Col. 4:12, "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God."
I. How does God guide?
A. We know that God does guide His people.
B. But for us to grow in maturity requires that we have clear guidance in knowing God's will.
C. That in itself presents some immediate problems.
1. The first is that there is an element of mystery in God's dealings with us
a. NOTE: Is. 55:8-9
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
b. NOTE: II Thes. 2:7, "...the mystery of iniquity doth already work..."
c. Satan often disguises himself in order to lead us astray.
2Co. 11:14-15, "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
d. Sometimes we are deceived by appearances, when we should be listening to the Word of God.
John 10:1-5, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers."
2. How can we distinguish among our own personal wishes and ideas, the impulse sent by Satan, and the voice of God revealing His will?
II. Prerequisites to knowing God's will.
A. Forgiveness and redemption.
Col. 1:12-14, "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:"
1. We cannot take this for granted
2. Only His 'sheep' hear His voice
3. Failure to submit to the will of God for salvation prevents a person from being guided by the Lord.
4. By nature we are enslaved, only our salvation will set us free "delivered us from the power of darkness" Col. 1:13
B. Strength and might.
Collosians 1:11, "Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;"
1. This is part of his prayer for those whom he longs to bring to the knowledge of God's will.
2. Why strength and might?
a. 'unto Patience and lonqsuffering'
b. patience = endurance under trials.
c. longsuffering = idea of patience under persecution.
3. NOTE: Jas. 5:10-11
"Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."
a. James uses these same words when he speaks of patience
b. He urges us to follow both the example of the prophets (longsuffering)- patience under persecution, of Job (endurance)-patience during trials
c. NOTE: James says 'ye have seen the end of the Lord'
d. It is because the end or purpose of the Lord in our own lives is sometimes no more apparent than it was to Job or the prophets,
C. So, the third prerequisite to knowing God's will is: to view our lives and events with the eye of faith that looks forward in the assurance that God works together all things for our good. (Romans 8:28)
III. Characteristics of God's will or how to recognize it.
A. The will of God is practical.
1. The first fruit of knowing God's will is doing it! NOTE: Col. 1:10
"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;"
2. God leads men in the paths of righteousness
3. Romans 12:1-2, it is in practical yielding to God that we discover His will to be 'good, perfect, and acceptable'
4. God's will is NOT mystical - it is practical!
B. The will of God is reasonable.
1. The word used here pertains to the reasoning faculty of our minds.
2. In Romans 12:1, the reasonable service of presenting our bodies a living sacrifice unto God means it is an intelligent thing to do.
3. It is in contrast to sacrifices offered by ritual and compulsion.
4. God's will and His guidance never bypasses our minds, Paul exhorts us in Eph. 5:17, "Be ye not unwise (foolish) but understanding what the will of the Lord is."
5. So: we cannot be guided solely by traditions nor can we be solely guided by impulses - God's will is reasonable and can be understood How?
C. The will of God is spiritually discerned.
1. NOTE: Col. 1:9
"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;"
2. So the will of God is practical and reasonable, but our minds are insufficient when it comes to understanding His will.
3. We must rely upon the Holy Spirit to influence our minds and to lead us into all truth.
4. Is that all we need? NO!
D. The will of God is Biblically unfolded
1. Where does the 'wisdom and spiritual understanding' of Col. 1:9 come from?
2. NOTE: Ps. 119:98-99 "Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation."
3. This is not just Scripture memory, but it is absorbing the teaching of the Scripture into our lives, maintaining obedience to and fellowship with God
4. A phrase that makes me cringe I hear quite often, 'That person really knows their Bible.''
5. There is a vast difference between a person knowing about the Word God and the one who lives by the spiritual principles of the Word.
IV. Concluding Thoughts.
A. God delights in His will being done. "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased..." cf Mt. 17:5
B. God directs that His will be done.
Pro. 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."
C. God's Will is revealed already.
1. The Scriptures teach us basic structures and guidelines by which we are to make decisions.
2. God's will is practical, reasonable, spiritually discerned, and Biblically unfolded.
Do you know the will of God for your life? If not, why not determine that you will apply thee principles each day?