Love Your Neighbor - Luke 10:25-37

How do I discern God's will?  Facing a forced job change and have been in prayer about it, but how do I discern His answer? I've been told that I'll just know, that it will 'feel' right but I've thought a felt that on other major decisions and they've been horrible decisions.  How do I know? This decision will affect not only me but my children greatly, I don't want to get it wrong??  How can I know? Discernment eludes me ....

How do I know God’s will? This is one of the most often asked questions I get as a pastor. And please excuse my long answer.

Sometimes we have a bit more dramatic of an idea in mind like “Should I sell everything I own and move to India to be a missionary?”

But others are a little less dramatic. We just want to know if we should quit our current job and take a new offer we weren’t expecting. Should I study this major in college or that one. Should I ask her to marry me or should I wait. Should we start our family now or wait to have kids at a later point in our marriage?  

The reality is that many of us don’t know what God’s will is for our life or even how to know God’s will for our life.

The apostle Paul wrote these words in Romans 12:1-2 (ESV). “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

So first things first. How can you know God’s will?  Paul says we know the will of God by being transformed by the renewing of our minds.

And how do we renew our minds? Honestly, my answer isn’t very creative. It’s pretty basic. Kind of ordinary. Yet often neglected. And not nearly as appreciated as it should be.

But the way to renew your mind so that you know God’s will is to know God’s Word.  

For instance, in 1 Thessalonians 5, which tells us “to live peaceably with each other, to honor and respect church leaders, to warn lazy Christians, encourage each other, care for each other, be patient with everyone, do good—not evil—to each other and to all people, to always be joyful, to never stop praying, and to be thankful in all circumstances.” Well why should we do these things? Paul says in verse 18 that “this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

It’s hard to be any clearer than that, right?

In 1 Peter 2 we read “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”  

So how do you know God’s will? The answer is that you know God’s will by renewing your mind by knowing God’s Word. You must read God’s Word, study God’s Word, spend time listening to God’s Word preached, and absorb God’s Word.

But God’s Word doesn’t tell you whether or not to take this new job, or marry that person, or to go to which school. So there’s one other often neglected aspect of knowing God’s will. And here’s the good news and bad news.  

The good news is that this isn’t your responsibility. Which I know sounds crazy confusing, but just hold on because I’ll explain myself.

But this aspect of you knowing God’s will isn’t your personal responsibility.  

However, the bad news is that you do have a responsibility in helping others know God’s will.  

Listen to how Paul describes a man named Epaphras in Colossians 4:12. “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.”

So we have a personal responsibility to pray for other people that they too would know God’s will. This makes knowing God’s will a community project; not just an individual project. This is a corporate goal; not just a personal goal. We won’t know God’s will unless we’re doing life on life with other Christians who are helping us discern God’s will because we weren’t made to discern God’s will alone.

And this is why we have Life Groups and Gateway.  Small groups where people discuss how to apply God’s Word, pray for one another, care for one another, and build friendships with one another. All with a grand goal of helping one another understand God’s will.

I enjoyed the sermon, but my question is are we to love ISIS and other extreme actions of people? Where do you draw the line? Thanks and God bless.

So texting in questions sometimes limits how we ask the question. I’m going to assume something about your question and that is that it has a misplaced “and” in it. Meaning the question shouldn’t be “are we to love ISIS ‘and’ other extreme actions of people?” The reason I’m making this assumption is that your ‘and’ makes our love for people based on what they do. And that would go against everything the Bible teaches.

So, yes, we are to love the people in ISIS. They are deceived by Satan, following the path of a wicked and evil ideology, and will spend eternity in Hell if they don’t experience God’s unconditional love and grace towards them. And as God’s people we must love them.

But, no, we do not love their extreme actions or any evil action. The apostle John writes, “But to the cowards, unbelievers, detestable persons, murderers, the sexually immoral, and those who practice magic spells, idol worshipers,and all those who lie, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. That is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8 NET)

This verse is talking about the ‘second death’ which is eternity in Hell. But notice who’s there. Notice the “actions” that, if never repented of, will lead them to Hell. It’s not just the murderers of ISIS, it’s also the cowards, the sexually immoral, and the liars. That means that there’s is just as much hope for a murderer in ISIS as there is for a liar in Findlay, OH to be saved. But it also means that there’s just as much eternal hopelessness for a liar in Findlay, OH as there is for a murderer in ISIS. Both need God’s grace. Both need to repent. Both need Jesus. Both need to be loved by God’s people.