THE WILL OF GOD
A. Introduction: We’re working on a series about who Jesus is and why He came into this world. We are
living in a time of increasing religious deception about Jesus and His purpose in the world, and we must have
accurate information about Him, so that we can be protected from these deceptions. Matt 24:4-5
1. According to eyewitnesses of Jesus (the men who wrote the New Testament documents), Jesus came
into this world to die as a sacrifice for sin. I John 4:9-10
a. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus opened the way for sinful humanity to be restored to
relationship with God through faith in Him, and then be transformed from sinners into righteous,
holy, sons and daughters of God. Eph 1:4-5; Eph 5:25-27; Col 1:21-22; Titus 2:14; etc.
b. When a person bows their knee to Jesus as Savior and Lord, God indwells that person by His Spirit
and life. This initial encounter with the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of God) is referred to as being born
of God. This new birth changes our identity from sinner to son or daughter of God. John 1:12-13
1. The entrance of God’s Spirit is the beginning of a process of transformation that will ultimately
restore our entire being to all that God intended us to be before sin corrupted humanity—sons
and daughters who are fully glorifying to Him in thought, word, and action.
2. Jesus, in His humanity, is the pattern for God’s family. God wants sons and daughters who are
like Jesus in character, holiness, love, and power. Rom 8:29; I John 2:6; etc.
2. This process of transformation is known as sanctification, or being made increasingly holy (or
Christ-like) in attitudes and actions. The Holy Spirit carries out this process as we cooperate with Him.
a. The Holy Spirit is in us to help us get control of sinful desires and unChrist-like thoughts, attitudes,
and actions. But we have to exercise our will (chose to say no to these things), and then the Holy
Spirit strengthens us inwardly to follow through on that choice.
b. Exercise your will doesn’t mean try to change by sheer will power alone. Exercise your will means
to have a heart attitude of “not my will but your will”, with an expectation and dependence on God
the Holy Spirit to help you follow through. Phil 2:12-13
3. For the past several weeks we’ve been talking about how we cooperate with the Holy Spirit as this
process of increasing sanctification in underway. Before going any farther in our discussion, we need to
talk about the will of God. How can we know His will so that we can submit to it?
B. We could (but aren’t going to) do a series on the will of God. For now, let’s begin with a simple definition of
the term will of God. God’s will is His purposes, intents, and desires—or what He wants. As sons and
daughters of God we are to want what He wants.
1. Jesus is the pattern for God’s family. He shows us how sons and daughters of God are supposed to live.
He repeatedly stated that His desire was to do the will of His Father—to do what His Father wants, to do
what pleases His Father. Jesus was a Father pleaser. Consider these statements.
a. John 4:34—My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his
work (NLT). John 6:38—For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me,
not to do what I want (NLT).
b. John 8:29—And the one who sent me is with me—he has not deserted me. For I always do those
things that are pleasing to him (NLT).
2. Matt 6:9-10—When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He instructed them: Go to God your
Father, worship Him, desiring that His kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
a. This is the starting point in relationship with God, an ardent desire to see God’s will (His purposes,
His intentions) come to pass—I want your will, Lord, above everything else: Your kingdom come.
b. The Greek word that is translated kingdom means reign. To desire that His kingdom come means
to live with the understanding that this world in its present condition is not the way it’s supposed to
be because of sin, and that God is working to reestablish His reign in the earth.
1. Jesus will come again in the not too distant future and establish the visible reign (kingdom) of
God on earth and renew and restore it. Right now, the kingdom of God is the reign of God in
the hearts of men through new birth. Luke 17:20-21
2. Desiring that God’s kingdom come means living with the perspective that this world is not our
true home. We are only passing through. Our destiny is the life to come, first in Heaven and
then on this earth once Jesus makes it new. Rev 21-22
A. It means living with the awareness that what is most important is that people come to
saving knowledge of Jesus (His reign be established in their hearts), and that you are an
accurate representation of Jesus in your little corner of the world.
B. Col 3:17—Whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the
while giving thanks through him to God the Father (NLT).
3. Becoming like Jesus begins with a change in the direction of our lives—(Jesus) died for everyone so that
those who receive his new life will no longer live to please themselves. Instead they will live to please
Christ, who died and was raised for them (II Cor 5:15, NLT).
a. The root of sin is putting self above God—doing things my way, living for me, my way. That’s
why Jesus’ first word when He began His public ministry was repent (Matt 4:17; Mark 1:14-15).
To repent means to change one’s mind or purpose. We change the direction of our life.
1. Matt 16:24—Then Jesus said to His disciples, If any one desires to be My disciple, let him deny
himself—that is, disregard, lose sight of and forget himself and his own interests—and take up
his cross and follow Me [cleave steadily to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and if
need be in dying, also (Amp).
2. Taking up your cross is a word picture for complete submission to the will of God, even when it
is difficult. That’s what Jesus’ Cross was for Him. Note Jesus’ prayer to His Father the night
before His crucifixion: My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away
from me. Yet I want your will not mine (Matt 26: 39, NLT).
3. Jesus, in His humanity, is our example of how sons and daughters of God live in relation to their
Father in Heaven—not my will, but your will be done, even when it is difficult.
b. This seems counter-intuitive—if I don’t look out for me, who will. But in the same passage where
Jesus said that if we desire His will above all else, we’ll have what we need to live this life.
1. Matt 6:33—But seek for (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom, and His righteousness
[His way of being and doing right] (Amp); And he will give you all you need from day to day if
you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern (NLT).
2. Matt 16:25—If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your
life for me, you will find true life (NLT).
A. Seeking God’s kingdom doesn’t mean leaving your job to on the mission field, or being in
church every time the door is open. It means we ardently desire to see God glorified in
your life and recognize that eternal things are more important than temporal things.
B. I Cor 10:31—Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, you must do all for the glory
of God (NLT). Col 3:23—Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you
were working for the Lord rather than for people (NLT).
C. When we talk about the will of God, people tend to think of getting direction from the Holy Spirit for specific
issues in their lives. People think of the will of God in terms of what car I should buy, which job should I
take, or what is my ministry?
1. But that’s not the place to begin a discussion of the will of God. These ideas come from a 20th century
westernized version of Christianity that is man-centered rather than God-centered (what’s good for me).
a. God’s will is revealed in His written Word—the Bible. If you don’t start there, you’ll struggle to
get direction in specific areas of your life (more on this later).
b. Sincere people tend to talk about wanting to be in the will of God, and they don’t want to be out of
the will of God. However, the Bible doesn’t talk about being in or out of the will of God.
1. The Bible speaks of doing the will of God. Matt 6:10; 7:21; 12:50; John 4:34; 6:38; 7:17; Eph
6:6; Heb 10:7; (Ps 40:9); 10:36; 13:21; I John 2:17; etc.
2. Doing the will of God means doing what is morally right in every situation and circumstance—
according to God’s will which is revealed in His written Word. For example, the Bible makes
specific statements about God’s will for Christians:
A. I Thess 4:3—For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual
B. I Thess 4:16-18—Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (ESV).
c. Jesus summed up God’s will for us in two commands: Love God with all your being, and love
your neighbor as yourself. Matt 22:37-40
1. This love is not an emotion. It is an action that is expressed through our obedience to God’s
moral will (His standard of what is right and what is wrong), and our treatment of others.
2. God is much more interested in us developing a Christ-like character than He is in where we
work, what house we buy, or what ministry position we hold in the church.
2. Much of our desire to know the will of God is self-focused, not God-focused. For many of us, wanting
to know the will of God for our lives comes out of immature or even wrong motives.
a. We want to know, do, or be in the will of God—not because we love God and desire to please Him
above all else, not because we want to see His kingdom advance in the earth—but for our sake.
1. We want to know the will of God because we want to have what is best for us and what will
bring us the most blessing, as opposed to what will most glorify Him and advance His kingdom.
2. Or, we’re motivated by fear—not awe, respect, and reverence for God, but fear that something
bad will happen to us if we are out of the will of God.
A. We want to know the will of God so that we don’t make a mistake and reap what we sow,
so that we don’t make God mad at us, or so that we don’t bring a curse in our lives, etc.
B. There’s so much inaccurate teaching concerning reaping and sowing, curses and blessings,
blessing blockers, etc, that wrongly affect how we relate to God (lessons for another day).
b. We fret over whether or not we should buy the blue chair or the red chair, or the two-door car or the
four-door car, because we don’t want to “miss God” and be “out of the will of God”.
1. However, God is much more concerned with how you treat the people serving you in the
furniture store or the car dealership than which item you purchase.
2. Do the people you interact with detect the sweet savor of Christ is you (II Cor 2:14)? Are you
a light in dark place (I Pet 2:9)? Does it enter your mind to pray for them that God would send
laborers into their lives to share the gospel with them (Matt 9:36-38)?
3. This is the will of God for you and me: In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing,
so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children
of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine brightly before them
(Phil 2:14-16, NLT).
a. You must understand that being Christ-like in your behavior is much more important than finding
your ministry or your place in the body of Christ. Dealing with un-Christ-like traits in your
character is much more important than which job you take or who you marry.
b. God’s will for your life is that you become His son or daughter through faith in Christ, and then be
conformed to the image of Christ, the perfect Son so that you are fully pleasing to Him, fully
glorifying to Him in all your thoughts, words, and actions.
D. Conclusion: Sincere Christians want guidance for their lives from the Holy Spirit, but they overlook the
primary way that He leads and guides us. He guides us through the Bible, the written will of God. We’ll
discuss guidance from the Holy Spirit in more detail next week, but for now, consider these points.
1. The night before Jesus was crucified, at the Last Supper, as He began to prepare His disciples for the
coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus called Him the Spirit of truth.
a. John 16:13-14—When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not be
presenting his own ideas; he will be telling you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.
He will bring me glory by revealing to you whatever he receives from me (NLT).
b. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit is here to guide His followers into all truth. That same evening Jesus
defined truth as He Himself, and as the Word of His Father. John 14:6; John 17:17
1. The Spirit of Truth works through the Word of Truth (God’s Word) to reveal the Truth, the
Lord Jesus Christ.
2. God guides us by His Spirit through and in line with His written Word, and in doing so, He
reveals the Living Word (Jesus) to us, in us, and through us.
2. The Bible is the written will of God. It reveals His purposes, intents, and desires. The Bible shows
Jesus to us. Jesus was the will of God in action on the earth. John 14:9; John 8:28-29
a. The Bible shows us what thoughts, attitudes, and actions are Christ-like, as well as those that are not.
God’s Word helps us become aware of what needs to change, and it assures you of the Holy Spirit’s
help as we commit to doing God’s will in every area of our life.
b. The Bible (the Word of God) functions as a mirror. It shows us the changes that have taken place in
us, as well as the changes that still need to take place.
1. It shows us what God wants from His children (His will), and it shows us what it looks like to
live a life that is pleasing to our Father in Heaven.
2. The Bible is the blueprint, the specific instrument that the Holy Spirit uses to conform us to the
image of Christ (make us Christ-like). The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. Eph 6:17
c. II Cor 3:18—And all of us, as with unveiled faces, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of
God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image
in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes from the Lord
[Who is] the Spirit (Amp).
3. The Holy Spirit does give us direction on issues not specifically addressed in the Bible, such as which
job to take and what house to buy (more on this next week).
a. However, since the Holy Spirit is the one who inspired the Bible, it is God’s written Word that helps
us become familiar with the Holy Spirit’s voice. If you aren’t familiar with God’s voice in the
Scriptures, then you won’t be able to accurately discern His leadings in specific areas.
1. People want to bypass reading and obeying the Bible, but then they expect direction from God
for their lives.
2. But if you aren’t endeavoring to do what is most important—become increasing Christ-like
through looking into the mirror of God’s Word and obeying it—what makes you think that He
is going to give you direction on who to marry or what car to buy?
b. The purpose of a lesson like this one is not to condemn sincere people, but to make it clear what it
means to be a follower of Jesus, since we’re live in a time of great deception in this area.
1. We’re finished works in progress—fully God’s sons and daughters, but not yet fully like Jesus
in every part of our being (I John 3:2). But we need to be moving in the right direction.
2. To be a Christian, a follower of Jesus, means that you are committed to doing God’s will which
means obeying God’s written Word. Much more next week!