me since we’ve long had this notion that God is like some cosmic Easter bunny who has hidden His will in little partials all over the world and we’re supposed to go around and try to find them.
He’s not like that at all.
Get these two concepts down: 1. You can know God’s will. 2. God wants you to know it. There’s no mystery about it. Ephesians 5:17 says, “Therefore, do not be unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is.” God has a will; He has a desire and a plan—and you can know it.
Biblically, the subject of God’s will is divided into three categories:
– God’s sovereign will
– God’s moral will
– God’s individual will
Would you agree that nothing can thwart the purposes of God? Nothing can stop God from doing what He’s going to do. Look up: Proverbs 16:33, 21:1, Daniel 4:35, Romans 9:19, 11:36, Ephesians 1:11 and write beside them: “God’s sovereign will.”
Then there’s the second kind—God’s moral will.
Think of God’s moral will as the walls of a room. To be in His will you live protected inside these walls. To walk out a door would be to say, “Well, I know this is what the will of God prescribes for me, but I’m not going to do that.” That’s what it means to be out of God’s will.
Throughout Scripture God presents His moral will on life issues. Example: marriage. The Bible teaches fidelity before marriage, and lifetime fidelity to one partner. The Bible teaches it’s only for believers to be married to believers. The Bible talks about roles in marriage in Ephesians 5. The Bible talks about attitudes and mutual submission in marriage in 1 Peter 3. If you want to be in God’s will for your marriage, do His moral will.
Second Peter 1:3 says, “That in this Scripture He has given us all things which pertain to life and godliness.” Every thing you need to make wise choices and do the moral will of God is in God’s Word. You don’t need to hear it from me or anyone else—you need to get it from God Himself in His Word.
So that leaves the matter of an individual will. Does God have an individual will for each of us? By that I mean, does God have a detailed plan for your life? A specific college for you to go to? A specific church for you to attend? A specific person for you to marry? A specific house for you to buy?
If you’re like me, you’ve been taught that to do these things is to be in the center of God’s will. It’s like standing on a dot. Being on the dot means that you’ve found the right answer in each decision. If you made a wrong choice, you’re off the dot and you can never get back on. Now, that’s a bad scene since most of us blew it enough in our early years to be off the dot. So the rest of our lives, we’ll miss God’s perfect plan for our lives.
At 17, I listened to my youth pastor preach, “God has one person for you and you better figure out who it is.” I can remember thinking to myself, “This is crazy. So if there’s only one person that’s God’s choice for me, then it has to also be true that I could choose the wrong person. And if I choose the wrong person, then I’ve wrecked a lot of people’s lives because she’s married to me and she never should have been, and she should have been married to somebody else, so that wrecked their lives, and worse than that—these kids we’ve had were never supposed to exist, so they’re never going to find the dot! And maybe sometime through my life I’m going to be walking around and I’m going to see some people and have this sense, “You were supposed to be my kid!”
There is no dot. If you live inside the perimeters of God’s moral will for you, the rest of the choices are up to you.
Need a Scripture passage for that? Try the favorite Proverbs 3:5-6. You may know it as, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart. Do not lean on your own understanding. In all of you ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” But that’s not what the original language says. Literally it should be translated, “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight (or plain).” If you acknowledge God, trust Him and ask Him for wisdom, He will make the path of your life easier. He’ll make it flat and plain. He’ll make it so you don’t have to waste a lot of time living with the consequences of unwise decisions. Contrary to how many people interpret it, that passage does not teach that God has one road for you and you better get on it ‘cause if you’re not careful, you’re going right into a ditch. God does not cruelly expect you to trace out a mysterious path as though it were a maze.
Now let me just challenge you, if you’re really interested in chasing this subject down for yourself, do this. Look up Romans 12:1-2, Colossians 1:9, and Ephesians 5:15-17 in context and you’ll see every single time that it’s talking about God’s moral will. The will of God is that you would be a certain kind of person, with godly characteristics and fruitfulness. Forget the dot. The only way you can make a wrong decision is to disobey His Word, and then you’re in major trouble. But even then, if you repent and get right with Him, you can get back inside the confines of His moral will and begin again to make right decisions.
By far, God has left the choices of life up to us. Examine the situation, apply the principles of Scripture, make the best decision you can, and trust that God will provide for you in that. Just get inside the room of His moral will and enjoy the blessings He provides for His children.
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