What is the will of God? (This is part two in our series on the will of God. Part one link). The answer to that question is the secret to understanding Life, the Universe and Everything. God wants us to do his will. Two texts from Scripture will make this painfully obvious.
First, Matthew 7:21. This passage is in the context of Jesus explaining Salvation in the Sermon on the Mount. “Strive” he commands the listener, “to enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and easy is the path that leads to death and many enter into it, but narrow is gate and difficult is the way that leads to life and their are few who find it” (7:13-14). Two explanations are given for this difficulty, false teaching (vv 15-20) and self deception (vv 21-23). In verse 21, the contrast between those who are certainly on the right path, and those on the wide way, has to do with which ones do the will of God: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter”. Therefore, according to Jesus, doing God’s will is the mark of a Christian, not doing God’s will, even if you profess faith, ‘Lord, Lord’ is the mark of an unbeliever. So, this is a salvation matter. The saved know and do God’s will.
Second, Ephesians 5:17. This passage has the context of mocking sarcasm. Believers are to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [they] have been called” (Ephesians 4:1). Salvation is by “grace alone, through faith alone” (cf. 2:8-9), but it is “unto good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (2:10). Believers are to walk worthy (or consistent) with this calling. “Therefore”, in Ephesians 5:15 the believer is told, “be carefully how you walk”. The contrast in that passage is between “the unwise” and “the wise”. Which would you rather be? Verse 17 then picks this up and drives it home: “do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is”. There are two commands:
Command 1: “do not be foolish”. This word basically means, “senseless”. It is used of the animals that act on instinct. It is the way of a brute beast.
Command 2: “but understand”, this is the opposite of senseless. It means, basically, “rationale” or “reasonable”. So reason through and understand “what the will of the Lord is”. The NET Bible argues that this phrase should read, as the command: “be wise by understanding what the Lord’s will is”
For we were once senseless, walking in “the futility” of minds darkened from understanding (Ephesians 4:17-18). Now however, believers are: “to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God” (4:21-22). Now, if Christ says this the the basic mark of Salvation, and Paul says you are an unwise, senseless beast, if you do not understand it: then the will of God cannot be anything but obvious to the believer.
So, the question is why are so many of us stumbling around in the dark grasping after God’s will, like the elusive pieces of a pleasant dream suddenly interrupted? Jesus gave two reasons, (1) False teaching/teachers, and (2) self-deception. Look for part three soon.