Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
Disobeying God’s Will
When we don’t do the good we know to, we sin. We sin when we disobey God’s will. James is saying that those he is writing to know the will of God and are disobeying it. Disobeying God’s will shows even more pride than avoiding it. This says to God, “I know what You want me to do, but I prefer not to do it. I really know more about this than You do!”
Peter wrote of this mentality: “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (2 Peter 2:21).
If we know God’s will, why would we disobey it? Pride. Man likes to boast that he is the “master of his fate, the captain of his soul.” Man has accomplished so much that he thinks he can do anything. Ignorance of the nature of God’s will. Man acts as though the will of God is something he can accept or reject.
The will of God is not an option; it’s an obligation. We cannot “take it or leave it.” We don’t get to “have it our way.” I know this isn’t popular, but it is the truth. He is Creator, I am the creation. We must obey Him. We will either willingly or unwillingly. He is the Saviour and Lord, we are His children and servants, so we must obey Him.
To disobey the will of God is to invite the chastening of God in our lives. Many people have the idea that the will of God is a formula for misery. Just the opposite is true! Disobeying the Lord’s will leads to misery.
What happens to Christians who deliberately disobey the known will of God? They are chastened by their loving Father until they submit. God’s chastening is evidence of His love. There is also the danger of losing heavenly rewards.
In 1 Corinthians 9:24–27, Paul compared the believer to a runner in the Greek races. In order to qualify for a crown, he had to obey the rules of the game. If any contestant was found to have disobeyed the rules, he was disqualified and humiliated. The word “castaway” in 1 Corinthians 9:27 does not refer to the loss of salvation, but the loss of reward, “disqualified”. Disobeying God’s will today may not seem a serious thing, but it will appear very serious when the Lord returns and examines our works (Col. 3:22–25).
Obeying God’s Will
We shouldn’t avoid or disobey God’s will. James says exactly what we should do. We should operate under the pretense, “If the Lord will…” It shouldn’t be “If the Lord will” as just a statement on our lips. It should be “If the Lord will” as the constant attitude of the heart.
What is God’s will?
- It is God’s will that we yield ourselves to Him (2 Cor 8:5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.)
- It is God’s will that we avoid immorality (1 Thes 4:3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:)
- It is God’s will for all Christians to rejoice, pray, and thank God (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18, 16 Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.)
Every commandment in the Bible addressed to believers is part of the will of God, and must be obeyed. Of course, God does not call everyone to the same work in life. God does not give us the same gifts and ministry. The will of God is “tailor-made” for each of us!
We must work to have the right attitude toward the will of God. Some people think God’s will is a cold, impersonal machine. God starts it going and it is up to us to keep it functioning smoothly. If we disobey Him in some way, the machine grinds to a halt, and we are out of God’s will for the rest of our lives. God’s will is not a cold, impersonal machine. You do not determine God’s will in some mechanical way, like getting a soda out of a machine.
The will of God is a living relationship between God and the believer. This relationship is not destroyed when the believer disobeys, the Father still deals with His child, even if He must chasten. Rather than looking at the will of God as a cold, impersonal machine, see it as a warm, growing, living body. If something goes wrong with my body, I don’t die: the other parts of the body compensate for it until I get that organ working properly again.
There is pain and weakness; but there isn’t always death. When you and I get out of God’s will, it is not the end. Think about Abraham, Moses, David, or Jonah. You may be thinking, to obey it don’t I have to know God’s will? With an obedient motive, God will reveal His will. In fact, in our obedience God works His will in our life. Asking, “How do I determine God’s will for my life?” may be announcing that you have never really tried to do God’s will.
Start with the things you know to do. Then God will open the way for the next step. You prove by experience what the will of God is. We learn both from successes and failures. We must obey God’s will from the heart.
Have your heart in obeying God’s will. Begin each day with excitement of what may be revealed to you today. Read each passage of scripture joyfully knowing that God is going to speak to you through it. Pray with an expectation of results.
Pastor Chance Strickland
Harpeth Baptist Church
Kingston Springs, TN