February 25, 2024 | Doug Sauder
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“For this is the will of God, your sanctification.”—1 Thessalonians 4:3 (ESV)
When you hear “the will” of God, what does it mean to you? Often when we use this expression, we’re speaking about what God wants us to do in our day-to-day lives—about the decisions we have to make. We usually associate God’s will with what we should do, right? And we know it’s right for us as Christians to lean on our Father for His direction in both the big and small decisions. But what if the heart of the will of God points to something bigger?
Consider this: In his letters, Paul writes about God’s will in terms of being rather than in doing, in who we become rather than what we do.
1 Thessalonians 4:3 (ESV) says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification,” and Romans 12:2 (NIV) tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Here, mind means “the faculties of perceiving and understanding, those of feeling, judging, determining.” Therefore, we’re to be transformed in our innermost being, in the way we think and view the world.
One Bible translator said that for the believer, noús (mind) is “the organ of receiving God’s thoughts through faith by the Holy Spirit.” And when you receive God’s thoughts and are transformed by them, “then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Do you see it? As the Holy Spirit works in you and sanctifies/transforms you more and more each day in your innermost being (Philippians 1:6) and your mind is renewed into the mind of Christ, then His day-to-day will for your life will become clearer. You won’t wrestle as much or wrack your brain trying to figure out what God wants you to do because your mind and heart will be more attuned to His, and your understanding and knowledge of His good, pleasing, and perfect will is going to be clearer to you.
So, practically, how is your mind renewed? By spending time with Jesus; by rooting and building your life on Him (Colossians 2:6–7). Because the more time you spend with Jesus, the more intimately you’ll know Jesus. And the more intimately you know Jesus, the more you’ll become like Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. And the more you become like Jesus, the easier it’ll be for you to walk in His will for your life. That’s sanctification in a nutshell! And that’s what living out of the Tree of Life means.
We have an active role in this process (Philippians 2:12). We’re to seek intimate relationship with Jesus and, as we do, He does the work of transforming us (Philippians 2:13). And the fruit of this is a life of true freedom, maturity, and power: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:16–18 NIV).
Pause: Why is sanctification so important? How does being sanctified and transformed enable us to walk in the will of God for our lives?
Practice: Spend time with Him this week. Be intentional about your prayer time, your study of the Word, and sitting in reflection with Him. Take prayer walks, meditate on what you read in Scripture. Seek to know Him more each day than you did the last.
Pray: Father, I ask You to fill me with the knowledge of Your will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so I may live a life worthy of Your name and please You in every way—bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of You, and being strengthened with all power according to Your glorious might so I may have great endurance and patience and give joyful thanks to You, my Father, who has qualified me to share in the inheritance of Your holy people in the kingdom of light. I pray that each day I would grow deeper in relationship with You and draw nearer to Your heart, mind, and will; that as I seek Your face and see You more clearly each day, I’d be transformed into Your image with ever-increasing glory! Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.