Following God's Will
Hebrews 10:1-10 • Jeff Crotts • How to know when you are and when you aren't following God's will.
A Christian for any period of time, you have wondered or been asked, “How do I find God’s will for my life?”
- People want answers!
- When facing a life altering decision, people want to know if they have God’s blessing.
- “Am I in the will of God?”
- “Will I ever be married or have children?”
- “Should I stay or move?”
- “Was I outside of God’s will and when tragedy struck?”
“How do you find God’s will?”
- A Mystic will read into how a specific dream felt or how to interpret it.
- Could have been heartburn from bad Pizza!
- A young person slips on a banana peel and falls onto a map of India who says, “I knew I was called to be a missionary there!”
- A fatalist will not feel anything in terms of God’s providence.
- He falls down the steps and breaks his arm only to say, “Well Lord, I am glad that’s over!”
God’s Word describes God’s will in two ways.
God’s decretive will and God’s revealed will
- God’s decretive or decree
- Is God’s will by force of decree.
- God’s plan from the beginning.
- God who is the Alpha and Omega.
ESV Genesis 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but aGod meant it for good, to bring it about that many people1 should be kept alive, as they are today.
ESV Job 42:2 "I know that you can ado all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
ESV Isaiah 46:8-11 "Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, ayou transgressors, 9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,10 adeclaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, b'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,'11 acalling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. bI have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.
ESV Jeremiah 29:11 aFor I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare1 and not for evil, bto give you a future and a hope.
ESV Matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?1 And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
ESV Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together afor good,1 for bthose who are called according to his purpose.
ESV Ephesians 1:11 In him we have obtained aan inheritance, bhaving been predestined caccording to the purpose of him who works all things according to dthe counsel of his will,
God’s decretive will is outside of time and space. “Can we know God’s decreed will at all?” Yes!
- Knowing God’s Word means you know more of God’s will than anyone who is not a believer.
- God’s word tells us what God wants.
- Knowing Christ means you know the Bible’s big picture!
- Why God made the universe.
- Why you are here.
- Why there is sin in the world and the Answer!
- Where things are going.
- God’s will comes from knowing Scripture not by mere academics but with depth and meaning.
- Knowing Christ means you know the Bible’s big picture!
- God’s Word is neither a mere “instructional manual” nor a “magic ball.”
- The Holy Spirit’s illuminating work most of all reveals God’s heart toward you as a believer!
ESV 1 Corinthians 2:16 ab"For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But bwe have the mind of Christ.
ESV Colossians 1:9 And so, afrom the day we heard, bwe have not ceased to pray for you, asking that cyou may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all dspiritual wisdom and understanding,
The second version of God’s will that we know is called the revealed will of God.
- God’s word directly uses the word “will” where we can clearly know whether we are following it or not!
It is God’s will that everyone to be:
Saved - ESV 1 Timothy 2:4 who desires aall people to be saved and bto come to cthe knowledge of the truth.
Sanctified - ESV 1 Thessalonians 4:3 For this is the will of God, ayour sanctification:1 bthat you abstain from sexual immorality;
Spirit-filled - ESV Ephesians 5:17-18 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what athe will of the Lord is. 18 And ado not get drunk with wine, for that is bdebauchery, but cbe filled with the Spirit,
Summiting - ESV 1 Peter 2:13-15 aBe subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution,1 whether it be to the emperor2 as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him ato punish those who do evil and bto praise those who do good.15 For this is the will of God, athat by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
Suffering - ESV 1 Peter 4:19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will aentrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
Saying Thanks – ESV 1 Thessalonians 5:18 agive thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
[Found God’s Will – MacArthur]
These verses show God’s will is something you can discern within time and space.
- It is something you know about but it is important to see God’s will as something that you “Do!”
- What you “live.”
- Actively following the will of God!
ESV Romans 12:1-2 aI appeal to you therefore, brothers,1 by the mercies of God, bto present your bodies cas a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.22 aDo not be conformed to this world,1 but be transformed by bthe renewal of your mind, that by testing you may cdiscern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Our text in Hebrews 10 addresses the deepest aspect of “Doing God’s will!”
- The word [Thelw] translated “will” or “desire” is repeated five times in verses 5-10.
- This is the heart attitude behind “Doing God’s Will.”
- God’s revealed will begins and ends with your heart.
The Lord himself models this heart attitude. What is inter-woven within these verses. Our text divides into a contrast.
Knowing when you are and are not following God’s will.
When you are not following God’s will (vv. 1-6)
Allow me to immediately qualify this point, recognizing the Old Covenant ceremonial law was given as God’s revealed will.
The end of verse 8 clearly states, “these [“offerings”] are offered according to the law” (v. 8).
- God not delighting in these sacrifices does not mean sacrifices during the Old Covenant era were contrary to God’s will.
- Sacrifices were provisional not permanent.
- They did not finally atone for sin.
- The Bible teaches when “sacrifices” were offered from faith, the they removed immediate, temporal judgment from God.
- Rejecting this provision brought judgment, betraying unbelief!
- But still was inadequate to make someone fully clean from sin.
Why verse 1 says, “…the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities” (v. 1).
- The law is called a “shadow” - not compliment.
- Literally, “a pale reflection” of something better.
- The “good things to come” is salvation in Christ.
- This system was never a “true form” - a clear image [eikov] of what saves!
- The “Day of Atonement” was never going to “make perfect!”
Verse 2 rhetorically asks, “Otherwise, why the repetition?”
“Would they not have ceased to be offered, since worshipers having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins?” (v. 2).
- Repeating a symbol is like multiplying by zero.
- The result never increases.
- Heaping shadow upon shadow never creates substance.
- The worshippers “conscience” remained untouched.
- The “consciousness of sins” [same word] was still there!
C.S. Lewis, joking with a friend said:
We were talking about cats and dogs the other day and decided that both have consciences but the dog being an honest, humble person, always has a bad one, but the cat is a Pharisee and always has a good one. When he sits and stares you out of countenance he is thanking God that he is not as these dogs, or these humans, or even as these other cats!
As a young boy, I regularly prayed “the sinner’s prayer” during my 1st and 2nd grade Sunday school class. I cannot count how many times I prayed it.
I also would go forward during “altar calls” moved to pray as a form of external acceptance.
These never cleansed my “consciousness of sins” (v. 2).
In fact, verse 3 reveals the reverse effect of feeling more guilty.
- The “sacrifices” themselves were “a reminder of sins every year” (v. 3).
The difference between Christ’s sacrifice and this repetitious form of obedience is like a man who’s sick where a bottle of medicine is prescribed. If the medicine works and cures, every time he looks at the bottle he’ll say, “That is what gave me back my health.” If the medicine is ineffective, every time he looks at the bottle he will be reminded that he is ill and that the recommended cure was useless. [Barclay]
This system brought temptations toward hypocrisy and sadness!
Verse 4 nails the issue down saying, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin” (v. 4).
- Animals were necessary because sin is costly.
- “Sin” requires “death.”
Still, an animal was “powerless” or “impossible” to remove sin.
- Needed the incarnate Christ, a perfect human sacrifice and one who came voluntarily.
- Christ “offered” himself (cf. 9:28).
All of this is the background which leads into Christ coming!
- Christ “came into [our] world” to do what religion could never do!
- Even rituals prescribed by God’s as his will!
- Practices to be condemned by God, because the worshipper’s grew cold.
Verse 5 tells us, “…when Christ came...he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired’” (v. 5).
“When did Jesus say this?”
- The Bible records this in Psalm 40:6-9 where King David said this!
Barclay said, “The writer to the Hebrews has taken the words of the psalm and put them into the mouth of Jesus.”
Hughes said, “David had spoken it one thousand years earlier, but Christ in Heaven took it and reapplied it, so as to describe his own inner thinking and dialogue with the Father when he came into the world.”
You could say Jesus inspired when David wrote this down – which is true.
- The true sense here is Jesus is the second David.
- Fulfilling David’s prediction!
Where David failed, Jesus did not!
ESV Psalm 40:12 For evils have aencompassed me beyond number; my biniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot csee; they are dmore than the hairs of my head; my heart efails me.
- This Eternal Dynasty was fulfilled through an obedient Son (cff. 2 Sam. 7:14; Ps. 89:30-32; 132:12).
While external sacrifices trended downward, being condemned:
ESV 1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, a"Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, bto obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
ESV Psalm 51:16 aFor you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are aa broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
ESV Isaiah 1:11 a"What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.
ESV Jeremiah 7:21 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: a"Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh.
ESV Hosea 6:6 For aI desire steadfast love1 and not sacrifice, bthe knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
ESV Amos 5:21-25 a"I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 aEven though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them.23 Take away from me the noise of your songs; to athe melody of your harps I will not listen.24 But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.25 a"Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
Verse 5 connects what David said in Psalm 40 (1,000 years before) prophetically to Christ offering his “body” (v. 5).
- This passage quotes the Greek translation (LXX - 200 B.C.) what as originally Hebrew.
- The common koine Greek was preferred conveying this point that “a body [had been] prepared” (v. 5).
- The Hebrew translation uses “ear” for “body.”
- Same idea of whole self.
- Deepest part of someone is measured by what they spiritually hear.
- Prophetically speaking this points to Christ’s “body” – a better sacrifice.
- Christ’s “body” not “burnt offerings and sin offerings” (v. 6).
- Christ’s “body would be prepared” also in “death” by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arithmathea.
Christ’s arrival turned the page from Old to New!
When you are following God’s will (vv. 7-10)
Christ is the apex example for what it looks like to follow God’s will!
- Yes, Jesus following his Father in perfect submission, guided by the Holy Spirit, as the sinless Savior.
- Yes, we have to fight our flesh.
- At the same time, we possess the Holy Spirit and same calling to follow the Lord’s will.
Verse 5 makes a sharp transition contrasting what God has “not desired” – “not willed” with Jesus in verse 7 boldly stating, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God” (v. 7).
- Jesus’ entire earthly ministry flew in the face of ritualism and external obedience.
- His whole self or “body” was a living sacrifice, following under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
ESV John 6:38 For aI have come down from heaven, not to do bmy own will but bthe will of him cwho sent me.
Ultimately to the Cross.
ESV Luke 22:42 saying, a"Father, if you are willing, remove bthis cup from me. cNevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done."
Jesus came according to his Father’s decretive will, “…as it is written of me in the scroll of the book” (v. 7).
- A general reference to the whole Old Testament (cf. Lk. 24:27 “Law and prophets testify about me”).
ESV Isaiah 53:5 aBut he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, band with his stripes we are healed.
ESV Isaiah 53:10 Yet ait was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief;1 bwhen his soul makes2 an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; cthe will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Verses 8-9 ties Jesus’ submission to his Father’s will directly to his awareness of Psalm 40:6-8.
- Easy to underestimate Jesus’ intimate relationship with Scripture.
- Remember Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness fighting the Lord’s archenemy.
- Jesus’ choice of weapon in the all-out firestorm spiritual warfare.
- Deuteronomy 8, 6, 10 (cf. Ex. 23:25).
- While on the Cross – five references throughout Psalm 22!
Where Jesus defined God’s will for his life was directly from the revealed will of God found in Psalm 40!
- His path was defined by Scripture.
- God’s Word framed Jesus’ mission.
Jesus knew he did not come to offer sacrifices!
- The whole “scroll” told him God “willed” him to be a sacrifice!
- The Old system - “shadow” had ended!
“He does away with the first in order to establish the second” (v. 9).
- The Old system (with limitations and temptations) is forever set aside!
“What’s the significance of this change?”
- “And by ‘that will’ we have been sanctified” (v. 10).
- “Sanctified” [Hagiazw] means to be “to be made holy!”
- “Set apart.”
- This is the redeeming work of grace that comes only through the sacrificial death of Christ himself.
“The offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all!” (v. 10).
“Why did this offering come?” “By God’s decretive will?”
- Yes, this was the plan all along!
“By God’s revealed will?”
- Yes, Jesus Christ, obeyed his Father’s will, in real time, as a real human (yet still God), with real passion, and complete, humble, and perfect submission.
- He is our model for following God’s will!
- We are set free to follow God’s will because Jesus first followed God’s will!
“How can you know you are following God’s will?”
- All of life’s decisions are swirling and you do not know which direction to go!
- Follow God’s revealed will and when you come to a fork in the road…take it.
- Submit yourself to what the Word says, and then make a decision.
- Steer a moving car!
- God overrides or redirects you as necessary!
Rest assured, by walking by the Spirit, you can know you are running the race and you should do so with joy! (cf. Heb. 12:2 “…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame”).
ESV Psalm 37:4 aDelight yourself in the LORD, and he will bgive you the desires of your heart.
ESV Psalm 84:11 For the LORD God is aa sun and xshield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. bNo good thing does he withhold from those who cwalk uprightly
ESV Psalm 119:105 aYour word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
ESV Psalm 119:130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts aunderstanding to the simple.
ESV Proverbs 3:5 aTrust in the LORD with all your heart, and bdo not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways aacknowledge him, and he bwill make straight your paths. (Pro 3:6 ESV)
ESV Proverbs 16:9 aThe heart of man plans his way, but bthe LORD establishes his steps.
These verses tie together God’s decreed will to God’s Word!
There is a story of and English village whose chapel had an arch on which was written: “We Preach Christ Crucified.” For years godly men preached there and they presented a crucified Savior as the only means of salvation. But as the generation of godly preachers passed, a generation arose that considered the cross and its message antiquated and repulsive. They began to preach salvation by Christ’s example rather than by His blood. They did not see the necessity of His sacrifice. After a while, ivy crept up the side of the arch and covered the word “Crucified,” and only “We Preach Christ” was visible. Then the church decided that its message need not be confined to Christ and the Bible. So the preachers began to give discourses on social issues, policies, philosophy, moral rearmament, and whatever else happened to spark interest. The ivy on the arch continued to grow until it covered the third word. Then it simply read, “We Preach.”
- Christ crucified is the only Christ who saves you from all your sin!
- Your first step to following God’s will is following Christ to His Cross!
- God desires all people to be saved and is not willing that any should perish! (cff. 2 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9).
- Follow Jesus, follow His will!