KNOWING AND DOING GOD’S WILL
There is always a desire, among Christians, to do God’s will. When God rebirths a sinner, he changes into a “new creation,” and his desire is to do the will of God (2 Corinthians 5:17 and Psalm 40:8, ESV).
Christians want to please God, but sometimes we may not know how. It could be:
- We have not devoted enough time to seek God’s will
- We have not been in a discipleship relationship and have not learned how to know God’s will
- We have unconfessed sin that is preventing us from seeing God’s will
Undoubtedly, the list could be expanded. Our point is not to focus on why we do not know God’s will, but how.
MANTON’S EXPOSITION OF MATTHEW 6:10
In his work on the Lord’s Prayer, Thomas Manton delves into the goldmine of Scripture to draw out the implications of Christ’s request, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, ESV).
As we pray this prayer, we are acknowledging two things:
- That we desire to see God’s will performed on earth (and in our own lives) as it is in heaven.
- That God has a will for our lives.
Then Manton offers several “directions” to help us do the will of God.
“THERE MUST BE SOME SOLEMN TIME OF RESIGNING AND GIVING UP THY WILL TO HIM”
(Manton, Works, Volume 1, 132)
Manton begins where we all must: resigning our will to our Lord and Master. This does not imply that we will never seek our own will. However, if our lives are not characterized by submission to God’s will. Manton goes on to write, “There will be a time when you will solemnly give up the keys of your own hearts to God, and bid him come and enter.” (Manton, Works, Volume 1, 132-133) If we are to know God’s will, we must submit to it and trust Him beforehand.
Look through the references cited by Mr. Manton: Romans 12:1; Acts 9:6; Matthew 11:28.
“WHEN YOU GIVE UP YOURSELVES TO GOD, IT MUST BE WITHOUT BOUNDS AND RESERVATIONS”
(Manton, Works, Volume 1, 133)
When we want to know God’s will, we cannot withhold certain areas of our lives. We cannot say to God, “Here is my life, but do not take away my comfort in _____________.” This is not submission. We cannot tell God, “I will follow you, but please leave ______________ alone.” Again, this is not submission. As Manton succinctly puts it, “We should so perfectly obey, as if we had no will of our own, not reserving a property in anything.” (Manton, Works, Volume 1, 133)
Then he makes an excellent point,
“The least sin reserved is a pledge of the devil’s interest and right in us.” (Manton, Works, Volume 1, 133)
This brings to focus the heart of the issue. Any areas of our lives that we are unwilling to submit to the gracious and sovereign God is sin. If we are to do God’s will, every fiber of our being must be in submission.
GOD’S WILL REVEALED EXPRESSLY IN SCRIPTURE
There are some truths in Scripture that God has revealed to which Christians should pay special heed. There are a few offered by Manton:
- “repentance and turning from sin” (see Ezekiel 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9
- “the work of faith, believing in Christ” (see John 6:29; 1 John 3:23)
- “repent, believe, and return to him” (Psalm 32:5; Luke 15:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:3)
- “obedience to magistrates, parents, masters” (1 Peter 2:15
- “observe Providences” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
I would encourage you to look up the above Scriptures. Pray through them. Ask that God will open your eyes to opportunities to share the Gospel and preach repentance. Meditate on the glorious truths, that God would desire the repentance of sinners, that God will provide us with marks of His sovereign work in our lives and in the world. Of course, this list is not exhaustive, but it is a good foundation upon which to build your view, understanding, and work in the will of God.
“WE SHOULD BE WILLING TO OBEY GOD, WHATEVER IT COST US”
(Manton, Works, Volume 1, 134)
This is hard, is it not? When I read this, and really think about the implications, I am scarred. What if it is God’s will that my little girl be taken at a young age? What if God’s will is that I be a paraplegic? The “what ifs” are endless. But they betray a failure to trust God and His goodness.
One of the greatest aspects of God is that He always does what is best. Consider Romans 8:28. This verse is often quoted to those who are hurting, and honestly rightfully so. It is bursting with God’s gracious love and care. Paul writes,
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, ESV)
All things work for God to those who love God. This truth is lived out by Joseph. His brothers betray him and sell him into slavery (Genesis 37:12-36). He obeys God’s will and ends up punished (from a human perspective) while enslaved (Genesis 39). At this point in his life, Joseph must have wrestled with God’s working in his life. Remember, he did not have Romans 8:28 to flee when hurting and doubting God’s love and grace. When we consider the goodness and graciousness of God, does it make any sense not to obey Him, regardless of the cost?
“FOR THE GREATEST GOOD THAT POSSIBLY CAN COME OF IT, WE SHOULD NOT CROSS GOD’S REVEALED WILL”
(Manton, Works, Volume 1, 134)
What Manton is saying here is that we should never sin, regardless of the “good” that can happen. He states, “If one lie could save the world, we were not to do it, for the least evil is not to be done contrary to God’s will, though the greatest good come of it.” (Manton, Works, Volume 1, 134)
Read that again. That is a powerful, and extremely biblical, statement. We must never sin, regardless of the possible “positive” outcomes. It is such a serious matter, that even if it were possible that one lie could bring about the salvation of every human being currently in existence, we must never do it. “We must never do evil that good may come thereof: Rom. iii. 8.” (Manton, Works, Volume 1, 134)
So, Christian, you want to do God’s will and do not know how? Consider the following steps offered by Thomas Manton:
- Solemnly commit your life to God’s will
- Submit to God’s will without reservation
- Devote time to studying God’s revealed will in the Scriptures
- Obey God’s will regardless of the cost (personal and otherwise)
- Never do evil in order to accomplish good
We serve a gloriously good God, sovereign over every particle in the known and unknown universe, visible and invisible, who is working all things for our good and His glory. How could we not unreservedly submit to Him? Brothers and sisters, let us do the will of God.