"..prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
- Romans 12:2
When NASA first started sending astronauts into space, they soon realized the standard issue ball point pen wouldn't work in zero gravity.
A million dollar investment and 2 years of test later, the result was the "US Space Pen" - a beautifully crafted stainless steel pen, that could accomplish wonders such as write in the zero gravity environment of space, completely upside down if necessary, it could write on almost any known surface, and could even do so at temperatures ranging from below zero to over 300 degrees Celsius!
When the Russian Space program was confronted with the same challenge and difficulty for their cosmonauts, their budget was much more limited. They chose a much simpler option...and used a pencil!
This is very similar to how many Christians think about the will of God. They think that it must surely be very complicated, and couldn't possible believe that it might just be a lot simpler than they realize.
As a matter of fact, there is a very well known portion of Scripture, in which Paul the Apostle give us 4 simple steps to discovering the specific personal will of God for our lives. In Romans 12:1-2 Paul writes:"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
As we look at Scripture, we see that there are two broad categories of God's Will. We usually call these His "GENERAL Will" or His "SPECIFIC Will". God's "General Will" is actually very easy to find, since it's written black and white in God's Word. These are things that are clearly spelled out in the Scriptures, and issues over which we really shouldn't be confused at all.
Biblically, we know for that it's the General Will of God for us to be:
1. Saved by Christ. (1 Tim 2:4)
2. Separated from sexual sin. (1 Thess 4:3-8)
3. Seizing godly opportunities (Eph 5:15,16)
4. Saying "Thanks!" to God (1 Thess 5:18)
5. Spirit-filled on a regular basis. (Eph 5:17-18)
Technically, any expressed desire that the Lord has in the Word of God is His Will. But these above verses list for us specific areas in which the Lord want us to obey.
However, in Romans 12 we see something quite different - how to discover the will of God in your life regarding a specific, detailed issue! For example, when a person asks these types of questions listed below, they are seeking the specific will of God:
- "Who is the spouse God has for me?"
- "Which college should I attend?"
- "Should I take that new job opportunity?"
- "Does the Lord want me to move to a new place?"
Amazingly, Paul shows us the 4 steps to take in order to develop a lifestyle in which the will of God manifests itself to you over time:
Step #1 - REALIZE
In Romans 12:1 Paul says that the first step to discovering God's will is to consciously realize how good God has been to you. He writes:"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God.." You need to realize all the goodness, mercy, and blessings that the Lord has poured out on your life. You must take time daily to "..count your blessings, one by one, and be amazed what the Lord has done!" So first, intentionally recount and remind yourself of ALL the graces that Christ has blessed you with in your life...and do it habitually!
Step #2 - RELEASE
Next, Paul challenges with the second step: releasing yourself into Christ's control and direction. He says:"..present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." In order to put myself on the path of discovering the Lord's will, I must regularly and devotedly release myself to His service by offering my life as a living sacrifice. Again and again, I need to give my heart and life back into the care and service of my great King. Doing this habitually, and as a manner of your regular lifestyle, is part of being a biblical disciple, and a vital ingredient for walking in the will of God.
Step #3 - RESIST
Next, after realizing God's amazing goodness to you, and then responding by repeatedly releasing yourself back into His hands, comes the third step: resisting! Paul puts it like this: "And do not be conformed to this world.." Here he challenges us to push back and resist the pressures and temptations of the world, in order to perceive God's will for your life. This word "conformed", in it's original Greek language, means "to be pressured into a mold". So Paul says that there needs to be a continual, daily, monthly resisting of the world in my life and yours, if we are to accurately hear and discern the Lord's plan for our lives. Form the habit of fighting back and actively resisting temptation and wicked seductions that would pull you out of God's path for your life!
Step #4 - RENEW
Lastly, Paul says that the fourth ingredient if forming a lifestyle that will lead you into God's will, is to renew your mind in the Word of God. He writes: "..but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.." The final component in discovering His plan is to change the way you think about life, by immersing your mind regularly in the Word of God. As we regularly and continually read and study the Scriptures, the Lord changes our ideas about reality, and helps us to perceive things the way that they truly are. The Word of God shows us the mind of God, and the heart of God. So by habitually listening to the Bible be taught and explained, our values are transformed to line up with Christ's values more and more. We begin to think like Him, and live like Him, so we are able to discover and learn His will for our lives!
This is precisely what Paul says will be the result of living these 4 steps: REVELATION of God's Will! Paul says: "..that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." If a lifestyle is cultivated where there is a habitual and continual REALIZING of God's goodness, a daily RELEASING of your life into the Lord's hands, the consistent RESISTING of the world's temptations and sins, and a habitual pattern of RENEWING your mind in God's Word....there will be a REVEALING of God's will!
These 4 disciplines can't just be a sometime thing; they need to be an every day thing! If this becomes a lifestyle for you, a pattern of daily living, and if you walk this type of Christianity week after week, and year after year, you will look back and find yourself walking in God's will for you. It won't happen fast, and it won't be easy, but it will always be worth it!
Every serious Christian wants to find God's will for their life. If you and I cultivate a lifestyle of biblical discipleship, and have these 4 pillars in place, like a rose that slowly unfolds itself in the rising morning sun, God's plan for you will unfold itself in a beautiful and powerful way!