Knowing the Will of God Part 1
For this lesson, we are going to read Romans 12:1-2.
“1. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
This passage is very important. God wants us to know his perfect will for our lives. That is why we are in this world. To know God. We need the entire Bible to know God’s will but this particular chapter is God’s will in a nutshell. Kind of like how 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 is the Gospel in a nutshell.
God says that every born again believer is an ambassador for Christ. That is a very big job. That is a very important job. An ambassador is a representative. A faithful ambassador is rewarded even in this world. Just imagine how much more God will reward and treat his faithful ambassadors on that day! You were out there in this dark evil kingdom and you represented Me faithfully. We cannot even begin to comprehend how glorious that will be. But it will be glorious. God is the author of giving and rewarding. He loves to do that. We serve a truly good God. He is the God of love and we love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19
We see in Romans 12 that God has a great work in this world and He has called on His people to participate. There is a perfect will of God for each believer. If you are saved, you are called.
We see that the will of God must be proven. Salvation is a gift but God’s will is a prize to be sought.
“Further, the will of God is a present reality not a future possibility. If you don’t do the will of God today you won’t know the will of God tomorrow.” David Cloud.
We are so privileged to have the Word of God that is the revelation from God that tells us what God thinks and wants for our lives. God could have just left us alone and headed to hell without any instruction but He did not.
According to this passage the will of God begins with Salvation (Rom. 12:1 “brethren”)
When we are born into this world we are not “brethren.” We are born into sin and on our way to hell except we are born again through repentance and faith. Now contrast that with the many people out there that say they have always been a Christian. That is not possible. “Ye must be born again” so said the Master Himself in John 3:3.
A person must be born again (John 3:3). To be born again means that you have repented towards God (it is God’s laws you have broken and God that you have offended) and trusting in Christ to be ones savior from sin. People are born again by hearing and believing the Gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 4:15; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23). (1) The new birth is like the first birth in that it is a very powerful event. We have all experienced it I believe or we wouldn’t be here this morning. The natural birth is a very significant event. Many people are affected, not only the parents, but all the relatives and friends. Births are dramatic indeed and so is the new birth. (2) Other people will know when it happens. When a child is born into this world everyone around knows that a new life has come into this world. Likewise, when a person is born again, everyone associated with that person is going to know it. God says “Therefore if any man is in Christ he is a new creature, old things are passed away behold all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). That is not some flimsy little prayer…. 123 repeat after me so that I can get a ticket to Heaven. There is a dramatic change that takes place.
Growing up in church I knew about God, I prayed to God and I even thought about God. I made a profession of faith and was baptized at the age of 12 which just about everybody does in a Baptist church. But there was nothing real about my profession of faith. There was zero evidence in my life that I was saved. I cannot ever remember not believing in Jesus. I never doubted anything in Church or from my dad that I heard about Jesus and the Bible. My parents were not nominal Christians either. My dad taught Greek and Hebrew at seminary and was at church whenever the doors were opened. I memorized John 3:16 and I knew all the names of the books in the new testament and I am so very thankful for the seeds that were planted growing up but I was not born again. I cared nothing about the things of God and really did not like going to church. Growing up I would deceive myself about being saved because I believed that Jesus died for my sins, but I had never repented and turned from my sin and self. The missing element in my life was repentance. Notice how Paul mentions both repentance and faith as being required for salvation in Acts 20:21 “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” They are two separate things that come together as one for salvation. They are not the same things as some out there preach. Otherwise, why would Paul mention both of them? I read my Bible maybe a couple of a couple times in my life on my own before getting saved. I stayed as far away from the Bible as I could because it interfered with my sinning. A wise man once said, “the Bible will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from the Bible.” The Bible says in James 2:19 that even the devils believe and they tremble and that is a LOT more than the average professing Christian that goes to church does! Salvation is not a difficult thing. Jesus said come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). But when you come to Jesus you have your back to your old life. That is repentance, a change of direction. Jesus said, “except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3. Repentance is not sinless perfection we are not sinless. You will still sin but you will hate sin the rest of your life. You will not live in sin as the habit of your life once you truly repent.
Lester Roloff said it best:
““Repentance is a godly sorrow for sin. Repentance is a forsaking of sin. Real repentance is putting your trust in Jesus Christ so you will not live like that anymore. Repentance is permanent. It is a lifelong and an eternity-long experience. You will never love the devil again once you repent. You will never flirt with the devil as the habit of your life again once you get saved. You will never be happy living in sin; it will never satisfy; and the husks of the world will never fill your longing and hungering in your soul. Repentance is something a lot bigger than a lot of people think. It is absolutely essential if you go to heaven” (Lester Roloff, Repent or Perish, 1950s).”
I spent two years in prison and got saved the second month in. My life was a complete mess and I had shamed my parents and I was a complete reprobate. When I got saved I acknowledged that I had sinned against God not just man but first and foremost God. I stopped making excuses and trying to justify my sin. That is repentance. Once I did business with God and came to Him as the hell bound wretched sinner that I was and raised the white flag in surrender to Him then everything changed and I was born again. I started to love the things I used to hate and hate the things I used to love (my sin).
Knowing the will of God requires salvation. You cannot jump over this one. You cannot skip over this and say well I will serve the Lord, I will be religious etc. The first step in knowing the will of God is a genuine salvation experience through repentance and faith.
2. The second step in knowing the will of God is dedication/service
…that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1) This I believe is missing in a lot of churches. Churches these days are too busy entertaining the brethren to challenge them to sacrificial Christian service. I am thankful that our Pastor is not like that. We are not here to be entertained but to worship our Lord and Saviour who gave Himself for us. We are to serve Christ out of a heart of thanksgiving for what He has done for us.
Contrast that with Catholicism and other false religions where people serve God out of fear and merely a sense of duty. They are doing service to try and save themselves not because they have been saved. Ephesians 2:8-10 says “8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” We are not saved by our works but we are saved “unto good works.” Works is an evidence of our salvation.
This is a personal decision. It is an act of the will. No one else can do this for you. There is a decision that has to be made. As much as parents love their children and want their kids to serve the Lord you cannot dedicate your child to the Lord. They have to do it themselves. Parents will come with their babies sometimes and say “I want to dedicate them to the Lord.” No, the main thing you can do is dedicate yourself to the Lord and to raise that child in the way that the Bible says we should. You cannot dedicate that child, the child has to do that. It is a personal decision to serve the Lord once you are saved and we will all have to stand before the Lord one day by ourselves. It is a conscious decision we make where we say Lord here I am I want to serve you. Like how Isaiah said “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).
Knowing the will of God requires separation from the World.
“Be not conformed to this world”
Worldliness is not new. Demas was worldly in the first century (2 Tim. 4:10), but today worldliness has become defensible and even honorable whereas separation has become “legalistic and Pharisaical.” In the past, worldlings were on the defensive, but now they are on the offensive. In the emerging church the Demas Way has become the right way, and it is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Paul warned of a type of Christianity that lives according to its own lusts (2 Timothy 4:3-4), which is a perfect description of the rock & roll philosophy that is sweeping through churches.
What Is the World? (1 John 2:15-17)
The “world” does not refer to the things that God made (trees, birds, rivers, kindness). And it does not refer to innocent man-made things such as a bedspread or a treehouse or a fishing rod and many other things. There are many things that man has made and there are many aspects of human culture that are not contrary to God’s law, and the believer is free to enjoy such things within the bounds of pursuing God’s perfect will. The “world” that we are not to love refers to the evil things associated with man’s fallen heart (“the lusts of the flesh, and the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life,” 1 Jn. 2:16). These characteristics of the world can be summarized as sinful passions and vanity.
The “world” refers to the world system created by fallen men in rebellion to Almighty God and His law (“if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him,” 1 John 2:15). The world is in open rebellion to God, and each person must make his choice: the world or God (1 John 5:19).
The world system began in the days of Cain, when Cain went out from the presence of God and built the first city (Gen. 4:16-22). It was a glorious civilization full of entertainment and enterprise, but it was a civilization that was bent on living without God and without reference to His law
First, consider what separation from the world does not mean.
The following is from the One Year Discipleship Course by Way of Life:
“Biblical separation from the world does not mean isolation. The early churches described in New Testament didn’t flee to mountain caves or build communes and live isolated from society. They lived in the villages and cities in the midst of the unbelieving pagans, going about their lives and letting their lights shine in a dark world both by gospel preaching and holy living (Phil. 2:14-16).
“Biblical separation is not monasticism or communalism.
Biblical separation is not antiquation. It is not Amishism or Ludditism (those who resist progresin technology). The believer will be different if he lives according to God’s Word, and his dress will be different because it is modest. He doesn’t need to adopt a uniform and lock himself into a time warp. Biblically modest dress is not to be equated with a “plain” uniform. The Amish confuse the instrument with its use. A car is not worldly in itself, though it can be used for worldly purposes. Electricity, a cell phone, a video camera, a computer, an iPad, the Internet, an MP3 player, a guitar, a drum–none of these are worldly in themselves. They are worldly only when used for sinful purposes as per the definition of 1 John 2:16 (“lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eyes, pride of life”).
“Biblical separation is not externalism. External “righteousness” without a proper internal relationship with God through Christ is true Pharisaism. In too many churches, if an individual conforms externally–if he cuts his hair and gets the right Bible version and goes out “soul-winning”–he is accepted as a godly Christian regardless of whether he mistreats of wife or flirts with his secretary or watches raunchy movies. He might even be an adulterer, but as long as he has the externals right he is put back into the pastorate. This is hypocrisy and it is very destructive.
“Biblical separation is not spiritual arrogance. The believer must never forget that he is not better than other men and that he was not saved because he is special. All men are sinners, and Jesus came because God loves the whole world (John 3:16). The believer has no righteousness except that which he has received as an undeserved, unearned gift of God’s grace. We must not “look down our noses” at other men. The apostle Paul knew this, calling himself “the chief of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). I am so thankful for the way I was treated by some Christians when I was a long-haired rebel hippie in the 1970s. The man that led me to Christ loved me enough to spend four days traveling with me. And after I was saved, the first church I joined loved me enough to ignore my appearance and to patiently disciple me. They didn’t jump on me right away about my hair or my smoking or my music or my movie going. They focused on grounding me in Christ and it wasn’t long before the externals began to change. The Bible has principles that apply to hair and smoking and music and entertainment, but to focus on the externals right away and to make them the fundamental thing is to put the cart before the horse. (David Cloud)
What separation from the world entails:
Having seen what separation from the world is not, let’s examine some of the major passages of Scripture to see what proper separation actually consists of.
1. The believer is not to love the world (1 John 2:15-17).
“The believer is not to allow the world to capture his heart and affections. The affections are the wellspring of one’s life. This is why we are exhorted to place our affection on things above and not on things on earth (Col. 3:1-4). A good test is to ask oneself, what is it that gets me excited? What am I passionate about? If the answer pertains to anything that is characterized by the lust of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life, then I stand condemned by God’s Word and I need to repent of loving the things that God hates.
“As we have seen, it is not the world that God made that we are not to love; it is the world of “the lusts of the flesh, and the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life” that we are not to love. This is the world system built by evil men. There are many things in this world that are good and innocent, but the world system and its cultures are permeated from top to bottom with sinful lusts, human vanity, and idolatry. The world system is so thoroughly permeated with these things that John could say that “the whole world lieth in wickedness. (1 John 5:19).
“This passage (1 John 2:15-17) is not only an exhortation, it is also a test. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (v. 15). It is impossible to love the world and God, too. The emerging church philosophy of “cultural liberalism,” which turns the church into a champagne dance party (e.g., Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church in Seattle) wherein alleged Christian men drink beer and watch alleged Christian women “bust a move” (this was how the church described it) to sexy dance music, is an illegitimate merging of Christ with the world, and it is a great heresy. If rock dances aren’t characterized by the lusts of the flesh and of the eyes, nothing is.
“To live a separated life requires a proper biblical worldview, and we see some of the major elements of this worldview in this passage:
First, this world system and culture is not of God.
It was built by men who are in rebellion to God and His holy laws. It was built under the direction of “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4). This worldview teaches me that this world is not my friend and I must walk in great spiritual vigilance, like a soldier in enemy territory.
Second, the true God is holy and hates the lust of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life that characterize this present world system. Thus, if I am going to please the God who saved me, I cannot love the world that is opposed to Him.
Third, this world is passing away. A proper biblical worldview understands that this world is under God’s judgment and it will be smashed with a rod of iron when Christ returns. And His return is imminent, so I am to be ever watchful and ready.
2. The believer is not to be conformed to the world (Romans 12:1-2).
This is one of the most practical Scriptures on separation from the world. To be conformed means to be pressed into a mold, to be fashioned according to a likeness. It is the Greek word suschematizo, which is elsewhere translated “fashion” (1 Pet 1:14). It is the basis of the English term “schematic,” referring to a drawing or representation of an object. The god of this world designed the schematic for this evil world system (Eph. 2:1-3).
“The world is very aggressive and evangelistic and enticing. It wants to shape our lives by its standards, its fashions, its entertainment, its principles, its philosophies, its music.
“The child of God must take his stand against the world’s conforming pressure in every area of his life. We must remember that the world does not love us and the world has no wisdom. To follow the ways of the world is foolish and short-sighted. It is God who loves us and it is God who is wisdom, and His ways are right and good and eternal.
“This key passage describes the proper motives for a separated Christian life. First, we are motivated by a desire to please the God who has done so much for us (v. 1). Second, we are motivated by the fact that living for God is “reasonable.” Indeed, living for God is the fundamental purpose of human life and it is the way of all blessing. Third, we are motivated by the desire to know God’s will. Separation from the world is necessary to please God and to know His will. It is not an optional part of Christian living. It is not “legalism”; it is obedience. It is not loss but gain. It is not Pharisaical stupidity; it is wisdom! (One Year Discipleship Course Way of Life)
“Not only does Romans 12:1-2 exhorts us not to be conformed to the world, it also explains how we can have victory over the world.
“First, the way to be victorious over the world is to have a sold-out, self-sacrificing, passionate relationship with Jesus Christ, as we see in verse 1. The reason why so many young Christians are captured by the world is because they either have never been born again or they have never surrendered to Christ and they are not walking with Him day-by-day in intimate fellowship.
“Second, the way to be victorious over the world is to have one’s life transformed by the renewing of the mind. The internal pressure to resist the world must be greater than the external pressure to be conformed, and this internal pressure to resist the world comes through the Word of God and the Spirit of God. The believer that fills his heart and mind with Scripture, not just as a vain exercise and not just to impress someone or to win a Bible memory contest, but as a passionate way of life, will have the wisdom and power to resist the world.
“Third, the way to be victorious over the world is through pursuing the perfect will of God (Rom. 12:2) A moving object is not easily stopped. If the believer is passionately pursuing God’s will for his or her life, and is busy serving God with enthusiasm, he will not be easily turned aside by the vanities of the world. There must be forward spiritual progress. A backslider in heart is easily ensnared by the world and devoured by the devil (1 Peter 5:8).”
The following is by Dr. John Phillips:
“Be not conformed to this world,” says Paul. The word “conformed” is suschēmatizō, which “refers to the act of an individual assuming an outward expression that does not come from within him, nor is it representative of his inner heart life.” It lays stress on that which is external. We are not to be fashioned by the world. J. B. Phillips expressively renders the sentence, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.” The word for “world” here “signifies the condition of humanity, which, since the fall, is in spiritual darkness, with a nature, tendencies, and influences controlled by the powers of darkness in opposition to God, and now under the prince of this world.” The world has its fads and fashions and they change with each generation. Its mold exerts pressure on us all, not only in such relatively minor matters as dress and diet, but in such far more serious areas of life as morals, ethical standards and religious beliefs. The world is the devil’s lair for sinners and his lure for saints. It is human life and society with God left out.
“The believer whose body has been laid on the altar for God will not be conformed to the world. He is morally changed. His life is not molded from without but from within. Jesus provided us with a picturesque illustration when speaking of Solomon He pointed to the flowers of the field and said, “Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matt. 6:29). Solomon’s splendor was put on from without, the glory of the lily grows from within. The believer has an inward power to overcome the pressures of the world, and his presented body makes it possible for that power to be unleashed. He is not molded by the world’s morals; he sets the standard for the world.”