So many of us struggle with the idea of God’s will, I can’t tell you how many people don’t even know what the will of God is! Some say it is a figment of my imagination or that no one knows the will of God. However, you can know the will of God for your life. I was recently reading through John MacArthur’s book, “Found: God’s Will”, and I was pleasantly surprised as to how simple the will of God really is to find in the lives of everyday people. I have struggled with the question of “Am I in God’s will?” too many times. I think believers have a preconceived notion or no idea of what God’s will is and how to find it in their lives. John MacArthur goes on to explain that the five aspects of the will of God are that you must be saved, Spirit filled, sanctified, submissive and suffering. In this post, I will outline a few details about each part of the will of God.
1. We must be saved.
This seems like an obvious point, but there are many in this world who are looking to be in the “will of God” yet never actually come to know the real God through a personal relationship with His son, Jesus Christ. John MacArthur said, “He was teaching that in order to be related to Him, one has to do the will of God. Turn it around. To do the will of God, one has to be related to Jesus.” Every person that wants to find God’s will must know Jesus Christ as his or her personal savior. You cannot know God apart of Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus Christ was the living incarnation of God on this earth. To put it bluntly, John MacArthur states, “If you have never committed your life to Jesus Christ, you cannot expect anything at all from God. He owes you nothing. He is not obligated to you in even the slightest sense. People reject this. The doctrine of salvation is unpopular because it includes the recognition of sin. Nobody likes to admit sin. And many people resist the idea that they need to be saved.”
2. We must be Spirit filled.
This is such a touchy subject for many and has, in my opinion, divided the body of Christ more than any other theological subject in recent history. Every believer who wants to know and be in the will of God should be Spirit filled and I believe that comes with the acceptance of Jesus Christ into your heart and life. I believe that being Spirit filled means that you fully recognize that Jesus Christ is the source of your life and power and empowers us to tell the world, boldly about Jesus Christ and his saving works.
3. We must be sanctified.
Sanctification is the action in living our lives holy and blameless before the Lord. We cannot know the will of God in our lives if we are not living our lives according to the Word of God and the example of Jesus Christ. The Scripture calls us to be “in the world, but not of the world.” (John 17:15-17) To some people who have been looking for the will of God for a long time, this is going to seem quite obvious. John MacArthur says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3) God desires every believer to be sanctified. What does sanctified mean? Let’s use the word pure instead.” We are called to be pure in the sight of Christ. Christ describes His church, His people to be pure white as snow. We are called to be set apart and sanctified. Our lives should never be a representation of the world. Christ was an extremist when it came to going against the grain of society. Religious practices were the norm of the time and Jesus Christ came to flip religious rules upside down, sometimes even literally.
4. We must be submissive.
Many men reading this discussion post will have a hard time understanding this concept as it is very unpopular among many men living in the United States. Society teaches us “nice guys finish last.” Wrong! Jesus was the greatest example of what it meant to live a life of servant hood. He modeled the idea of servant leadership, which is quickly becoming popular in the business world. Submission is not a call to be weak, but a call to submit to authority and to serve the world through your attitude and action. According to John MacArthur, God not only commands our submission to those in authority, but He also clearly tells us the reason. “For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.” (1 Peter 2:15)
MacArthur goes on to say, “We are to live our lives in submission in order that we might be set apart from the standards of society. “It is that God wants us to be the kind of citizens in the world who will draw the attention of the world. We need to be different. We need to have the qualities of salt and light, which involves submission, which is clearly commanded in Scripture.”
5. We must suffer.
The last thing most of us would expect when we know we are in the will of God is suffering. I know you may be thinking to yourself what kind of person would subject themselves to any more suffering in this world? There is already enough pain in my life as it is! Suffering is an expected experience we should prepare ourselves for as a believer in Jesus Christ. Christ even mentioned to His disciples that you (believers) will be hated by the world for their belief in Jesus Christ (Mark 13:13) Paul said, “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” (Colossians 1:24)
John MacArthur said, “They do not persecute Christians because they dislike them; they persecute Christians because they dislike Jesus. They can’t get at Him because He is in heaven, so they get at you and me.” If Jesus had to go to the cross, we should expect the same thing. The early church considered martyrdom a joy and if you were not martyred for the sake of Jesus Christ, you were not considered a real Christ follower. Fortunately, in America, we have our religious freedom that many Christians around the world do not have. Suffering is a natural part of the life of every believer. Paul said, “I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus” (Galatians 6:17). In response to that, John MacArthur said, “These scars over here— these were not for me. They were for Jesus, but I took them for Him! Are you willing to suffer for Jesus, who suffered for you? Are you willing to confront the world? That is the will of God.”
I believe that if you can honestly say that you have met all five S’s (saved, Spirit filled, sanctified, submissive, and suffering), the will of God is simply this: do whatever you would like! Isn’t that shocking?
But the truth is that being saved, Spirit filled, sanctified, submissive, and suffering qualifies us to be in God’s will. The rest of that is what God has put in your heart to step out and do for His Kingdom! If you feel called to be a missionary in Africa, do it! If you are feeling called to plant a church, do it! You are already in the will of God, and now its time to make a lasting impact for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ in your lifetime. Step out in faith and take the greatest adventure of your life. Live your life in the Will of God today. Sometimes, it amazes me at what God could and will do if we just get out of the way. As Bono said best, "Stop asking God to bless what you're doing. Find out what God's doing. It's already blessed."