Summary: A biblical plan on figuring out God’s will.
Last week our focus was "Doing what God wants me to do and why I should even care."
Our Scripture was Ephesians 5:17 NLT - "Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do."
We should care about doing what God wants us to do because it’s good for God, it’s good for others, and it’s good for us.
Once we’ve decided that it’s good to do God’s will, we need a plan to figure out what God wants us to do.
Here’s a good biblical plan:
Romans 12:2 NLT - "Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is."
In today’s Scripture we are given an answer to our question about how to figure out what God wants us to do.
The answer is like a two-sided coin. There’s a "heads" and "tails" to the answer.
Let’s look at the "tails" or negative side first.
"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world."
In others words, "if you want to know what God wants you to do... don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world."
God doesn’t reveal His will to the worldly.
Paul is not the only apostle to enlighten us with this truth. Notice what the apostle John also said:
1 John 2:15-17 NLT
15 - "Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you."
[The term "the world" used here doesn’t mean the people in the world. God wants us to love people just like He does (John 3:16). This term is used to describe the wordly system that operates contrary to the will of God.]
16 - "For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world."
17 - "And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever."
So the Holy Spirit is saying to us, "Stop loving this evil world by copying its customs and behavior." And the reason again? Because love for "the world" interferes with our being able to know God’s will.
We can’t follow the customs and behavior of the world and follow the customs and behavior of God simultaneously. It’s an either/or proposition. As Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters." (Matthew 6:24a NLT)
The first step to figuring out what God wants you to do is giving up what the world wants you to do.
One caveat. (That’s a fancy Latin word for "warning")
God is not calling for us to give up friendships with those who do not yet know Him. Rather He is calling us to be careful not to follow their worldly behavior and customs.
There’s a big difference between loving people and loving "the world".
The life of Jesus is our model. It is well known that Jesus was criticized by the religious hypocrites of His day for His relationships with notorious sinners. They misunderstood the idea of separation from the world.
Mark 2:15 NLT - "That night Levi (Matthew) invited Jesus and his disciples to be guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. (There were many people of this kind among the crowds that followed Jesus.)"
Mark 2:16 NLT - "But when some of the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with people like that, they said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with such scum?"
Tuesday night Deb and I sat down with our son Brandon who was leaving the next morning for his new job as a youth pastor in Indiana. He was sharing with us his passion for youth ministry when he broke down in tears recollecting some high school students he had interviewed when he was completing his youth ministry internship.
He purposely went to talk to some kids that didn’t know God so he could find out what their opinion of God and the church was. He wants to know what it’s going to take to reach youth for Christ so he wants to try and understand them better.
He said as he began interviewing a few of the students at this public high school in Nashville that a crowd of kids began to gather around him. What was their idea of God? "Oh, He’s a spirit out there somewhere", one student replied. Another answered, "He’s the ’force’ that’s in all of us."