“Brian, God wants us to get married.” I can still hear the words echoing in my mind. I was shocked. Sure we were friends, but we weren’t even dating! I don’t even remember how I responded but I do remember struggling with those words for quite a while. I remember asking, is it true? Has God spoken to her but not me? Am I going to miss something? Is this God’s will for me? Today, she is no longer following God and I have no doubt it was not God’s will for us to marry. I have grown in my understanding of what God’s will is and how to discern it. I am married to a wonderful wife who is following Jesus.
What is God’s will? It is a question asked by people in every stage of life but I think in particular during the college age years the decisions, including major and spouse seem to loom large. Students are always asking me about God’s will especially when it relates to dating. Let’s turn to scripture to help us. Romans 12 has this to say:
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
We see in verses 1-3 that Paul gives us the pattern to use for discerning God’s good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12 begins the transition between the theology section in chapters 1-11 and the application section in chapters 12-16. The first application is to offer our lives as a living sacrifice. In the OT, sacrifices were the means by which we would reconcile our relationship with God. In the NT, God has already satisfied that with the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus. So we offer our gifts, abilities and service to God. Paul goes on to encourage us not to conform to the pattern of this world. In other words, follow God’s commands. Then he says we “will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” That seems like a lot. Let’s break it down. First, we know that God’s will is good or in other words it is right. We also know that it is pleasing or acceptable to him. Finally we know that it is perfect, or in other words, it is complete.
It all boils down to this. God wants the first two requirements satisfied before we will be able to discern the later. I believe that as we focus in on the first two parts of this passage that the rest will take care of itself. Ask yourself, what am I doing to serve God? How am I serving the church? Where am I giving my time, money and resources? Secondly, ask yourself, am I obeying his commands? All of them? Are you seeking to live a life that is fully devoted to him and seeking to steer clear of sin? Are you studying the word so you know the commands he has given? Let’s focus our energy on these actions and then we can worry about what God has planned for our life.
In my next post, I will write more about the discernment process. How do we discern the will of God?
How are you doing in following his commands and offering your body as a living sacrifice?