“That’s pretty rough,” you say. “The Bible doesn’t talk like that.”
Oh? Try this. “Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17).
Furthermore, the preceding verse tells us we have to get on with it; we don’t have much time. We are to be “making the most of [our] time, because the days are evil” (v. 16).
You say, “But I am looking for God’s will. Maybe I am foolish, but can I help that?”
Yes, you can help it. Otherwise, the Bible would not command you to “not be foolish.” The way to avoid being foolish is covered in the very next verse. “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (v. 18).
First, if you want to know God’s will, you must be saved. Second, you must be Spirit-filled. That is the teaching of the Word of God.
Many Christians say, “I don’t understand why God hasn’t revealed whom I am to marry.” Others say, “Why doesn’t He show me what job I should take, what business deal I should enter into, what I ought to purchase, whether I ought to move to another home, or what I ought to do about some specific problem? Why doesn’t God do something for me and show me His will?” And all the time these people are not even Spirit-filled, which is clearly revealed as His will. Why should God show a person something if he or she is not even fulfilling that which God has already clearly stated as His will?
What does it mean to be Spirit-filled? Let me give you a short theology lesson. We will call it theology of the Spirit-filled life. When you were saved, the moment you received Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit came to live within you. There is no Christian who does not possess the Holy Spirit. “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Rom. 8:9; see also 1 Cor. 6:19; 12:12–13). Yet it is amazing how many Christians think they do not have the Holy Spirit.
I have sat in church and heard sincere people pray, “Oh God, send Your Spirit,” and I’ve thought, No, He is here. He is here! I have heard people pray, “God, give me more of Your Spirit,” as if He comes in doses.
The Holy Spirit is a person; He lives within you. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?” (1 Cor. 6:19). So many times we ask for what we already have! We pray for the Holy Spirit, and He is already here.
Have you ever analyzed your prayers?
You pray, “God, give me more love for so-and-so.” The Bible says the “love of God has been poured out within our hearts” (Rom. 5:5).
You say, “God, I need more grace.” God says that the grace He has already given you is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).
You cry, “Oh Lord, I need more strength.” The Bible says you “can do all things” through Christ, who strengthens you (Phil. 4:13).
“Oh God, guide me,” you say. But He has already given you His all-sufficient Word to light your path (Ps. 119:105).
John MacArthur, Found: God’s Will (Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2012).
We have just released a new Bible study on topic of God’s Will.
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
Lesson #1: God’s Will and My Will
Roman 11.33 – 12.2; Ephesians 1.4 – 9
Lesson #2: God’s Will and God’s Refreshing Word
Psalms 19.7 – 14
Lesson #3: God’s Will and the Holy Spirit
1 Corinthians 2
Lesson #4: God’s Will and the Church
1 Corinthians 12
Lesson #5: God’s Will and Circumstances
Romans 8.26 – 32
Lesson #6: God’s Will and the Glory of God
John 11.1 – 4, 38 – 45