Christians have spilled a lot of ink attempting to discern how we can know and do the will of God. Like many others, I have written about this often, including a little series called How To Know the Will of God. Today, though, I want to turn our attention to something that is related but a little bit different. I want to ask how Christians are to relate to the will of God. God has made his will known, so how are Christians to respond?
Christians desire God’s will. Jesus himself said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). When we come to Christ Jesus in repentance and faith, we learn, perhaps to our surprise, that God transforms our desires. Where we once lived to please ourselves, now we find a deep desire to please God. Where we once lived by our own law, we find we now long to live by God’s law. We begin to pray with David, “Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes” (Psalm 119:5)! We desire God’s will!
Christians seek God’s will. Because Christians have a desire to do God’s will, we have a desire to know it. After all, we can only obey as far as we understand. For this reason we turn often to God’s Word where we find verses like this: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” and “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” and many more (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 5:16-18). We deliberately and diligently seek out God’s will as he has revealed it to us in the Bible.
Christians approve of God’s will. As God conforms us more and more to the image of Jesus Christ, we learn with Paul that “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Romans 7:12). God’s will is never bad and never wrong and never ultimately harmful. So we find that we do not respond to God’s law with disappointment or grudging obedience. Rather, as our minds and lives are renewed, we approve of God’s will as a clear revelation of God’s mind.
Christians delight in God’s will. Because we love God, we desire to do what honors God, we seek what honors God, and we approve of what honors God. And in all of that we delight in what honors God. We delight in knowing and doing his will. Where we once found joy in disobedience, we now find delight in obedience. We echo David who said, “I find my delight in your commandments, which I love” (Psalm 119:47).
Christians do God’s will. And, finally, of course, we do God’s will. We know it, we approve of it, we delight in it, and so of course we do it. We perform everything God tells us to do and restrain ourselves from everything he tells us not to do. James said, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22) and we joyfully do whatever God wills.
In all our discussions about the right way to seek out the will of God, let’s not lose sight of this: As Christians, we desire God’s will, we seek God’s will, we approve of it, we delight in it, and we do it.