God’s Good, Pleasing, and Perfect WillRomans 12:1-2Theme: Trust and obey.This week’s lessons teach us that our happiness is to be found in following God’s will.
LessonOur staff has prepared a brochure that compares the world’s thinking and the Bible’s teaching in six important areas: God, man, the Bible, money, sex, and success. The differences are striking, but what impresses me most as I read over the brochure is how right many of the world’s ideas seem if we are not thinking critically and in a biblical way. It is because we hear the world’s approach given out so often, so attractively and so persuasively, especially today on television.
Here are some of the world’s statements we printed:
“I matter most, and the world exists to serve me. Whatever satisfies me is what’s important.”
“If I earn enough money, I’ll be happy. I need money to provide security for myself and my family. Financial security will protect me from hardship.”
“Anything is acceptable as long as it doesn’t hurt another person.”
“Success is the path to fame, wealth, pleasure, and power. Look out for number one.”
How about the Christian way? From the world’s perspective the Christian way does not look attractive or even right. It says such things as: “God is in control of all things and has a purpose for everything that happens…. Man exists to glorify God…. Money cannot shield us against heartbreak, failure, sin, disease or disaster…. Success in God’s kingdom means humility and service to others.” Because we are so much part of the world and so little like Jesus Christ, even Christians find God’s way unappealing. Nevertheless, we are to press on in that way and prove by our lives that the will of God really is good, pleasing, and perfect in all things.
I find it significant that this is the end of Paul’s statements about being transformed by the renewing of our minds rather than being conformed to the patterns of this world. His statements end with proving the way of God to be the best way and the will of God to be perfect.
This means that action is needed. Or to say it differently, God is not producing hothouse or ivory tower Christians. He is forming people who will prove the value of God’s way by conscious choices and deliberate obedience.
One of the best Scottish exegetes of the last century was a pastor named Robert Candlish. He wrote a book on Romans 12, in which he made this point well. Candlish said, “The believer’s transformation by the renewing of his mind is not the ultimate end which the Holy Spirit seeks in his regenerating and renovating work. It is the immediate and primary design of that work, in one sense. We are created anew in Christ Jesus. That new creation is what the Holy Spirit first aims at and effects. But we are ‘created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’ (Eph. 2:10). The essence of a good work is the doing of the will of God. The proving of the will of God, therefore, is a fitting sequel of our ‘being transformed by the renewing of our mind.’ “1
1 Robert S. Candlish, Studies in Romans 12: The Christian’s Sacrifice and Service of Praise (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1989), pp. 80-81. Original edition 1867.
Why do Christians find God’s way of doing things unattractive?
How is God’s will good for us?
In Romans 12:2, what directly follows Paul’s statements about being transformed?
How do we test and approve the will of God?
Further StudyList some of the things Dr. Boice mentioned as the world’s way of thinking. After each of the world’s statements, write your own sentence reflecting the Christian way of thinking about that topic. When you’re finished, go back and compare your responses to the ones Dr. Boice lists in the second half of today’s lesson.
The booklet to which Dr. Boice is referring can be purchased from ReformedResources.org. It is titled “Learning to Think Biblically.”