How can we, as the supposedly most "informed" generation of mankind, be so far off-base when it comes to God's will in our lives? Granted, it would be difficult to come to a consensus of what is even meant by the term "God's will". Between our doctrinal differences and theological disagreements, I'm not sure we can identify even a foundational aspect of God's will.
On a very simple level, His will is what He desires; and we can go from that thought to knowing that He desires a relationship with us. He desires that we seek Him, and that we know Him. And as we walk with the Lord, obeying His Word and relying on His Holy Spirit, we find that we are given the mind of Christ. And if you want a real clear picture of Christ's mind when it comes to the will of God, it is perfectly stated in John 6:38-40 ... " For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but that I [give new life and] raise it up at the last day. For this is My Father’s will and purpose, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him [as Savior] will have eternal life, and I will raise him up [from the dead] on the last day.”
The Apostles had no problem understanding the will of God. Paul was able to state God's will in a very concise and brief statement: [God] wishes all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge and recognition of the [divine] truth (I Timothy 2:4). As you have heard me say several times before, that word SAVED in verse 4 comes from the Greek word sozo. It means "healed; delivered; protected; made whole; kept safe and sound; do well; and to be kept safe from harm." THAT IS WHAT GOD'S WILL IS; WHAT HE DESIRES FOR EVERYONE!
So why are we blaming Him when our lives go wrong? Think you don't? What is your first thought when confronted with sickness or disease; financial difficulties; natural disasters; an accident; crime or violence; harm or death to a child; when your prayers aren't answered? If you are like some Christians, you probably think, "Why did God allow this to happen to me?" And that question can only be asked if you believe that God is in control of everything. But I challenge you to find that in Scripture!
There are verses that say all things are possible with Him; that He directs our path; that He does whatsoever He pleases; and that He works everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His will. But I do not believe that there is any verse that says He is in control of everything. If you take that thought to its logical conclusion, then you must say that if God is in control, then everything bad that happens comes from Him. That is simply contrary to His nature!
Have you ever stopped to think how arrogant it was of Satan to come before God and announce what he was doing? It was as if he was taunting God that he could do whatever he liked, and no man could resist him. After all, Jesus declared that He [and the Father] know the intentions of the devil: to steal, kill and destroy. So when God confronts Satan in the Book of Job, He knows what the devil is capable of. But He accepts the arrogant challenge, and says, "Have you considered my servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil." And what's the devil's response? I'm paraphrasing here, but basically the devil says, "The only reason Job loves You is because of what You give him and because of how You've blessed him." (See Job 1:9–11).
You see, the devil counts on people loving their things [and their power and knowledge and status] more than they love God. It worked in the Garden of Eden! In fact, Satan is sure that Christians will seek God more for things that benefit themselves than they will seek an intimate relationship with Him. So he goes about touching their "stuff" to get them to blame God for the bad things that happen to them.
So, those who think that God controls everything, or at least allows things to happen, will point to Job 1:12 as proof of their argument: Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord. But here's what we need to consider ... If Satan became god of this world when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, why did he need permission from God to attack Job? The answer is, he didn't. It was already in his power to do so. The Bible very clearly states in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that Satan is the god of this world. Adam and Eve had been given dominion (authority, control, and power) over the earth (Genesis 1:26-28), and they transferred it to Satan when they rebelled against God's commands.
Satan doesn't need God's permission to kill this one. or cause that one to be in an accident. He doesn't have to ask God if he can take the life of a little child. He just does it. Could God stop it? Absolutely. But He will not violate His Cosmic Rule of Free Will. After all, God created mankind in His own image, and that included the ability to choose. He says in Malachi 3:6, I, the Lord, do not change. Why do we not believe Him? God does not choose one day to allow free will, and then to prohibit it the next. So, because of Adam and Eve's rebellion, Satan received dominionship of this world and we must choose whether to follow him or God.
Of course, there follows the difficult question of whether we have some sin in our lives that has given Satan cause or authority to bring hardship or tragedy to our doorstep. That is a possibility, and we must all search our souls and spirits for our own accountability. But we must also realize that Sin exists in this world, and we must all pay with a death -- and Satan is glad to oblige with the death of our hopes and dreams; a death of a loved one; or the death of our trust and confidence in God.
And we need to recognize that Death comes from the devil. We know that Satan introduced Death to man, which separated us from an eternity with God. Before the Garden incident, man did not experience death. And we know that Jesus came and conquered Death, so that we could once again have a way to experience eternity with God. And Jesus will return soon to conquer all evil and wickedness from the earth, establishing a 1,000-year reign for God to fulfill promises (covenants) He made specifically to Israel, to Jesus, to the nations of the world, and to creation. All of these will be fulfilled during Jesus’ 1,000-year reign. (My next post will outline these specific promises and their fulfillment).
And I'm going to say something that is difficult for me to even write, but I think we must consider it ... When people blame God for all of the bad things that have happened to them, there's no way they can truly love Him as He deserves. Oh sure, they say they love Him. But how can you trust God if you think He will put cancer on you? Or allow a loved one to be tragically taken from you? It's impossible to truly love God if you don't trust Him, because you never know when He might "allow" the devil to have his way with you! And that is just how cunning the devil can be in presenting an argument that can threaten our relationship with our Father.
Earlier, I quoted John 10:10: "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. But that was only half of the verse. Jesus went on to say, " I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]." This is very clear that it is the devil who kills, and Jesus [and God] who offer Life. God never gives permission to the devil to attack anyone. The devil does it because, for now, he can, as god of this world.
And for those who argue, "God wants to build character in our lives through trials", I would argue this ... While Romans 5 encourages us that trials bring perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope, how can that happen if we think God allows bad things to happen to us? We certainly can't build character if we've lost hope that we can always trust God. Proverbs 13:12 tells us, "Hope deferred [postponed, suspended] makes the heart sick". And a sick heart cannot love or honor God.
Trials and tribulations are situations in which the devil tries to get us to blame God for whatever isn't going right in our lives. When they come our way, we need to declare the authority Jesus has given us and bring the Power of Heaven into Satan's hellish circumstances. We need to make the devil wish that he never touched or tempted us! And instead of attributing anything bad to God, our trials should purify our hearts, strengthen our faith, and draw us closer to Him. We should never attribute the deeds of the devil to "God's will". Nowhere in the Bible does it say it is His desire to harm us in anyway. It is simply not in His character!
But remember... it IS in Satan's character to steal, kill and destroy. And the devil thought he could get Job to blame God when he began afflicting him with hardships and loss. See, here's the thing -- Satan cannot kick God off His throne in Heaven. BUT, he can try to get us to kick Him off the throne of our hearts. Anytime that we ascribe the devil's actions to God, we are denying His Goodness and attacking His Divine Character. Stop blaming God, and give the devil his due! Let him know that we're not buying what he's selling, and we know Who our God is! Don't let our Enemy rob you of the complete joy that is our God.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know what I have planned for you, says the Lord. I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.