Posted on 2/19/2012 by Charles
Forget About His Will for Your Life!
Chan's chapter title opener is a little over the top (the statement above), but he opens by asking a question that most people have heard in their lives and have possibly asked themselves, "I just wish I knew God's will for my life." I completely agree with Chan that this question is full of implications to assist a misguided way of thinking. God never laid out all of his plans for any of his prophets...ever. He may have given them specific direction for a short time or even a vision into the future, but tomorrow's meal or what academic institution they needed to go to? Nope.
I do however disagree with the thought that God's will seems to always be 'next year.' Chan may not have meant it the way it seems to read, but I want to talk about it anyways. God does say to discern what God's will is...now, but what does that mean?
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." - Romans 12:2
Did Paul mean what God's good and acceptable perfect will be next year? No, he meant today. Wrestle with what God sees as good and perfect in his eyes! Don't shackle yourself with fear of not obeying, but with joy of his promises to follow him. It is exciting to try break apart this verse further and ask many more questions like; how do you test in order to discern? How are you transformed? What does it mean to have our minds renewed?
And God also tells us much of His will using the word, "this is my will," let alone throughout the Biblical narrative that require wisdom to apply what God has said to be God's will:
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God." 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
One quick side note. I have heard many people read through the Bible and it's many layers of stories and get confused to what God's will is. One beginning rule of thumb is to separate what God says versus what someone does. If they perform some action, did God tell them to do it? We have to be careful, but this basic rule helps wade through what God said versus what man did. For example Abraham was not acting under God's will when he misled Pharaoh about his wife Sarah (Genesis 20:9), David was was not acting for God's will when he took Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:2-4), etc.
Moving on, Chan compares the statement of findings God's will for his life versus the Spirit's leading in his life. I believe that the statements in Romans and 1 Thessalonians interpret God's will as following his Spirit today...they mean the same thing. I believe that the old phrases of knowing God's will is the same as walking by the Spirit stated by Paul in Galatians 5:16, 25.
I fully agree that, "you don't need the Holy Spirit if you are merely seeking to live a semi-moral life and attend church regularly." Chan contrasts Romans 8:17, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, and Philippians 3:10-11 showing that a life in the Spirit is otherwise impossible for us. It is not about shear discipline, but in loving others that our hearts are forever challenged throughout our daily walks in life.
Chan touches on a subject that seems culturally led today and absolutely wrong to me. He says,
"Instead of wasting time deliberating over whether others are walking with the Spirit (which is definitely not our job), I challenge you to examine yourself."
Today's culture loves to say, "don't judge me." I understand what he's saying in examining yourself, just like Jesus said about removing the log from your eye, but what did Jesus say after that? Here's the excerpt:
"You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." - Matthew 7:5
Jesus didn't say, "never confront your brother about his speck." He said, "take the log out your own eye, and then..." As iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17) we are to judge one another, but in love. Just like Christ came in grace and in truth; not just grace and not just truth. 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 explains that we are to judge (with love and introspection) those inside the church and not judge those outside of the church. They are not Christians and do not follow Christ so we can't look at them the same. Once we are Christ's he expects us to lovingly confront and help one another through this life expanding his kingdom to a dying world. Not with a strong armed approach to crush others with our self legalisms and discipline, but with love.
There is so much more layered through this chapter that helps your mind battle the flesh in understanding God's Holy Spirit and his role in your life, so please remember to pick up the book and take a gander. I particularly love to struggle with the passage Chan dives into in the middle of the chapter; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. I want to understand how God's power is made perfect in our weakness. Understanding when we 'lean' on God (...just like Proverbs 3:5-6) we are able to stand. Our legs are just too weak to stand under the pressure. We need God's 'way out' (1 Cor 10:13). And all of this 'leaning' isn't just for us, but is so that they (those around you) might glorify God on the day he visits us (1 Peter 2:12). Look for Chan's treadmill example too, very helpful.