Summary: Biblical principles whereby we may know and understand God’s will and direction for our lives
II. How to Know God’s Will Part 2
Dr. Russell K. Tardo
The prophet Jeremiah speaks saying:
11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. [Jer. 29:11]
God has thoughts about His people; He has thoughts about us. This is God’s heart for His people, i.e., His plan, His desire. His plan is for thoughts of peace and not of evil. His thoughts are not to do us in, but rather how He can bless His children. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. It’s a wonderful word with all sorts of meanings, i.e., wholeness, wellness, harmony, peace, to rest, to be blessed, to be happy, to prosper and to be in health. All of these things are included in the concept of peace. God says that His plan toward His people is thoughts of peace. It’s interesting to note that when God said this to Israel, they were in Babylonian captivity. Just prior to having said that, God told the people:
For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. [Jer. 29:10]
God told the people through Jeremiah that He would bring them back to their land, but only after seventy years. What brought the people of Israel to that place of captivity? It was their sin of disobedience to God’s will and God’s Word. God gave Israel a revelation of Himself, something that He gave no other nation on earth. He gave them His prophets, a priesthood, a sacrifice and law that they were to live by and obey. God wanted the people to embrace His Word and teachings with a whole heart. Israel’s revelation of God was a blessing. It made Israel unique in all the world for no nation on earth had what Israel possessed. God gave them great light and great revelation, revealing to them His will. He commissioned the people to walk in what they had been given. They foolishly chose not to follow God’s will and went their own way. Israel’s choice was to follow their own desires, their own plans, their agenda and to follow their own thoughts. Their response to God’s plan was to say through their conduct that they didn’t like being different from the world.
Much like the Christian church in America today, the people of God wanted to be just like everyone else in the pagan world. The people of Israel were unwilling to march to the step of the different drummer. Their desire was to fit in among their pagan neighbors. They wanted to dress like them, act like them, talk like them, etc. The contemporary Christian church has the same attitude. Their message is, "We’re not different. We’re just like you! We just believe in Jesus." The church’s message should be entirely different. "We’re not like you at all. We may look a lot like you, i.e., human, but that’s where the likeness ends. We don’t have your heart. We don’t have your values. We don’t have your goals or your philosophy of life. We’re not like you at all."
The call of the church to the world is to be like Christ. It’s not enough to just acknowledge, "I believe in God; I believe in Jesus." Believers are to follow Christ, to be like Jesus. The call of Christianity is for total transformation of life in that we throw away our old life. We can’t live like we used to live and be a Christian. Putting on a happy face and continuing in sin is not the behavior of a true believer. Live-in sexual relationships, continued use of alcohol and drugs has to go if we’re going to call ourselves Christian. Just because we are happy in sin doesn’t make it acceptable to God. The message of Christianity is that sinful patterns of living cannot be continued. Believers are called to come out of the world, out of their old patterns of living and become Christ-like.
Believers must lay down their lives in complete surrender to Jesus. The Christian throws the old life away because he now considers the old life of no value. No matter how much pleasure our old life styles brought, they have to go because we can’t carry that into eternity. The Bible clearly states that drunkenness, fornication, gambling, drug abuse, etc. have no part in the eternal kingdom and therefore, have no place in the life of the believer. The old life and all its allurements and passions must go. When a person comes to Christ, the Bible says:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. [2 Cor. 5:17]