God's Will for the Christian

by Leland M. Haines

God desires the Christian to be holy and live a life in obedient to him. The question that must be asked is, To what is the Christian obedient? How does he know what God wants him to do?

First and foremost the answer is found in the reply Jesus gave to a lawyer, who asked,

    Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:36-40; cf. Luke 10:27, 28; Mark 12:30, 31; cf. Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12, 13; Leviticus 19:18).

Love towards God finds its expression in keeping God's commandments brought by His Son. Jesus told His disciples, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). The apostle John wrote, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (I John 5:2, 3). Love is the foremost commandment Christians are to keep, but it is not the only one. Christians are to keep all the commandments given by Jesus Christ and His apostles for the church age.

The commandments of God for the most part are expressions of love. The apostles recognized that to love was to fulfill the law.

    Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:8-10; cf. Galatians 5:14; Colossians 3:14; James 2:8

Second, one must realize that God's law or commandments do not originate within oneself, that is, one does not decide what he thinks is right and then does it. The source of right and wrong is from an outside authority, the Word of God, the Bible. Christians receive knowledge and power through the written Word to live a life of discipleship.

The Bible reveals God's will because it is inspired by Him. Paul emphasized this truth when he wrote, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (II Timothy 3:16, 17). Scripture is the source of doctrine and is to be used for reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. The Christian should be willing to literally follow the Word's teachings, from such major issues as loving one's enemies (Matthew 5:38-45) to not wearing gold, and women wearing modest, inexpensive dresses (I Timothy 2:9; I Peter 3:3), etc. Scriptural teachings are not to be ignored; they are given for our benefit and compliance.

Another point to remember is that there are two kingdoms, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world (Satan). The message of the kingdom of God was central to Jesus' teaching and preaching. His very first message was, "The kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Those who are part of this kingdom possess new values, of which the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is an example. These standards are markedly different from the standards of the kingdom of the world. The kingdom of the world is composed of the children of Satan (Matthew 13:38; John 8:44) and is ruled by Satan (Ephesians 2:2). The Christian is called to come "out of the world" (John 17:6) and not be a part of it (15:19; 17:14, 16).

The basic concept of the two kingdoms is also expressed in the Epistles. Paul introduced the third section of Romans (chapters 12-16) by giving practical instructions concerning the Christian life. He wrote, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (12:2). The Christian is not to receive his code of conduct or system of values from the world. Since his mind has been transformed by being renewed, he no longer views things as the world does. His renewed mind makes it inconsistent for Him to look to the world for guidelines. Only by turning from the world and being transformed by the renewed mind can he prove what is the will of God.

Peter similarity said: "As obedient children, not fashioning yourself according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [behavior]; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (I Peter 1:14-16). "Be not conformed" expresses negatively the idea of holiness. The Christian's goal is to be holy because God is holy.

The apostle John wrote, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (I John 2:15-17). Again, a contrast is made between the world and God. The Christian is to turn his back to the lusts and pride of the world, since they are not of God. Rather, he is to turn to God, loving Him and doing His will. This turning is important because it carries the promise that those who do the will of God will abide forever. Christians often face situations where no direct word speaks to an issue. This does not mean Christians have nothing to guide them, because they always have the principle of love, i.e., love not the world, etc.

Christians will know God's will because they "walk in the Spirit, and . . . shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). The Spirit contends with the flesh and motivates Christians not to do the works of the flesh. Paul wrote that "the works of the flesh are . . . adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkeness, revellings, and such like" (vv. 19-21). Christians have no part in these activities. Christians have the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, which "is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," (vv. 22, 23). Paul concludes, "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (v. 25). Godly brethren abstain from the works of the flesh and walk by the Spirit. Christians also must remember that church leaders and other brethren can help them to understand scriptural principles and therefore know what is right for everyday situations. Both the brotherhood and the elders can share their thoughts and experiences on these situations.

from Redemption Realized Through Christ, © copyright 1996 by Leland M. Haines, Northville, MI.


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June 22, 2000