Mark 3:34-35, “Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
So, “what” is God’s will? I want to be a part of the family of Jesus and to please His father so much that I am called the brother of Jesus! Don’t you want that familial relationship and called a part of the nuclear family of Jesus? We’re known, Jesus says, to be of the family of Jesus if we do the will of God. But like many things in the Bible, the “will of God” is not spelled out in terms of step 1,2,3 and 4!
What does the Bible say, for example, about being saved? What is required to be born again? I can quote the process through scripture, but I have to jump all over the Bible to find the formula or prove the “five spiritual laws”, or the “Roman road to salvation”. Why didn’t Jesus stop right there and say, “And here is the will of God and what you have to do to be recognized as one of my sisters or brothers. But He did not do this—-and neither did God spell out precisely what was required to be “holy” in the Old Testament. He tells us what we should or should not do, but not in one book of the Old Testament called, “The ten steps to being holy”.
But my sons often tell me that they want me to be happy with them and then they ask me what they should they do to make me happy. I quickly chirp back that they should simply obey me! Oh much simpler life would be and what a happier “kingdom of Dean” we would enjoy! But then they follow up and ask me which things they should obey, and of course I begin to make a list. But in fairness to them, the list keeps growing as they grow and mature. As they prove that they can obey me and empty the trash or the dishwasher, those things that I want them to do that constitutes, “my will”, has grown to include for them to refrain from saying unkind things about people behind their back, or whining or doing a job slovenly. Eventually my will will include how they drive, what they drink, how the treat a girl on a date, and so on. But there’s nothing gained from me telling a ten year old and thirteen year old and even a 22 year old, all the things that represent my will in five minutes. It can’t be done, it would not make much sense to them, and it would be overwhelming.
But is God not the same, thankfully, with you and me? Doe He not realize that we are still growing—-not matter how old we are—-into the new men we were reborn to be? So knowing this, Paul puts it a bit more succinctly and eloquently than I ever could. He said: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1–2)
So with God as my heavenly Father, He expects me to do His will, and just like a father expects a child to do appreciate, understand and execute his will more and better as he grows up, so does God expect me to be about His will—but more clear-eyed and maturely as I come to know Him better. As has been said by someone wiser than me, our heavenly Father is easy to please, but hard to satisfy. He loves me and is pleased with me—-just as I am with my own sons. I am so proud of them! But I expect more from them than they are presently producing in their lives—-and they know it and if I am a good father I will lead them to excellence. God expects more of me the more I grow—-and the more He blesses me.
So here at least five things we should be doing if we are going to be reflecting the life of a brother or sister of Jesus Christ. These are the things that He wills for us:
1. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8. “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” This year as I have read and re-read the Bible, I am astounded at the recurring themes of what is essential for those that want to be in heaven, those that want to be disciples of Jesus and those that want to be called the brothers and sisters of Jesus; consistently the New Testament writers and Jesus, are very clear. Today we don’t like to talk about about, but that is not going to matter in the eternal scheme! My liberal friends try to argue that only Paul was hung up on the sex and the sins of the flesh… PLEASE! Here’s what Jesus said years before Paul was converted! “He (Jesus ) went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Mark 7:20-23, NIV. Here we have a very specific instance of what God commands us first to sexual purity. It might not matter to you, but it’s a big deal to God. This is His will or command. But, oh, so many bearing the name Christian ignore this and disagree.
2. The second point or step in doing God’s will is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” There again is a specific aspect of his will of command: Give thanks in all circumstances. But many do not do this will of God. Stop whining and complaining, getting mad when things don’t go your way! Grow up and stop being babies! This is God’s will!
3. The next step is for any citizen in any country. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter wrote these words during the reign of a megalomaniac who ruled over a godless empire:
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.” 1 Peter 2:13-15, NIV. I don’t like Biden, Pelosi, Schummer and quite a few Republicans. I assumed we had smart people leading us, but these folks are not smart or wise! I think that they are making colossal blunders, that they lack wisdom, character, humility and that are frankly not as smart as they hope you and I believe they are. I believe that our nation has sinned greatly in how we have treated black people and native Indians and that we were wrong to turn our back on our allies and make secret treaties with our enemies! We are not a very righteous nation in many regards! But, it’s God’s will that I submit to this government and it’s laws. I pay my taxes, I obey the laws, I show respect to those in authority over me for the Lord’s sake!
4. The next point made by Paul is how the maturing Christian handles the temptations of indulgence. All things in moderation and the best thing should consume us! That’s God’s will. And so he says in Ephesians 5:17-18 “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” And no point are we told to not drink wine or not eat meat or to not laugh and be merry—but there’s no place for getting drunk or over indulging in any of the things that are surrounding us. It’s God’s will that we be filled with His Holy Spirit——not distilled and bottled spirits! Getting drunk, getting high on drugs, over indulging in any of the good things or vices of life leave less room for the Holy Spirit. But a man or woman filled with the Holy Spirit is incapable of being a drunk or any other temptation of indulgence. There’s no room for anything like that and no need. When you are filled with His Spirit your appetites and satiated—-you don’t need anything added to get your mind off the present condition——HE is the present condition and there’s nothing better to satisfy your soul
5. As we mature in Christ the next step to obeying the will of God is explained in 1 Peter 4:19 “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” Hear this: God does not waste suffering on us, but God also creates, allows and brings about suffering. It is His will that as we suffer we remain faithful to Him and keep on doing good things. And if your heart is set to honor God and do His will, it is a guarantee that you will suffer. He allows this for His own good purposes, not for His pleasure or some sort of celestial entertainment. There is a reason He brings about or does not always shield us from suffering, and very often we never know why——-but because we know Him —-we trust Him—-“though thou slay me, yet will I trust”….are words from a man who was known by God and who knew God intimately.
6. But here is the ultimate will of God it relates to our work and lives on this earth: It is His will that everything He desires or wishes to happens in heaven and on earth. So when you hear one of God’s “wills” on this earth, you can be sure that it is the same, but expanded, in heaven! There’s nothing He has required here that will not be an accepted and cherished way of living in heaven. Other religions cast upon their adherents onerous and difficult lives of laborious prayers, confessions, sacrifice and abstinence with the reward that in the afterlife they can have all the alcohol, sex, food, and pleasure they want. But that’s poppycock in a Christina understanding of heaven.
By seeking and accepting His will, right now, we’re not only bettering our lives and the lives of our neighbors, we’re conditioning ourselves for heaven! The Christian life is the better life because of God’s will—not a constrained or pleasure denied life!
Consider the first part of the Lord’s Prayer: Jesus clearly taught us to pray that the Father’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Pray, then, in this way:
“Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven . . .”
Matthew 6:9-10 (NASB)
That’s our prayer….hope….goal…expectation! In heaven the good things we are attempting to bring about on this earth will be normal and eternally established in heaven.
One of our my little boys' favorite song is a twangy country song from Paul Overstreet called, “My Father in Me”. But what a perfect way of describing His will in my life.
"I'm seein' my father in me
I guess that's how it's meant to be
And I find I'm more and more like him each day
I notice I walk the way he walks
I notice I talk the way he talks
I'm startin' to see my father in me"
Are you and am I seeing my heavenly Father in me? It means that I am walking and talking as Jesus walked and talked—-because He and the Father are one. Do you see the Father in yourself? Do your children or parents or spouse see the Father in you? If we are doing His will, it will happen. But not until we have determined that His will is far better than our will and we submit to and seek His will on earth——-and pine for the day when all things will be done as He has willed in heaven.