Summary: Paul shows us how to use biblical wisdom to discover the will of God through: 1) Understanding (Ephesians 5:15), 2) Occasion (Ephesians 5:16), 3) Action (Ephesians 5:17)
Most of us acknowledge that God has a plan for the life of every believer, but often we have trouble in finding just which way this plan goes at a particular juncture, where the answers sometimes seem to elude even the most persistent searcher. Some apparently think that God’s will is lost. At least they say they are searching for it! To them, God must appear to be a sort of divine Easter bunny who has stashed His will, like eggs, somewhere out of sight and sent us running through life, trying to find it. And He is up there saying, “You’re getting warmer!” Others offer the suggestion that God’s will is to be found via a dramatic experience. Running down the street, you fall on a banana peel and land on a map of India. Immediately you say to the Lord, “Thank You for that clear leading. I understand! India it is!” Or there is always the voice from heaven or the vision in your dreams calling you to Chile. Then there are those who are actually afraid of the will of God. They believe that God is a kind of “cosmic killjoy,” stomping on everyone’s fun and raining on parades. People with this view actually fear the will of God as a severe way of life that will demand the sacrifice of their most treasured abilities or possessions. Then there is the brass-ring mentality. (They believe that if you don't make the right choice, you will be left with second best). (MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2012). Found: God’s will. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.)
Why is it important to discover God's Will? Only in the Lord’s will and power can anything good and lasting be accomplished. When the Lord’s will is carefully sought and the principles of His Word applied more faithfully, His priorities become our priorities. God is then is free to work in us and through us to accomplish great things; but when our priorities are not His priorities He can do little with us because He has little of us.
God’s general will is, of course, found in Scripture. Here we find His perfect and sufficient guidelines for knowing and doing what is pleasing to him. But the will of which Paul seems to be speaking here in Ephesians 5 is the Lord’s specific leading of individual believers. Although His specific plans and directions for each believer at any given moment are not found in Scripture, the general principles for understanding them are there. God does not promise to show us His will through visions, strange coincidences, or miracles. Nor does He play a divine guessing game with us, seeing if we can somehow stumble onto His will like a small child finds an egg at an Easter egg hunt. God’s deepest desire for all of His children is that they know and obey His will, and He gives us every possible help both to know and to obey it.
In the present passage, Paul shows us how to use biblical wisdom to discover the will of God. He shows us how to discover this through: 1) Understanding (Ephesians 5:15), 2) Occasion (Ephesians 5:16), 3) Action (Ephesians 5:17)