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.
LessonThe will of God that we are talking about is good, pleasing, and perfect. In other words, it teaches about the nature of God’s will for us as well as the fact that God has one.
The will of God is good. In a general way the will of God for every Christian, regardless of who he or she is, is revealed in the Bible. Romans 8 contains a broad expression of this plan: that we might be delivered from God’s judgment upon us for our sin and instead be made increasingly like Jesus Christ. The five specifically highlighted steps of this plan include the following: foreknowledge, predestination, effectual calling, justification, and glorification.
But there are also many specifics.
The Ten Commandments contain some of these. It is God’s will that we have no other gods before him, that we do not worship even him by the use of images, that we do not misuse his name, that we remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, that we honor our parents, that we do not murder or commit adultery or steal or give false testimony or covet (Exod. 20). The Lord Jesus Christ amplified upon many of these commandments and added others, above all teaching that we are to “love each other” (John 15:12).
It is God’s will that we be holy (1 Thess. 4:3).
It is God’s will that we should pray (1 Thess. 5:17).
These things often do not seem good to us, because we are far from God and are still thinking in the world’s way. Nevertheless, we will discover that they are good if we will obey God in these areas and put his will into practice.
The will of God is pleasing. When Paul encourages us to prove that God’s will is a pleasing will, he obviously means that it is pleasing to us as well as to God. That is, if we determine to walk in God’s way, refusing to be conformed to the world and instead being transformed by the renewing of our minds, we will not have to fear that at the end of our lives we will look back and be dissatisfied or bitter, judging our lives to have been an utter waste. On the contrary, we will look back and conclude that our lives were well lived and be satisfied with them.
I was talking with a Christian man whose mother was dying. The mother was not a Christian, and she had become very bitter although previously she had not been a bitter person. She felt that everyone was turning against her, even her children, who actually were trying to help her. This man said to me, “I am convinced that Christians and non-Christians come to the end of their lives very differently. Those who are not Christians feel that they do not deserve to end their lives with failing health and pain, and they think their lives have been wasted. Christians are satisfied with what God has led them through and has done for them. It is better to die as a Christian.”
I think that is exactly right. It is what Paul is saying.
The will of God is perfect. There are a number of words in the Greek language that are translated by our word “perfect.” One is akribos, from which we get our word “accurate,” meaning correct. Another is katartizo, which means “well fitted to a specific end,” like a perfect solution to a puzzle. The word in Romans 12:2 is different. It is teleios, which has the thought of something that has attained its full end or is complete. It can be used of one who is mature, a mature adult. It is used of Jesus who became a complete or perfect man. It is used of the end of history. In our text it means that those who do the will of God discover that it is not lacking in any respect. There is a satisfying wholeness about it.
To put it in negative form, it means that if we reach the end of our life and are dissatisfied with it, then we have been living in the world’s way and have been conformed to it rather than having been transformed by the renewing of our mind. We will have been living for ourselves rather than for God and others.
List the five steps of a Christian’s journey toward Christlikeness in Romans 8.
How do we know what God’s will is?
Who finds God’s will pleasing?
Why is God’s will perfect?
How can you be sure that life will be satisfying?
ReflectionAre you certain that the way you are living won’t bring you regret later? When you look back on your life thus far, what things leave you dissatisfied? Why?