This is Part 3 in a series on God’s Will.
There are many ways people make decisions. For example, when I had fallen head over heels with my first love, in first grade, I used the old, “She loves me, she loves me not with a daisy flower.” Some will say:
- Listen to your instinct: Our instincts are often good, but only when they are grounded in God’s Word!
- List your alternatives. That’s using the good old pro and con list
- Put yourself into each situation: Think of how it will feel, taste and smell. Live with each choice for a while
- Try not to get caught up in emotion or group sentiment. There are many Biblical examples warning against that.
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt
“Alice [in wonderland] came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
One of the great questions a parent can ask his child, “Do you have freedom to do that?” Do you have freedom to choose what to do? This message is all about you gaining freedom in life. Notice the outline!
1) In freedom, the Lord Jesus always chose God’s will John 5:18-19, 26-30
18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:18-19 NKJ)
They were right that He was God, but Jesus notes the difference in His role with the Father. He implied that He was completely under the Father’s authority. Why? If He was God, then why would He say that? Why couldn’t He just use the freedom to do what He wanted?
It’s very simple to understand God’s thinking. There is only one will that matters and it is God the Father’s. Even the Lord Jesus was completely under the Father’s will for life. What does that say about us? Notice this next section.
26 “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 “and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 “and come forth– those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. 30 “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (John 5:26-30 NKJ)
The Father granted the Son to have life…and given Him authority. The Lord Jesus had the freedom to choose as He pleased, and yet He always made the choice to seek the will of the Father. That is God’s desire for every organization. It’s true in marriage, family and the church. There is one will that matters. When there is more than one will, that is when you have conflict. When there is conflict, you know that there is more than one will.
Let’s note one more passage,
5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. 7 Then I said, `Behold, I have come– In the volume of the book it is written of Me– To do Your will, O God.'” 8 Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” (Heb. 10:5-9 NKJ)
As He was coming to the world, the Lord Jesus affirmed He had one purpose – to do the Father’s will. He always chose the Father’s will. Do you want to have harmony in your marriage? Follow one will. Do you want harmony in a family? Or in church? Follow one will. Anything else will result in conflict. That’s Jesus. What about you and me?
2) You have freedom only in God’s holy will 2 Tim. 3:16-17
A couple years ago, Barbara and I took a ride on Amtrak and we enjoyed seeing the countryside from a new angle. The seats were comfortable, the sights were great and the food was good. But let’s personify the locomotive that saw a mountain in the distance and said, “I think I’m going to go over there and check it out!” So it jumps the tracks and heads toward the mountain. What will happen? It will go only as far as the momentum will carry it and then end up in a pile of ruin. But if the train stays on the tracks, it will travel to beautiful parts all over the United States and Canada!
The same is true for the Christian. As long as you stay in the holy will of God, you will enjoy the beautiful presence of the Lord Jesus and experience His grace in action. But if you choose your own way, you will go only as far as your momentum will take you and then end up in a pile of ruin. Why does living in God’s holy will give you freedom?
Scripture expresses God’s character; touches every aspect of life and defines every good work. God’s Word is profitable in each of the four ways and it transforms you to be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17 NKJ)
That is the power of the Word! And notice one other passage,
9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. (Col. 2:9-10 NKJ)
The Lord Jesus is completely God. He is the head of every angel and demon and therefore every believer. Every child of God is complete in Him. That is positional truth. As a child of God, you are already considered by God as complete in Christ. However, the Timothy passage states that you are growing in that completion as you stay on track with the Truth. Doing God’s will is imperative. John writes,
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world– the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life– is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NKJ)
Does He tell you whom to marry? No, He only restricts you to a believer. But He doesn’t say whether it would be Ginny, Jessie, or Josie, or Julie, Jamie, or Geraldine. You have freedom to choose in His holiness. But don’t date/court an unbeliever. If the person is not very godly, follow 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Evil company corrupts good habits.” In American culture, we fall in love and then get married. In India, they have arranged marriages and then fall in love. Fall in love and get married or get married and fall in love.
It does not tell you what socks to wear or who to marry. God’s Word tells you to walk in His holiness. God doesn’t need affirmation from you doing His will. The issue is that you honor His holiness. Anything in the holy will circle is acceptable to the holiness of God. How can you know God’s holy will?
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. (Ps. 19:7-10 NKJ)
What a powerful ability of Scripture! Where Scripture is specific, obey it. Where there are principles, apply them. In that you have freedom. So what is the problem? The problem is we do not understand sin and it’s powerful control in our lives.
3) You have freedom from sin only when filled with the Spirit Rom. 6:12-14; Eph. 5:18
What does freedom mean? I thought I knew what it meant when I was 16: I could drive a car without being told where to turn. I went to work and made MY own money! When I turned 21, then I was a full-fledged adult and asked a wonderful gal to marry me! But when I turned 22, I lost all what I thought was freedom? I had some loud-mouthed, snarly voice drill sergeant telling me what to wear, when to get up, how many push-ups to do and where to fix my attention! But did I lose anything? No, I found out there was one will that mattered – the commander’s – and as long as I pursued his will, I was greatly blessed and the mission was accomplished! I didn’t realize how Biblical the whole military mindset was until many years later! Notice what Paul writes,
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Rom. 6:12-14 NKJ)
When you choose what you want to do, then you are really just a slave of what your body wants! So the Lord Jesus wants you to instead present yourself to God, which grammar requires a moment by moment choice to present yourself to God from the time you are a Christian, until God takes you home to heaven. This is not a one-time event that fixes everything. The tense of the verb takes all of the decisions and gathers them up into one ball of wax. Why? Because you are under grace and you want to please the will of the Father and you are free to choose God’s way of holiness.
How does that happen? Paul explains that you have a choice about what controls you,
And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit. (Eph. 5:18 NKJ)
In other words, instead of letting wine or any other substance or idol control you, be filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit. He commands it, because you are not unless you are dependent on His Spirit. How? Present yourself as instrument of righteousness.
This is the difference between a heart controlled by the Holy Spirit and one that is controlled by the flesh. Notice these contrasts:
- God’s Love or Fleshly Desire 1John 4:19; 1 John 2:16
- Dependence or Independence Pro. 3:5-6; Gal. 5:16
- Humility or Pride Jam. 4:6; Phil. 2:5-8
- Gratitude or Presumption Col. 3:17
- Diligence or Laziness Col. 3:23; Pro. 12:24,27
- Generosity or Selfishness 1 Tim. 6:17-19
- Contentment or Greed Phil. 4:11; Heb. 13:5
To illustrate all this, let me tell you about what might have happened in the Garden of Eden:
Adam was hungry. He had had a long, challenging day naming animals. His afternoon nap had been refreshing and his post-siesta introduction to Eve was exhilarating, to say the least. But as the sun began to set on their first day, Adam discovered that he had worked up an appetite.
“I think we should eat,” he said to Eve. “Let’s call the evening meal ‘supper.’”
“Oh, you’re so decisive, Adam,” replied Eve admiringly. “I like that in a man. And ‘supper” has a nice ring to it. I guess all the excitement of being created has made me hungry, too.”
As they discussed how they should proceed, they decided that Adam would gather fruit from the garden, and Eve would prepare it for their meal. Adam set about his task and soon returned with a basket full of ripe fruit. He gave it to Eve, and went to soak his feet in the soothing current of the Pishon River until supper was ready. He had been reviewing the animals’ names for about five minutes when he heard his wife’s troubled voice.
“Adam, could you help me for a moment?”
“What seems to be the problem, dear?” he replied.
“I’m not sure which of these lovely fruits I should prepare for supper. I’ve prayed for guidance from the Lord but I’m not really sure what he wants me to do. I certainly don’t want to miss his will on my very first decision. Would you go to the Lord and ask him what I should do about supper?”
Adam’s hunger was intensifying. But he understood Eve’s dilemma. So he left her to go speak with the Lord. Shortly, he returned. He appeared perplexed.
“Well?” probed Eve.
“He didn’t really answer your question,” he answered.
“What do you mean? Didn’t you say anything?”
“Oh yes,” replied Adam. “But he just repeated what he said earlier today during the garden tour: ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.’ I assure you, Eve, I steered clear of the forbidden tree.”
“But that doesn’t solve my problem,” said Eve. “What should I prepare for tonight?”
From the rumbling in his stomach, Adam was discovering that Lions and tigers are not the only things that growl. So he said, “I’ve never seen such crispy, juicy apples. I feel a sense of peace about them. Why don’t you prepare them for supper? Maybe while you’re getting them ready, you’ll experience the same peace I have.”
Alright Adam,” she agreed. “I guess you’ve had more experience at making decisions than I have. I appreciate your leadership. I’ll call you when supper is ready.”
“Okay,” replied Adam, relieved. “I’ll get back to my easy-rock. Adam was only halfway to the river when he heard Eve’s call. He was so hungry that he jogged back to the clearing where she was working. But his anticipation evaporated when he saw her face.
“More problems?” he asked.
“Adam, I just can’t decide what I should do with these apples. I could slice them, dice them, mash them, bake them in a pie, a cobbler, fritters, or dumplings. Or we could just polish them and eat them raw. I really want to be your helper, but also want to be certain of the Lord’s will on this decision. Would you be a dear and go just one more time to the Lord with my problem?”
Since he didn’t have any better solution himself, Adam did as Eve requested. When he returned, he said, “I got the same answer as before: ‘From any tree in the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.’”
Adam and Eve were both silent for a moment. Then Adam said, “You know, Eve, the Lord made that statement as though it ought to fully answer my question. I’m sure He could have told me what to eat and how to eat it; but I think He wants us to make those decisions. It was the same way with the animals today. He just left their names up to me.”
Eve was incredulous. “Do you mean that it doesn’t matter which of these fruits we have for supper? Are you telling me that I can’t miss God’s will in this decision?”
Adam explained: The only way you could do that is to pick some fruit from the forbidden tree. But all of these fruits are all right. Why, I suppose we could eat all of them.” Adam snapped his fingers and exclaimed, “Say, that’s a great idea! Let’s have fruit salad for supper!”
Eve hesitated, “What’s a salad?”
Life is either about the Lord Jesus or about you. You choose.
The Lord Jesus gives you freedom to choose in His holy will!
How do you know you are living in God’s holy will?
- Know His Word to know His holy will. When you choose what you want, that is slavery to the flesh.
- Compare your decisions to His holiness, not man’s righteousness.
- Embrace the passion for which you were made.
Message Based Discussion Questions
1) What are some decisions that you have had difficulty making in life? When you were young? As you have become older?
2) Does God care where you walk in life? _____________ Read Psalm 1:1-3. What guidance does this passage give you? How specific is the passage?
3) If you have freedom, how much of the choice is dependent upon you? _______________ Upon what should you depend (Josh. 1:8; John 16:13; Phil. 4:6-7) What are five ways to know it better and ensure your choices are according to it? Of the list of differences from the message, how do the comparisons affect your choices?
4) Regarding God’s will, does He ever become specific (1 Thes. 4:3)? ___________ What does that look like? Can there be various ways that that is accomplished? How so?
Making application from the message to life:
5) How do you help a teen understand the difference between “freedom of choice” and “freedom to choose under God”? What examples would you give? How do you disciple him when he is just getting to the age when he has more and more freedoms?
6) If the Christian has freedom in God’s holy will, does that mean that the Christian does not have any goals? Why or why not? Read 1 Pet. 4:10-11. What does this passage teach regarding how we should influence others?
7) If you have freedom as a believer, how do you avoid becoming lazy about your decisions?