Ephesians 1:9-Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself. NKJV
When you’re inside a maze trying to find your way out, the path can seem confusing and the exit unattainable. I think mazes are somewhat claustrophobic and frightening because of all the dead ends leading to nowhere. When I play games involving going through a maze, I often want to quit because I prefer games with a start, middle, and end.
Many people find searching for the will of God to be like living life inside a maze. Sometimes they run into so many dead ends that they begin to feel hopeless and weary of ever finding God’s will for their life. In my previous post, we discovered that many of God’s thelēma (desires or what He has determined shall be done) for our lives have been revealed. I believe that when we begin understanding God’s revealed will for our lives in general, it becomes easier to discern His specific will for our individual lives.
In First Thessalonians, Paul gives us more insight into God’s thélēma for our lives:
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;1 Thessalonians 4:3 NKJV
It is God’s thélēma that we live a life of sanctification or holiness. The Greek word used for sanctification in this verse is hagiasmos, which signifies a “separation to God.” In other words, our lives should be lived in a manner that tells others that we belong to God. Paul includes the example of us abstaining from sexual immorality. One would think that as we place our trust in God, we would automatically understand that a separated life to God means abstaining from sexual immorality and other things that are in the world. But that is not always the case; therefore, Paul commanded that we steer clear of activities that would be considered sexually immoral.
Sanctification would therefore be included in the list of things that God has predetermined that we shall do as believers. He didn’t think of sanctification as people began to sin; He predetermined that we should live a life of holiness in the beginning:
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,Ephesians 1:4 NKJV
I know that I have said in a previous post that sanctification isn’t necessarily about how we dress (although some of us need some help in this department), nor does it refer to wearing jewelry and makeup or the lack thereof. I clearly recall a member of a church I attended several decades ago telling me my baby was in the hospital because I had pierced her ears. That’s not sanctification; that’s condemnation! And it isn’t from God.
The key to sanctification is in its literal translation, and that’s living a life separated to God, a life of holiness. In the Old Testament, God said
For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.Leviticus 11:44 NKJV
And later, in the New Testament, Peter wrote:
But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”1 Peter 1:15-16 NKJV
We give our lives to a holy God. He is without sin and has freed us from the power of sin. Therefore, His expectation, His will for our lives, is that we live holy before Him in love.
In 1 Thessalonians, we find another aspect of the will (thélēma) of God for our lives.
In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV
Paul wrote that we are to give thanks in everything in our lives. I was recently talking with a former co-worker of mine. She mentioned that the job we had worked at had its challenges. I responded by saying I was thankful for the time I had worked there. I met some people I enjoyed working with and made a career change that works better for me. Even while working there, I had purposed to demonstrate to God that I could be thankful in everything since previously I had not been. That was God’s will for me, and as I purposed to be thankful, He opened up a better opportunity for me.
Again, I must speak with caution. Paul isn’t telling us to be thankful for everything that happens but to be thankful in the midst of everything that happens. I could never be thankful that my mother passed away when I was so young, but I am thankful that the grief drove me to the Savior. God doesn’t think that when the enemy is trying to destroy us, we should be thankful for the situation. But if we learn to be thankful during those times, we will more easily see His hand in our lives and in our situations. It’s His will that we are thankful people.
Again, there is so much to know about the revealed will (thélēma) of God, and I just can’t share it all. But I have one last verse that I want to share found in Romans 12:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.Romans 12:1-2 NKJV
It’s God’s thélēma that we present our bodies as a living, holy sacrifice to Him. (Here’s that sanctification being mentioned again). He’s not going to let us off the hook! Holiness is simply His will! It is also His will that we are not conformed (fashioned or shaped) to this world’s system. When we look like the world, we stop looking like God! When we stop looking like God, we have nothing to offer the world! It is also His thélēma that we are transformed (changed into another form- that new creation), which happens when our minds are renewed so that we can be living proof of His thélēma. Our lives are testimonies that He lives and still has the power to heal the broken-hearted and set the captive free!
God’s thélēma has our best at its roots. His will is never about destroying our lives or taking the fun out of them so that we walk around disgruntled and unhappy about being believers. No! His thélēma is just the opposite. He has only goodness laid out for us. David said that goodness and mercy followed him. That’s God’s will for us also. So while you are looking for the will of God, make sure that His revealed will (thélēma) is already entrenched in your life so that you will see and understand His will for your personal life. Wonderful Jesus!