Seeking to know God’s will for our lives is connected directly to our loyalty as believers. No commitment, no direction. It is that simple. When we are loyal to God, we naturally seek to live for Him, know His will, and perform it. Much clarity comes with sacrificial devotion to the King and His leadership. Yes, devotion to God comes with sacrifice. A death of self, as Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
The Bible seems straightforward to me. God loves me, and gives Himself entirely for me on the cross. Therefore, I will respond kindly, bear up my cross, and follow Him. All of Him for all of me and all of me for all of Him. So, for His glory, I will follow wherever He leads, even unto death. For most of us, it will never come to that end. But, the conscious action of denying self to bring glory to God can be so uncomfortable that we, at times, may prefer death as the alternative to obedience.
Remember, Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but, whoever loses his life for My sake, will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24–26, also see Mark 8:34–37; Luke 9:23–25) So what would you give up for your soul? Everything, right? Being a living sacrifice is needed for us to know the will of God—more on this next time. God requires absolute surrender. Knowing God and proving God’s perfect will does not start with more prayer, Bible study, or Godly council. All those things are good and needed by the way. But, knowing God’s will, requires the sacrifice of our whole self to God. Living solely for God is where personal clarity and direction begin for us.
As we said last time, knowing God’s will requires the sacrifice of our whole self to God. Yet, when we are not loyal to God for whatever reason, we have formed an allegiance to another. There is no neutrality. We are all in for Jesus, or we are not. We are following God or something that on the surface, may be innocent enough, but eventually, it will reveal its nefarious character, and we are consumed by it.
Of course, you and I may think we are in control and have a handle on our thoughts and actions, but we will lose control as our idolatry blows up when unchecked. This problem’s root is best laid out into only two columns. The first is the sin of self, and the second is the sin of stuff. When either of these is at play, freedom in Christ is jeopardized, if not lost altogether. At this point, what we often feel is the will of God, is our flesh leading us to ruin. We find ourselves again bound into the subtle but harsh reality of captivity.
Trapped by the sin that so easily besets us all. (Hebrews 12:1) Jesus came to give freedom to those bound by sin. Yet many have become accustomed to their chains and would rather suffer in what they know than be genuinely free in the expanse of God’s Love and Grace. (Isaiah 61:1-3) The empty idols of self and stuff in any form are deeply destructive to our ability to follow God freely. They are weights on our souls. Sin may make you feel free, but it is a trap! When we are held captive by sin, knowing the will of God is murky waters at best and nigh to impossible without confession and repentance. These two actions working together will bring much-needed clarity to our lives. Remember, sin is not the will of God, ever. But your freedom in Christ is.
We can rest assured that sin is not the will of God for our lives. So, let’s choose to stop thinking and living that way. Jesus makes it clear we also cannot have a split focus when He says, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:13; also see Matthew 6:24) Mammon is an old Aramaic word for all our stuff, money, and possessions. Matthew’s account says, “No one can serve two masters.” So, not just free or bond servants, but no one can do this. So, do not think you are the exception to the universal rule for one moment. You’re not!
We cannot serve two masters in this life. Not job and Jesus, not money and the Master. We cannot have two Kings. So, when you and I seek to know God’s will, we must first ask, what matters most to us in this life? For whatever masters our time and attention masters us! If the Lord of Glory is not our central focus, how can we say we want to know His will? Most anything can become an idol if left unchecked and will cloud our vision. It is nay to impossible to know where we are going if the debris of our lifeless idols block the view of our path forward.
John said, “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. 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. 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) Think about that last part, “he [the person] who does the will of God abides forever.” This verse gives me pause. Abiding is connected to doing the will of God and rejecting the things of the world, flesh, and the devil. So, start by asking, what is ruling your life?