Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Basic Principle

Verses 1 and 2 of Romans 12 have always seemed to me to be important for understanding God’s will. What they say is that if you want to understand God’s will, you need to start committing yourself to obey Him. Too often we approach the whole situation the other way around. We want God to lay out His will for us, and then we will commit to it. But God calls us to commit to do His will, whatever it may turn out to be. Further, I have found God leads us one step at a time rather than laying it all out before us. In Scripture we see Philip, who was called away from a revival to meet an Ethiopian eunuch in the desert (Acts 8:26-40). Or there is the case of Paul, who was forbidden to preach in various places in Asia Minor until he was given the vision to go to Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10). In more extreme cases, Joseph went through many difficulties before finally becoming second to Pharaoh, over all Egypt; and Moses was 40 years herding sheep in the wilderness before being called to deliver the children of Israel from slavery. God says He is in control of our life to guide and direct us (Ephesians 2;10; 1:11; Romans 8:28), but He does not say He will tell us the whole plan beforehand or that it will not involve difficulties (John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2 Corinthians 4:17,18).
Now we are called to present our bodies as a living sacrifice; this involves a commitment to do what God wants in whatever situation we find ourselves in, even if we have no expectation beforehand that this is what God will demand of us. This is rooted in the salvation God has provided for us, as described in the first eleven chapters of Romans. If we recognize that God has saved us (Romans 4:4,5; 3:21-25; Ephesians 2:8,9) and is at work in our lives to accomplish His purposes (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:13; Colossians 1:28,29), then we will be able to trust Him to direct our lives, even if we are not told what to expect next (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 127:1,2; Isaiah 40:31). Also, as He transforms us by renewing our minds, He will change our thinking so we will see things God’s way and therefore be better able to understand His will in a given situation. One of the basic contributors to the renewed mind is God’s Word, which can work in us to change our ways of thinking (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16,17; Hebrews 5:12-14). But even so, I have often found discerning God’s will in a particular situation to be hard, and many times I have needed to wait on God and trust Him even if I did not know how He was directing me in my life. And I am convinced from both the Scriptures and my observations of life that this is not abnormal.

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