Luke 22:41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
All throughout the earthly ministry of Jesus we see Him obeying the Father’s will. Not once did Jesus ever go against the master plan set out by the One who sent Him. Though it would cost Him His life, He followed through to the end, carrying out every single step that had been ordained. He took His obedience to the cross, dying for the sins of man. And He’s our example.
We can never be perfect, never get it all right. We’ll never be sinless like Christ, following the Lord’s will in every single thing He calls us to do. But that’s the point. We can’t do it, so Jesus did. We were never going to be able to live perfectly within God’s will, but Christ has enabled us to seek after God’s will in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Everything Jesus did, all that’s recorded in Scripture and all that’s not, was for the greater plans of God. He knew that even though it was painful to bear, the will of the Father was for the good of all mankind. He gave up His will for the Father’s. And aren’t you glad He did?
Passage: Mark 14:3-9
Key verse: Mark 14:3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.
In the days leading up to Jesus’ death on the cross, He taught some of the greatest lessons of His earthly ministry. At Bethany, days before His crucifixion, Jesus was annointed for burial by a woman willing to give all she had. Here we can all learn about sacrifice.
While some plotted to kill Jesus, His disciples remained in denial about His certain death, despite many warnings. The woman at Bethany, however, stood apart from everyone else. Her concern was not with who would be the greatest, or how much money she could get for selling her oil. Her mind was set on full devotion to Jesus. Sitting at the feet of the Lord, she annointed Him with the costly oil. It’s a picture of how much more He meant to her than her earthly possessions did.
Are you willing to give it all in full devotion to Jesus Christ? Can you say that you’ve given your whole life to Him? Is following Him more important than anything else? Jesus gave Himself, suffering on a cross, willing to be considered cursed, for the sake of our reconciliation with God. Heaven was bankrupted of its most precious treasure all for us. Now what are we willing to give up?
1 Peter 3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
The “how” of knowing God’s will is most easily summed up by discussing prayer and reading God’s Word. The “why”, however, is really the more difficult to fathom. It isn’t enough to say “because God says so”. Ultimately, that is enough because He is God and we ought to follow His commands, but the answer doesn’t satisfy us deeply. We want to know why God has something specific in mind for us to do.
God’s purpose in all things is to bring glory to Himself. That, to some, sounds very selfish and gives reason NOT to follow God’s will if He’s just going to be doing whatever He wants for His own attention. They’d say, “If I acted that way, people would think I was completely arrogant and selfish and they’d want nothing to do with me”. Yes, that’s true…but you’re not God. You’re flawed and make all sorts of mistakes. And when you want personal glory, it’s for the wrong reasons and without just cause. God though, God is perfect and holy. He deserves the glory and when He gets it, it’s for the right reasons. It actually benefits us for Him to receive glory, it’s not just selfishness.
In fact, it’s better for us to suffer if it’s God’s will, than to do whatever we want if it’s not. He has the best intentions in mind for us and knows exactly what we need. He’s sovereign, but He’s good. He’s not out to get us like some crazed egomaniac that will stop at nothing to see Himself worshipped. He cares for us and loves us and that’s all considered as He wills certain things to take place.
Why should we do God’s will? Because He knows better than us.
Hebrews 3:12-13 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Sin doesn’t have to own you and if you’re in Christ victory over sin is already yours. The Holy Spirit guides you as you face temptation and provides a way out. But what about that friend of yours who has all the same tools you do but continues to live in bondage to sin?
The writer of Hebrews (apparently a pastor) calls on Christians to lift each other up, to encourage one another. Essentially, he’s saying to use teamwork to stay away from sin. Use the buddy system to achieve victory over the evil desires you encounter.
Friends are for a greater purpose than hanging out and having fun. A real friend can stand by your side and encourage you when you’re having difficulty with sin and temptation. The Holy Spirit gives you a way out and the friend helps you choose to follow it. You should do the same for them.
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
What God has called us to do (His revealed will) and His plan for the world (His secret will) are both good. This may seem like it is unnecessarily stated, but to many this is a worry. Sometimes we shy away from seeking the will of God because we think He’ll call us to do something that’s harmful or won’t be for our own benefit. In doing so we miss out on His blessing because His plans for us are for good, not for harm (Jeremiah 29:11). We’re scared to do what God wants because we don’t view Him as good.
But God is good. His intentions are good and His plan is good. All things that take place to fulfill His will are good, whether it seems so at the time or not. It may be painful for a moment in time to go through what God is willing, but ultimately it is for good. With that in mind, it’s much easier to desire God’s will and to want to carry it out. We can remain steady in the knowledge that He’s not out to get us and has a plan that brings about good and it will motivate us to take steps of faith.
If God calls you to something, don’t be afraid. Follow His calling because He knows what the final result will be. He sees what we don’t see and knows what we don’t know. He’s powerful enough to make things happen and good enough that we can trust Him.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
So you know by now that sin is bad and that you should choose to stay away from it. But it isn’t always just that simple, is it? Sometimes the temptation to sin is great and just knowing that it’s wrong isn’t enough. It can be overwhelming.
But there’s good news! God is looking out for you. If you belong to Him, He’s on your side and He provides a way fro you to stay true to Him. The Holy Spirit working in you will not only nudge you to let you know when something is sin, He’ll point you to a way of escape from the temptation.
No matter how massive the temptation you’re facing, God has seen it before, Jesus has faced it before (Hebrews 4:15), and the Spirit has dealt with it before. You’re not alone and you don’t have to face any sin or any temptation without help. The truth is, you have the greatest help ever available because God Himself is cheering for you to win. Find assurance in that.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Here we break from speaking of God’s revealed will to speaking of God’s secret will. This means not just the desires of God, but the plan of God that will come to pass by whatever means He chooses. When we refer to the revealed will, we mean that God has called us to do certain things and we should follow them. The secret will, however, describes the things that God has planned out before the creation of the world, the events and occurrences that He determines.
God generally carries out His will by means of people. While He has all the power to just make things happen on His own, He acts as more of a conductor who orchestrates the events rather than just making them happen by supernatural methods. We have choices in life and those choices lead to consequences. God sees to it that whatever the outcome, it coincides with someone else’s choice to bring about what He wills. Though He typically doesn’t force our hand, He does make things happen through our actions. And yes, at times He does intervene to provide the proper choices are made. This is hard to grasp, but consider the many accounts in the Bible where God stepped into a situation to bring about a particular result.
When we follow God’s (revealed) will, we work towards His (secret) will. Doing what He calls us to do leads to us playing a part in His plan, not only for our own lives, but in the overall plan He has.
1 John 1:8-9 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
With many things in this life, we can expect to get out of them exactly what we put into them. If we treat people rudely, we’ll often find ourselves being treated rudely. If we disrespect, we’ll be disrespected. Acting out of pride usually leads to resistence, and humility leads to better things. This is especially true with God (James 4:6).
When we pretend that we don’t sin, no one is fooled. We can’t even truly fool ourselves into thinking we’re sinless let alone God. But when we put our pride aside and admit to our wrongs, God is quick to forgive because of Christ Jesus. There’s nothing to fear in confession before God. He’s a loving and just Father who actually wants to forgive us. He’s waiting for us to turn to Him.
The bad news is that you have sinned and there’s no way out of it. The good news is Jesus paid your way to God’s forgiveness by taking all of your sins onto Himself. You’re free to confess everything, with no fear of condemnation. Our Lord is able and willing to wipe it all away.
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
We Christians speak a lot about “God’s will”, but what does that even mean? What does it mean to do God’s will? Is this some sort of mysterious code language for something? Or is it a very real thing that we can know and follow?
First, there are two types of God’s will: His “revealed” or moral will and His “secret” will, or providential government of all things. The differences between the two are best left to a Bible study rather than a devotion, but we will be speaking of the revealed will for our purposes. This is what God wants of us or expects of us. When we speak of looking for God’s will in our lives, this is the “revealed” will He has spelled out for us in His Word.
We may tend to think of what God wants from us personally as His will for us, but we sometimes overlook the will He has in general. Because of this tendency, we may look for specific signs or circumstances that will tell us what God wants from us or what our next move should be. It may be that He will give us those signs, but most often, whatever the issue is, God has already spoken on the matter in His revelation to man, the Bible. If we’ll look there first, we’ll often find what God’s will is in the area we’re seeking answers.
Many people spent much of their time keeping their eyes open for the signs they’re expecting and yet skip right past the Bible as a means for finding out God’s will for their life. We ought to first check God’s Word before looking for signs. Let the Holy Spirit do the discerning. The answer is likely right in front of us if we’d only stop looking so hard.