This world is full of goofy notions about God and His will. Every time some tragic event takes place someone will raise the question, “Was this God’s will?” and someone who should have kept their mouth shut will speak up to say, “Oh, yes this was God’s will. Nothing happens that isn’t in the will of God.” Someone else will usually add something to the effect that “God’s will is unchangeable so it has to be in his will for it to take place.”

It would be an excellent idea when someone raises such a question to actually go back to the Bible and see what God has said on the subject. In 2 Peter 3:9 the apostle Peter is answering some questions that have been raised about the second coming of Jesus. He said, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” What does God want? He wants all people to repent of their sins and come to him for life. What is the reality? Only a few of the multitudes of people will actually turn to God in repentance (Matthew 7:13-14). The reality is that things go on in the world all the time that go against God’s will.

Think back to the time of the Old Testament when the Nation of Israel was God’s chosen people. He wanted to bless them and do them good in the world. He even had Jeremiah the prophet to tell them that God’s plans for them were all good because they were his chosen ones. But if you have ever read even a little in Jeremiah, you know that what was actually taking place in the life of Israel was anything but good. They had rejected God and His rule in their lives and turned to idolatry of all sorts which had led to horrible immorality. The primary point of Jeremiah was the punishment they were about to receive as the Babylonian Empire came into to overtake them. But God’s will was for their good.

One of the most powerful New Testament statements about God’s will is found in I Thessalonians 4:3-8. “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you His Holy Spirit.” What does God want? He wants every follower of Christ to be sanctified or set apart from immorality and impurity to a devoted, and holy life for Him. Over in I Corinthians 6:9-11 Paul was discussing how the unrighteous could not inherit the kingdom of God. He listed things like adultery, idolatry, sexual immorality, drunkenness, homosexuality, slander and others. Then he declared, “And such were some of you. But you are washed, you are sanctified, you are justified in the name of the Lord and by the Spirit of our God.” Notice he tied one being sanctified or set apart for God, or being holy with being washed and justified.

This washing is when we submit to God in faith and are baptized in water and cleansed by the blood of Christ. Paul speaks of this washing on several occasions. In Ephesians 5:25-27 he said, “Husbands love your wives as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Notice he adds the washing “With Water” to the equation. In Titus 3:5-7 he wrote, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Here he tied the washing to the idea of being born anew or a new birth. That carries us back to Jesus meeting with Nicodemus the religious leader who came to him one night. Jesus told him that he had to be born again in order to just see the kingdom of God. When he didn’t understand Jesus explained, “Unless a man is born of the water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” When a person is baptized in water, they are also baptized in the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13). In Hebrews 10:22 there is another reference to our being washed. “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” In Revelation 7 John saw those who had “Washed their robes and made the white in the blood of the lamb.” I don’t believe he is referring to different washings that happen in our spiritual quest. But when we are baptized in water we are washed in the blood of Jesus, born of the water and the Spirit and cleansed from our old sinful way of life.

Paul also tied the idea of being sanctified to be “Justified.” The Bible speaks a lot about being justified. It is a judicial term meaning that one is judged as “not guilty.” One of the huge teachings of the Book of Romans in particular but really of all of Paul’s writings is that we are justified by faith. As Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness, even so we are to believe God and our faith is counted to us as righteousness. The Bible never says we are justified by “Faith only” but it freely declares that we are justified by faith. Our being justified doesn’t mean we are no longer guilty of sin. If we say we don’t sin we deceive ourselves and the truth isn’t in us (I John 1:7-10). It is that God has placed our sins on Jesus who went to the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. “He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) God also when we were justified, took the righteousness of Christ and put it to our account. In order for one to be sanctified, or set apart for God’s use as one who is holy it is necessary for them to be washed and justified. God’s will is that everyone who turns to him will do each of the things mentioned so that we might be holy and righteous before him. Does He always get what he wants? No, not at all. But his will is clear. It will be a great time for anyone when they determine I will live as God wills that I live.

I hope that may be your will today.

About leoninlittlerock

Preaching minister for Central church of Christ in Little Rock. Author of over 20 books including: When a Loved one Dies, Spiritual Development, Skid Marks on the Family Drive, Challenges in the church, To Know Christ and A Drink of Living Water.
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