Eph. 5:17 - Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
Yes, you can understand what the will of God is!
Unhappiness and discontent plague our nation. The individuals involved desperately need direction for their lives. The Bible is the only source of direction that is really worth while. I know the Bible is an old book, but it is a book written by the very breath of God. It is an excellent instruction manual that comes from God so we can understand how to live. The Bible says we ought to redeem the time because the time we have here is very short.
We are living in very evil days. Just when did the evil days begin? We can say; "Right now is a more wicked time than in the history of the whole world." I don't think so. The Bible says in Luke 17:26, "As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man." It's not quite as bad as it was in the days of Noah because Jesus hasn't come back to this earth. The Bible says in Luke 17:28, "Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot..." I don't think the present world is quite as bad as Sodom. I know it's bad, but it's not as bad as Sodom, because God hasn't yet judged the earth. The Bible says "as it was in the days of Noah" and "as it was in the days of Lot" so shall it be when the son of man comes back. I believe it is almost as bad because the Lord is just about ready to return. The days are evil. There is wickedness around us, but remember, when Paul wrote these verses there was wickedness all around at that time. There is also wickedness now, so don't sell the return of the Lord short. The Bible says He is going to come back. I don't know when, and you don't know when. We don't need to know when He is coming back, we need to be looking for him to come back today.
How are we going to find the right path for our lives? There are a lot of different philosophies being taught. Some philosophies say we ought to do this, and some say philosophies say we ought to do that. They all promise if we follow their instructions, things will be right. Can all these varying philosophies be right? Is any of these philosophies right? The Bible says in Eph. 5:17, "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." This verse is very needful today. If there was ever a time when we ought to understand what God's will is, it is today.
Somebody would say, If I only knew what the will of God was, then I would do the will of God. Listen: If you don't do those little things God tells you to do every day, then you won't do the big things God tells you to do tomorrow. In order to understand the will of God, we first must do what God tell us to do today.
The Bible says in verse 17 - Be ye not unwise. Proverbs 1:7 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. This is the beginning of understanding what the will of God is. The very beginning of straightening out your life, somebody else's life, the life of a state, or the life of a nation, is the fear of God. The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge. A lot of people don't fear God. In fact, a lot of people deny God can do anything about anything. The truth is: God can do everything about everything. It doesn't make any difference what it is. Proverbs 9:10 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. Be wise; be not unwise. The word wisdom isn't the same as knowledge. Knowledge shall increase in the last days. While knowledge is increasing, men are going to get further and further away from God. I Tim. 3:1-7, This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall...Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away...Ever leaning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. How can these things be? There is a difference in knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is simply the accumulation of facts, but wisdom is the practical application of those facts. Just because you have a lot of information, doesn't mean you know what to do with that information. Eph. 5:17, be ye not unwise. We ought to understand what the will of the lord is. Listen: The reason you can't understand the will of God is because you do not do those things God has already told you to do.
Proof: There are a lot of people that say they serve God, they are doing all they know to do, but also declare they are not happy. The truth is: they are not doing what God tells them to do. I Thess. 4:3,4, For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor. Notice the phrase "this is the will of God." The word sanctification doesn't mean to get better and better, or to become without sin. It means "to be set aside," especially to be set aside to the service of God. This is the will of God for you. If you are saved, this is what God's will is for you. You don't have to look for it somewhere else, this is it! The will of God is that you abstain from fornication. If you live an unholy life, or an immoral life, you can never know what the will of God is for your life. You just can't do it. Every one of you should know how to posses his vessel (body) in sanctification and honor.
Somebody would say, I don't know what the will of God is, and I'm not committing fornication. I Thess. 5:18, In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Do you give thanks to God for everything that happens to you? If you say, "No, there are some things I'm not thankful for. I'm not thankful for my neighbor who runs his lawn mower early in the morning and I can't sleep. I'm not thankful for this and that. I'm not thankful for wars and rumors of wars. I'm not thankful for sickness, death and sorrow. I'm not thankful for all this wickedness in this world." The Bible says to give thanks to God for everything, because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
I Thess. 5:16, Rejoice evermore. Do you rejoice in everything? I Thess. 5:17, Pray without ceasing. Do you do that? Those are little things, somebody would say. Listen: You've got to do the little things before you'll every do the big things. The Bible says, "Rejoice every more." The Bible says, "Pray without ceasing." The Bible says "...in everything give thanks because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." I Thess. 5:19, Quench not the Spirit. I Thess. 5:20, Despise not prophesyings (preaching). I Thess. 5:21, Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. I Thess. 5:22, Abstain from all appearance off evil. I Thess. 5:23, And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly, and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you want to know what the will of God is, do those things in your body. Use your body for the glory and honor of God. When you obey the Bible, the mystery of the will of God will open to you. You will understand what the will of God is for your life. Until you do those little things that God tells you to do you are never going to see the "big picture." You've got to understand the little things God wants you to understand. Not only understand what the little things are, but do them. When you do those little things, you'll be able to see and understand what the "big" will of God is.
Eph. 5:17, Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
I would like to give a couple of personal examples of being in the will of God when there was uncertainty that I was in the will of God. I give these examples to show that being in the will of God has nothing to do with feelings. We can often "feel" we are in the will of God when we aren't, and we can "feel" we aren't in the will of God when we are. We must learn to go by the facts of the Bible, not by our feelings. We must also learn that circumstances can be very deceptive. We must learn to go by what God says, not circumstances.
The First Example
This happened to me when I was pastoring Bible Baptist Church at Hornbeck, Louisiana.
There was a Pentecostal lady who began to attend with her husband and three small children. She was convinced of her Pentecostal doctrine, but came to Bible Baptist because there was some sort of disturbance in the Pentecostal church she had been attending.
One Monday afternoon, she came to the church parsonage, which was next door to the church building, explaining to my wife that she wanted to speak with me. My wife and this lady came to the church building where I was studying. She told me in the presence of my wife that she believed some of my doctrines were in error, especially the doctrines which conflicted with her Pentecostal doctrine. I was going to clarify Bible doctrine to her, but she declared she had a proposition for me. She told me she knew I would not believe Pentecostal doctrine until I received a sign from God. She told me she had fasted and prayed, and come to the conclusion that a special sign from God was necessary. I listened to her as she explained what the sign would be. She told me that she has spoken to God, and God told her the only way I would believe Pentecostal doctrine was if the next Sundays attendance was half or less than half of what it had been the previous Sunday.
There were some conditions to the sign. First, we would both pray together right then about the fulfillment of the sign, turning the matter completely over to God, and both of us would be willing to submit ourselves completely to whatever God revealed. Secondly; that neither of us would tell anybody, other than those present, about the agreement, or the sign.
I agreed to these conditions, and we immediately prayed, asking God to bless the agreement, and that his eternal will be done. We both submitted ourselves to the outcome, believing God would reveal his will to us both. After the lady left, my wife and I talked briefly about the covenant, then we both went back to our duties. I completely forgot about the covenant. I went about my duties as normal, and never once thought about our agreement.
The next Sunday rolled around, and I was greeting people as they entered the church building for Sunday School. Suddenly, the lady was at my side with tears in her eyes. She asked to speak to me. My wife and I went with her into the study, where she reminded me of our covenant. She remarked that the attendance had more than doubled last Sundays attendance. As God is my witness, I had not noticed how many people had arrived, but was greeting people as they came into the church building. She confessed she was wrong, that I was right, and that God had revealed to her that her Pentecostal doctrine was wrong. She declared she was going to submit herself to Baptist (Bible) doctrine, and come to the services at Bible Baptist, and learn what God's will was for her life.
I would like to tell you that this story has a happy ending, but it doesn't. The lady never did faithfully attend services. She and her husband had a falling out, and she committed adultery with an old friend, then went back to her husband. The fact is, she wasn't willing to discover the will of God for her life, because she had already made up her mind . She wasn't going to leave Pentecostal doctrine, for she already believed it to be true, whether it was true or not.
The Second Example
This example also happened while I was pastoring at Bible Baptist. I had been pastor there about two years, and things weren't going well. I visited almost everybody in town, prayed, wrote a weekly church bulletin, mailed out a monthly newsletter, visited in hospitals, nursing homes, and everywhere else I could speak with people about Christ, and them coming to services at Bible Baptist. But things weren't going well. Visitors weren't coming. I knew something was going on behind my back, but I didn't know what it was. I was pretty discouraged, and wondered if God was really going to use me at that place.
My wife and I decided to take a day off, and went the a nearby town to roam the shopping malls. Not exactly a good day for me, but my wife enjoyed it, so that was okay with me. We were walking down the mall, when we met one of our church members. I was very glad to see her, and we talked for a while. Soon the lady asked my wife and I to sit down, she had something to say to me. We sat near a fountain, and the woman shared her story.
She had just come from the doctor's office, where they had run some sort of test. She was waiting on the result and had come to the mall to pass away the time until the test results were in.
She told me she had two things on her mind. First of all, she wanted our continued prayer concerning her health. The test result would show either that she had cancer, or she had a pain she would have to deal with. (I will tell you now that the result of the test was that she was cancer free, and would have to deal with the pain.)
The second thing was almost more than she could speak. Tears came to her eyes as she told us what was on her heart. She was deeply troubled about her health, but there were some people in the church that wanted me to leave. She couldn't decide what God's will was. As she walked along in the mall, she began to pray, and being lost in prayer about her health, and whether or not I was supposed to continue to be her pastor, she asked God to reveal to her whether or not I should remain as pastor. She really needed somebody to talk to concerning her health, and just didn't know what to do. In her prayer, she turned all these things over to God, and asked him to give her somebody to talk to right then. She really wanted to talk to me, as her pastor, but was sure that wouldn't happen, so she asked God to give her somebody to help her.
As she closed her prayer, and came "back down to earth," she saw my wife and myself walking toward her. She told me it was almost more than she could bear. She knew in an instant that God had sent me to her, not only as an immediate help, but also as her pastor.
The point of these two examples is to show that we cannot trust our feelings, circumstances, or other people. We can trust God. We can trust his word to reveal to us what the will of God is for us.