God’s Will For Us

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love Eph. 1:3-4

Had the Apostle Paul written just this single sentence and closed the letter and sent it to the Ephesians, that letter would still have made perfect sense to them. The Letter to the Ephesians would have been the shortest Book in the Bible, but still the words written here would be read over and over by millions of believers worldwide and their lives would transformed.

Why is this scripture so important? It is because it reveals God’s will for us. This, beloved, is God’s will for us. The Bible says much more, of course, but in this singular sentence, we learn what God’s will is for us as His children. God’s will for us is that we be holy, blameless and that we should walk in love towards one another.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:3 the Bible says:

“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…”

Our sanctification is the will of God.

What a grace to know this! What a privilege and what a joy that God should reveal to us His will!

Beloved, this is what we should put all our effort into: living a sanctified life.

What exactly does it mean to live the kind of life that God wants us to live?

I cannot find any other answer in the Bible other than to put our lives at the altar; in other words, to take up our cross and follow Jesus. The Bible here tells us that God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings to the end that we should live the sanctified life. That means that God has given us His Holy Spirit for that very purpose. But God has given us something else. He has given us to suffer with Christ. Paul puts this best in Philippians 1:29-30:

“29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; 30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me. We must deny ourselves through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The message of the crucifixion of the old man of the flesh was the singular message that was given to the Apostle Paul. Through this alone can we find ourselves doing the will of God.

That is why we must hear that message more and more, and none other. As we obey the message of the cross we will find ourselves well able to align our lives with the will of God.

[Below: The gospel is about sharing the love of God as well]

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The Holy Spirit For Our Sanctification

The Holy Spirit affects us in three major ways:

  • The Holy Spirit with us
  • The Holy Spirit upon us
  • The Holy Spirit in us

This diversity shows how rich God is. And, just for discussion’s sake, which, amongst these three aspects, would you prefer to find the Holy Spirit ministering to you in if you were asked to choose only one?

Well, none is less needful, but we shall soon see why having the Holy Spirit in us is of the uttermost importance to the born-again believer.

The Holy Spirit with us. When the Holy Spirit comes to be with us He convicts us of many things, as we read in John 16:8-11. The Holy Spirit with us affects even the un-Godly as we see in verses 8-9:

“8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me…”

The ministry of the Holy Spirit with us is therefore broad and all-encompassing.

The Holy Spirit on us. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, the first sign that He is upon us is that we speak in tongues. Speaking in tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and it has many benefits. In the first place, God, being Spirit, desires that we communicate with Him in spiritual language, and that is why He has given us the gift of tongues. It is far more edifying spiritually to speak to God in tongues than in any earthly language. That is what the Bible says in 1 Cor. 14:1-4.

Secondly, tongues are used to bring prophecy to the church. God uses the ministry of speaking in tongues to bring a direct message from His heart to the church. God then uses other ministries within the church to interpret those tongues. God is so rich!

One of the best examples of this in the Bible is the case of Balaam’s donkey. The donkey wasn’t human, but he spoke in human language when the Holy Spirit came upon him. Now, no donkey will inherit God’s heavenly Kingdom; but the Holy Spirit came upon the donkey and the donkey spoke in tongues and saved Balaam’s life!

As I said, Balaam’s donkey is not going to heaven. That means a donkey cannot be spiritual. Speaking in tongues, therefore, or prophesying in tongues does not mean you are spiritual. Sometimes someone – a preacher, or a believer – can have a rotten spiritual lifestyle, and he knows it. But yet he preaches and miracles happen in his services and, unfortunately, he believes that this makes him spiritual or acceptable to God. But no; that is just the Holy Spirit upon him operating on behalf of God. Again, God is so rich in grace He can allow these kinds of things to happen.

What makes a man acceptable to God, though, is something entirely different, and it is what we will look at next.

The Holy Spirit in us. The Holy Spirit in us is what pleases God most. Why? It is because the heart of man is the place where God has chosen to make His dwelling place. That is an incredible fact, but it is true. God has chosen to live in men’s hearts! When we say God has made the heart His dwelling place, it is talking about man’s spirit.

I am sure none of us would love to live in a dirty house. God therefore works very hard to clean His house. The Bible says,

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).

A clean heart is a holy heart! People love talking about grace, but here and elsewhere, scripture makes it clear that grace comes with a responsibility. We are commanded to be holy if we ever hope to “see the Lord”! The permissive grace that many people love talking of is certainly not of God.

Something – a change – definitely needs to happen in our hearts. The Holy Spirit in us is where God operates upon our hearts to bring about this change. Here God reveals to us the reality of the spiritual life. He shows us, just as He did with the Apostle Paul, how much we must suffer for the gospel’s sake.

What does it mean to suffer for the gospel’s sake? It is the cleansing process. It is the uprooting of the old man of our carnal nature. True Christian life is a transformation. God wants our hearts to be transformed to become like His – pure and holy.

God knows, for example, that if I have envy in my heart I will not inherit His eternal life. But He knows exactly what is needed to transform me. God therefore gets to work to deal with my envy. He raises up a huge stumbling block in my life to deal with that envy. As long as I am willing, God will use that stumbling block to chip away at my envy down to its roots. God’s working in my life becomes my “thorn in the flesh”, but it produces the sweet fruit of a sanctified life.

It was for this reason that the early apostles welcomed suffering in their lives. They knew what it would do in them. It would transform them!

May we allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in us. He is there to sanctify us. Suffering – giving up our earthly rights – may last for a night, but the morning is coming. The reward for this sanctification is unfathomable.

[Below: The old Indian Quarter in Musoma Town]

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