Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12: 2 (NIV) We started the countdown of the top ten searched Bible verses by examining the Great Commission. The ninth most searched verse dealt with finding the peace of God in our lives. As we come to the eighth verse we see that people are very concerned and interested in another often misunderstood concept - the will of God. We have all been there. Facing some major decision in our life. Perhaps whom to marry. What career to undertake. Should I move? Inevitably we over-Christianize our responses and thinking. We say that we want to seek the "will of God" for this decision or that. I remember once I had friends considering a move to Pennsylvania and suddenly there were Pennsylvania license plates on every car in front of them! God was trying to speak to them! God was trying to confirm for them! Hallelujah! Except that is simply not how it works. That may as well be akin to visiting a psychic or trying clairvoyance. This may come as a shock to many but the truth is that we are often seeking God's will in areas He has no intention of revealing it in. What do you mean preacher! Doesn't God always wants us to know His will! No beloved He does not all of the time. The truth is that there are three major categories when it comes to the will of God. The first is the decretive will of God, also known as His sovereign will. When God said let there be light there was no alternate ending other than light would be! Does God always let us know His sovereign will? Usually He does not. If He did then we would not have to ask the question why so much of God. Why did this have to happen Lord? Why did I lose my job? Why did she leave me? When I gave my first sermon I joked that if God had shown me the end at the beginning, I would never have left my house! We always think we want to see the outcome but God knows what is best. God remains sovereign. The second category in the will of God is His preceptive will: For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, - Colossians 1: 9-10 (NIV) The preceptive will is completely revealed to us! The precepts of God are found in His Word. God has told us what to do in every situation. He has told us what brings Him glory or joy. He has told us what angers Him and what He hates. He has told us how to live and how to love. He has told what we should do, what we should not do, and what we are forbidden from doing. This is why you cannot casually toss aside the law of God like the hyper-grace movement tries to sell. By doing so you toss aside His preceptive will for our lives. The third category is the permissive will of God. This encompasses what God allows based upon our activity that was not part of His sovereign will and not supported by His preceptive will. For example - if someone decides to commit adultery today you can say that it was in the permissive will of God because He allowed it to happen. We know the Bible says that adultery is forbidden therefore it cannot be part of His preceptive will and because God will never contradict His own Word we can be assured that it was not part of His sovereign will either. That may seem like a ludicrous example but I have heard people try and say that something they did which was sinful, was the will of God - including adultery. Too many Christians fall for the lie that says God doesn't want us to be unhappy. Wrong! God doesn't want us to be disobedient! We need to think about what He allowed His only Son to endure before we go thinking that God is overly invested in our "comfort." He is far more concerned with our character. With that as our backdrop of understanding, let us explore God's will for our lives. The battle for His will is fought in our minds according to the key verse. When God saved us our thinking futile and rooted in the philosophies of this world. The things of God were foolishness to us. Think about people in the world now - it's the same thing! The further away from God they get the more "enlightened" they fancy themselves. The eighth most searched verse however implores us to not be conformed any longer to the patterns of this world. You cannot find the will of God in the way this world thinks! Instead, we must become transformed by renewing our mind. THEN we are able to test and approve the will of God. This is a conditional statement. Transform ourselves through renewing our minds and then we can test and approve God's will in our lives. Terrific but which will? Well we are obviously not going to test the permissive will of God because not everything God allows He decrees. We cannot properly test the decretive will of God because most of the time He does not tell us what it is! No beloved, the will of God we need to test and approve is found in His preceptive will. It is found in His Word. The reality is that we are often pursuing the decretive will of God instead of His preceptive will. We chase down spiritual experiences to try and "feel" if a decision we have to make is right. I know people who have married unbelievers despite the fact that the Bible says to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. People who have cut corners ethically in business under the guise of God wanting them to "prosper." We must always remember that Gods' decretive will cannot be in contradiction to His preceptive will. In simple terms - God is never going to want us to do something that violates His Word. So when we are desperately seeking His will we need to be found desperately searching His Scriptures. You want to know if the person you are dating is the one God wills for you? Read your Bible! That is how you test what is His will and what is not! The Bible will tell you that He should be loving you like Christ loved the church! The Bible will tell you that he should not be slothful. The Bible will tell you that He should love God above all else. On the other side - read what a Proverbs 31 woman is supposed to be like. The same goes for any situation. Do not rely upon your heart because it is wickedly deceitful above all else. Rely upon transforming yourself through the renewal of your mind. The more we read the Bible the more we understand the mind of Christ. The more we read the Bible the more we understand the revealed will of God for our lives. The better we can discern between truth and error. The sad reality is that too often we do not pursue the renewal of our mind. We like our carnal ways of thinking. We like the worldly view of love because it abdicates our self control - a gift of the Spirit. We make excuses for those portions of our thinking that are still conformed to the world and then seek a series of carnal coincidences to proclaim a false confirmation from God! What is worse is that we then brag about it. We testify about it and everyone is amazed. We say that we had to decide whether or not to take a business opportunity in Lakeland Florida. We decided to fast and pray in sackcloth and ashes and lo and behold - my husband bought Lakeland butter that week instead of the generic brand! Hallelujah! I was going to the bank to see about the move and lo and behold the branch manager's last name was Lakeland! Glory to God! My son then gave me tickets to tonights Mets game and lo and behold they were playing Florida! Hallelu...huh? Meanwhile all the person had to do was realize that the business opportunity involved practices that were contrary to the Word of God. His will was already revealed - but you can only see what you want to see. Beloved, God has already let us in on so much of His will for our lives but we have to study it. We have to let go of our carnal ways of thinking that are still conformed to this world. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides for ever. - 1John 2: 15-17 (ESV) The more we read His Word, the more our mind is renewed. The more our mind is renewed the more easily we are able to test and approve or disapprove what truly is the will of God in our lives. Amen. Rev. Anthony.