Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: Testing and Approving God’s Will
Scripture Reading: Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer 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.
As promised yesterday, I want to share with you six principles that can be helpful in determining our surrender to the will of God. I want to thank one of my elders for evaluating the way these six principles were presented on Sunday in church and for bringing to my attention some important thoughts. He pointed out to me that these six principles are not necessarily proofs of God’s will so much as they are tests of our maturity and character in response to God’s will. How true this is, as you will see in a moment. Yet in my mind they also serve as tests of my position in relation to God’s will. That, in turn, proves what God’s will is. I guess you had to be there for our discussion. I deeply appreciate the elders of Calvary for their commitment to truth.
In Genesis 12, Abram, who would soon have his name changed to Abraham, has been called by God to establish a new nation in a new land. His response to God’s call was an act of faith, for God had not told him where he was going. He just told him to pack up everything and go west. Abram obeyed.
When he arrived in God’s chosen place, he set up temporary camps, for it is God’s will that we never become dependent upon this world but live here as pilgrims looking ahead to our final home in glory. But then things got rough. Let’s read the story:
Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live.
Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that she was a very beautiful woman. And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels. But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had. So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him.
Abram lost faith in God’s promise and stepped out of God’s will. In this story I find six principles that help me evaluate my position in relationship to God’s will. I hope they help you as well.
- 1. We won’t run when things get tough. God’s promise of provision was not negated by the famine, yet Abram looked for a human solution to the problem, rather than trusting God. When we are living in the will of God, while we may be tempted to run, the Holy Spirit will testify with our Spirit that we are in the place of God’s calling and give us the strength to stand firm in the face of trouble.
- 2. We won’t manipulate any outcomes. Abram devised a scheme with his wife to protect himself and achieve his own desired outcome. Those who are in the will of God have surrendered their rights to determine outcomes and trust God with every detail.
- 3. We won’t be experiencing fear. Abram was afraid for his life. Fear is the reality for those outside of the will of God. Fear is not of God. According to the Apostle Paul, God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
- 4. We won’t put our needs ahead of others. Abram’s fear drove him to make a decision that didn’t consider his wife’s needs and put her in a compromising situation. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit and walking in the will of God, we will have the mind of Christ, which always puts others ahead of self.
- 5. We won’t use others for personal benefit. Sometimes it may appear on the surface that what we are doing is for everyone’s good, when in reality we are manipulating others for personal benefit. Notice Abram’s words – I will be treated well for your sake. He was using her for personal gain. That’s never the will of God.
- 6. We won’t bring harm to others. Abram’s decisions brought judgment on Pharaoh and his household. We are not responsible for the decisions others make in response to God’s will, but when we are in God’s will, and people are trusting us to be in God’s will, then it will not bring harm to them. God’s judgment on Pharaoh was the result of Abram being outside of God’s will. When our actions or words begin to bring harm to others, we must see that as a test of our position in relation to God’s will.
There’s so much more to be learned about the will of God. Tomorrow we will address some additional things concerning the revealed will of God in Scripture and the daily decisions we make. But for today, test your position in life and let the Holy Spirit reveal to you where you may be out of step with His will for you. Then take hope in this – God brought Abram back up to the land again. He will do the same for you.