THE WILL OF GOD

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. – (NIV) – Romans 12:2

INTRODUCTION

God has good, pleasing and perfect plans for His children. He wants us to be transformed people with renewed minds, living to honour and obey Him. Because He wants only what is best for us, and because He gave His Son to make our new life possible, we should joyfully give ourselves as living sacrifices for His service.

THE WILL OF GOD

The term “the will of God” has at least two and possibly three biblical meanings. 

First, there is the sovereign will of God, that always comes to pass without fail. 

Second, there is the revealed will of God in the Bible — do not steal, do not lie, do not kill, do not covet — and this will of God often does not come to pass.

And third, there is the path of wisdom and spontaneous godliness — wisdom where we consciously apply the word of God with our renewed minds to complex moral circumstances, and spontaneous godliness where we live most of our lives without conscious reflection on the hundreds of things we say and do all day.

RENEWAL AS AN ESSENTIAL MEANS OF TRANSFORMATION

And in Romans 12:2, Paul now focuses on one essential means of transformation — “the renewal of your mind.”

  1. If you long to break loose from conformity to the world,
  2. If you long to be transformed and new from the inside out,
  3. If you long to be free from mere duty-driven Christianity and do what you love to do because what you love to do is what you ought to do,
  4. If you long to offer up your body as a living sacrifice so that your whole life becomes a spiritual act of worship and displays the worth of Christ above the worth of the world,

Let us give ourselves with all our might to pursuing this — the renewal of our minds because this is the key to transformation.

This brings us finally to the remedy and how we obey. First, before we can do anything, the Holy Spirit is required.

Our refusal to conform to this world’s values, however, must go even deeper than just behaviour and customs; it must be firmly planted in our mind. We are transformed by changing the way we think. It is possible to avoid most worldly customs and still be proud, covetous, selfish, stubborn and arrogant. Only when the Holy Spirit renews, re-educates and redirects our mind are we truly conformed.

WHAT THEN SHALL WE DO?

What then do we do in obedience to Romans 12:2, “Be transformed in the renewal of your mind”?

  1. We join the Holy Spirit in His precious and all-important work.
  2. We pursue Christ-exalting truth and we pray for truth-embracing humility.
  3. Listen to rich expositions of the “gospel of the glory of Christ.”
  4. Read and ponder the Bible-saturated from cover to cover always in search of the revelation of the glory of Christ.
  5. Meditating on the perfections of Christ.
  6. And in it all pray, pray, pray that the Holy Spirit will renew your mind, that you may desire and approve the will of God, so that all of life will become worship to the glory of Christ.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; – 2 Peter 1:3-5.

GROWING IN FAITH

The power to lead a godly life comes from God. Because we don’t have the resources to be truly godly, God allows us to “share His divine nature” in order to keep us from sin and help us live for Him. When we are born again, God, by His Spirit, empowers us with His own goodness.

Faith must be more than belief, it must result in action, growth in Christian character and the practice of moral discipline or it will die away.

Learning to know God better, developing perseverance, doing God’s will, loving others do not come automatically; they require hard work. They are not optional but must be a continual part of a Christian life. We work on them all together. God empowers us and enables us, but He also gives us the responsibility to learn and to grow.

Hebrews 12:5-10

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone he accepts as His son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness.

GOD’S DISCIPLINE PROVES HIS LOVE

Who loves his child more – the father who allows the child to do what will harm him, or the one who corrects, trains and even punishes the child to help him learn what is right?

It is never pleasant to be corrected and disciplined by God, but His discipline is a sign of His deep love for us. When God corrects us, we should see it as a proof of His love or accept is gratefully as the appropriate response we owe a loving Father.

God lovingly disciplines His children to train them to become spiritual champions. It is a spiritual maturing process that God allows us to experience to become like Christ.

God is not only a disciplining parent but also a demanding coach who pushes us to our limits and requires our lives to be disciplined.

Although we may not feel strong enough to push on to victory, we will be able to accomplish it as we follow Christ and draw to His strength. Then we can use our growing strength to help those around us who are weak and struggling.

Endnote

Join me to sing or pray the timely words of this hymn authored by Charles Wesley (1707 – 1788) MHB 626:

1. I want a principle within

Of jealous, godly fear,

A sensibility of sin,

A pain to feel it near.

2. I want the first approach to feel

Of pride or fond desire,

To catch the wandering of my will,

And quench the kindling fire.

3. That I from thee no more may part,

No more thy goodness grieve,

The filial awe, the fleshly heart,

The tender conscience, give.

4. Quick as the apple of an eye,

O God, my conscience make;

Awake my soul when sin is nigh,

And keep it still awake.

5. O may the least omission pain,

My well instructed soul;

And drive me to the blood again,

Which makes the wounded whole.

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OBEDIENCE IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE

Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. – 1 Samuel 15:22

INTRODUCTION

A. Let’s clarify what we mean by OBEDIENCE and SACRIFICE.

  • Obedience is doing the will and seeking to please someone in authority over you.
  • Sacrifice is seeking to appease or cool off the anger of an authority you have disobeyed.

A sacrifice is a ritual transaction between a person and God that physically demonstrates a relationship between them. But if the person’s heart is not truly repentant or if he does not truly love God, the sacrifice is a hollow ritual. Religious ceremonies or rituals are empty unless they are performed with an attitude of love and obedience. “Being religious” (going to church, serving on a committee, giving to charity) is not enough if we do not act out of devotion and obedience to God.

DOES THE WILL OF MY FATHER

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 7:21

Jesus emphatically teaches that carrying out God’s purposes and desires is a condition for entering the kingdom of heaven. This certainly does not mean that we can earn spiritual salvation by our own efforts or works. This is true for the following reasons:

1. God’s forgiveness comes to us through faith and repentance (admitting our sin, turning from our own way. Submitting to God and following His purposes). It is made possible by the grace and sacrificial death of Christ, who gave His perfect life to pay the ultimate penalty for our sins.

2. The Obedience to God’s will demanded by Christ is an ongoing condition for salvation; it does not save us, but is a response and a result of true salvation. Yet, it is still God’s power and grace (undeserved favour, love and help) that enable us to live by His standards. This means that we must continually pray for that grace, receive it and put it into action by true faith and devotion to Christ.

3. Because of the gift of God’s power and grace, we are capable of doing God’s will and living right as we follow Christ with all of our heart. God’s Word says that “by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:8-10

4. God always give us the strength and ability to obey Him and overcome sin. That is part of the full salvation He works out through those who have entrusted their lives to Him and have been restored to a personal relationship with Jesus. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose” – Philippians 2:13

Yet God’s gift of grace – His favour, help and mercy that wedo not deserve – does not cancel the need for action on our part. We must respond positively to God’s gift of obedience. “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” – Philippians 2:12

We always free to reject God’s grace, refuse to depend on Christ and refuse to pray for and accept the life of obedience.

WHEN WE WALK WITH THE LORD – MHB 516

1When we walk with the Lord

In the light of His Word,

What a glory He sheds on our way;

While we do His good will,

 He abides with us still,

 And with all who will trust and obey.

 Trust and obey,

For there’s no other way

To be happy in Jesus,

But to trust and obey.

2 Not a shadow can rise,

Not a cloud in the skies,

But His smile quickly drives it away;

Not a doubt or a fear,

Not a sigh or a tear,

Can abide while we trust and obey.

3 Not a burden we bear,

Not a sorrow we share,

But our toil He doth richly repay;

Not a grief or a loss,

Not a frown or a cross,

But is blest if we trust and obey.

4 But we never can prove

The delights of His love,

Until all on the altar we lay;

For the favor He shows,

And the joy He bestows,

Are for them who will trust and obey.

5 Then in fellowship sweet

We will sit at His feet,

Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;

What He says we will do;

Where He sends, we will go,

Never fear, only trust and obey.

John Henry Sammis (1846-1919)

Stay Blessed!

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