Understanding God’s Will

Truth Undermined

The past two thousand years have left the Church in a state of almost total disarray as it pertains to doctrine and Church government. This is no surprise, for in the parable of the wheat and tares, our Lord Jesus prophesied that the Devil would undermine the work of God by sowing “tares among the wheat”. (Mt. 13:24-30). As a result of this negative intrusion, the foundation of truth upon which the Early Church stood was gradually eroded. For as much as the Lord was adding to the Church, so was the Devil.

The interpretation of this parable describes the “good seed” as the children of God, the tares as the children of the Devil, and the sower of tares as the Devil himself.

It should be noted that the instruction given to allow the wheat and tares to “grow together” was dependent on an anticipation that the tares would not have hindered the healthy development of the wheat. Since uprooting the tares might have also uprooted the wheat, the tares were allowed to remain in the field. The safety of the wheat was the priority.

Unfortunately, the tares did not remain passive for too long, but became an increasing threat to the spiritual advancement of the Church. Misinterpretation of the truth accompanied by trends of ungodliness were subtly introduced into God’s work. As a result, there was fierce conflict between the wheat and tares as every truth-loving man of God rose up in defiance to erroneous interpretations of Scripture. In addressing this crisis, Jude exhorted the saints to, earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto them. (Jude:3).

Contrary to the suggestion to “let both grow together”, there was a vehement campaign launched by the Early Church apostles to eradicate everything that presented a threat to the spiritual well-being of God’s work.

Unlike the passive attitude to doctrine manifested by most of our 21st Century preachers, the apostles recognized the importance of truth and did everything within their power to protect it. Jesus had declared that knowing the truth would set them free and this fact became their living reality. They understood that the acceptance of truth was intended to be much more than an education. Truth was intended to illuminate their minds and expel darkness out of their lives. They were to be liberated from the darkness of their own sinful nature as well as many unfruitful, traditional formalities.

But as history reveals, efforts to totally eliminate heresy and spiritual corruption from the Church ended in futility and have resulted in the extensive apostasy of our day.

We too must see the importance of being able to differentiate between truth and error. Failure to do so will result in a misconception of God’s will and the methods He uses to accomplish His purpose. It is no wonder that so many of us pursue our own goals while being sincerely convinced that we are doing God’s will.

The following are some questions arising from this entire wheat and tares scenario:

Can we conclude from New Testament history that the apostles were disobedient to the Lord’s commandment by not allowing the wheat and tares to grow together?

Were they going contrary to God’s will when they persistently challenged “workers of iniquity”?

Is it possible that the Will of God in one period of time be readjusted to suit the circumstances of another time frame?

Did God have the right to restrict the disciples from preaching to the Gentiles as recorded in Matthew 10:5, then re-commission Peter in Acts 10 to go and witness to the house of Cornelius?

What of the message given to John the Baptist to preach the imminent establishment of the kingdom when, in reality, it has not yet arrived to this day?

Was Peter disobedient to the Lord’s commandment and John the Baptist a false prophet?
As we endeavour to study Scriptures relating to the Will of God, I do hope that the thoughts presented will be a spiritual enlightenment to every reader.

Recognizing God’s Will

The phrase “Will of God” is one terminology in Christendom that has lost its sanctity and true meaning over the centuries. The truth is that the majority of us are more concerned about fulfilling our own desires rather than God’s. We formulate our own religious goals and create programs with little or no prayerful consideration. Whether it be secular vocation or religious endeavours, we decide what must be done and anticipate that God will fit into our arrangements. As I see it, there is not enough clarity as to the difference between God’s will and man’s religious desires. Scripture states that man’s thoughts and ways are a whole lot different from God’s. (Isa. 55:8-9).

In our study of the Will of God, there are many scriptural statements that seem to identify a variety of wills. The most predominant among these are the Will of God, the will of the Devil, the will of man, the will of the flesh, the will of the Gentiles and the will of the Spirit. Though these various wills are elaborated upon in their individual settings, the volume of Scripture emphasizes two key wills: the Will of God and the will of man. It is God’s will that man obey His will. The Word of God states, “…it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” (Jer. 10:23), and, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…” (Ps. 37:23).

This world has many negative influences that the child of God is exposed to. Some are blatantly evil while others are subtle and even religious. The Devil is responsible for creating these diversions to true discipleship, and capitalizes on man’s fallen nature in his attempt to lure man contrary to godliness. The Will of God is intended to make us less susceptible to these satanic influences by changing our depraved nature into the image of Christ. As such it should hold priority to our will.

Jesus was the perfect example of someone fully submitted to God’s will. He said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work…I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (Jn. 4:34, 5:30).

In Paul’s letter to the Church of Philippi, he admonished the saints to develop the mind of Christ. Jesus was the greatest example of humility ever witnessed, and His condescension was unprecedented. To fulfill the Will of God in His life, our Lord gave up the pomp and glory of His pre-existence, took on the attitude of a servant and then “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:5-8). The Will of God is that we too develop this spirit of humility and servanthood.

To be able to understand and submit to the Will of God, we must develop a correct understanding of God’s purpose. This will assist us in appropriately applying His word in our daily walk. To achieve this clarity of thinking, it may be necessary to relinquish certain preconceived notions of what may have been viewed as the Will of God. Always bear in mind that the Will of God does not promote self or strengthen the human ego. It crucifies the flesh and exalts God in our lives. Comprehending this transition will open our minds to the voice of the Spirit in our day and ultimately establish godliness and maturity.

The Misconception

As we endeavour to understand the purpose of God in our lives and the concept of His will, we must not overlook the greatest misconception regarding this subject.

In Matthew 7:21, the Lord plainly declared that, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father…”

Implicit in this scripture is the fact that being involved in religion does not automatically place us in God’s will, even though it might include prophesying, casting out devils or performing wonderful works. Though some of these activities may be included in the general Will of God for the Church, they do not necessarily validate God’s will in an individual’s life. In simple language, I may be involved in many religious duties, not because God wants this, but only as a result of what I desire. My intentions may be sincere and my work beneficial to many, but I may be out of God’s will if what I do fails to produce the fruits of righteousness in my life. (Phil. 1:11). As the Apostle Paul highlighted in 1 Corinthians 13, I may have all the gifts of the Spirit yet fail to possess charity — the culmination of all spiritual fruit. What I want is not as important as what God wants.

The Will of God is customized to transform each of His children, and as they submit, stability is achieved. They are likened unto a man who builds his house on an immovable foundation that survives the storms of the ungodly world.

It is necessary for me, as a Christian, to examine my religious endeavours in the light of God’s purpose. Any religious activity that inflates human ego and restricts one’s spiritual development should be viewed as mere human endeavour. Submission to God’s will removes arrogance and produces humility. It is man’s will that demands titles, power and human glory.

The Purpose

During His earthly ministry, our Lord Jesus never created the impression that serving God was easy. His statement in Matthew 11:28-29, that seems to suggest an easy yoke and a light burden is often misunderstood to imply a total freedom from stress and troubles. But as we carefully examine the entirety of scriptural text and examples, it is evident that discipleship was never eliminated from the Christian life. The child of God is still to be ‘yoked to Christ,’ meaning that the burdens of Christian trials will not disappear. What makes serving God easier is the presence of Christ with us during our trials. He does not remove our trials and tribulations since they are what is necessary to develop spiritual stability. Rather, He gives us grace to endure. This process of relying on God’s strength for sustenance reduces self-reliance and strengthens faith. This is the purpose of God’s will for His children.

God’s will for the elect includes self-denial, the cross life and a continuous process of transformation. It demands submission to the general principles of God’s word and on occasion, specific directions. Being able to discern and obey the voice of God in our day is important and much is dependent on the Spirit of God enabling us to differentiate between our desires and His. It is necessary for us to constantly remind ourselves that religious involvement is not necessarily God’s will. Like the Pharisees, we may compass land and sea with evangelism only to find ourselves producing two-fold children of hell. (Matt. 23:15).

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he stated, “[God] hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame…having predestinated us unto the adoption of children…according to the good pleasure of his will.” (Eph. 1:4-5).

God’s purpose for the Church is to produce overcomers — holy and without blame. It is to this end that the Will of God is intended. Depraved and fallen man is to be redeemed and restored to an acceptable relationship with his Heavenly Father. This is the very purpose of the death of Christ, “who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God.” (Gal. 1:4).

“…But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God…which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God…” (Jn. 1:12-13).

In 1 Peter 4 the Apostle showed in detail the importance of submitting ourselves to God’s will. He suggested that we arm ourselves with a mind to suffer as Christ did, then cease from sinning. This fulfills the Will of God and it subdues the will of the Gentiles. The rest of this chapter covers other aspects of Christian responsibilities including the necessity of Christian suffering. Peter concludes by saying, “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing…”

If upon examination of our spiritual growth we see ourselves far from possessing the simplicity of our Lord’s nature, it may be that we are out of His will. It may be time to reevaluate our religious involvements and cease from doing our own thing.

May God touch our eyes that we may understand the importance of fulfilling His will.

“And the world passesth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” (1 Jn. 2:17).