Understanding the Will of God

Bible Book: Ephesians  5 : 15-17
Subject: Decisions; Will of God; Direction in Life

Ephesians 5:15-17

We all stand at the threshold of life's decisive moments when we ask the question, "Where do I go from here?" One such moment came for me when I was lost in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains. After running through the woods for some four hours or so, I would stop from time to time and ask myself, "Where do I go from here?"

These Ephesian Christians must have asked that same question. That this is indicated in Paul's letter is evident for he attempts to answer several questions such as: Who are we? Where have we come from? What has God done? And What does He expect of us? It is in this last section that Paul exhorted the Ephesian Christians to understand what the will of the Lord is!

For we as individual believers as well as the body of Christ, every moment of every day beckons us to understand what the will of the Lord is. Jesus indicated in John's gospel that He had come to do the will and work of God. Paul put it this way in Philippians 2:13, "for it is God who works in you to will   and to act according to his good pleasure." God has put us on this earth to do His will and work.

Therefore, it is indeed imperative that we understand what the will of the Lord is. So, how can we go about this matter of understanding what the will of the Lord is? Let me suggest first of all that:

I. We Must Be Seeking To Do His Will v. 15a

As we seek to do His will, I hear Paul saying two things: "See then" and "walk circumspectly" or as I would put it look and live!

A. Look At Your Own Life

When Paul says, "See" he means take a careful look at your own desires and motives. Take a close account of your own attitudes and actions. Are they in line with what you know God desires right now? God desires that His people be pure and holy, upright and righteous, moral and ethical. If we are not, then how can a holy God reveal His will further? Therefore, take a close look into your own life to see if you are seeking to do God's will now.

B. Live Life Doing God's Will

When Paul says, "walk" he means carry on your life or live your life carefully. The Christians in Ephesus were living at a time when evil pressed in on them from every side. We too live in a society surrounded by impulses to do our own will and influences that dissuade us from doing God's will. But all of life is intended to be lived in light of God's revealed will and Word in as much as we understand it. Dr. Edgar Arendall, Pastor of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL said in a chapel service when I was a student at Samford University, "To know God's will is to do it." So, if we are to know more of God's will, we must be doing what we already know. Secondly, in understanding what the will of the Lord is:

II. We Must Be Thinking Through His Will vv.15b, 17

Here Paul contrasts the foolish or thoughtless person with the wise and discerning individual. The wise person tries to think from God's perspective and see life from His point of view, which can only be revealed by the Holy Spirit. So to think through God's will and apply that knowledge to life:

A. Spend Time Talking With The Lord

James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." Through prayer God works on our wills and makes us wise to do His will. If you will let God's thoughts through the reading and meditation of Scripture become your thoughts you will be astonished at the insight God will give you in understanding His will from the Word. Then the inner witness of the Holy Spirit can impress and empower us to think through and understand what is God's will. As you think through His will, check to see that what you sense in prayer, hear in Scripture and experience in your circumstances all line up in the same direction.

B. Share Your Thoughts With Trusted Friends

They may see things you cannot. Their point of view will be different because of experiences as well as their personalities. Thinking through it with a friend will help you to be more objective. Talking out loud enables you to express how you feel and on many occasions, I have ended up seeing things more clearly in my search for the will of God simply by talking it out. Understanding what the will of the Lord is comes as we talk it out with the Lord and as we think through it with trusted friends. In his book, The Will of God, Leslie Weatherhead writes, "The greatest help is reached when we deepen our friendship with God."

If we are to be understanding what the will of the Lord is we must be seeking to do His will, we must be thinking through His will and thirdly:

III. We Must Be Waiting Upon His Will v.16

There are two things related to time that are involved when seeking to understand the will of the Lord.

A. Waiting Involves Time

"Redeeming" here has an intensive prepositional prefix meaning to buy up, free up, make the most of. That is, using your time wisely. One word for time is "chronos" from which we get our word chronological. I am thinking of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. In light of that, you may think of waiting as a passive, inactive time. However, waiting on the Lord is anything but inactivity. You will be praying with a passion, watching circumstances, asking for God's perspective, and sharing with other believers while continuing to do the last thing God told you to do. Waiting is worth it. While you wait, use your time to the fullest possible advantage because once it has passed, not even the wisest person can recover time.

B. Waiting Involves Timing

The word Paul uses for time here is "karios." This refers to a specific time, a special time, or a particular time. It speaks of every passing opportunity or fleeting moment. The opportune moment is the idea. The timing of how things work out is very important in God's economy. The coming of Jesus was at just the right time for His people to receive Him and be a witness to the whole world. God's will can be done anytime, anyplace. But there is also the sense by which in God's timing there is a particular person for a particular task and for that we need to understand what is the will of the Lord.

May our prayer and heart’s desire be to understand the will of the Lord. Paul admonished these early Christians to do so. And I am confident that we can understand what God's will is if we will be seeking to do His will, thinking through His will, and waiting upon His will.

One thing about God's will I know is that He "is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Have you come to that point in your life? Do you understand what God's will is for you right now? Seek to do it as we sing our invitation hymn.