Fear and insecurity rule our conduct and thoughts if we do not know how to live the will of GOD, according to John MacArthur. We should instead delight in following the will of GOD. This is what Christ did (Ps 40:8; Matt 3:17; John 4:34).
The will of GOD is not to punish man or to limit him. It is to release man from bondage to his sinful self and from the power of temptations generated by Satan. Louis Bekhof says that whilst the will of GOD prescribes man’s duties, it also represents the way in which man could enjoy GOD’s blessings [Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1958) p78].
If we are unclear about GOD’s will in our lives, we may possibly be living outside GOD’s plan of salvation.
What the will of GOD is
St Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit works out the will of Christ in us by sanctifying us. This involves making us morally and spiritually clean in the way towards Christ-like perfection. 1 Thessalonians 4: 3-8 explains this process. With sanctification, we attain holiness (moral perfection) in Christ. The Holy Spirit, our GOD-given Helper, lives in us (John 14:26; 1 Cor3:16; 2 Thess 2:13). Oswald Chambers (1874-1917), the Scots missionary, tells us that GOD not only expects us to do His will, but that He is in us to do it. GOD does not leave us unaided by halves.
Our sanctification is to ensure no moral degeneration continues through our minds, spirits and bodies (Rom 12:1&2; 1 Cor 6:12-20; 1Thess 4:3-7; 1Jn 2:15-17). We are to have our minds transformed. The morally-corrupted mind is to be displaced with the cleaned-up mind, sustained by the Holy Spirit. Its lust is generated from the world and is not from GOD. Lust is to be banished as it only fills a person who does not relate to GOD. Sexual impurity is not part of GOD’s calling.
The three principal manifestations of lust-seeking gratification are as follows:
- the intense pursuit of the love for money;
- the extensive preoccupation with a lifestyle geared towards satiation by immoral sex; and
- the ambitious thirst for power for its own sake.
Bible preachers that include Richard Foster, John Piper, Timothy Keller and Tim Challies, have addressed this subject of lust fairly extensively in relation to the above-three tendencies. Money, sex and power are not in themselves to be despised. They have their proper place in our lives. Even power if dispensed equitably and ethically is consistent with the gracious design of GOD. What is at issue is the fashion and unchecked extent to which these agencies are abused by man in order to satisfy his lust. Only a love towards GOD and unification with Him could end the reign of lust in a person.
Bishop J C Ryle (1816-1900) defined sanctification as the “inward spiritual work which the Lord Jesus Christ works in a man by the Holy Ghost when He calls him to be a true believer”. He says that Christ “not only washes him from his sins in His own blood, but He also separates him from his natural love of sin and the world, puts a new principle in his heart, and makes him practically godly in life,” A Call to Holiness (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976 edition) p16 .
Sinclair Ferguson says that the Christian’s union with Christ is at the heart of sanctification in Devoted to GOD: Blueprints for Sanctification, (Carlisle: Banner of Truth, 2016) p55. “When we ‘get’ Christ by faith, we ‘get’ everything that is in him to pardon, liberate, and transform our lives” (p62). “The key test of any formula for sanctification is: does this enable me to overcome the influence of sin, not simply in my outward actions but in my inner motivation?” (p119).This union is to overcome the influence of sin. Holiness is pure devotion to GOD rather than just a passive separation to GOD.
- Misinterpretations about the will of GOD
An error is sometimes made when attempting to find the will of GOD by joining what are called the “dotted lines” in our lives, the “dot-line theology” to paraphrase MacArthur.
This involves as examples, being judicious about the career to choose, the house to live in, and the corporation to work within, and so on. We think that by having such matters “prudently” sorted out (presumably with GOD’s help) and linking one to the other that we are within the will of GOD. These however, are decisions and they are instead, to arise out of following the will of GOD.
Secondly, we may stubbornly want GOD to consent to OUR ‘will’. We want our impulsive and stubborn way. This, more often than not, refers to our decisions. This habit appears to be no different from witchcraft. We are never to force GOD’s hand. We should instead, look at what GOD wants done in our lives. We must, to echo Oswald Chambers, impose the spiritual life on the normal/ natural life, and not the other way around.
Based on the above references to the word of GOD, we may summarise as follows, what living GOD’s will is and what is excluded from it:
- sanctification is a complete process in GOD’s will through the Holy Spirit: Christ does not leave us unaided as He has sent the Holy Spirit to actively direct our lives;
- obedience and discipline in moving towards moral perfection through the Holy Spirit enable us to live GOD’s will;
- sanctification imposes death on the power of the flesh in our lives: sin is to lose its influence over us and lust is no longer to be ascendant;
- living GOD’s will is our delight;
- living GOD’s will involves applying the power and substance of the revealed word of GOD in the Bible, in all areas of our lives, with no exception;
- living in GOD’s will is solely to live for GOD’s glory ;
- GOD’s will must be completely sought after, rather than just selectively attempted when making decisions;
- fear and insecurity no longer trouble us when we are in the will of GOD;
- we are freed from the bondage to sin that overwhelms us if we adhere to the will of GOD.
NOTE: Tony Dibble worships at Endeavour Christian Gathering (ECG), in Perth, Western Australia. Prior to this, he was attending the Church of Our Holy Saviour (COHS), in Labuan, East Malaysia. When in Kuala Lumpur, he worships and teaches at Faith Oasis Fellowship (FOF) Subang Jaya, Selangor.
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