13 Dec 1999

What do you mean by being in the will of God?

Submitted by theshovel
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This came from a response to this article

(re: the will of God) It all depends by what you mean by "being in God's will." If you are speaking of God's sovereign will, then ALL things that happen are in the will of God, whether to believer or unbeliever.
On the other hand, Ephesians 6:6 commands believers (specifically servants in this passage) to "do the will of God from the heart." 1 Thessalonians 4:3 describes the will of God as being "your sanctification" and then explains the significance of this as being set apart from fornication. In these instances, the will of God seems to be a reference to the revealed or commanded will of God. John

Hello my friend, John,

I appreciate your response. We have grown to take a much different view on things over the years, haven't we? It's definitely not the same as during the Grace Bible Church days. :) But still we have HIM in common!

I remember you teaching a course on Bible Study Methods asking something like, "Do you think God was up in heaven, thinking, 'I have 7000 wonderful thoughts to share with these people', and then commenced to inspire the Bible?" That concept has stuck with me since then (though the wording is probably really messed up, huh? :) and I have a hard time viewing verses independently any more. To me, they are so tied together with the whole of their own context that some of them look so strange individually. I'm not saying this in an attempt to disregard the two verses you brought up, but to give you some background on my thought-processes as I view them. And yes, it does sound to me that you are pulling them out of context.

Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the SINCERITY OF YOUR HEART, as to Christ, NOT by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, BUT as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God FROM THE HEART. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and NOT to men, KNOWING that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And, masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, KNOWING that both their master AND yours is in heaven, and there is NO partiality with Him. Ephesians 6:5-9

Doing the will of God from the heart in the context of the whole letter and in view of what that means in this relationship is contrasted with everything we have learned from the world. We have learned to brown-nose and to be yes-men to those who control our cash-flow in this world. We have learned how to APPEAR as if we are doing what we're supposed to be doing. That is NOT what we have learned in Christ. We have been taught by the Spirit that we are NEW creations, separated from the old futile way of life we used to live.

Paul was not taking this opportunity to reintroduce the commands of God back into their lives, but instead, to bring the REALITY of the very NATURE of God into view ... for this is now that which is written in their hearts by the spirit and not by the letter. The context in which you presented it surely appears TO ME to be that of the letter that kills. The will of God is desire of God ... not an outward commanded desire that we need to learn and heed, but the very flow of this desire from WITHIN us.

You employees, don't fall back upon your old habits you learned in this world, those insincere pretenses of doing your job. But instead, do your job as those who have been raised from the dead and have been given the very life of the Spirit within them ... doing the very thing your heart desires, for it is Christ that you serve in all of this.

To use the will of God in any other sense here totally ruins what Paul was saying to them. What do you think? How would a simple "This is the commanded will of God" fit here?

Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us [added word, instruction] as to how you ought to walk and please God (JUST AS YOU ACTUALLY DO WALK), that you may excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of [literally, through] the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, LIKE THE GENTILES WHO DO NOT KNOW GOD; and than no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter BECAUSE the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has NOT called us for the purpose of impurity, BUT IN SANCTIFICATION. Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man BUT THE GOD WHO GIVES HIS HOLY SPIRIT TO YOU. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

I agree with you that the will of God here is equated to their sanctification which is in direct relation to being set apart from fornication or sexual impurity. I hear from you, though, that this is about God telling us what He wants and so therefore, that is what we are supposed to do. If so, there is no life in that. Paul's wording here, in view of today's teachings on the Christian life seems to validate the revealed or commanded will of God. But taken in context, that wording as we view it, makes it too easy to overlook some of the major things Paul said there.

Since sanctification means roughly set apart or separated from, we have somehow taken this to mean that we are supposed to do this ... or at least initiate it or something like that. But this has no bearing on the reality of the situation. Christ is the one who separated us from our sin. We don't do this. Now, IN VIEW OF THIS SEPARATION, many things can be said as to how we live our lives in this world. Sexual impurity is one of them.

He is not telling them that they need to start walking and pleasing the Lord, but instead, he is requesting and exhorting them to excel still more in this miraculous reality. Based upon this reality of God in our lives we are not what we were. And this is how Paul approaches it ... by way of CONTRAST to the life we used to know ... a life lived in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God. The fact that we know God ... or should we say that God knows us ... is the foundation upon which this will, this sanctification is appealed to. To abstain from fornication as a command does no one any good. But having the good news of Christ declaring to us that to walk and please God is just as you actually DO walk is to demand that our life is from somewhere else ... and to live in sexual purity is the desire of God which has been written on our hearts.

I realize you didn't say a lot of this, but do you take issue with it? Can the will of God be separated in the manner in which you presented it: the sovereign will of God that cannot be changed vs. a revealed will that can? In view of the difference between the old and new covenants as written of in Jeremiah 31 couldn't it be said that the will of God is NEVER kept as an outward command, but that the will of God in the heart of the new creation is ALWAYS kept? How does that fit in to you? I'm curious.

Jim Minker

Comments

Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the SINCERITY OF YOUR HEART, as to Christ, NOT by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, BUT as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God FROM THE HEART. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and NOT to men, KNOWING that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And, masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, KNOWING that both their master AND yours is in heaven, and there is NO partiality with Him. Ephesians 6:5-9 I just saw this the way I needed to REALLY see this![I had just finished reading the article on ‘is it ok to let others stumble’ and was blown away] It is a living CONTRAST that Paul is pointing out here. We think it is a heavy stone with commands he throws at us…it is NOT. He is simply pointing to the reality that is within them ALREADY…he is calling forth that which is true. He may just be encouraging them in the thing they are already wondering and needing CONFIRMATION in!!!!! His[paul] work here is all LOVE!!!

…for they were being cornered by human judgment to wage war according to the flesh and to live according to the flesh. The love and grace in our hearts cries out in pain when we are forced to reason like this! We get tricked by the INCENCERITY of others around us into thinking that this is all there is! It causes us a great deal of inner doubting and suffering. That kind of doubt incidentally, is the RIGHT kind of doubt! For we are convinced to see it as a ‘losing of our faith’ but, in reality it is just a natural response to the letter of the law and the fakery of human religion and philosophy and vanity! WOW!!!! Can you hear me???!!!!!!

We who are in Christ NEED to know what is real and what is not. What it is we were brought into!! For we hunger and thirst according to the new life that is in us as we lay aside the old by the very power and direction of the holy spirit.[i know that sounds religious but i dont mean it that way in my wording] The living contrasts coming from Paul give us such refreshment in that it calls to the real Jesus living in us and that can not be faked or replicated by religion. The old incensre way of there former life was being modeled right in front of them so that they began to ask themselves is this all there is? It is all too easy to say..’i guess so’ and start on a course of human effort that only serves to put us back into the position we were before receiving the spirit! This path we will call it, only serves to stir up sin and death and ends up causing us to question”is this all there is”? Keep in mind..this point of coming to the question is a desperate and agonizing place!!! True medicine is needed at that moment!!!!!!!!!!!! Not more law! That is were Paul comes in with the reality of the grace of God and His holy Spirit living inside of us!!!!! This is a needed reality! Do we NOT see it??? The lies of the deceived have caused us SO much confusion that we go around in a complete circle of human judgments so as to go insane! We end up digging into OURSELVES and using the techniques and strategies we are being forced to adhere to to remedy our dilema… and here stands Paul, with his ‘grace stuff’… While under the delusion of the dead we who are alive, look in the face of Paul and his grace stuff and see him, as more of the problem. Ha!! What a lie! Have we become his enemy now??!! Or are we simply coughing up the battered in mantras coming from our abusers and projecting it towards him? For just like the woman who is beaten into submission by an evil abusing spouse is faced with a rescue from the authority that exists in our society[like the police], only has ‘protective’ things to confess about her abuser and is still under the spell of her abuser so that through the blood and tears she only sees through the abusers eyes ‘the enemy’ in her rescue. All the while the police[her rescue] are there to help set her free!!! She can not see it. She is too beaten. So the police begin to reason with her..remind her… refresh her…almost aggressively fighting for her freedom! Let her go they scream at her abuser, for she is under your spell!! The abuser quickly and sharply rebukes them and stares right into the eyes of the woman with strong intimidation and says ‘you know they are the enemy’. She almost takes his hand..but just then..she sees the police officer..pleading to her:”mam please come with us, you are not thinking clearly’. It hits her! Something inside her is stirred and she remembers what it was like when she was free…she cries in confusion..not knowing WHO to believe! She thrashes around hysterically…until all of a sudden the police have a clear shot at the abuser and take him down with a rush of force that can only be described as a rescue! Just then the woman rushes with thoughts and tears and she begins to SEE for the first time that she had been captive by an evil man and that she had been under his spell all along. She returns home and the authorities help her to rebuild her life again..without the oppression and according to the freedom she once had and loved. Love, Adam

”..LIKE THE GENTILES WHO DO NOT KNOW GOD; and than no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter BECAUSE the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has NOT called us for the purpose of impurity, BUT IN SANCTIFICATION. Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man BUT THE GOD WHO GIVES HIS HOLY SPIRIT TO YOU. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8” You know as I read this I could not help but, think about just what it is that makes preachers and teachers and laymen use this kind of statement to make long drawn out warnings of judgment to the lost and even to the living. Could it have anything at all to do with the slight sense that we are the ‘strangers’ and ‘aliens’ that we are in this world and that we[the preacher] just doesn’t enjoy or like the mistreatment that they get? It sure feels good to have a ‘divine’ judgment available for those who challenge MY credibility or look down on me doesn’t it? Sure seems rather convenient.

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Random Shovelquote: Positional Truth (view all shovelquotes)

Positional was simply a theological way (as in Systematic Theology) to hold to the teaching of our new life in Christ without actually believing it. Source