Now in Romans, chapter twelve, I want to start right there at the beginning, where the Bible reads, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your body as a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service, and be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
What I want to talk about this morning is proving what is the will of God, or making the right decisions in your life. There are a lot of decisions that we have in our life, and we want to know what is the right thing for me to do. What does God want me to do? When we look at the term, the will of God, that's what the will of God means. It means what God wants. If we're looking for the will of God in our lives, we're looking for what God wants us to do with our lives, and when we make decisions, obviously we should be seeking to prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.
For example, it, also, says in Ephesians 5:9, "For the fruit of the spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth, proving what is acceptable unto the Lord, and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them, for it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret."
The first thing I want to point out this morning is that when we're looking for the will of God, or when we want to make a decision that would be pleasing to God or acceptable to God, number one, we need to understand that our decision needs to conform to the laws of God. Most of what is considered God's will is found in the commandments and laws of God.
Turn if you would to First Thessalonians, chapter four. First Thessalonians, chapter four, and many people talk about the will of God as if it is a big mystery, and we have to pray, and search, and figure out what is God's will, and we beg God to reveal his will to us, and I'm going to get to a little bit later in the sermon what role prayer plays in determining the will of God, but in reality, the vast majority of what we need to know about God's will is found in this book right here, the Bible. It's not hidden. It's not far off. We don't have to go looking for it or searching for it. You don't even necessarily have to go to a pastor or man of God to tell you what the will of God is, because the vast majority of God's will is clearly spelled out in the Bible.
The first place we look there in Romans 12, it said that we should not be conformed to this world, but that we should be transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we might prove that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. That tells me that if you have a worldly philosophy, and a philosophy that is not renewed by the Bible, but rather a philosophy that just comes from the world we live in, you will often have a misunderstanding of what God's will is. You'll do things and you think you're doing God's will, you'll say things that you think are the will of God, but, in reality, you're just repeating things that you've heard in this world, and the Bible says we need to renew our mind, not be conformed to the world. We need to get God's will from the word of God.
Look at this in First Thessalonians 4, verse two. It says, "For you know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus." That's the first thing I want to point out. He says, "You know the commandments. You know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus for this is the will of God, even your sanctification that ye should abstain from fornication." What is the will of God, according to this scripture? It's that we follow the commandments of God. It's that we are sanctified in our lives, and what does it mean to be sanctified? Made holy, set apart. Look, when you're conformed to this world, you're not holy. You're not set apart. You're not different.
The Bible says you know what the commandments are. It's time for you to be sanctified. It's time for you to live a holy life, cleanness, righteousness, and the Bible says it's the will of God that you abstain from fornication. How do we know? Because the Bible commands us to flee fornication. That's why. Because the Bible commands us that that activity should only be done within marriage, and fornication is doing that outside of marriage.
Flip over, if you would, to Ephesians, chapter six, and while you're turning there, let me point out something else. A lot of people will say this: They'll say, "Well, I prayed about it, and I believe this is God's will. I just prayed and asked God, and I just think I should do thus and so." Well, does it conform with God's word, because if it doesn't, then it's not God's will, period, plain and simple.
Here's a scripture that proves that. It says in Proverbs 28, verse nine, "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination." When we turn away our ear from hearing what God has told us in the word, then we go asking God, "God, what do you want us to do? God, I want to know what your will is. Guide and direct me." He says, "That prayer is an abomination. I've already told you what you're supposed to be doing it, and you've ignored it." He's saying you need to listen to the law of God, listen to the commandments of God. That will tell you what God wants. That will tell you what the will of God is.
Here's another verse that brings up the will of God, there in Ephesians 6. It says, "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters, according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, and singleness of your heart, as onto Christ." Not with eyes serviced as men pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men.
Here's a scripture about people going to their job, servants serving their master. This is just doing physical labor for someone that you're accountable to, whether that's your employer, your boss, the owner of the company, and it says that you're doing the will of God when you work hard at that job. Why? Because God commands you to work hard at that job.
God's will is a lot less mysterious than we think when we look at scriptures that bring up the will of God, and they keep just telling us to keep the commandments of God, follow the commandments of God. Go to Micah, chapter six. This is in the Old Testament, the minor prophets, those twelve short books at the very end of the Old Testament. Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk. Find the book of Micah. Look at Micah 6:8. The reason I bring up that scripture about your prayer being an abomination when you turn away your ear from hearing the law, is that a lot of times, people pray for the will of God, and then they just decide to do what they want, but then they say, "Well, God's telling me to do this."
I've heard people say over and over again, "God told me X," and they throw that term around, and, wait a minute, the Bible says, "Add thou not into this word, less he reprove you and now be found a liar." We need to be very careful not to say, "God said this," or, "God told me this," unless it's coming from the word of God. We can't verify that just your feeling, or you think you heard a still, small voice. Look, we have a more sure word of prophesy. You need to go to the Bible and the word of God that's written in stone, that's engraved in lead. This is where we need to get our doctrine, and this is where we need to find the will of God first and foremost. Not just ignore this, and then just go pray and say, "I have peace about it. Now I'm going to do this and that," and it's not something that's biblical.
The Bible commands us to go to church. The Bible commands us to abstain from fornication. The Bible commands us not to marry an unbeliever. You can't just sit there and pray about it, and say, "I've prayed about it, and I think God just wants me to worship at home." No, God wants you to go to church. That's what he told you to do. He said, "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is," and you can sit there and say, "I just believe it's God's will that I marry so and so." Unless that person is a born again Christian, unless that person is saved by faith alone in Jesus Christ, that is never going to be God's will that you marry that person, because it's against the commandments of God.
There are so many examples we can give of things that are just laid out clearly in scripture. He's telling us what he wants us to do. We don't have to wonder about the will of God in those situations.
Look at Micah 6. This is another verse that drives in the point that we know what we need to do in most areas. Most decisions are pretty easy if we just let the Bible direct us. It says in verse eight, "He has showed the O man what is good." There's no question, there's no wondering with God. We have this whole giant book telling us what's right in a given situation. "He has showed the O man what is good, and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."
If you understand the grammar of that verse, he's saying God is not requiring anything of us than what he was already told us, because it's a question, what does the Lord require of thee, but to do these things. Look, do justly. What does it mean to do justly? Another synonym of justly is to do righteously, to do righteousness, do right. Justice and righteous are synonyms in the Bible. Justification is to be declared righteous in the eyes of God, and the Bible is saying here, look, he already showed you. Just do it. Do the right things, stay humble, and love mercy. That's all.
That's very similar to what he said in Ecclesiastes. Don't turn there, but in Ecclesiastes 12:13, he said, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." There is no other duty. The Bible says, "The whole duty of man, fear God and keep his commandments." That means that God does not expect you to do anything that he didn't already tell you to do in this book. Everything that we need to know how to live our lives, as far as what we should do and should not do in order to be pleasing to God, is found in the Bible. There's no mystery. There's no wondering. He tells us. We have that responsibility to search the Bible and find the answer to the question, what is the will of the Lord? He has showed the O man.
Just a quick little commercial break for the new movie, New World Living Bible version. It's so funny. I looked up this verse in all the modern versions. Are you in Micah 6:8? I looked this up in all the modern Bible versions. It's so ridiculous. You can't even believe what they say, because it says here, "He showed the O man." Who has sung the song before based on this verse? Put your hand up. He has showed the O man. You know it? Is he the only person here that ... Does anybody else know that song? Another hand back there. It was a really popular song when I was a kid, but I looked that up in these new versions. Listen to this. This is the Contemporary English Bible, because everybody knows that the King James Bible's written in a ... Nobody talks that way anymore. Isn't that what they say?
That's why the Contemporary English Bible has changed this to, "He has told you, human one, what is good." We know that that's how people talk. How many of you have ever said O man in your life? O man. All the time. How many of you address your friends, loved ones, co-workers as human one? O human one. But this is the kind of ridiculousness in these new versions, and here's what's funny about it. First of all, I think they're trying to make the Bible look stupid, because they're of Satan, number one, because no one in their right mind thinks that's a good translation, and these are the people you're trusting to preserve all the doctrines of the Bible, to preserve all the teachings of the Bible. These are the people you're trusting to go through all the textual evidence and all the manuscripts, and get the most accurate translation. Someone who thinks that a reasonable translation of this verse is, "He has told thee, human one." That's who you're trusting?
Not for one second. These people are fools. Anyone who would translate this verse that way is a fool. How can you read this? Here's the thing about it. You say, "Well, what do you know? Go back to the Hebrew." I looked this verse up in my Hebrew Bible. It's just the basic same word for man that's used everywhere else, but you know what they're trying to do? Make it gender neutral, and in the process of making it ... It's the word Adam, like Adam, and here's the thing. They're trying to make it gender neutral, and in the process, they end up sounding ridiculous.
Listen to what the NIV does in this verse. "He has shown you, O mortal." How are you doing today, O mortal? Have a seat. Look, this is not the way people talk today. These Bibles are not about making it more contemporary or making it easier to understand. What they're about is changing it, corrupting it, and making it sound stupid. People read the King James Bible. It sounds great, and even long before I even learned what was wrong with these other Bibles, I just thought to myself, "Wow, this sounds really stupid," and I know that God is a magnificent God. He's a powerful God. He's an all knowing God. Any book that God wrote would sound awesome.
When I read the Book of Mormon, it sounds stupid. You read the Koran, it sounds stupid. The read the Tao Te Ching, it sounds stupid. The read the Apocryphal, it sounds stupid. You read the Holy Bible, it sounds glorious, and majestic, and amazing. You read these new versions, and they sound ridiculous. I mean they sound like somebody just typed the Bible into Google translate, and just went with whatever came out.
I mean human being? This is a different contemporary something Bible. Human being, you've already been told what is good. The ERV, "Human, the Lord has told you what goodness is. This is what he wants from you." [inaudible 00:14:15] I mean this is not the way people talk at all. It's ridiculous. I could show you all the different examples, the EXV, the GW, the LEB, the NOG. That sounds like a drink that you drink around Christmas time, but it says, "You mortals, Yahweh has told you what is good." The NCB, "The Lord has told you, human, what is good." NRSV, "He has told you, O mortal, what is good." But you trust these people, right, to give you the Bible in today's English, today's language. It's really nonsense. There's nothing wrong with the word man. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Anyway, God is showing you, O mortals, O human beings, today. God is showing you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you. Ninety-nine percent of the will of God is not a question mark. It's a period, and we find it in the Bible. It's there for us.
If you would, flip over in your Bible to First Peter, chapter four. First Peter, chapter number four. As you turn there, let me read you a couple of other scriptures. First Thessolonians 5:18 says, "In everything, give thanks for this is the will of God and Christ Jesus concerning you." What is God's will? That we give thanks. What is God's will? That we live a holy, clean life. What is God's will? That we do justly, that we walk humbly with our God, that we love mercy. What is God's will? That we abstain from fornication. What is God's will? That we keep all the commandments of God, and there are many hundreds of commandments that he's given us. That is what He expects of us.
First Peter 2:15 says, "For so is the will of God, that with well doing, you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men." Look at First Peter, chapter four, verse one, "For as much then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind."
What does it mean to arm yourself? If I said for the [inaudible 00:16:10] arm yourself, what am I telling him to do? Get a weapon, right? If I said, "Arm yourself," that means you need to take up a weapon. You need to carry a weapon. What is the Bible saying here? When it says, "Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind?" He says, "Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind, for He that has suffered in the flesh has seized from sin."
What is the Bible telling us when it tells us to arm ourselves? There's a spiritual battle going on, spiritual warfare. The weapon is the word of God. The Bible says, "Take the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God." He gives us a lot of defensive armor, but then he says, "Take the sword of His spirit," which is the word of God. That's the offensive weapon. We need to arm ourselves with the mind of Christ. We need to not be conformed to this world in our thinking. We need to have a renewed mind. We need to have the mind of Christ. We need to know what the mind of the spirit is, the Bible says in First Corinthians 2, and we need to get these things from the word of God.
It says in verse two, "That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God." We can see in verse two that the opposite of the will of God is fulfilling the lust of the flesh. When we live according to the lust of the flesh, when we break the commandments of God, when we violate God's commandments, that's the opposite of God's will. God's will is to walk in the spirit. God's will is to obey the commandments. It says in verse three, "For the time passed of our life may suffice as to have brought the will of the Gentiles." Look, that's the opposite of the will of God. There's the will of God, then there's the will of the Gentiles. What's the will of the Gentiles? It says, "When we walked in lasciviousness." Lust, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries, wherein they think it's strange that you run not with him to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.
There's the will of the world that we live in today, which says get drunk, party, fornicate, live a licentious lifestyle, whereas God's will is that we're different, that we're a peculiar people, that we are separate from the world, that we live a life of sanctification, holiness, righteousness. It's no mystery today what the will of God is. That's why the Bible says in Ephesians 5, verse seventeen, "Wherefore be not ye unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is, and be not drunk with wine, wherein as excess," exactly what we just talked in First Peter 4, "But be filled the spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart for the Lord."
If we're going to talk about making good decisions, determining the will of God in your life, the one thing we got to get out of the way right up front is to understand that most of God's will is found in the Bible. Most of the questions that we have about how we should live our life, what should I do? Should I do A or should I do B? Most of it is going to be dictated by what we read in the Bible when he just gives us commandments. He just tells us, "Do this. Don't do that," and we need to search for those things, and live our life according to those things.
Go to Genesis, chapter twenty-four. Genesis 24, and let's talk about the second thing. The first thing we said is that when we're determining the will of God and making decisions in our life, we need to make sure that the law of God, the commandments of God are the first place we look. We need to walk to God's commandments, and that will make most decisions. That will solve most of it right there.
But you say, "Pastor Anderson, there are other decisions that the Bible's not going to specifically tell me what to do. It's not specifically going to cover it." I agree with that. Let's think of some examples. What are some examples of things that the Bible doesn't just specifically tell us exactly what to do? For example, let's say you have a choice between a couple different jobs. You got a few different job offers, and you have to decide should I take this job or should I take the other job. Let's say you have a current job and you're offered another job, and you're not sure. Which one do I take? The Bible doesn't tell you thou shalt work at this company. You're not going to find that in the Bible.
Other decisions that you'll be faced with that are not going to be specifically addressed in the Bible could be, for example, who to marry. Should I marry this person? Should I not this person? Who do I marry? Those type of things are not going to be specifically addressed in the Bible, so how do I know which job to take? Maybe where to live. Should I live in this part of town or the other part of town? Should I live in a distant state, or should I live here in Arizona? Those type of things are not going to be specifically addressed. There's no mention of Arizona in the Bible, although there are mentions of scorching deserts and wilderness, but there's no mention specifically of Arizona. There's no mention of the young ladies or young men that you're thinking about dating or marrying. There's no mention of specific companies that you need for work for or not work for.
How do you make those decisions? Well, first of all, you make sure that you're keeping the commandments of God. That's number one. But, number two, when there's a decision to make that's not specifically covered in the Bible, you should simply make that decision according to your own free will that God has given you, but that decision should be made using biblical wisdom, and then you trust in the Lord to lead you. First of all, you just make sure, number one, that you're in conformity with God's word and God's commandments, but you have a decision, and that decision has nothing to do with anything that's spelled out in the Bible. At that point, you just make the decision, but you trust in the Lord to lead you, and pray to the Lord that he would lead.
That's where pray comes into determining the will of God. You see, if you're praying, and you expect God to audibly answer you or you're just going to go with something that comes from the heart, that's an abuse of prayer. Where you're praying to God and saying, "God, tell me this," and then you just think really hard, a lot of times that's just your imagination, and then you're going to say that your imagination is an answer from God.
What we ought to do though is just live our lives in a godly way, and then just pray, "Lord, I've got a decision to make. Just lead me, guide and direct me, Lord," and then you decide based upon your own free will. You say, "I don't believe in free will." Well, you don't believe the Bible, and somebody confronted me with this ... And Calvinism today is so popular today. I don't understand it. The Baptists are becoming Reformed Baptists, and they're all into their tulip and Calvinism, and it's a false doctrine. All of it's a false doctrine. I had one of these Calvinists tell me recently, "Free will's not in the Bible. Show me free will in the Bible." I gave them seventeen verses that use the word free will, so if there is no such thing as free will, why are there seventeen verses that say free will? But they want to talk all day long about the sovereignty of God. The word sovereign is found in the Bible, if you're reading the King James, zero.
If you got the non-inspired version, the NIV, or one of these other newer Bibles, yeah, they put the word sovereign in hundreds of times, but the King James Bible does not even use ... They word free will seventeen times.
We do have free will, and to think that God makes all of our decisions for us is a false doctrine. All the way back to the beginning of mankind, when God put man in the Garden of Eden, the first thing that he told them to do was to be free. He said, "Of all the trees of the Garden, thou mayest freely eat." He didn't say, "Let me give you your diet schedule for the next thousand years. First, you're going to eat this tree for breakfast. Then you're going to eat this tree for lunch. Then you're going to eat this tree for dinner." No, all the way back to the beginning, I mean starting out at the very beginnings of mankind, God is giving us choices. He's giving us decisions. He's giving us free will. He's letting us choose what we want to eat, and to do it freely. Not a robot. Not a puppet, and, look, do you think Adam just dropped to his knees and just prayed, "Oh, God, show me which tree to eat first. Show me your will, Lord." It wouldn't have made any sense, because God said, "Be free. Use your free will to make decisions. Eat what you want, Adam," within the parameters of God's word. Because there was a restriction, wasn't there? "Don't eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
When I say make decisions according to your free will, I'm not saying violate the commands of God. That was point one. Point one was to make sure that you make your decisions within God's will, but, look, when the Bible doesn't tell us specifically, it's time to exercise free will. For example, I've got a really big decision today, what am I going to have for lunch. Huge decision. I search the scripture. I can't find anything about what I'm supposed to eat at lunch. I'm being facetious, because my wife has already made this decision for me. She's already made an excellent meal of roast beef, potatoes au gratin, and so forth. But let's say I'm a single guy, and I've got a choice. I've got Chipotle here, and I've got Chipotle over here. No, I'm just kidding. I love Chipotle.
Here's a better idea. I'm in Chipotle, and I have a decision. Am I going to go with chicken or steak? I'm not going to drop to my knees and pray to the Lord and ask Him to reveal that to me, because I just believe that that's an area that God has left up to me to decide, which thing I want to eat today.
That's not the only decision he gives us. God gives us a lot of decisions in our life. Some people, they choose where they live because they like it, or they choose the job they want to do because they like doing it. We have plenty of things to do to make God happy, and to please him and obey Him. He, also, gives us some freedom, believe it or not, to make some of our own choices in life. I believe that when it comes to who we marry, He gives us that choice. You're going to live with that person for the rest of your life. You better choose one that you like. You better choose one that you want to be with. That's your choice. He doesn't tell us in the Bible, "Thou shalt marry this person," but is there a restriction? Only in the Lord. The Bible says, "She may marry," in First Corinthians 7, "whomsoever she will only in the Lord." God says that she can choose who she wants to marry as a woman, but it better be in the Lord, meaning it must be a saved man. It must be a godly man.
Then, not only are there restrictions, but then there's, also, biblical wisdom. God does give us advice on what to look for in a woman. God can give advice on what to look for in a man, but, at the end of the day, it's your choice to decide.
When God has not specifically given us commandments, we use free will to make decisions. We, also, use biblical wisdom. Obviously we're staying within the commandments of God, and then we trust the Lord to lead us, or even pray to the Lord to lead us. What do I mean by that? Look at Genesis 24:27, and I don't have time to tell the whole big long story here, but this is the story where the servant of Abraham is going into a far country to get a wife for Isaac. He doesn't want Isaac to marry one of the daughters of the land, one of the heathens, so he sends his servant to Pedanaram to find a wife and bring back a wife for Isaac from the tribe of his fathers.
The servant prays to the Lord and says, "Ask God to lead him," but look what it says in Genesis 24, verse twenty-seven. It says, "And he said, 'Blessed be the Lord God of my master, Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth,'" and I love this phrase, "I, being in the way, the Lord lead me to the house of my master's brethren." I want you to let that phrase sink down into yours. "I, being in the way, the Lord lead me."
When we are in the way, meaning the right way, when we're doing what we've been told to do, when we're in the way, God's going to lead us. There are lot of scriptures that teach this. Psalm 37:23 says, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in his way." God delights in the way of, and orders the steps of a good man.
Let me ask you this: Is every man a good man? There are a lot of people that are not good. Is God delighting in their way? No. Is God ordering their steps? Here's the difference between biblical theology and Calvinism. Calvinism is teaching God's ordering everybody's steps. God's in control of everything. God's just sovereign over everything. Look, there are so many sick, and ungodly, and wicked things going on in this world, and let me tell you something, God is not behind it. God is not the author of confusion. God did not even dream up some of the things that people did in the Old Testament when they did sacrificing their children into Molech. He said, "That thing never even came into my mind." That's what God said. When people go into perversion, according to Romans 1, it's after their own lusts. God's not the author of those things.
What the Bible is teaching is that the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. It does not say the steps of every man are ordered by the Lord. What we need to focus on is being a good man. What we need to focus on is being in the way, and we are obeying the Lord, keeping his commandments, walking in the way, when we're on the right path, then when we make decisions according to our own free will, we believe and trust that the Lord is leading us, because He has promised that He would lead us. He says the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.
In Proverbs 3:5, one of the most famous scriptures in the whole Bible, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not into thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy path." If you want God to direct your path, you've got to trust in the Lord. You've got to stop leaning on your own understanding. You got to get your understanding from this Book, renew your mind, don't be conformed to this world, acknowledge Him in all your ways, he'll direct your path.
It doesn't just say God's going to direct your path, period. It says do X, Y, Z, and God's going to direct your path, and that is what we mean when we say the Lord's going to lead us. Go to Romans, chapter eight. Romans, chapter eight, and let me tell you this: When you get out of the way, because remember he said, "I, being in the way, the Lord lead me." When you get out of the way, there's no guarantee that God's going to lead you. When you're not a good man, there's no guarantee that God's leading you, and let me tell you something. It's a jungle out there. When you get outside the will of God and starting making decisions, you could easily make the wrong decision.
Obviously getting married comes to mind, because there are a lot of people who marry someone, and that person ends up being a very bad person, or they end up having all kinds of ... Whatever the other case may be. They take a job, and it ends up destroying them, and they end up making other decisions that can be ... They move somewhere, and it's a disaster. When we get outside of the will of God, it's a jungle out there, and we can't guarantee that God's going to guide us and take care of us, protect us. When we are in the will of God, even when bad things happen, we still, at least, know that God's going to work it together for good.
Look at what the Bible says, Romans 8:26, "Likewise, the spirit, also, helpeth our infirmities, for we know not what we should pray for as we ought." We don't always know what the will of God is. On the big things, we know his commandments, his laws, but then there are other things that aren't covered in the Bible, so we don't know what we should pray for as we ought.
"But the spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered, and he that searcheth the heart knoweth what is the mind of the spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." We know that all things work together for good for everybody. Is that what it says? No, it says we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, and to them that who are the called according to his purpose.
What does it sound like we need to focus on in our lives? Loving God, being good, keeping his commandments, walking in the right way, trusting in the Lord, obeying the Lord, and if we do those things, then we know God's going to lead us, and we can make decisions, and we can use our free will, and we know that we're not going to end up completely becoming a shipwreck or a disaster, because we know that as long as we're obeying God, our latter end will be blessed. I'm not saying there aren't going to be trials and tribulations, but God will lead us, God will direct us, and there is a destination that we will reach, that is a destination of blessing, and not even just in the next life, but even in this life God will bless us. Not necessarily immediately, but we will receive blessing in this life. We will be recompensed in the earth if we do what is right, but as soon as we ignore God's commandments, start stepping outside the will of God, it's a jungle out there, and we're going to make all kinds of mistakes, and we could destroy our lives. We could really become a shipwreck or a catastrophe if we don't obey the Lord.
We see people often, they live an ungodly life. They get away from church. They get away from serving God. They get away from reading their Bibles, and then they marry somebody who they think is a good person, and then it turns out that's a wicked person, but then sometimes you can see the things that lead up to that, where they were totally out of God's will.
Especially when you're marrying an unbeliever, you know you're out of God's will. There's no question. When you're marrying somebody who you know is an unbeliever ... You say, "Well, they're kind of Christian. They're Catholic." [inaudible 00:34:44] "Oh, well, they're Episcopalian." Hey, you better check and make sure that they're really saved. Just because somebody says they're Christian, I mean most of our nation says they're Christian, but does that mean they're all saved?
No. You need to check and talk about that, and figure that out, and the best place to meet somebody to marry is church, is the best place. You say, "Well, there aren't enough women in our church, not enough young men in our church." You try to meet somebody at church, and you could visit other churches and try to meet people. You can meet other Christian godly young people, or you can win somebody to Christ, but you better make sure that you're marrying somebody that's a believer. You better make sure you're marrying somebody who wants to live for God, and wants to go to the same direction that you want to go, but I think more importantly than any of that, is even just to know that you love God, are walking with God, and are serving God in general, so that God can lead you and direct ...
I can think of so many times that God in my life protected me from bad decisions. God just put up a roadblock and protected me from bad decisions, protected me. People that I thought, "Oh, this would be a good person to marry." When you're a teenager and you're a young person, you're dating, and then, "Wow, am I glad that I didn't marry that person." God can sometimes put things in the way, and protect us and guide us. That's why it's so important to make sure you're in the will of God in your life, so that God can lead you.
Then you just make decisions based upon free will, and that's the second point, but, thirdly this, our decisions should be based upon godly priorities. Number one, our decisions need to conform to the Bible. They need to conform to the word of God. By the way, let me just say this. I've had people often ask me this, because I preach against divorce, and apparently I'm one of the few people left. I'm like a dinosaur that's going extinct. I'm one of the few people left that takes a strong stand against divorce, and you don't hear it a lot, because people don't want to offend people, and I don't want to offend people. I mean there are a lot of people that I love that are divorced, and I'm not hateful or against people that are divorced, but it's sin, and the Bible says God hates putting away, God hates divorce.
Whenever you take a strong stand on the word of God, people will try to pick you apart. You stand and preach hard against divorce, and people will, "Well, what about this? Well, what about this?" Whenever you preach anything from the Bible, people want to try to pick it apart. But you know what? The problem is not with me. I'm not the author of the Bible. You know the problems with the Bible, but when people come to me, this is what they'll often say, "What if somebody marries somebody, and it turns out that person's a Sodomite. That person is exposed as a Sodomite," and that does happen. You say, "What about that?"
Here's my belief on that. I don't believe ... And they say, "Oh, they had no idea. I mean they had no idea that this person was a Sodomite. They thought this person was a godly Christian, and it turned out to be a Sodomite." Let me tell you this, I do not believe that if you're walking in the will of God, if you're serving God and obeying the commandments of God, that God's going to allow you to marry a Sodomite unknowingly. Would that be consistent with all these promises, where God is saying he's going to direct your path? He's going to guide you in the way? The Lords going to lead you. No, I don't think that if you're serving God, loving God and the will of God, you're just going to accidentally marry a Sodomite, and that God can't protect you from that. God can't reveal that to you.
The people that I've known who unknowingly married a Sodomite and a wicked person, because, look, I'm a pastor. People come to me and tell me these things. People come to me. You know what? They were always out of the will of God when that happened. That's what I mean when I say it's a jungle out there.
For example, one married somebody it turned out was a Sodomite, you know what? It turned out the guy that they married was divorced. It's like wait a minute. Is that God's will when the Bible says that if you divorce your spouse and marry another, you're committing adultery, and if you marry her that is divorced, you're committing adultery? Look, you go out and marry a divorced woman, when the Bible tells you not to marry a divorced woman in Matthew 5, Matthew 19, Luke 16, Romans 7, First Corinthians 7. You need a few more scriptures? You go out and do that anyway, good luck with that, because I cannot make you any guarantees that God's going to protect you, and lead you, and guide and direct you. That's a real life example of somebody I know that had never been married before. Married someone who was divorced, and that person turned out to be a Sodomite.
Look, they were outside of God's will, and I'm not saying it's ... Look, there are a lot of other people who married somebody who was divorced and everything worked out great, everything worked out fine, but you have no guarantees when you're outside of the will of God, and even if things work out great, that still doesn't mean that it was right, and that God is condoning of it, or that God approves of it.
That's hard preaching. I'm going to lose people over that. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. It's a Bible believing, Bible preaching church. We do not check here and poll people to see what they like to hear. We're preaching the truth of God's word, and what I'm telling you is the truth, and for those that are the young people here today, they need to hear these things, and I'm not down on you if you're divorced. My parents are divorced. A lot of people that I love are divorced. That's not the point. I'm not down on people who've already made mistakes in the past, but I'm warning the people who have not made the mistakes yet, you had better stay in the will of God.
When you're going out and fornicating, when you're meeting people at bars, you can't expect God to be leading you to the right spouse. It's just not going to happen, so you better be in the way and let the Lord lead you. You better keep the commandments of God. You better walk with God if you want to have a guarantee. Look, don't you love the guarantees of scripture? The rock of our salvation, the guarantee, that's who soever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. It's guaranteed. In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie promised before the world began, guaranteed. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct they path, guaranteed. Not he might direct your path, he will direct your path, guaranteed.
It doesn't say we think all things work together for good. We hope all things work together for good. It said we know all things work together for good for them that love God, for them who are called according to His purpose. Again, if you've done stuff in the past ... We've all done things in the past that are things that we wish we could do over and do better, but forget those things which are behind, and reach forth unto those things which are before, press for the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God and Christ Jesus. You can be in the will of God today going forward, and that's the thing.
It's not like God has a will, and once you're out of it, you're just out of it forever. At any time you want, God's ready to have a new plan for your life and a new will for you to get into, and start doing His will from hereon out, and today forward say, "I want God to direct me. I want God to guide me. I want Him to lead me. I better be a good man. I better keep the commandments. I better trust in Him and acknowledge Him, and stop leaning on my own understanding and being conformed to this world's way of thinking. I'm not going to be in the will of God if I do that."
But, thirdly, go to Matthew, chapter six, and, by the way, you say, "Yeah, but what does that person do now that's married to a ..." Look, the Bible is clear about what should happen to Sodomites. The Bibles says they should be put to death. It says in Leviticus 20:13. That's not the society we live in, unfortunately. In America today, our lawmakers are leaning upon their own understanding. They do not lean on this book at all. The people who make our laws, whether it's at a federal, state, local level, this book means nothing to them. I mean sometimes it's a campaign slogan for them, "God bless. I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ," Jimmy Carter or whatever. "I'm born again. I'm Baptist," but that's just a slogan. No one, no one in Congress, no one in the Senate, no one on the Supreme Court believes this book. None of them, zero. What about this? No. No, it's truly ... No. None of them are using this book as a guideline for how to run our country, and I didn't say ninety-nine percent aren't. I said zero are using this book as a guideline for how to run our country. That's why our laws are so different from the laws in the Bible.
In the world that we live, we don't follow this in the United States. Homosexuals are not put to death, and they're not going to be anytime soon. Hundreds of years ago, they were in this country, put to death, like the Bible said. It doesn't happen anymore. Not going to happen today. Adulterers in the Bible were stoned with stones. Not going to happen today. It doesn't happen anymore.
Therefore, a lot of times, people get married, and then they're stuck in these weird situations, being married to somebody who is a pedophile or a homosexual. I don't believe that God would expect you to live with that filth and disease and disgusting homosexual lifestyle. Look up the statistics. The average Sodomite, forty-three percent have been with over five hundred partners that they'll admit to. Did you get that? It's disgusting. It's vile. It's reprobate, but, at the same time, you're in a bad situation, because of the fact that you swore till death do us part and all that. I mean if I were you, I would get out of there, but you can't go out and get remarried though, because the Bible says when you're divorced, the Bible says let not the wife depart from her husband, but if she depart, it says they need to remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. Those are your two choices, so, again, God's not going to just condone you, "Well, I don't know he was a Sodomite." But that's what you get from being outside of God's will. That's what you get for disobeying the Bible and disobeying God's word.
It's not that I'm being heartless, because I feel bad for anybody that's in such a horrible situation. I truly, from the bottom of my heart, would feel bad for them and love that person, but let it be a warning to those young people who want to go to bars and meet people, who want to go out and hang with ungodly, wicked people, who want to go out and marry people that are divorced, when they know that the Bible says to marry someone who has not been divorced. If somebody's been divorced and their spouse dies, then they can get remarried. Then it could be the will of God, but to sit there and just go out and drink, and party, and fornicate, and do all this stuff, you will face repercussions for it in your life.
Plenty of churches will tell you you're not going to face any repercussions. I just talked to somebody who was a so called Christian recently, who said, "I don't believe God punishes his children." What Bible are you reading? Whom the Lord loveth, he chastens and scourges every son whom He receiveth, and you cannot sow your wild oats, and then pray for a crop failure. You will reap what you've sown. You will suffer if you live an ungodly life. Is there still hope? Yes. Can you move forward and be in the will of God from hereon out? Yes.
But, please, young people, listen to me, be warned about it. Don't go down that road. It's not worth it. So much peace and assurance is forfeited when you get out of the will of God. Whereas when you're doing God's will, you just have such assurance as to know God's going to lead me. God's going to direct me. You say, "I've already screwed up," but from hereon out, get in the will of God, from here forward, and let God bless your life, and your life will get better. You just have to be patient and wait for it.
But what does the Bible say in Matthew 6:33? Turn to Matthew 6. Number one, first of all, our decisions in determining God's will need to be based upon what the Bible commands, what the Bible teaches. Number two, God will lead us if we are following point one, so just use free will at that point.
You say, "Well, how did you know it was God's will to move to Arizona to start a church?" I mean I could have started this church anywhere. I mean I had all fifty states before me. Why Arizona? Here's why, because I like it, and people say, "Oh, that's an unspiritual answer." There's nothing unspiritual about it. God gave me free will. I could have gone to California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado. I have all these places available, and I chose Phoenix because I like warm weather. I like palm trees. I like warm weather. I think it's a beautiful place. I love the mountains.
When I was a kid, we lived in Sacramento, California, and for fun, we went to the desert, so I'm living the dream right now. I'm living in the desert. I chose it because I like it, and then when I came here, it's like where do I start the church? Do I start it up in the northwest valley? Do I start it in the east valley? What part of town do I start it in?
Part of that was just rational of saying I wanted to be centrally located, because I want the church to be commutable from all parts of the valley, so I wanted to be centrally located, but part of it was just I walked up to the rental car counter and said to the girl behind the counter, "I'm starting a church in this town. Where should I start it? Show me on the map where you'd start a church." She's just like, "Tempe." I'm like okay, let's do it, and you say, "That's ridiculous. That's reckless," but, honestly, that's what the rental car counter girl told me. She said, "Tempe is a really nice place." Then I drove to Tempe, drove around, looked good, and I thought, "Oh, man, we're going to reach all these college students." Yeah, that didn't happen. The college students today at SU are not interested in being saved, unfortunately, most of them. There are very few that have any interest in what this book has to say.
I just liked it. Tempe is still my favorite part of the valley of Arizona. I just like it. That's why I moved here. Why do I live in the house that I live in? Because I like it. Why do I eat what I'm going to eat for lunch? Because I like it, because it's just free will, but you know what though? Even though it seems like I just kind of pointed at a map and just said, "Oh, Arizona, cool. Desert, palm trees, warm weather." Girl at the rental car counter says, "Tempe is a nice place." Looks good. She could have said Scottsdale. She could have said Chandler. She could have said Peoria or whatever, Glendale.
But looking back, when you look back though with hindsight, I believe that Jesus lead me all the way, because if you look at it, I moved into a certain neighborhood in Tempe, but look how many people in that neighborhood were people that God had placed there to be a part of our early church. For example, Amanda, right here in the front row, lived two streets over from me. Started coming on the second Sunday morning, and is still here today eight years later, has grown in the Lord, was a huge encouragement to me in the early days. She was one of the only people coming. She was the only person coming for a while. Huge encouragement to our family, great friend to us. Hundreds of people lured out on soul winning. Taught other ladies how to [inaudible 00:51:17]. Look, is it a coincidence that she lived a few hundred yards from our house, that she lived two streets over? Even though it just seemed like we're picking things at random.
Then, of course, the Scaggs family that's here today, they lived, again, just a couple streets over. Is that a coincidence that Jeremy Scaggs, the very first Sunday morning, him and two of his relatives were three of the four people that came on that first Sunday morning? That was a great blessing to me, encouragement to me. They were some of the first people ... Annette, and Alexis, they were some of the first people that came to the church. Austin, Alexis were some of the first people that got baptized at our church. I mean is that a coincidence? There were other people from that neighborhood that came to the church in the early days.
Looking back, it was obviously God's working, because there are plenty of neighborhoods where you could go knock doors, and you're not going to find anybody who wants to come to church. Isn't that true? There are plenty of neighborhoods where I could have moved to, where there would have been no Amanda. There would have been no Scaggs family. There would have been none of the other people from that neighborhood that came in the early days. Why that neighborhood? Because I, being in the way of the Lord, led me. God can lead us through our own free will, and when we are making decisions, sometimes we feel like we're just making decisions, whatever. Looks good to me, but then when we look back, we can see that God was leading, and that's the way it's been with this church.
As you live your life, and none of us is perfect, but as you strive to live in the will of God, you'll see how God works things out for you, and now you can look back and say, "Wow, that really worked out, and God really led me."
When I was a teenager, I was seeking after God. I was worldly. I wasn't living a very godly life, but I was a pretty worldly teenager. I remember just walking down the street in Roseville, seeking God's will. It was a time when I was reading the Bible cover to cover for the first time in my life, and a guy walking up to me out of nowhere, and just saying, "Hey, kid, you want to go to church," and he handed me an invitation to Regency Baptist Church, and I looked at that invitation. It said, "Do you know for sure if you died today you'd go to heaven," and I said, "Yes, I do. I know I'm saved. I go to a Baptist church," and he said, "Does your church go out and knock doors, and give people the gospel?" I said, "No, but we should." I said, "We should be," and I was really intrigued by that, and he just said, "Amen," and walked away.
I wanted to talk to him, but he was just gone. He talked to me for less than thirty seconds. I mean just, "Kid, you want to go to church? Do you guys knock doors?" I said, "No, but we should." He said, "Amen." He just walked away, and I had that invitation, brought it home to my parents and said, "This is where we should be going to church." We read it. My parents read it. They liked it. We went to that church, and my life was dramatically changed by going to that church. That was the first time I really heard hard preaching. That was the first time I learned about soul winning. That was the first time I had heard preaching against a lot of the sins that were in my life.
Just a guy, just randomly walking up to me, handing me that, and get this. I went to that church. The first thing I did was look for that guy. He wasn't there. He was never there. I never saw that guy again. I don't even know who that ... To this day, I don't know who that guy was. I mean he was either just probably ... He might have just been a visiting ... Sometimes people who are visiting, like a visiting missionary or just a visiting person, will sometimes grab tracts, grab invitations to whatever church they're visiting and hand them out, or it could have been an angel from the Lord, just sent to me, as a young man who is seeking the truth, as a young man who is trying to read the Bible cover to cover. I didn't know what I was doing.
If you would have asked me about doctrine, I would said all kinds of stupid things. I didn't know the Bible. I was just reading the Bible cover to cover for the very first time, but I was seeking God. I was trying to do right. I was trying to be in God's will, and God sent somebody, whatever the explanation for who that guy was, God sent somebody to show me the next step, where I needed, and then getting in that church lead to one thing to another, and dramatically changed my whole life in the matter of just a few months. Being in an independent fundamental Baptist soul winning church, getting out of the dead, ridiculous NIV preaching church that I was in before that.
God can lead us, and the third point .. I don't have any time to talk about it, but just we need to make our decision based on the right priorities, and the verse I wanted to show you was just there in verse thirty-three, but, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you," meaning that God has to take priority. Obviously there are other important priorities in our life. We need to put our marriage on a very high priority. Our children should be on a high priority. Our job should be on a high priority. We shouldn't be out doing recreational and fun things at the expense of our job. We need to get our priorities right, and make our decisions based on godly priorities. That's another sermon in and of itself. Different people have different priorities, but make sure your priorities are biblical, and that you're seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
All that to say this, we have a lot of decisions in our life, a lot of choices to make. There are forty independent fundamental Baptist churches in the Phoenix area, and many of them are soul winning churches. Many of them preach a King James Bible. Which one are you going to go to? Who are you going to marry? Which job are you going to work at? What are you going to do with your life?
A lot of these things are specifically addressed in the Bible through His commandments. For the rest, we need God to lead us. We need to be in the will of God, and it's a good idea to pray that the Lord will lead us, also, and just pray to God and say, "God, I'm going to make a decision, Lord. I'm going to use free will, but, Lord, I want you to lead me. I want you to just ... If, for some reason, there's something bad here, some danger, Lord, keep me from it. Lead us not into temptation. Deliver us from evil. Guide our paths, guide our steps," and really that demystifies the will of God for you in our life. I hope that sermon ... It's not that mysterious. He's showed the O man what is good.
Let's bow our heads and have a word of prayer. Father, we thank you so much for your word, Lord, and we thank you that we don't have to just scratch our heads and be paralyzed with indecision, biting our fingernails, wondering what in the world are we supposed to do with our lives? What does God want us to do? I just don't know what to do. Praying for God's will, waiting for an audible voice that never comes. Lord, help us to get into our Bibles and figure out what the word of God says is the will of God. Lord, help us after we've figured out biblically what the will of God is, help us, Lord, to just be directed, and, God, I pray that you direct me and guide me. Lord, help me to stay in your will, so that I can have those promises that I will be blessed in the end. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.