Knowing God’s Will. James 4:13-17

Click for the first part of this sermon

Introduction: Do you realize that God has a specific will for every area of your life? The decisions you zare making today are the decisions you are going to be tomorrow, 2 years from now, and 10 years from now. So the decisions we make are very important. That decision that you are waiting to make, that desire of yours; God has a plan about it and God wants to help you make those decisions.

Parents, you have a young teenage or a young child. Do you want them to make the right decision? Yes. Do you tell them, “You manage your life and make your own decisions.” No wise parents say that. You are going to be in on their decision making. You want to know what they are doing. You warn them about oncoming dangers in their life. You know if they make this decision they are going to be in for big trouble, so what do you do? You guide them. You want your children to seek your godly counsel before they make decisions.

Jesus says, “If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children ….

We have decisions in our life regarding, “Whom you are going to marry, which career to take, where to settle down, what to do with your money, your relationships, your retirement,” remember, we don’t belong to us, we belong to God. God has plan in every area of our life. So the motto of a believer then is to live our life in God’s will.

James in his epistle gives us three different responses of people to God’s will in their life. We saw the first category last week.

James 4:13-17 13Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

1. Three responses towards God’s will.

a. Foolishly ignoring God’s will. This is the like the businessman who we studied last week who plans without regard to God.

b. Arrogant boasting.

James 4:16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. The first group didn’t consider that God had a will at all, they didn’t even consider God in their planning. The second group may consider God has a will but they don’t think it’s as important as their plans. It literally means to be loud-mouthed about your plans and deny God’s plans for us. So it’s the idea of standing up, opening your mouth and bragging pretentiously about something about their plans with absolute disregard for God’s will. As Christians we can fall into this.

In Isaiah 47 there is a judgment being given by the prophet Isaiah on Babylon because of their arrogant boast. Isaiah 47:7 7You said, ‘I am forever — the eternal queen!’ But you did not consider these things or reflect on what might happen. 8“Now then, listen, you lover of pleasure, lounging in your security and saying to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children.’

Isaiah 47:9-10 9Both of these will overtake you in a moment, on a single day: loss of children and widowhood. They will come upon you in full measure, in spite of your many sorceries and all your potent spells. 10You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, ‘No one sees me.’ Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me.’

That’s the attitude of arrogance. They are people who pride about their plans and defy the will of God.

Notice what James says at James 4:16 All such boasting is evil. The word “evil” is used of Satan who is the evil one, the original sinner who sought to replace God, who said, “I will be like the Most High God, I will ascend into the heights.” The one who sought to usurp the throne of God, he was the original evil one. But when you exalt your will over God’s will, then you are like him evil or wicked. That’s what God thinks of your boasting.

How are we to talk about our plans and desires? The things that characterizes a believer is found in James 4:15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” We ought to be saying, “If the Lord wishes,” or, “If it is the desire of the Lord, if it’s His will, we will live.” A true believer marks out his life in a plan at the center of which is His God.

So the first attitude James notes is the foolish attitude of ignoring God’s will all together. The second group arrogantly defy God and live their life flaunting it in the face of God.

James 4:17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. You say, “Can we know God’s will?” Sure. There is a third group of people who willfully accept God’s will.

c. Acknowledging God’s will wholeheartedly.

You remember the words of Jesus in John 13:17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

2. Knowing God’s Will.

What is the will of God for my life? There are two clear meanings for the term “will of God” in the Bible. God’s will of command and God’s sovereign or specific will. God’s will of command is what God does not compromise upon. If you have to be a child of God, first and foremost God expects you to follow the will of command.

3. God’s will of Command.

a. God’s will is that all men be saved.

1 Timothy 2:3-4 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. God’s will is that you be saved. God’s will is that you give your life to Jesus Christ. God’s will is that you embrace Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the One who died and rose again for your justification, that’s God’s will. And if you haven’t come to Jesus Christ to receive salvation from Him, you haven’t done God’s will. You’re disobedient, you’re living in opposition and rebellion to what the Bible says is God’s will.

b. God’s will is that you be Spirit-filled.

Ephesians 5:17-18 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. That is to say controlled by the Holy Spirit, that you yield your life to His control. Being Spirit-filled is contrasted with drunkenness. And what he is saying there is to be under the control of the Holy Spirit, yield to His power in your life…that’s God’s will. If you’re not living a Spirit-controlled, Spirit-filled, Spirit-directed, Spirit-led life, then you’re not doing the will of God.

c. God’s will is that you be sanctified.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 3It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

d. God’s will is that you be submissive.

1 Peter 2 13-15 13Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.

The fourth element is submission, submission to the law of the land, submission to those in authority over you. Submission to your spouse, your parents etc.

e. God’s will is that you suffer.

1 Peter 3:17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. It’s the will of God that you be such a dynamic, straightforward, strong, faithful, proclaiming Christian that you get a little flack and suffer. That’s God’s will.

f. God’s will is that you give thanks in all circumstances.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Now are you living out God’s will of Command? Are you saved? Are you Spirit-controlled? Are you sanctified, living a pure life? Are you joyfully enduring suffering? Are you giving thanks in your circumstances? In other words, you’ll hold true to the faith no matter what the price? That’s the will of God. Hebrews 12:36 When you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

And I’ve met people all my life running around saying…Oh, I wish I knew the will of God. And you take them through these things and they say…”No, that’s not the part I’m worried about, I’m worried about where do I work, and where do we go to school, and who do I marry and what kind of job do I have and what should I do about this and should I move and do I need another car and what do I do about my boss?”

Wait a minute, you get these six in order and then you will be in a position to discern the specific will of God in your life. “Delight in the Lord and He’ll give you the desire of your heart.” I don’t think that means that He’ll give you what you desire, I think that means He’ll plant His desire in you and then fulfill it. The point is, if you’re walking in His will, your desires will be His desires, and you’ll never have to ask the question…what’s God’s will?

4. God’s specific will in your life.

Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go.

How do you know the mind of God? How do you know if you are doing the right thing? Does the Bible speak of the specific details of my life? What are you thinking about my life Lord? What do you want to do in this situation? The truth is that God has a will in our life.

Colossians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…..

Paul says he is an apostle by the will of God. This is God’s sovereign or specific will in Paul’s life, to be an apostle.

How does God show his specific will to us?

a. Meditate on the word of God. The Bible is the instruction book on how to operate in this life with regard to everything regarding the will of God. If you lay the instruction manual aside, you mess up. If you lay aside the instruction book, you waste your life.

Psalm 119:130 The entrance of thy world gives light, it giveth understanding to the simple.

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

God’s word directs us. God has in his word cautions, admonitions, that through the word of God that God will work and give us understanding. Psalm 119:24 Your statues are my delight; they are my counselors. Statues are the written law.

1 Corinthians 2:16 For, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. If you read the word and is a child of God you have the mind of Christ and the word will direct you. The only way for me to know the mind of God is read the word and secondly pray.

b. Prayer.

Pray to God to reveal his will to you.

Matthew 6:33 Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 7:7 Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

1 John 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

The first thing I do on a given day is to get up early morning at 5 am and seek the Lord in prayer. I true myself to God’s mind. Everyday Glory and myself pray together before going to bed holding our hands together submitting our needs, dependence, everything to go. We pray, “God we want to know what to do at this point in my life.”

c. Our circumstances.

Sometimes God will use circumstances. You cannot always go by  your circumstance, but sometimes God will shows us his will through our circumstance. Suppose you have applied for a job and you get 2-3 opportunities, you don’t know what to do. You pray about it and all of a sudden 2 doors close and you end up taking the third one. Circumstances helped him/her to make a wise decision. For God to lead us through a circumstance, you need to wait and watch.

d. Godly Counsel.

Sometimes God will give us very wise counsel through others.

Proverbs 15:22 Plans fail for the lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.

Proverbs 11:14 & Proverbs 24:6 Victory is won through many advisors.

Proverbs 19:20 Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.

There is wisdom in counsel. You have to be sure that you receive wise godly counsel. Now before you seek somebody’s counsel, you first of all look at their life. Is that person godly, living in submission to God’s word and will or are they all messed up? Most of the people you got to want to control your life but a godly counselor tells you the truth whether you like it or not.

e. The Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

One of the purposes of the Holy Spirit is to show you the truth. Jesus said in the upper room: John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.

Romans 8:26-28 26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

We have different types of weaknesses and sometimes it is not knowing what to do. Sometimes we do not know what to do. Paul says the Spirit of God has as one of his prescribed, designated, divine responsibilities is that living within you to unfold to you to show you what is the mind of Christ in that given issue. That is the work of the Holy Spirit to unveil the will of God.

Now I did not talk about how you feel because you cannot trust your feelings.

Conclusion: Once you know the will of God, and now you know it, you’re responsible to obey and if you don’t obey, it’s sin. James 4:17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Luke 12:47-48 47“The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. So if you know the will of God and you don’t do it, it’s sin which the Lord notes and for which there is retribution.

A classic illustration of someone who knew the will of God and wouldn’t do it is Jonah. Jonah knew God’s will, it couldn’t have been more clear, go to Ninevah and preach. Turned around and went the opposite way from God and God made him pay. You can’t flagrantly, openly violate the will of God without consequence.

So you have two possible negative ways you can treat the will of God. One, you can just live ignoring it as if there were no God at all. Two, you could acknowledge there is a God but that your will is supreme to His will. The third kind of people are the ones who acknowledge God’s will and do it. We are all here because we want to do God’s will in our lives. Ephesians 6:6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.

God has a perfect will for everything in your life. God’s has a circumstantial will for your life. You say to God that, “ God I have blown up my life living my way and now I surrender to you.” God will pick you up from that point and fulfill his will in your life in light of what he can be in light of the fact that you wasted some years. Let’s Pray