We have been doing a study over the last several weeks on the different aspects of salvation. God has been using it in our congregation (You can listen here.). This past Sunday we touched on one verse that speaks on how to know God’s will for my life. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;”(1 Thessalonians 4:3) Our focus this past week was on sanctification, or the process of being a mature follower of Jesus. Now, like the rest of salvation, sanctification is a work of God in your life. Yet, there is also the human component of making godly choices. There is more on that that could be said but I want you to focus on the first phrase, “this is the will of God…” Now there are several places in the New Testament where we find similar statements, like here: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) What stands out to me is the relationship between working on the basics of the Christian life and knowing God’s will.
If I only knew God’s will! Maybe you have used this statement at some point in your life when you needed direction. I know that I have asked the same thing. If only God would just send an angel like He has done in the Bible or even a text message. It can be challenging at times to know the right direction to go. But the Bible presents some insights, that when put into practice, will significantly reduce those times of indecision.
Why are these basics so important for knowing God’s will in our lives? It is because they facilitate our maturity in the Christian faith and that changes the way that we think. They give us a godly perspective on life and in turn the choices that we face. The Apostle Paul, in Romans, makes the emphasis this way. “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 12:2)
Now, I realize, that God’s will is not always as easy as the prescription, “Take two verses and call me in the morning…” I know life is more complex than that. But by focusing on our relationship with Jesus we are changed and in the process gain discernment needed to navigate the decisions of life. Some of the direction will result from developing spiritual convictions. I came to the conviction early on as a Christian young man that I needed to limit the type of media I consumed. This conviction has helped me to grow by removing unnecessary temptation. It has also automatically limited the choices that I face in certain situations.
A growing relationship with Jesus also results in Biblical wisdom. The follower is able to see things in certain situations that others cannot. Godly wisdom takes several forms. It can range from direct Biblical admonition like, “You shall not steal.” It can also include the application of Biblical insight gained from Biblical principles like “The borrower is the servant to the lender.”
And a third result of spiritual growth is the counsel from the Holy Spirit in our lives that can encourage us or warn us regarding pending decisions. There have been times that a lack of “peace” has caused me to slow down on a decision.
My concern is that followers of Jesus who neglect the admonition to grow spiritually are losing more than just a lack of knowledge about the Bible! So if you are in need of God’s direction, start investing in your spiritual development.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson