1 Peter 4:2
That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
How many decisions do you make without ever consulting with God about it? Perhaps you ask God about the really big decisions that you have to make, but are you concerned about the will of God for your entire life? Some Christians make school and career decisions without ever asking God. They plan their week full of activities without checking to see what God had planned for them. James dealt with this issue, exhorting believers to seek the will of God before they made their plans (James 4:13-16). It is important, as a Normal Christian, that we understand the will of God and do it.
The "will of God" is a phrase you will find often in the New Testament and a theme you will see throughout the Bible. It has to do with the way we live out our life and what we do with our time. God has a plan for every life, but especially for the Christian. Some Christians seem to believe that God is to get some percentage of their time each day and the rest of the time is theirs, but you will never find this idea in the Bible. As Peter says, we are not to live the rest of our time in the flesh, but to the will of God.
You may have heard the phrases "the permissive will of God" or "the center of God's will". Though you will not see these phrases used explicitly in the Bible, you will see them expressed over and over again. Because God has given us a free will, there is often a difference between what God wants us to do and what He will allow us to do. It was not God's desire for Adam to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, yet He allowed him to. It was never God's desire for Israel to have a king, yet He allowed them to have one. When we do exactly what God wants us to do, we are in the center of His will, but His permissive will is what He will allow us to do. Obviously, it is desirable for the Normal Christian to remain in the very center of the will of God.
As we have studied already, the Normal Christian is one that serves and is sold out. Therefore, there ought to be no question as to whether we should do the will of God, for that has already been settled. But one may ask, "why is it so important for us to do what God would have us to do?" The argument that James makes is that we have no control over tomorrow, nor do we even know what the next day shall bring; and therefore it is better that we seek the will of the One who does. The key issue then is one of accomplishment.
Let us consider some examples that describe the outcome of making decisions with and without God. If we were to choose different people to study, we might say that the result was due to the difference in the person. So, let us look at some examples from the life of one person - David.
Towards the end of the reign of King Saul, David became weary of being a fugitive and fearful for his life. At that time, David made a decision to leave Israel and dwell in the land of the Philistines. This decision is described in 1 Samuel 27:1, And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand.
That David made this decision without consulting with God is clear from the phrase "in his heart". It is also evident from David's behavior in Philistia where he ends up lying to King Achish (1 Samuel 27:9-12). In fact David does not even mention God again until much later when he starts seeking His will once again. Now, look at the outcome of David's decision and know for certain that this is what is in store for those who leave the center of God's will and enter into His permissive will.
1. Absence of Accomplishment
Sixteen months after David left Israel, war broke out between Israel and the Philistines. What an awkward position to be in! David could not return now and fight on the side of Israel, but he did try to fight for the Philistines. Though King Achish trusted David's allegiance, the other Lords of the Philistines did not and commanded that he return to his city of Ziklag (1 Samuel 29:1-11). Whether David would have actually fought against his own country is uncertain, but this one thing is for sure - he could not take part on either side of this battle. He could accomplish nothing for either side. Consequently, he was not there to stand by his good friend Jonathan who died in the battle. Nor was he there to save King Saul, the anointed of God, who also died in the battle. David's unfortunate decision left him useless to accomplish anything. Christian, that success you might be seeking will never be fulfilled by making decisions outside of the will of God.
2. Loss of Loved Ones
When David returned to Ziklag three days later, he found that the Amalekites had burned the city and taken their wives, children, and possessions (1 Samuel 30:1-3). In one day, David lost all that he loved. Making a decision without God can cost us all that we have. Christian, the blessings of God cannot be sustained when we do not seek His will.
3. Depths of Despair
David and his men were not just somewhat filled with sorrow. Imagine losing all that you cared for in the world. 1 Samuel 30:4 says that they lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. This was not just a little discouragement, this was reaching the bottom of the barrel - utter despair and unspeakable sorrow. This is what one can expect when God is left out of the plans. Oh Christian, that happiness, joy, and contentment that you may be striving for cannot be achieved apart from the will of God.
4. Reversal of Rank
If this was not enough, the thought of stoning him entered into the thoughts of David's own men (1 Samuel 30:6). These were his friends and comrades; the men that had followed him through thick and thin for the past several years. David, who had been their captain and leader, had all but lost that position as well as the respect that came with it. Christian, you may be seeking some position in life, but you better follow God's plans or you may find yourself far behind your goal.
It is interesting to note that just after David's series of disasters, he begins to ask God before he makes a move. Perhaps he learned his lesson, though he had to learn it the hard way. In 1 Samuel 30:8, he asked God whether he should pursue after the Amalekites and whether he would be able to overtake them. God answered yes to both questions, and David ended up recovering all that he had lost plus some! In 2 Samuel 2:1, David asked God if he should return to Israel and if so where. God told him to go back to Hebron, and there he was anointed King over Judah. In both 2 Samuel 5:19 and 5:23, David inquired of God as to whether he should fight against the Philistines. In both cases he followed God's instructions and came away victorious. David came away with fame, position, victory, joy, and the blessings of God. Seeking and doing the will of God always leads to success. Success: is knowing God's will and being right in the center of it - George W. Truett.
Clearly it is very important and in our best interest to be in the center of the will of God. In the next lesson we shall study how a Normal Christian can determine what God's will is for their life.