How do you think of yourselves? There are two options. We can allow our lives, values, attitudes convictions and relationships to be influenced by the world, or we can be remodeled, transformed, reshaped and redesigned from the inside out by the Holy Spirit.
How can we know God’s will for our lives? If we are not careful, we can mistake God’s will for something else, and we will be intimidated by fear. Well, fear not, because the will of God is realized by the direct influence of the Holy Spirit. To find God’s will in our lives, we don’t have to be supernatural. All we have to do is know how God speaks to us and how we hear him. It’s about learning how to spot his will when we see it and then choosing to follow it.
What is God’s will like? God’s will is good. That means that God has the highest and best goals in mind for us. God’s will is also acceptable, which means that it is well-pleasing and agreeable. God’s will is also perfect, which means it meets the needs of the person.
So how can we know we are in the will of God? There are four steps:
- Be sure we are already in the habit of obeying God.
- Decide to always glorify God spiritually and physically.
- Read and study the Bible constantly.
- Associate with fellow believers in a church where we can receive faithful teaching based on God’s Word.
There is a note of authority in the words we read from the apostle Paul in Romans 12:1-8. He reminds all Christians that we must be careful in how we evaluate our own lives. This evaluation must come from a mind that has been transformed by faith in Christ, and not by a mind that has been influenced by the world. This evaluation must be based on the gifts God has given us and how we use them. We need to have a godly sense of self-worth. It provides a safe, stable middle ground while being at the heart of a peaceful life.
Paul uses the analogy of the human body to describe the unity all Christians have in Christ. We are the eyes, ears, head, hands, legs and feet of Christ. All Christians are part of one body of Christ, all of whom have vital parts that work together. Each part is different, but the parts need each other. Christians have individual gifts, and these gifts are really a gift of God’s grace. They are like parts of a human body. When one part of a body disappears, we look for it. Do we look for a member of the body of Christ when that member disappears?
If we truly understand the price of our salvation, we will want to give back to God out of gratitude and thanksgiving. When we truly understand God’s mercy, we will want to worship him with every ounce of our being. God’s love and sacrifice for us will motivate us to love and to sacrifice ourselves in return. That sacrifice involves using the gifts he has given us to do his work in our world. If we want to be the people God wants us to be, we will do what God wants us to do.
Once we are consecrated to God, we must not allow ourselves to be conformed to the world and its sinful nature. We must be guided by the Holy Spirit. This guidance involves two aspects. First, as committed followers of Jesus all of our actions must be in harmony with the will of God as spelled out in the word of God. If we meditate on God’s word daily, it will shape our thoughts and help us to be more Christ-like. Then we will act in a way that pleases God. Second, we need to know what our gifts are and how we can use them to serve God. We have to get the best training we can to sharpen these gifts and use them to serve others. We serve God by serving others.
No one can even begin to imitate Christ’s ministry on his own, because his abilities and ministries were so varied. When we come together as one body we can collectively demonstrate the many and varied forms of ministry that he wants to perform through our united effort. The Holy Spirit gives each of us the correct portion so that we can fulfill our individual roles within the entire body of Christ.
We have to consider our roles within the body of Christ because each of our roles is different. Each role is represented by the individual gifts believers have. One of the spiritual gifts is the gift of prophecy. Old Testament prophets along with some of the New Testament prophets, had the gift of addressing the future. Modern prophets don’t have this gift. Instead, they are teachers and proclaimers of God’s truth. My own ministry is a good example. When I preach, I teach and proclaim God’s truth.
Another gift is the ability to exhort or encourage those who are hurting, weak or discouraged. People with these gifts give them sacrificially. The church also needs the gift of leadership. In particular, the church needs the gift of leadership that has a sense of what the church needs to do. People naturally follow leaders who have that gift.
The most important gift is the gift of mercy. It is the spirit-given ability to extend love and compassion to those who are suffering. It also involves reaching out to the outcasts of society and other people who are ignored by society.
Regardless of the gift we have been given, we must not be full of pride, but at the same time we must understand how much each and every one of us is valued by God. Satan can use discouragement to keep us from using our gifts for God’s work. On the other hand, pride causes us to attribute our contribution to God’s Kingdom to ourselves and not to God.
Paul encourages all believers to consecrate themselves to a Christ-like way of life. This doesn’t happen automatically when we come to Christ. Our consecrated bodies are to be sacrificed to God constantly, undefiled and pleasing to God and his character. We live for Christ because we are grateful for what God has done for us. Transformation is a positive view of the place where God’s redemption unfolds. This transformation occurs because of God’s grace, and therefore we are to give ourselves entirely to God. This is what Paul means when he tells us to present ourselves as a living sacrifice to God.
The world was originally clean, but it became corrupted by sin, and when Christ returns the world will be transformed and cleansed. We are part of the sinful world even though we have been transformed by God’s grace. We learn to see the world through the Scriptures and respond to the world as the Scriptures tell us. Our minds become more and more like God’s mind and accomplish God’s will.
In ancient times, salt was used to preserve and add flavour to food. When Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 5:13 that they were the salt of the earth, He meant that they could stop the moral decay of society and impact generations for Christ as they ministered his truth to the world. We are to be reflections of Christ on earth. This will mean that we will be different from the world, but our mission is to change the world for the better. We can’t change the world until we change ourselves. We must not become arrogant by thinking too highly of ourselves. We are to be servants in the world, not its doormats. We are to have a balanced view of ourselves. We are to see ourselves as God sees us and not in comparison to others. All of us are the same in the eyes of God. He chose all believers and the choice is made on the basis of grace.
Transformation causes us to believe God’s truth instead of listening to our feelings. It will take time, but eventually God’s truth will become part of us. When it does, our relationship with God will be stronger and the way we think about ourselves will change. All of this can only happen when we feed on God’s word.
Doing God’s will with certain conditions is not obedience. Obeying and following God’s will means surrendering everything in our lives to God. If we are not surrendering everything to God, we are not obeying God. Our different gifts must be offered humbly to the body of Christ. Only within the body of Christ can our thoughts, desires and behaviour be renewed and changed.
Paul uses God’s mercy to appeal to us as Christians. God’s mercy is the key part of a Christian’s commitment to God. In return, we are to show mercy to others. Christian life is marked by transformation and growth in discernment and understanding.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, NKJV (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing, 2013)
- Swindoll, Charles R.: Swindoll’s New Testament Insights on Romans (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan; 2010)
- ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch 10 Bible software package.
- Briscoe, D.S. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 29: Romans (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible, NASB (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 2006)
- Steve Arterburn, “The Struggle against Worldliness.” Retrieved from www.newlife.com
- Richard Innes, “Being vs doing.” Retrieved from www.actsweb.org
- Michael Youssef, Ph.D., “God’s Success Formula.” Retrieved from www.leadingtheway.org
- Pastor Bobby Schuller, “Willing to be Weird.” Retrieved from www.hourofpower.org
- Michael Youssef, Ph.D., “The Importance of Salt.” Retrieved from www.leadingtheway.org
- Michael Youssef, Ph.D., “Opportunities to Serve.” Retrieved from www.leadingtheway.org
- James A. Harnish, “Squeezed or Transformed?” Retrieved from www.preaching.com
- Richard Innes, “Square Watermelons.” Retrieved from www.actsweb.org
- Richard Innes, “Discerning the Will of God for Your Life.” Retrieved from www.actsweb.org
- Dr. Charles Stanley, “Peace with Ourselves.” In Touch Magazine, September 2014, P. 51 (Atlanta, GA: In Touch Ministries Inc.)
- Exegesis for Romans 12:1-8. Retrieved from www.lectionary.org
- The Rev. Dr. Charles Reeb, “I Wonder about God’s Will for My Life.” Retrieved from www.day1.org