Obey God and Do What You Want
Exploring Decision Making and God’s Will
The Desired Will of God
Basic Definition of the Desired Will of God: God’s commands and statements in the Bible that express His wishes and attitude regarding His creatures and creation. Other names for this will are: Moral, Revealed, Declared, Ideal, Preceptive
DeYoung describes what he calls “God’s will of desire” as “God Points Out the Way” (p 19-21). He notes several things about what we are calling the Desired Will of God and offers Scriptural examples. Perhaps we can capture it in two points:
1. God’s desired will is what God has commanded. God expects us to live in accordance with these directives. We are responsible for our actions related to these commands. There are many commands in Scripture. Here are only two samples as cited by DeYoung both of which mention God’s will (θέλημα in both verses):
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
2. God’s desired will can be ignored. God does not always sovereignly implement His will. We are free to pay no attention to them if we choose. Thus, we are better served to use the term “wish” to describe this will. That is why I’ve chosen “desired will” instead of the more commonly used “moral will.”
Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will (θέλημα) of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
In addition to DeYoung’s two notions we may add three observations about God’s Desired Will:
3. God’s desired will can be discovered. Unfortunately we don’t always find it. But we must find it if we are to have any hope of knowing it, understanding it, or doing it. So, look, learn, live! The following passage is an example of knowing the desire of God, as expressed in the written Law, but not doing it.
Romans 2:17 But if you bear the name "Jew " and rely upon the Law and boast in God, 18 and know His will (θέλημα) and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, 21 you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? 24 For "THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU," just as it is written.
4. God’s desired will is currently revealed in the Bible. In the New Testament era, God revealed his desires to prophets, apostles, and other key persons through unusual revelation at unique times including during the foundational era of the church (see chart GF p 48). Today we have access to the complete desired will of God in the Bible. The Bible contains all we need to know about God’s wishes. There is no reason to believe that there is something God expects of us that we can’t discover. There is no secret sauce or secret key that unlocks God’s mind just for super saints. All believers have access to God’s wishes for them. Or, to put it differently, there is no reason not to know what it takes to please God. Now, doing it is a different matter.
We will address three key passages later and only mention now:
2 Peter 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
And then there is what I call the sacred catch-all passage:
Deuteronomy 29:29 - “"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.”
We would be wise to focus on the things that are revealed rather than fret over the secret things. Personally, I have a full plate just knowing, understanding, and doing what God has revealed!
5. God’s desired will is conveyed in general terms. There are no names attached to it. It does not directly address many individual questions faced by believers. Rather it addresses believers in general or humankind in general. However, at times, God does issue expressions of his will to groups (such as pastors, or fathers, husbands, or children). Some examples:
1 Peter 1:15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”
1 Timothy 2:4 who desires ( θέλω) all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart.
Comparison of God’s Wills (chart)
Decision Making in light of God’s Desired Will
1. I will utilize a variety of means in order to increase my knowledge of the Word. I refer to the many vehicles available to me in three broad categories: personal efforts, local church opportunities, and local church commended opportunities. Never forget the encouragement that, “The believer can expect that God will be at work within him to give understanding as he studies. Paul exhorted Timothy, “Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Timothy 2:7). The Holy Spirit of truth does not work to illuminate the Bible’s meaning apart from our diligent study, but rather works through it.” (cf GF p 126)
2. I will not stop at knowing the Word. I will resolve to obey it by His strength. I know I will not always follow through with my intentions but I will not give up.
3. I will not over think this. Learn and live. Just do it.
4. I will always consider my obligation to glorify God in all I do. 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
5. I will be satisfied with what God has revealed about His will (desired) rather despair over what he has not revealed about His will (decreed). Remember, we have all the information we need. Nothing more will help! Granted, we all have said, “If God would only have given a more detailed list regarding….” But, he hasn’t, so get over it. Making decisions is not always easy!
Where the Rubber meets the Road
- Case Study: Madeline is deciding what shoes to wear Monday morning (I know this is a first world scenario). How do she decide? What questions do she ask (consciously or unconsciously) in order to help make the decision. Or is asking questions a waste of time? After disposing of this case, share actual similar situations you have faced in which you had more than one good option.
- The desired will of God has been called by some an expression of the character of God? Do you agree? If true, what are some implications regarding decision making?
- What complications come to mind to the view that not all of God’s commands (His desired will) has been revealed?
Assignment: Read textbook p 22-24
© Copyright. Joseph Flatt. 2016. All rights reserved. May be used for educational purposes without written permission but with a citation to this source