What is God’s will?
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions– it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith– and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)– 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
I’d like to give a few pointers as you read through the passage above. I don’t want to get in the way of your own reading or what the Holy Spirit is already saying to you.
What is God’s will? What is meant by “God’s will” for us?
Paul here in the second chapter of Ephesians says that turning from old ways and thoughts is where it begins as it relates to how we live.
Most of the time we live our lives absent of God’s wise instruction. That makes our lives incompatible with God’s will for us. Our default is to be “without God” because of our sinful nature. We aren’t how He wants us to be because of our own desires. What we follow in unbelief is nothing more than our belly’s desire.
There is more to “I see God’s will and I follow it.” I say, “will to be” to state that there is a process going on right now (by way of Christ’s great commission) to bring all things to be one in God. He is at work in all this. He is working all things together… for us. We are the target. A church word that might apply is “sanctification,” but don’t just put all that on God. Paul is talking about our participation in this as well. We are involved in all of this. We are to work in love toward God’s promised goal for us. We are submitting to God’s way.
What we are to follow is a source outside ourselves: Jesus. So, we can conform to think and behave like Lord Jesus helped by the Holy Spirit which God richly gifts to believers. Christ thereby will bring about God’s desires in us rather than us living for our own belly. There is a thing called “participation with the Spirit” and “not grieving the Spirit” which is us living in the Spirit to become what God wills. This is not an automatic autopilot thing. Paul tells us this is how God is building His temple.
God purifies us as sacred space. Space, which like a priest, believers have the responsibility to keep clean from what is common in the world. His will is to be very close to us more than we can naturally attain.
Are you going to participate in God’s will? Are you willing to do that? Will you participate with the Spirit in conforming to His likeness?
It is so sobering to read that God’s will is to dwell in us and among us so intimately. Yes, this is God’s “will to be,” gifting those that place their faith in Him with His Spirit bringing all things into reflecting His nature.
God’s will for us “to be” is to be “One Spirit in one body” and to be “God’s temple.” We don’t function like this really. He is beginning here (finishes out the thought in the rest of Ephesians) to introduce the idea of being built into God’s likeness.
What do you need to pray about to participate with the Spirit?
Where can you join God willingly in what He is already doing in your life?
What is God building in you for His Kingdom?