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1 Corinthians 9:11
"If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you?"

 

 

 

 

 

Evangelism:
The Time Is Now!

Section 4, Chapter 6

How To Succeed In
Jesusí Will For Your Life

Back to chapter 5
Study Questions

Read: 2 Peter 1:2-15

The Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 1:5-7 has laid out for us a series of Christian qualities that if consistently pursued and lived out will guarantee a successful fulfilled fruitful life in Jesus. The qualities that he lists are diligence, moral-excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.

What is Peterís motivation for writing this passage of Scripture? Peter is getting ready to die (vv. 12-14) and so he wants to leave his children in the Lord with something that will guarantee their on-going success in their Christian walk after he is gone. In these verses he states that he writes this letter for two reasons: to remind them now of the importance of these things, and to remind them after he dies.

Peter starts off the chapter in verses 2-4 explaining to us that God has given to us what is necessary to live these qualities out. First, he tells us that God has given to us His divine power. He tells us that He has given to us this divine power for life and godliness. He then goes on to tell us what the source of this divine power is: It is through the true knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. There is only one source from which we get this true knowledge of God and Jesus: the Bible Godís Word. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17,

"All Scripture is given-by-inspiration-of-God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."

And again in Romans 15:4 Paul tells us,

"For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

Whatever we do that is motivated out of the knowledge of Godís Word is backed by His power. The writer of Hebrews states,

Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is spiritually-alive and energetically-effective and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the conscious-reasonings and intentions of the heart."

The first primary source of Godís divine power is the Word of God itself.

Lets talk now about how this list of qualities Peter has mentioned makes it possible for us to live a victorious Christian life. First, let us understand that Peter does not list these Christian virtues randomly. He has listed them in the exact order of their importance. The way we successfully live these qualities out is by implementing them in our lives, step by step, in the exact order that they are given.

DILIGENCE

The first quality Peter states is Diligence. Without diligence you cannot have Moral-Excellence. According to W. E. Vine the word diligence means, "With earnestness, with all zeal, or sometimes the haste to accompany this."88/311 The Random House

College Dictionary states that earnestness means "to be serious in intention. . . it is to be resolute."7/415 Luke states about Jesus when he headed for the cross that Luke 9:51 "He resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem." A person who is resolute is very difficult to sway or turn aside from a purpose. Peter is telling us that this is the attitude we are to have toward Jesusí will and plan for our lives if it is to be established and fulfilled: an attitude of total commitment with all earnestness and zeal to do Godís will. This is the foundational attitude we must have if we are to be able to go on successfully developing the further qualities he mentions.

MORAL-EXCELLENCE

Once we have developed a resolute spirit to do Godís will with all diligence, Peter then tells us to take the next step which is to Supply Moral-Excellence. This is the first step a new Christian takes after surrendering to Jesus as Savior and Lord: repenting of any known immorality. In order for the new Christian to know what God means by moral-excellence he must start first by reading the Bible. The first step to knowing Godís will for the new Christian is to read the Bible, because whatever moral-excellence means this is where it is going to be found. According to the Apostle Paul this means repenting of covetousness, drunkenness, swindling, idolatry, reviling, fornication, adultery, perversion, homosexuality, thievery, hatred, irreconciliation, gossiping, lack of self control, brutality, hating good, treachery, recklessness, conceit, loving the world rather than God, rejecting and suppressing the power of God, unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, envy, murder, strife, malice, slandering, insolence, arrogance, boastfulness, inventing evil, disobedience to parents, lack of mercy, impurity, passion, and evil lust (1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21, 24-26; Rom 1:28-32; 2 Tim 3:1-5).

A new believer at first does not need to be concerned with understanding how to hear Godís voice in his spirit. He first needs to concern himself with what God has already revealed to him about His moral will in His written Word.

KNOWLEDGE

In our moral-excellence Peter tells us next to add Knowledge. Knowledge here first means the Word of God. But once the Christian has got his moral life together he then needs to begin seeking Jesus to reveal to him His personal individual purpose and plan for his life which comes about through a word of knowledge. The Apostle Paul states in Ephesians 5:15-17,

"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."

In this passage Paul tells us that we live in an evil age. For this reason he tells us that we are not to be foolish but seek God and find out what His will for our lives are and make wise use of the time and days God has given us on this earth.

There are two conditions required to know Godís will for our lives according to Jesus. They are, first, an unconditional surrender and commitment to do Godís will, and, second, an aggressive pursuit of attaining a pure heart. Jesus said in John 7:17 "If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself." God speaking through Jeremiah 29:13 said, "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." Jesus said in Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Here again we see the first two qualities that Peter mentions of Diligence and Moral-Excellence. Jesus tells us that when we seek Him with a diligent and pure heart we will find and see Him. We will see Him in the world and we will see clearly what His will for our lives are individually in the world.

The way we come to know Godís will for our lives according to the Apostle Paul is through the Holy Spirit in union with our human spirit. He tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10,

"But just as it is written, ĎThings which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.í For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God."

The way we open ourselves up to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say about our lives is through worship and praise with up-lifted hands and through the use of our spirtual language with interpretation (Ps 100:4, 1 Tim 1:8, Jn 4:23-24, 1 Cor 14:13-15). That means that you need to be Baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Since this is beyond the issue of moral repentance it is referring to larger issues like our vocation and calling in life, where we live, where we worship, our personal ministries, educational pursuits, life-partner, etcetera. No where in the Bible did I find, "Dale, I want you to go to Oral Roberts University and get a degree in theology and write books on Evangelism, Discipleship, and Counseling interrelating the Conservative-Evangelical-Charismatic concepts." Or, "I have called you to motivate my people to preach the Gospel." With the exception of my completed education, this is Jesusí revealed will and plan for my life. This kind of knowledge can only come about through a word of knowledge. Of course there are many principles in the Word of God concerning discernment to help us determine if what we believe is Godís voice to us is really Godís voice to us. My Advanced Textbook titled, Relationship With Jesus The Key To Effective Ministry79 was primarily written to teach these principles of discernment.

SELF-CONTROL

When we have come to know clearly what Godís will in our lives are, Peter tells us that the next step is to then exercise the amount of Self-Control necessary to see that will accomplished.

Years ago as a young Christian I became frustrated in my Christian walk because I was doing all the good little things Christians are supposed to do like going to church, daily reading my Bible, and witnessing to everyone whether they wanted to hear the Gospel or not. But I was failing in the things God was calling me to do with my life. So I prayed, "Jesus, what is wrong with my life? Iím not succeeding in your will." He answered back to me, "Dale, plan out your time during the week, then Satan will not be able to distract you in it." My problem was I was living by my feelings. If I felt like doing it I did it. If I did not or something more exciting came along I became easily distracted. Many times those distractions were spiritual activities. But God was telling me that if I was to succeed in His will then I was going to have to make a decision to take control of the reins of my life, plan out my time during the week, commit myself to it, and then determine that I would not allow anything to distract me from the use of that time whether it felt spiritual or good or not. The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2:12-13,

"So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."

We live in a feeling generation. The Younger generation is on the road to destruction because they are being taught in secular education to base their lives on their feelings. But to exercise self-control to do Godís will often requires going against our feelings. Doing Godís will is not dependent on feelings, but on a freedom of choice to decide to do Godís will whether it feels good or not. God will not make you do His will. He will reveal to you what it is, but then it is your responsibility to take the reins of your life and exercise the self-control over your time in a week necessary to see Godís will accomplished. As you take the reins of your life and begin to walk in that call God has given you, you will find that in time your feelings will catch up with you and compliment you once again. But do not base doing Godís will on them. Chapter 5 of Section 1 in this book explains how to develop a successful weekly schedule to accomplish Jesusí will and calling in your life through relationship with Jesus.

PERSEVERANCE

Now that you have taken the reins of your life, planned out your week to accomplish Godís will in your life, Peter tells us to Persevere in it. We are to persevere in it because Satan and man are going to do their best to thwart us from doing Godís will. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:8-10,

"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you."

If you think Satan is going to sit back and say, "Gee! It is really great to see you have your life together and are steadfastly walking in Godís will for your life!", your deceiving yourself. The more diligently you pursue Godís will the more vicious Satan is going to attack you and try to thwart you in it.

Satan attacks us through two primary means: external harassment and through direct demonic attack. When you begin to walk in Jesusí will for your life, you will find not only are you attacked by the world, but you will be surprised when it comes from some of your closest associates. When Jesus, in obedience to the Father, got ready to go to Jerusalem to die on the cross, it was one of his apostles, Peter, who tried to prevent him. Paul in Philippians shares how some Christians preached the Gospel not because they cared about the souls of men but "out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment" (Phil 1:17). Satan will also attack you in your finances to try and prevent you from succeeding in what Jesus has called you to do.

All of these represent external means of attempted discouragement. That is the way Satan always comes at us at first: through external means. But when all his external devices fail he then goes to the next stage: direct Satanic attack. When I did the first draft of my Advanced Textbook on Evangelism years ago, the Lord came to me in my spirit and said, "Satan is going to try and destroy the book. You need to get as many of your friends as possible praying for you." I thought to myself, "Right Lord! Satan has not been trying to do that for the last two years?" I had been working on the book that long to that point. But if God says something like that it must be pretty serious so I realized I had better heed His advice. I called and wrote everyone I knew and asked them to pray for me and this project.

About four days after this warning it started: direct Satanic attack. It happened while I was working. I was a file clerk at a bank at the time and it started while I was in the back filing. Wave after wave of attack. Their affect on me was overwhelming discouragement and despair. But just at the point that I would be ready to give up I would get this inward surge of Holy Spirit strength and I was able to continue on. I realized this surge of strengthís source was the prayers of my friends. Finally, a year and a half later I finished the first draft of the Advanced Textbook. Since that time thirty-three years ago, I have written several other books. I have also had the privilege of training many brothers and sisters in Evangelism through using this material and have been blessed in seeing the fruit of my labor.

Paul wrote in Galatians 6:9 "Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary." And again in 1 Corinthians 15:58,

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of Adonai, knowing that your toil is not in vain in Adonai."

And Peter said in our original passage,

"And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you."

As we persevere in Godís will and calling in our lives He promises that we will reap fruit from our labors and that He Himself will see that we are established in it. As we focus on obedience to God, and let Him worry about what the devil is doing, we are guaranteed success for "Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

GODLINESS

As we persevere in Godís will we begin to understand the meaning of Godliness, the next quality Peter mentions. To be godly is to be meek. To be meek simply means to not speak or act except out of Godís initiative through the Holy Spirit. Jesus said about His call and ministry in John 5:19,

"Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner."

In John 12:48-50 Jesus said about Himself,

"He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me."87

Jesus tells us in these passages that he neither spoke nor did anything unless He saw the Father doing it first. About our own personal lives and calling, Jesus commands us to do the same. He tells us in John 20:21 "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." Jesus tells us in this passage, I did not speak or act out of my own initiative but only out of the Fatherís initiative through the Holy Spirit, and I want you to do the same.

As we persevere in Godís will, concerning the other areas of our lives that concern us, He tells us to wait for His clear counsel and direction in it. Psalm 27:14 states, "Wait for Yehovah; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for Yehovah." Jesus promises us in John 14:18, "I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you." That simply means He will not be late with the answers we need about other areas of our lives as we choose to walk in obedience to his dictates of the present. He promises us in John 14:21,

"He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him."

Jesus gives answers to those who obey Him. Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, "But continually seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you." Jesus tells us we are not to seek the world, but His will and His kingdom. As we do, He promises to provide all that we need.

BROTHERLY
KINDNESS AND LOVE

The last qualities Peter states are brotherly kindness and love. The fruit of the Spirit the Bible tells us in Galatians 5:22-23 is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, long-suffering, and self-control. When what we say or do in ministering to others is out of the initiative of the Holy Spirit it is received and ministered in love because the fruit of the Spirit is love. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:22,

"Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart."

Loving our brothers from the heart means only doing toward them what the Holy Spirit is telling us to do in word, action and deed. But notice in this passage of 1 Peter that Peter tells us true love can only come about through a purified heart of moral- excellence. Without having developed diligence, moral-excellence, true knowledge, self-control, perseverance, and godliness first, one cannot know truly what it means to love his brother. Truly loving your brother from the heart means only doing toward him what the Holy Spirit is telling you to do in word, action, and deed.

Finally, Peter tells us that increasing or lacking these qualities will produce two kinds of fruit. First, for the person who lacks these qualities Peter states that this person is blind and short sighted. He is a person who can only live for now. He is a person who cannot wait for Godís reward in the future. And because of his blindness and short-sightedness he ends up going back into the world and trying to fulfill the desires of his flesh in his own strength, and thus ends up back in his former life-style of sin and forgets the purification of his former sins through the blood of Jesus.

But the person who diligently pursues and develops these qualities has many promises and rewards. First, Peter states that he will not be useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of Jesus. Jesus said in John 14:21,

"He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and He who loves me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to Him."

Jesus will only reveal Himself to the person who submits to the call and discipline He has for that person. To not submit to Jesusí will and call is to walk in darkness; to be blind and short-sighted.

Second, the person who submits to Godís will and call in his life will live fulfilled and content in who he is and in the certainty of his calling. Third, Peter states he will enter the kingdom of God. When what you are doing is out of Godís initiative you are entering into and living in Godís kingdom. And fourth, Peter states that when we walk in the center of Godís will we are assured of His abundant provision and supply.

CONCLUSION

To grow as Jesusí disciple means to grow in the true meaning of love. But you cannot have love unless you first have moral-excellence, and you cannot have moral-excellence without the true knowledge of Jesus. And the true knowledge of Jesus is useless unless one exercises self- control in his life in relation to that knowledge. And you cannot perfect self-control without perseverance. And having all the self-control and perseverance in the world cannot produce love unless accompanied by godliness.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION

If you find yourself lost and confused about Godís will and direction in your life, pray and ask Him where in these list of Christian virtues you have gotten off the track or whether you need to start from scratch all together. As you obey Him in this direction and persevere in it you will find Godís peace, Godís call for your life, and true fulfillment in life as Jesusí disciple. You will become all that Jesus intended for you to become and you will come home to heaven and hear Jesus say,

"Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master." (Matt 25:21).

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