“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 NIV
“I just want to spend some time searching for God’s will for my life.” Have you ever heard someone make a statement like that? Have you ever expressed the same thought? You really have to make yourself vulnerable to God to honestly approach Him for direction. To say, “God has a plan for my life and I want to find it” is seeking to honor God through the way we live our lives. It is a good thing. All of us need to be open to God’s guidance.
Have you ever noticed how when we express our desire to “seek God’s will” it often has to do with choices we make that are in and of themselves morally neutral? For example, “I am seeking God’s will. I don’t know whether God wants me to live in Dallas or Miami.” Now there may be moral implications involved in that decision, but does God specifically will you to live in a certain place? Maybe? Maybe not? Maybe in some cases?
I would never discourage anyone from being sensitive to God’s leading and seeking His will. All of us need to guard against a neglect of God’s guidance that can lead to a false sense of self-reliance. But I wonder sometimes if we don’t spend so much time searching for God’s will in areas where He may or may not have a specific will for our lives that we neglect the areas in which He has specifically communicated His will?
Paul expressed to the Thessalonians God’s specific will for them. When I spend even a few moments reflecting on this passage I have a desire to get away from this teaching and seek God’s will in some less-challenging areas of my life. Paul makes it clear, God’s will is to take control of the hearts and minds of His people.
Avoiding immorality is tough enough, but God’s will goes beyond the legalistic technicalities we employ to get around His will and satisfy our cravings. God wills that I control my body and thereby honor Him, so that I do not allow myself to be overcome with fleshly desires and live like the people who do not know God. God has called us to be holy and pure and in doing so He wills that we honor marriage (see “in this matter” in verse 6). Would you agree with me that it is far easier to seek God’s will for some morally neutral decision we have to make than it is to seek and honor the clearly expressed will of God?
So what will it be, Miami or Dallas? Well, you seek God’s will and I will support any decision you make that purposes to honor God. But if you say to me, “I am just seeking God’s will for my marriage,” don’t be surprised if I point you to this passage of scripture. Don’t wonder what the will of God is when He has spoken. God wants you to be holy. He wills for you to honor marriage. And you may want to read the text again, the apostle delivers a sharp warning to those who reject God by rejecting this teaching. Or you may not want to read it again. Because sometimes it is easier to spend all your time searching for the will of God, so you never find it.