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How to Know the Will of God
By David A. DePra
Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, How knows this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaks of himself seeks his own glory: but he that seeks his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. (John 7:14-18)
In this passage, Jesus is actually telling us how we can know the Truth. In fact, He is telling us how we can be absolutely certain, not only of knowing the Truth, but of BEING MADE TRUE, and of realizing God’s will in our lives. As we will see, this isn’t the only verse in the Bible that gives us this direction. But it is a great place to start.
First, notice the context of Jesus’ words. He had been teaching in the temple. The Jews objected to this, and we know from other passages that it was because they were jealous of Jesus. On this occasion they objected to Jesus’ teaching on the grounds that He had no formal degree or education. In short, they were saying, "Who are you to teach us? You have no credentials. You have never gone to the best schools, as we have."
There are always excuses people can give for ignoring or rejecting the Truth. This one is used today. Instead of asking whether someone is preaching the Truth, some Christians look to their credentials. If they have degrees, well, then many accept what they have to say, because, after all, surely they must know – they have a degree to back them up. Others simply look to a person’s success in ministry. If they have built a big church, or have a big following, then this is made equal to having the degree. After all, if their ministry has grown it MUST be because God is blessing them. Right? And of course, the opposite opinion is usually offered towards those without degrees and big followings: They cannot be of much value to God.
Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, had no degrees – and certainly God could have seen to it that He had many if that was an affirmation God wanted to put on His teaching. And Jesus never had much of a following. Even many of those who followed Him in the beginning left Him. When He ascended to heaven, we know about only one hundred and twenty who tarried in the upper room. Today, Jesus would have been considered irrelevant by even many of those who profess Him.
The point is this: Truth is Truth. The person preaching doesn’t MAKE the Truth be the Truth. Neither does the person make Truth to be untrue. And it is certain that a lie will never become the Truth just because a highly educated person teaches it, anymore than the Truth will become a lie if someone who seems unqualified preaches it. Jesus WAS the embodiment of all Truth. But in this passage He doesn’t even appeal to that fact. Instead He says, "If you want to know whether I am teaching the Truth, here’s what you need to do."
And what exactly did Jesus say they needed to do? He said, "If anyone will do His will, He will know." Then He added, "If you are seeking, not your own glory – as you seek Truth – but the glory of God – then you will BE TRUE. And you will know the Truth."
So with that we have two closely related ways Jesus said would make it possible for us to know the Truth. First, we must be of a willing heart to do His will. That is possible even before we know His will – indeed, it is necessary before we can know it. We must be willing to do the will of God. Second, we must BE TRUE by seeking – no matter what it takes – the glory of God. This, according to Jesus, will make it possible for us to recognize the Truth when we hear it, and make it possible to know the will of God.
Willing to Do His Will
Once we are willing to do the will of God, we have actually BECOME the will of God. Notice that. If I am given over to the will of God, to the disregard of my own, something has happened IN ME – something has really happened between myself and God. No one can WILL to do HIS will unless they have come into a relationship with God of voluntary surrender and dependence.
Put aside just for a minute the DOING. Jesus really doesn’t mention it. He says, "If any man WILL do His will." Jesus is getting at the heart – at where the WILL is -- at a readiness to move with God in God’s will. This is not a person who wants to do the will of God because of an agenda. No. It is someone who has become convinced that the will of God is, yes, the only option, but the best thing possible.
So much of who we are is in our WILL. Our intent and motive are really what God is after. For if our WILL belongs to Him, then not only shall there be plenty of DOING, but the fact that our WILL belongs to Him means that we have BECOME His will. In other words, before we DO a thing, we are already in a relationship with Him of willingness – in a relationship with Him that is His will.
It is one thing to do things that constitute God’s will. But it is possible to do those things out of a legalistic or mechanical duty. Many, "obey God," for an expected reward, or to avoid what they think will happen if they don’t obey – some consequence. Yet you can do all of that but never, "will to do His will." Your motions and actions are in compliance with God, but your will isn’t – you are doing, but haven’t yet become.
In the Christian life, all obedience is supposed to be the outcome of being rightly related to God by faith. Contrast this over and against obeying God, not because we believe, but because we don’t. Sure. I can obey God without my heart and will being in it – and grip about it all the while. Or, as mentioned, do it in order to cut a deal with Him. But if I am truly rightly related to God by faith, then I shall WILL to do His will. I will WANT to do His will. And if I WANT to do the will of God, Jesus said that this creates an openness in me so that I can discern His will.
Now, obviously, there are many things in the Christian life that are self-evident. I don’t have to try to discern as to whether I should rob a bank or commit murder. But there are many other issues of discernment and guidance wherein the answer is less evident. And there is also the great need for Christians to SEE JESUS, and to know the Truth. All of this requires more than study, or mechanical obedience. It requires an open heart of willingness.
Of course the thought that God would need to twist our arm to get us to be willing to do His will is insane. But nevertheless it is often the way we are because of our natural minds and unbroken wills. This is NOT about God demanding His will, threatening us if we don’t obey, or about God being bigger than we are. No. This is about God knowing best, wanting the best for us, and doing all He can to bring about His will in our lives. He can’t unless we WILL.
So, do you want to know whether something is of God? Then be willing to do it – or perhaps a better way of saying this is, "be willing to give yourself over to the Truth in Christ." Say to God, "Lord, whatever it takes, make me willing to do your will." If you do that, you ARE willing, and you ARE true, and you will come to know His will, and will come to discern what is of Him and what is not.
Interesting how the key to discernment is surrender. "By faith we understand." (Heb. 11:3) Not -- if we understand, we can believe. Why?
Because FAITH is not a simple matter of believing that certain facts are true. Now, it includes that, or we wouldn’t get very far. But if you limit faith to BELIEF, you will never understand faith. What we must see is that FAITH is a relationship word – it is a word that speaks of a MORAL dependence and accountability to God. You cannot BELIEVE – according to the Bible definition of the word – without EMBRACING the Truth you are believing! You cannot say you believe God unless you trust Him, and if you trust Him, you must surrender to Him. This all goes together – faith is about a relationship with God. A MORAL accountability resulting in freedom and life.
Today some teach that faith is a FORCE. This is not only a lie, but betrays a complete blindness to the Truth. I’m not being too strong about that. If you don’t understand even the basic things about faith, how can you HAVE faith? If you think faith is a FORCE, then what does this say about your relationship with God?
So much in the Christian life comes down to moral accountability to God. There is no such thing as real faith without it. But again – don’t think of moral accountability to God as a negative thing, or a demand from God under threat of punishment. No. If we make ourselves morally accountable to God the result is that we become MORAL. If we truly believe and trust that God is true, we become TRUE. I’m not talking about the meaningless religious stuff we all do, here. I’m talking about REALLY surrendering to God in faith. The result is always that we will know the Truth, and it will set us FREE.
Jesus said, "I am the Truth." To know the Truth is to know Jesus, and to know Jesus is to know the Truth. And you cannot know Jesus and fail to be set free. And yet, according to His own words, if you want to KNOW – you must begin to WILL. And if you don’t think you can will to do His will, then ask God to make you willing. In short, ask God to do whatever it takes to bring His will to pass.
Funny thing is, the moment you are, "willing to be made willing," you ARE willing, and you are true, and you DO WILL. All of this before you have really DONE a thing in outward obedience. You have surrendered yourself to God by faith.
You can study, and pray, and cry, and yell, but in the end, you have to surrender your will over to God if you want to KNOW. You may not know in ten minutes. But God will have something to work with in you, and can lead you into all Truth.
Really Meaning It
It is so easy to tell God that you WILL to do His will. So easy. In fact, I would not doubt that most of us MEAN IT when we tell Him that – at least as far as we know. Sure. We want God’s will, don’t we? Well, if we don’t, then we’ve got other problems. We really aren’t willing, willing to be made willing, or where we need to be. But let’s assume that we really do mean it when we tell God that we are at least, "willing to be made willing." Let’s suppose we ask God to do, "whatever it takes, " to make us willing. What happens next?
Well, if I ask God to do, "whatever it takes," then what happens next is that God is going to begin to DO whatever it takes! Sure. I ask Him. And He will not fail to answer. But the trouble is, we usually have NO CLUE as to what it really does take! Thus, once God begins to move in our lives to answer our prayer, it is going to be PROVEN – WE are going to be proven – as to whether we meant it when we asked Him to do whatever it takes.
If I surrender to God in this way, I am not going to know what will happen. But my surrender is what matters. And as things unfold, I must KEEP surrendered. If I meant my surrender to God, I will do so – despite some tough times and even doubts.
The key factor here is my moral and spiritual relationship to God. This is not about me giving God the surrender He wants so that He will give me whatever it is that I want. Neither is it about me saying what I know God wants to hear. No. Part of the process here is that God is going to expose and deal with all of those kinds of motives that we have towards Him. But you see, it is those SAME MOTIVES that keep us from seeing Jesus, or knowing the Truth. Thus, as God does, "whatever it takes to make us willing, " He is likewise doing whatever it takes to guide us into Truth.
When it is necessary for God to deal drastically with us, this is only because we are just that difficult of a creature. Perhaps not on purpose, but it is simply the nature of things. God is not mean, harsh, or stubborn. We are. Most of the suffering we experience is not because of something God is DOING TO US. No. Most of it is because of something God is DOING FOR US – and we won’t let Him. We struggle, perhaps not in rebellion, but because it is our nature to struggle.
Remember Jacob? The angel came to bless him, free of charge, but he tried to wrestle out of the angel the free blessing. And it wasn’t until he confessed his nature by saying his name, and was crippled so that he could no longer wrestle that he could receive the free blessing. Jacob, "one who strives against God, " had become, "Israel, "one who prevails WITH God."
Do you want to OVERCOME? Then instead of letting what God is doing come between yourself and HIM, sit with Jesus OVER your reactions and your situations. Let Him reign and rule over YOU. The only way to overcome in the Christian life is by submitting to Jesus as Lord – by letting Jesus overcome YOU. Authority is not a THING – it is the outcome of a relationship. There is no other authority given to us except that which comes through weakness and surrender to Him. Then we have all of His authority because He has all of us.
The Source of TruthJesus also said, "He that speaks of himself seeks his own glory: but he that seeks his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him." We need to break this statement apart. First, what does He means, "He that speaks of himself…..?"
Well, this goes back to the fact that Truth is Truth. It does not originate in US. Truth isn’t Truth because we think it is, and it doesn’t stop being the Truth if we don’t believe it is. Truth is there completely independent of anything about us. The call upon us is to allow God to reveal Truth TO US. So, according to Jesus, if you are speaking the Truth, you are NOT speaking of, or from, yourself. You are simply speaking what has been revealed to you – and giving out what you have freely received.
But contrast this over and again, "He that speaks of himself…" If I am speaking OF MYSELF, then what I am speaking is originating from MYSELF. It is NOT the Truth; it is not of the Holy Spirit.
The word translated HERESY in the NT comes into play here. The word actually means, "to choose for oneself; to divide out from." In other words, heresy does not come from God. It DOES come from myself – it comes when I do, "speak from myself." Heresy is the result of my choosing what I want to be the Truth. It is the result of my setting up as the Truth those things which appeal to me – rather than revealed to me from God.
Now, of course, many people who teach heresy SAY they got it from God. But this is what Jesus is talking about in this passage – He is giving us a way to avoid such deception. He is saying, "You cannot originate Truth. You cannot choose what you want to be the Truth. The Truth has to come INTO you from the OUTSIDE. But the only way it can is if you become true."
We must get that. Truth MUST come to us from the OUTSIDE of us! What? Do we think we have any Truth in us except by Christ in us through the Holy Spirit? No. Truth must be REVEALED to us through the unfolding to us of CHRIST.
Yet how do many people come up with what they believe is the Truth? Many accept what, "makes sense to them." It just sort of, "clicks." It is easy to passively accept something as Truth like that. But then there are other reasons people accept teachings as the Truth. Usually they accept as true whatever more strongly APPEALS to them. But when I say, "appeal," I don’t necessarily mean that they like it or that it pleases them. Teaching can appeal to someone either in a positive way or a negative way. Positively, false teaching can offer us what we want – and this will make it easier for us to fall for it. Negatively, false teaching can threaten us with what we fear – and this will make it easier for us to stampede into it. But what we are seeing is that how a teaching APPEALS TO US has nothing to do with Truth. It DOES have everything to do with heresy – heresy is US choosing or deciding what the Truth ought to be. Truth, however, is completely true, even if every man be false; even if no one believes it.
Because Truth IS – to the complete disregard of our acceptance – we can now see the great need: God has to make our hearts able to receive it. God isn’t going to change the Truth to suit us. He must change us so we can know the Truth. In short, He must make US TRUE. You cannot bring Truth from the outside into an UNTRUE person – into a person whose heart is not right with God. No. You must first make that person TRUE – by making them willing, and by creating a home for the Truth to come.
When everything is said and done, we are either going to allow God to adjust us to the Truth, or we are going to adjust the Truth to fit us – which is what we saw is HERESY. Thus, the key is a heart that wants the will, and ONLY the will of God.
Seeking the Glory
According to Christ, if you speak from yourself, there is a motive: You are seeking your own glory. And this is a recipe for deception – you will never see the Truth. How could you? You aren’t the SOURCE of Truth – and you are speaking from yourself. Your motive will blind you to it.
Bank on this: Speaking from yourself, which is heresy, and seeking your own glory, as well as self-deception – these all go together. It is actually the source of much false teaching in the church today.
Someone who is, "seeking his own glory," is really doing much more than trying to be the center of attention. To seek your own glory is really to put yourself before God. And you can do that even if no one else notices you. In other words, if I don’t want to surrender to God, and come under the work of the Cross – if what I want is my will and my way – this is equal to me seeking my own glory. The result will be that instead of being adjusted to the Truth, I will adjust the Truth to accomplish this goal for me – i.e., I will SPEAK FROM MYSELF. Sure. And the result will be deception, and one who possibly teaches error.
Perhaps the most common sin of the church for the last two thousand years has been that we have used the things of God for ourselves – for our OWN glory, profit, and agenda. But again, it is possible to use the things of God for my own glory without anyone else knowing it. For example, maybe I think I am highly spiritual and deserve credit for, "trusting God." It is something I hold up as a token of my glory – it is my claim to fame before the Lord. In fact, maybe I think God owes me because I, "trusted Him." Or maybe I am a self-made martyr. I walk contrary to God’s will, but then use the difficulties that arise from it to make myself into a martyr. There are all kinds of ways to use the things of God – the Truth itself – for my own glory. But in the end, I will be totally deceived.
Jesus said that if we seek God’s glory, that WE ARE TRUE, and there is no unrighteousness in us. That is quite a statement. Notice, first of all, that He says if we seek God’s glory that such a one IS TRUE. To BE TRUE is to not to be perfect. It means to be honest and open and accessible to God – even about our imperfections. In other words, you aren’t trying to live a lie in order please God – which is really unbelief and self-deception. You aren’t trying to be religious with God. There are no games. You are TRUE to God. And the result is that God can be true to you – except that now you can recognize Him as such.
The fact is, if we are UNTRUE to God, then we are going to see Him through our UNTRUE heart. What we will see, in that case, is a God we have created in our own image – and we are UNTRUE! We will see an untrue God, in other words, a deception – a God who is nothing more than a reflection of our own heart. But if we are TRUE to God, then we are going to see Him through a TRUE heart, and better yet, He is going to be able to reveal Himself to us because we won’t adjust what He shows us to fit ourselves. We will instead let the Truth change us.
Do you often think of God as mean, unfair, fearful, deceptive, or one who plays games with you? Do you find yourself arguing with Him, or even accusing Him? Who do you think you are talking to? The real God? No. You are talking to the God who is a reflection of YOU. One YOU have created, or imagined. You are talking about a God who has sprung from yourself, rather than the One who would like to reveal Himself TO YOU. These silly conversations and arguments are between yourself and a lie who doesn’t exist. The real God is wholly outside of all of that – and when we do this we don’t know Him.
It is entirely possible to be completely blind to the true God, and to live in a world created entirely of the God I have created out of myself. This is deception, and is really all that any of us can do if left to the futility of our own minds. The problem is not brains. The problem is that we must be brought to the end of ourselves – to the end of any putting of ourselves before God and seeking OUR glory out of this life. If we will DIE that death, what will come up from it will be LIFE, and LIGHT. We will see Jesus and be appalled at how blind we were.
In today’s church world, you hear very little about the need for the Holy Spirit to lead us into all Truth. Part of the problem is that we think that Truth is limited to doctrines and information. To many of us, Christianity is a belief system with rules, doctrines, and stuff to practice. Or, we think Christianity consists of, "leadings," signs, wonders, and spiritual experiences. There are many Christians that will tell you that they are walking in the Spirit, but that Truth isn’t an issue with them. Talk to them and it doesn’t take long to discover that they don’t know Jesus, haven’t a clue about what God wants to do, and despite the fact that they may be nice people, they know little of the work of the Cross.
Yet they say they are walking in the Spirit. Is that possible? Well, read the words of Jesus:
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24)
Certainly, the entire walk with Christ, indeed, our relationship with Him, is to be done in Spirit and in Truth. When Jesus uses the word, "worship," He isn’t talking about what we do only in church as to the form of our demonstrative worship. WORSHIP is a relationship with God – it is our attitude; what governs our walk with Christ. Jesus said it must be in Spirit and in Truth to be TRUE WORSHIP.
Why should it be a surprise that TRUE worship, by a TRUE worshipper, must be in Spirit and IN TRUTH? Isn’t the Holy Spirit, "the Spirit of TRUTH?" What do we think that means, if it is not that the Spirit will guide us into all Truth, just as Jesus promised? What do we think it means but that the Spirit wants to MAKE US TRUE to God? Sure.
But you see, if we continue to think that TRUTH is doctrines and information, and that is all there is to Truth, we will never get this. Ever. Truth is NOT limited to statements of faith. Truth is NOT doctrines. Rather, doctrines are to express the Truth.
I continue to harp on this because Christian people are often totally blind to it. Let me put it this way: Take a blank sheet of paper and write on it, "God is love." You have now written down an absolutely true doctrine – God is love. Now, take another piece of paper and write on it, "Jesus is the Truth." Absolutely a true statement. But ask: Is the first paper, or the words on it, or the ink you used – are those things GOD? Can you have a relationship with that piece of paper? When you read the words, "God is love," does that do anything to make you to know the love of God? Same thing with the second paper. Do the words on that paper cause you to know the Truth in Christ Jesus? And yet both statements you have written are true – and they need to be written, taught, and defended. They are doctrinal Truth. But can we see that the only reason they ARE doctrinal Truth is because there is spiritual Truth to which they point?
The danger is making information, or doctrines, to be THE TRUTH – and to limit the Truth to those doctrines – is that we tend to hold to the doctrine and neglect the reality to which they point. And then we think we have it because we know the doctrines. We don’t have IT, because God doesn’t have US! For example, we preach God is love and have no love in us. We preach that Jesus is the Truth and are blind to the Truth in Christ Jesus. We intellectually know and teach and defend doctrinal Truth – and OUGHT TO – but don’t have a relationship with Christ. We say, "The Truth sets us free," and have little or no freedom. But we have much doctrine.
The Truth sets us free because the Truth, if embraced, MAKES US TRUE to God. Doctrines cannot make you true. But they can teach you HOW to be made true. They can tell you that the Truth wants to make you true. But if all I do is memorize Bible verses and become an expert in doctrine – even TRUE doctrine – it cannot set me free or make me true. Why? Because I must OBEY doctrine – do what it tells me I must do, i.e., make myself morally accountable to God; give myself to Him. Faith in doctrines is a dead faith.
So doctrine is essential because it tells us what we must do, believe, and points us to God Himself. We must go on to experience what our doctrines describe. But if we do experience Jesus Christ, don’t you think that many doctrines and teachings are going to emerge from that relationship? Absolutely. So really, doctrines emerge from Christ – Christ doesn’t emerge from doctrines – although it is great that we have them to point us to Christ, and keep us in Him, as long as we obey them.
Never say you don’t need doctrine. If you walk with Christ and know the Truth, the moment you open your mouth about it you are teaching doctrine. And if you are in the Truth it will be true doctrine. You are telling others about Jesus Christ and His plan and purpose, and it needs to be right. But don’t set up the doctrine as a substitute for Christ. And don’t park on doctrine and never get to Christ. This may all seem so obvious. But Christians by the millions err on this very point. Many know doctrine, but don’t know Jesus.
The other extreme are those who say they know experiences with Christ, but the fact remains, they don’t know Christ. Of course the experiences themselves are suspect – indeed, the experiences are actually their doctrines, even if they aren’t called that. There are thousands who say they walk with Jesus, and know Him, but once they begin to talk about Him, what comes out is error. This is impossible if we are walking in the Truth. Truth IN produces Truth OUT – if I am yielded to God. Truth IN produces ERROR OUT – if I am not yielded to God. And ERROR IN will always produce ERROR OUT – if I am deceived. It is therefore wrong to say doctrine doesn’t matter. No. It does matter.
My doctrine will reflect what is going on between myself and God – even if I never call it doctrine. What I believe about Christ, and say about Him, is absolutely an expression of whether the Truth has a place in me. You cannot separate what I say about God from what God is saying to me and in me. Again – what comes out of me is a reflection of what I am doing with God brings INTO me. Truth and doctrine go hand in hand and must agree, or something is wrong between myself and God, or at least I have much growing to do in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit WOULD guide us into all Truth. So if that isn’t happening for me, I need to come back to the basics – I need to ask God to do whatever it takes to make this possible. I need to ask God to make me TRUE. If God makes me TRUE, then TRUTH IN will result in TRUTH OUT. For there will be no ERROR IN ME to adjust the Truth to suit myself.
His Will and Glory
Once we settle on the fact that God HAS a will, it only follows that He wants to DO HIS WILL. Why? Well, He wants to do His will because it IS His will. And despite much false teaching today, that is ALL God is going to do: HIS WILL. He isn’t going to do your will. Thus, just as we must surrender to God for the Truth, if we want God to reveal it to us, we must surrender to God for HIS will, so that we might both become His will, and do His will.
Of course, it is right here that there is a call for faith. Much of our trouble is that we don’t believe God wants to do His will, or that He has a will – in our specific concern. We usually base this misgiving upon our observation that God seems indifferent to us, or upon the fact that we may have prayed and surrendered a thousand times unto no effect. But often when this is the case it is not because God isn’t doing anything. What He might be doing is trying to make us BECOME His will, and MAKE US TRUE – and we are first looking for Him to do THINGS.
God could do anything He wants to do anytime He wants to do it. But He has purposed that He will bring His will to pass through His people. But as we have been seeing, this is not a matter of us going out and DOING THINGS for God. No. Neither is it so much that God will do THINGS – that is not His primary goal. Rather, God wants people who will BECOME His will – be in the relationship with Him that HE WILLS – and who are becoming TRUE. Then we can DO and it will be real. And then HE can do and it won’t abort His real purpose.
We must rid ourselves of the notion that God is going to do THINGS for us, or simply give us THINGS – to the neglect of our relationship with Him. The fact is, unless we are grounded in HIM – and made true to Him – He can’t do many THINGS for us. This would hinder us. The Christian life is not about us getting stuff from God. It is about God getting His glory in us – and if we do not yet realize that we would be the greatest benefactors of this, we have much to learn.
Incidentally, if you are wondering why God doesn’t seem to do much today in the world, this is the answer. He wants to work through us. Get glory through us. But He won’t until we let Him work in us. We have to become His will – become those who are living evidence of Christ – and become true to Him. Then His will can come to pass through us. And He will be glorified.
If you wonder what God is waiting for, He is waiting for you and I – to come under the Lordship of Jesus. But not just in word, although words, if we mean them, are a good start. But the Holy Spirit wants to make us true, and if He can, then He will be making Jesus our Lord, and bringing to pass His kingdom IN US. Then His kingdom and will can come through us. But not until then.
It is utter nonsense to think that God is going to give you a THING called His will, or a THING called His kingdom, to the disregard of whether you are becoming His will, and to the disregard of whether you are submitted to His kingdom through Jesus Christ as Lord. He isn’t going to do it, and He isn’t doing it in the lives of those on Christian television who claim to have all this power. It is A LIE. God doesn’t really have THINGS for us – He wants to give us HIMSELF, and it is really ALL or nothing. You cannot have the things of God but NOT God. One of the fundamental lies of the enemy is the notion that God will give His kingdom to us to the disregard of whether we are submitted to His kingdom. It is what He offered Jesus in the wilderness temptation, and it is what he offered both Peter and Judas. The suggestion that the kingdom can be ours without Jesus as our personal Lord – through the Cross – is the gospel of Satan in a nutshell.
Speaking From Oneself
So Jesus said that whoever speaks from themselves are seeking their own glory. This really makes sense if you think about it. To speak from myself as the source means that what I am saying is really, at best, just my opinion. And you know, I might actually be right – as far as the correctness of my doctrine. But what I am saying isn’t coming from God.
Picture your words as coming down from God, and flowing through you to others. I’m not saying that this is really how things go, but just for the sake of illustration, picture that. If this were the case, then you would originate NOTHING. But once you received the words of Truth, those words of Truth would not be the clear Truth if you did not let them MAKE YOU TRUE. Indeed, you might actually take the words of Truth and turn them into lies to suit you – or water them down. Either way, what is coming out the other end is going to be the product of what you did with the Truth God gave you. If you speak from yourself, as Jesus said, and are seeking your own glory, the Truth coming out of you will be polluted with that motive and spirit. Only if you allow Truth to make you true will you produce Truth. Jesus said that. He said, "He is true that seeks God’s glory." So according to Jesus, the whole thing turns on whether you are seeking your glory, or God’s glory.
Actually we see this taught everywhere in the Bible. One place Jesus repeated it was in Matthew:
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Mat 6:22-24)
A SINGLE EYE is, according to the original language, a PURE eye. It is focused purely on one thing: God’s will and glory. This is so important that Jesus said that if your eye is single in this way that your whole body will be, "filled with light." In other words, seek God’s glory, and not only will you not speak from out of yourself, but you will begin to SEE much Truth. Why? Because if your eye is single to God’s glory you are being MADE TRUE. And a true heart can receive Truth.
An, "evil eye," is one that divided – equal to the heart of a, "double minded man." This is someone who talks a good talk about the will of God, but really wants his own will. The problem is that they have never really asked God to do whatever it takes to make them true. Thus, we see the solution: Fully surrender to God in that way; open yourself to God. Then, all of a sudden, your eye is no longer divided and evil. You are no longer double minded. Instead, you will have a single eye, be true, and be seeking the glory of God.
It is impossible to will to do His will without seeking His glory. The two always go together. This is an absolute commitment to voluntarily refuse to settle for less than God’s will and kingdom in your life – indeed, IN YOU. That might sound scary, but it really is the safest thing you could desire.
When will we get it settled once and for all that God is love, has only the best for us, and is working along eternal lines? We act as if God is out to get us, or as if He is indifferent. Do we realize that if God were indifferent, that salvation itself could not be possible? No. God is totally involved in your life – whether you think so, or feel so, or know so. But He does NOT, and will NOT, accommodate the Truth to you. He wants to guide you into the Truth – into knowing Jesus Christ.
In the passage from John 7, Jesus says that if we will to do His will, and if we seek His glory, that we ARE TRUE. And He says that we have no unrighteousness in us. Note Jesus’ definition, in this context, of being without unrighteousness – which is to be righteous: It means to seek the glory of God. Sure. Seeking the glory of God, and to sell out to the will of God is a totally righteous heart attitude. There is nothing about it that is wrong – assuming we really know what this means.
It is absolutely certain that if we commit ourselves with a single eye to the will and glory of God, and stand by faith for whatever it takes for God to get His will and glory – both in us and through us – that it is going to come to pass. It may not be as we think, or how we think, but God is going to have His will in the life of such a one. It is for sure.
Never let your shortcomings, lack of faith, or lack of spiritual assets, to suggest otherwise to you. Why? Because you are saying to God, "Whatever it takes, Lord, bring to pass your glory and will IN ME. Make me into a person who is true, whose eye is single, and into a person in whom you can do your will." The moment we do that, we are already true, and already of a single eye. The result is that our entire life and consciousness can be filled with light and Truth, and we can grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
This is what God wants from His people. Unless He gets this, there are going to be great limitations. As we read earlier, the TRUE worshippers – those who have been made true – are going to worship God in Spirit and IN TRUTH. You have to be made true unto God in order to be a true worshipper of God who worships God IN TRUTH. John essentially said the same thing:
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10)
You cannot walk with the LIGHT HIMSELF if you are in darkness, or have darkness within, and are embracing it. I’m not saying we have to be perfect to walk with God – I am saying we have to be true, which is what it means to walk in the light. It is the same thing as having a single eye, and seeking God’s glory – God has access to me. But if I step into the light, and stay there, I have fellowship with THE LIGHT. And then I end up seeing much Truth.
What we are seeing from all of these examples is HOW to know the Truth: BE TRUE. Open to God. Truth isn’t a THING, or information. Truth is Jesus Christ. Thus, the moment we begin to open to HIM, and make His glory our goal, our lives are IN THE LIGHT, and we will KNOW. We will know because we know HIM.
You cannot know what is OF GOD if you don’t know God. You just can’t. Even our Bible understanding will be affected. You have to see and know Jesus Christ. And you begin to see and know Him by being morally accountable to Him through the seeking of His glory.
Simplicity in Christ
As mentioned earlier, many times when you ask God for guidance, or to tell you the Truth about something, there is silence. There are a number or reasons why this might be so – and one of them isn’t that God is indifferent. And at this point we will assume that you are willing to do His will, and have surrendered yourself to Him for whatever it takes. So what are some of these other possible reasons for God’s silence when we think we need Him to speak to us the most?
First of all, if we are desperate for an answer from God, and God isn’t giving us an answer, then we are desperate IN ERROR. I say that because we do not know better than God. So if He isn’t answering, then you can see how this calls into question our desperation. The point is, God’s silences are often His answer to us. His silence isn’t an accident, or apathy on His part. He never does anything, or withholds doing anything, without a reason that adds up to love and faithfulness.
At some point we are going to have to come to terms with the fact that all of our emotional reactions, understanding, and panic is NOT necessarily indicative of the Truth about a situation. So our desperation over an issue may not reflect the Truth about it. We think we MUST have an answer or die. God says we don’t need one.
Now, of course, the temptation here is that we would – because we are desperate for an answer – accept the suggestion that God has forsaken us. If there is one thing that tempts us in that direction it is the silence of God. As long as we are hearing from God, we believe He is there. But if we are desperate to hear from Him, and He doesn’t answer, it is tempting to begin doubting He is there. In fact, our fear that God may not be hearing us at all can become a greater problem than the issue that we wanted guidance about to begin with.
But again – God does not cater to this fear. He just doesn’t. If you, as a child of God, are doubting that God is with you, or cares for you, it is probably a fact that God is not going to continually assure you He is there. Why? Because you are probably asking Him for some sign or wonder – SOME answer – but instead He wants you to KNOW HIM. Christ in you is the witness of evidence of God. (see I John 5:9-11) If God pleased us every time we wanted assurance, we would never come into what it means to walk in the Spirit. We would never mature.
You see, you might be quite worried about something right now. Sure, you want the problem solved. But you also want to get out from under the worry, because it is stressful. God would tell you that He has one solution for worry: Don’t worry. Fear not. In other words, God has already told us much in His written Word. But we don’t obey it or believe it. We continually want Him to assure us that He is not a liar.
Of course, all of this IS part of the process, isn’t it? But when God is silent you can be sure that He is just as present as when you can sense Him. It is a great victory if we can come to the place where we BELIEVE either way. And sometimes God is silent to call us to that victory.
A second reason God may be silent, which overlaps the first, is that we don’t need INFORMATION. What we need is REVELATION – of Jesus. If God always gave us the information we want, and the direction we think we need, it is a fact that we would use it to our own destruction. How so? Well, it goes back to what we talked about earlier. If God gave true information to those who have not been MADE TRUE, then He would be giving true information to those who are still FALSE – in character and motive. Thus, even the true information would ultimately do them no good, and they would probably use the things of God to glorify themselves. There is enough of this going on today anyways. God isn’t going to affirm it all the more. No. God wants to give us true information and guidance, but only as we are being MADE TRUE in Christ. Another way to say this is that God cannot trust us with that which we seek until He makes us trustworthy. He cannot hand the things of the kingdom over to us until the kingdom is ruling us. He cannot and He will not. Thus, work on your personal accountability and relationship with God – and give Him unconditional access to you for whatever it takes. God will speak to you if He sees that it will serve His purpose and benefit you.
A third reason why God might be silent is because we already know what we are asking Him. It may be muddled beneath all of our fears and noise, but perhaps we DO KNOW. Read the Bible. Do you find the answer there? Do you believe it? There are some things that are so self-evident and clear that sometimes we think they are too good to be true. But God is faithful. What do you know?
I once knew someone who said that God told her to divorce her husband because He had pointed our her next spouse, who also happened to be married. The revealing thing was how eager and ready she was to, "obey God," in this matter. But this was one of those issues that hardly needed to be prayed about. God did NOT tell her that, because God would never tell anyone that. Thus, this woman, I believe DID KNOW the answer to this, or at least COULD know the answer. This should not have been a difficult issue. But because of her heart not being TRUE, it was a problem. When you are NOT TRUE you end up in darkness.
A fourth reason why God is silent is that He sees our hearts, and He sees that we are not yet MADE TRUE. And so sometimes He must allow us to walk down a road fashion by our UNTRUE nature, so that we can see what He sees, and if we turn, be set free. Often when God allows this, Christians get angry, and accuse God of allowing them to be deceived. Or perhaps we might lose faith. But we are missing the point. God did not deceive us. We deceived ourselves, and God had to let us – because it was the only way for us to see!
Remember that Abraham was allowed to birth Ishmael. God didn’t stop Him. But God didn’t bless it either! God simply used it to get Abraham to where He wanted him all along!
If we pray to God for the Truth, or for direction, and God sees certain possibilities in our heart, and allows us to be led astray by our own emotions or thinking, then He is allowing such a thing – NOT because He won’t answer our prayer – because it is what is necessary TO answer our prayer. Of course, if what we think is vital is simply a THING called, "an answer," we aren’t going to understand. But as I mentioned earlier, God wants to give us Himself, and reveal to us Himself, and we can never separate God from the THINGS we want from Him. Thus, God would say to us, "I hear your prayer. But there are parts of you that are presently UNTRUE. I cannot answer you until the untrue parts of you are dealt with. And yet in order to deal with them, I have to bring them out into the open – and this is going to require that I allow you to pursue your course, and crash." In the end, however, if we continue to turn to God, can we see that the result is freedom?
Like I said earlier, if we pray that God will do whatever it takes to make us true and set us free, it may take a few unpleasant circumstances. But if we really mean it, we will not turn away from our commitment to God no matter what.
I don’t think that many Christ deliberately rebel against God and chose a way they know is contrary to His will. But that doesn’t mean we are TRUE to Him all at once. No. We need to learn and get free. And God is working on this even if we don’t realize how much we need His help. It is what chastisement and discipline is all about. It is the Father dealing in love with His kids.
The bottom line in all of this is that WE – not God – make all of this so complicated. God is faithful. And when all of the passages and teaching and examples in the Bible are added up, God simply says, "Turn to Me with all of your heart. Become as a little child." It should not be more complicated. But it is because of unbelief and ignorance.
Jesus said, "If any one WILLS for HIS will…..He will KNOW." That is a turning to God, and that is the first step in being MADE TRUE. According to Jesus, the Holy Spirit will guide such a person into all Truth.
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