Thursday, February 14, 2013

Knowing God's Will - P2

1 Thessalonians 4:2-3 "For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality"

How you and I can know and follow God's W.I.L.L.
When we talk about the believer knowing the will of God, we understand this to be a central truth of scripture.  Great Bible teacher and theologian J.I. Packer wrote a little book years ago entitled: "Finding God's Will".  In that little book he writes: "Belief that divine guidance is real rests on two facts: first, the reality of God's plan for us; second, the ability of God to communicate with us. On both, the Bible has much to say." Another great thinker, Sinclair B. Furgunson, notes in his book: "Discovering God's Will" - "So, when we come to Christ and ask: 'Will you be my shepherd and my Guide through life?' he asks in return: 'Will you take up the cross daily, and follow me?' The two things can never be separated: Christ-likeness then, in glory, must be preceeded by Christ-likeness now, under the cross."  With those thoughts in mind, let us consider what God's Word has to say regarding how you and I as Christians can effectively know and follow God's will.  Yesterday we noted two of the four thoughts based upon the acrostic W.I.L.L from Deuteronomy 13-15 and 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12:

Word of God. Deuteronomy 13:4,18; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3
Indwelling Holy Spirit. Deuteronomy 13:4,18; 1 Thessalonians 4:8, 5:18

Today we want to consider two other necessary ingredients that are vital for Christians who want to know and follow the will of God:

Live in obedience. Deuteronomy 14:1-29; 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10
Love fellow Christians. Deuteronomy 15:7-8; 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

Live in Obedience.  Deuteronomy 14:1-29; 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10
Deuteronomy 14:1 starts out reminding the Israelites - "you are the sons of the Lord..."  That title indicates the level of relationship God was wanting to have with His people.  He had given them His Word to know His will and the Spirit to guide them, however He was calling them also to Live in obedience to Him.  As you explore the remainder of Deuteronomy 14, you will find the necessity of the people to not be worldly like the surrounding nations (Deuteronomy 14:1-21).  Furthermore, Moses writes on the subject of tithing and stewardship, an area which is often used to demonstrate obedience of the believer in the scriptures. (Deuteronomy 14:22-29)

When you and I are purposefully living in obedience, we are positionaing ourselves to better know and follow the will of God.  Obedience is the Christian's way of opening the door of their life to God's power and purposes and presence in their life.  When God sees an obedient heart of faith, He will guide and direct by His Word and Spirit.  1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 states - "Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more".  The Thessalonains were reminded to be obedient in the area of loving their brothers by both their affection and giving.  We know that Thessalonica, along with the other Macedonian churches, were involved in a missions giving effort for the church at Jerusalem. (2 Corinthians 8:1-2) Obedience in the realm of stewardship will enable the believer to know God's will when it comes to finances.

In this same chapter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes how abstaining from worldy lusts is the will of God for Christians. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)  Obedience in these areas, like we saw in Deuteronomy 14, are just two examples of how we see obedience being a necessary requirement for knowing and following God's will.  Think about it: what two areas do you and I find people often confused and bewildered? Moral issues and financial decisions.  Our culture needs people who know God's mind on such matters.  If you and I will be but obedient in not only those areas, but in every area, we will know God's will.  As one preacher has noted: "Without God, we can't.  And without us, God won't."  Romans 12:1-2 states - "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

Love fellow Christians. Deuteronomy 15:7-8; 1 Thess 4:9-12
Deuteronomy 15 is concerned with how the Israelites were to treat, honor and love their fellow Israelites whether they were slave or poor.  In Deuteronomy 15:7-8 we read - "If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother; 8but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks."  This verse is a specific example of what Jesus called one of the greatest commandments, namely "loving your neighbor as yourself". (Mark 12:30-31)  How we love our fellow believers says a lot of how much we are operating in the will of God.  1 Thessalonians 4:9 tells us - "Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another."  Whenever I am aiming to love my neighbor or my fellow believer, I will find myself doing and knowing the will of God.

Jesus lays out this principle of the relationship between my love for my brother and my loving and knowing God.  In Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering."  When you and I harbor bitterness or resentment, we will find our ability to know and follow God's will greatly hindered.  A bitter heart greatly hinders your ability to digest biblical truth (1 Peter 2:1-2) and hearing the Spirit of God, since a bitter heart grieves and quenches Him. (Ephesians 4:30-32; 1 Thessalonians 5:19)  Furthermore, a heart that stops loving a fellow believer will find itself inconsistent in obedience. (James 1:8)  It is critical that if we are to have a greater effectiveness in knowing and doing God's will, we clear our hearts of resentment, and have the love of God flow through unhindered. (1 John 2:10-11)

Conclusion - Knowing God's W.I.L.L.
We have seen in these past two blogs that in order for you and I to effectively know and follow God's will, we need the following necessary elements:  1. The Word of God 2. The Indwelling Holy Spirit. 3. Living in Obedience. 4. Loving our fellow believer.  With these four essential ingredients, we as Christians can operate and know that we know that we know God's will for our lives. 

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