God’s Will: Good work is one of the greatest obstabcles to God’s will.
“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:42
Just moments before Jesus was arrested to be tried and crucified, he prayed the above prayer. If you look at the prayer on the surface, you would see it as a weakness on Jesus’ part. You would think that he was afraid of the cross that was before him and was praying that God should take it away. No human being could bear the cross. The pain of the cross was so horrible that it’s easy to understand if a person where to be scared of it and tried to have God take it away. But Jesus was not an ordinary person. He was God in the flesh. He came to the earth for the very purpose. The cross was the biggest job in the life of Jesus. It was the work he came to do. But even as important as the cross was, Jesus didn’t let the work of the cross come before God’s will. If the cross wasn’t God’s will, Jesus wouldn’t do it no matter how noble or how good it was.
When Jesus prays in that scripture, he is not trying to run away from the cross. Rather, he is praying to make sure that his most important job, which he had taught about and was prepared to do did not come before his attention to obeying God’s will. As important as it was, and as much as he loved to die on the cross, he was willing to say take this away from me God if it’s not your will. I only want to do your will.
Hebrews 12:2 says, that because of the joy that was set before Jesus, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat at the right hand of the throne of God. Philippians 2:8-11 says
“Being found in appearance as a man, Jesus humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus knew that the cross was going to establish him as the savior of the world and he would be glorified and songs will be composed about him and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord because of the cross. Yet, Jesus being completely devoted to God’s will and nothing else prayed his hardest (until his sweat was like drops of blood) asking God to take away this cup from him except that it is his will. Why? Because no matter how great it was, he would hate to do it except for the fact that it was God’s will.
When you and I are about to do something that will take us to the next level, something we feel we just have to do, something we love that will make us famous or richer, do we pray and ask God to take it away from us if it’s not his will? Far from this being a weakness on Jesus’ part, this was the greatest expression of Jesus’ obedience to God. The cross is why Jesus came, he wasn’t afraid of it. He had rebuked Peter sternly and called him Satan for advising him not to carry the cross.
Good work if one of the greatest obstacles to God’s will in the Christian life.
Many people have been kept away from God’s will for their lives because they are fooled by good works. There are many good works such as taking care of orphans and poor people, giving money to support organizations that do these things, adopting an orphan from a developing country or from the foster care in your country and the list continues. Good works are a snare for Christians. Few of us Christians know what God has called us to do in this life but we spend our time jumping from one good work to another. We forget that atheists like Bill Gates and many Muslims and Hindus and other non-christian groups including the United Nations are doing a lot of good things in the world. No Christian is spending more money and doing more physically to help the poor like Bill Gates.
Many times, we do good works and say we are doing them for the Lord when we don’t know his will about it. You can’t do a good work on behalf of God without knowing his will about it. To God, obedience is better than sacrifice. King Saul in the Old Testament was rejected by God because he saved the best sheep and cattle to sacrifice to God when God had commanded him to destroy everything. He saved some Amalekites and in the end, he was killed by an Amalekite.
In Mathew 7 Jesus said the following:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
By all indications, these will be people who today are called Christians. They call Jesus Lord. Non-Christians don’t call Jesus Lord. They prophesied in Jesus’ name and cast out demons in his name. Non-believers don’t do that. Note that they only CALLED Jesus Lord. Jesus was not their lord because they didn’t do his will. It’s one thing to call ourselves servants and it’s another thing to actually be servants. Notice that they did a lot of good works and to them they had done them for God. They expected reward but got condemnation. Just because we as Christians lift our hands and do a good work doesn’t mean that we are glorifying God with it. Not every good work is God’s will for us to do. The scriptures say we have been bought by Jesus’ blood and are his slaves. If a slave goes about doing good things all day and ignores the master’s will or instructions, that slave won’t be rewarded in the end but beaten.
Now, I am not trying to say that Christians who are genuine believers will lose their salvation or cease to become God’s children. But it is a fact that just because we are God’s children doesn’t mean that whatever we do (even when it is good) glorifies God. Jesus who was the very son of God only did what he saw God doing. He only did his will. He only said what he was told to say. And he showed us to follow that example. We may not lose our salvation but we will loose all reward and would displease God with our good works.
God’s will is paramount. No work is to be done because it is good. All work is to be done because it is God’s will for us. Abraham wasn’t about to kill his son Isaac because it was good to kill one’s children. To those who trust God, good has no value in itself except the value that God gives it. One person can do something and obeys God and another person can do the same thing and disobeys God. It is not the work or how good it is done, it is the will of God that matters. When we are doing God’s will for us, then how well we do it and other considerations then can matter.
A master who has many slaves doesn’t give the same instruction and assignment to all his slaves. He assigns them to different tasks so that when each slave does their task, his work will be done as a whole.
Paul teaches that anything that is not of faith is sin. We cannot do something which we are not sure that it’s God’s will for us and then have faith doing it. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. You have faith because you know you have heard from God. By definition, whenever we do anything without first being sure that it is God’s will for us, then we are sinning. It’s quite possible to do good numerous good works and lose reward in them all.
We make a great mistake when we appeal to God’s goodness when we do things that we don’t know that are in his will for us. Without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God. God created us for his good pleasure. He does everything for his good pleasure. Everything. It even pleased God to bruise Jesus for our sins! God does nothing but for his pleasure, and he would not accept our work unless it pleases him and without faith, we should forget that anything can please God. Again, we can’t have faith that we are serving God when we are not sure that he has told us to do that.
We often think that if we have a good heart doing it and we have good motives, then it must be for God. Can a slave act like that? Don’t care about his master’s will, just be really happy and honest and do it with a good heart? No, the master will fling him out with his good heart. Obedience is better than sacrifice. As far as God is concerned we can’t have a heart of love, or a good heart unless we are obeying his commands. We can’t obey his command unless we know what it is. Jesus said if you love me, obey my commands.
This too is God’s grace for us. This may sound tough, but it is only tough love. God is love and he is always eager to give faith when we ask for faith, he is eager to speak to us and tell us his will. But we cannot try to use God’s goodness to manipulate him into accepting what by character he can’t accept–that is faithless work.