The previous post in this series of articles – Deception in the Last Days – dealt with how doctrine affects behavior. Sound doctrine tends to influence Christians towards right behavior, moving us to faith, hope, and love, motivating us that we “may not become lazy, but imitators of those who through faith and endurance inherit the promises.” Conversely, bad doctrine provides cover and justification for behavior that is inconsistent with God’s will, and especially hinders our endurance in difficult times. Bad doctrine handicaps Christians and can lead to apostasy in certain circumstances. Yet, while all sound doctrine is beneficial, and all false doctrine is detrimental, holding particular beliefs and theological systems are not the criteria for inheriting the Kingdom of God.
The greatest deception of all concerns who will inherit the Kingdom of God and who will not. Much false doctrine has the effect of assuring those who will not inherit the Kingdom that they are fine and secure in their present state. Yet Scripture is quite clear that those who “please God” by learning and consistently practicing “the will of God” are the ones who will inherit the Kingdom. Those who do not practice “the will of God” and thus do not “please God” will have no place in the resurrection of the just and will have no inheritance in the Kingdom of God.
Israel entered into a covenant relationship with God at Mt. Sinai. Yet the whole generation from 20 years old died in the wilderness and forfeited the inheritance.
Hebrews 3:10-11,16-18 (NKJV) 10 “Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’ 11 So I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest.'” … 16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?
There literally will be a “rude awakening” for those who have not learned God’s “ways” to walk in them, whose religion is intellectual and does not conform their hearts and minds, and thus their actions, to the “will of God” that is clearly expressed in Scripture. Many Christians wrongly suppose that salvation is found in theology and external religion. It is not. It is found in humble submission to “the will of God.” There is no substitute, and there will be no excuse, for Christians who have no drive to seek, understand, and then to do the “will of God.”
Matt. 7:21-23 (NASB) 21 “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. 22 “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?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
The word “lawlessness” is used here in juxtaposition to doing the will of God. That is, those who defy the will of God for Christians are viewed by God as “lawless” in the same way that the Israelites were deemed “lawless” when they despised the Law of Moses and made light of the commandments.
Jesus gave a parable that should be concerning to Christians who willfully dismiss any of God’s commands given to Christians in the New Testament through Jesus and His Apostles. This parable deals with those who give lip-service to following Christ while dismissing God’s commands.
Matt. 21:28-31 (NASB) 28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ 29 “And he answered and said, ‘I will, sir’; and he did not go. 30 “And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, ‘I will not’; yet he afterward regretted it and went. 31 “Which of the two DID THE WILL of his father?” They said, “The latter.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you.
This parable was meant to convict those whose religion was external, having the jargon and trappings of righteousness, but who were not in humble submission to the will of God. It certainly applies to modern Christians who make a profession of faith, who claim to follow Christ, but are not doing the “will of the Father” even though it is clearly stated in Scripture. Unfortunately, this describes the majority of those who call themselves Christians today. Christianity today and the majority of its leadership are in no better condition than Israel was in Jesus’ day.
Jesus made it abundantly clear that those whom God considers part of the family of God are those who seek out the will of God so that they can practice it consistently.
Mark 3:31-35 (NKJ) 31 Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. 32 And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.” 33 But He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?” 34 And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 35 “For whoever DOES THE WILL OF GOD is My brother and My sister and mother.”
Christianity is about humbly submitting our will, our ambitions, our status and accomplishments, and even our “rights” to the will of God, perceiving that His ways are far better than our own ways because all His commandments are always meant for our ultimate good. We often quote Romans 8:28 when life seems to present difficulties: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” We suppose that God is going to bless our mess simply because we profess to be Christians. But we forget the next verse: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, …” The “good” that God works for us from life’s hardships is not necessarily what we consider “good” – a comfortable and trouble-free life. Here is Isaiah’s assessment of Jesus:
Isaiah 53:2-3 (NASB) 2 … He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
The reason Jesus was “despised and forsaken of men” is because He was determined to do the will of God, and this was threatening to the religious establishment which was only pretending to do the will of God. In Luke 6:26 Jesus warned His disciples, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.” Those who seek to do the will of God, to be obedient in every area of life, will suffer persecution, not only by the world, but especially from disobedient Christians.
If we wish to claim Romans 8:28 as a trinket or charm to make us feel better, we are going to be severely disappointed. Being “conformed to the image of His Son” means being transformed from the typical western Evangelical Christian into something that looks more like Isaiah’s description of the Lamb of God — living simply, fully dependent on God, and being despised and rejected by most of the world and professing Christians. Conformity to the image of God’s Son can either come the easy way (our diligently searching out the “will of God” as revealed in Scripture and then humble submission to it) or it can come the hard way, “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.” That “scourging” is meant for correction. But for the stiff-necked, if God’s scourging does not break the will, it will certainly lead to apostasy as illustrated by Esau in the verses that follow.
Those who will inherit eternal life and the Kingdom of God are those who “please God” by pursuing and discerning “the will of God,” those who diligently seek to learn and understand God’s ways and His will in every situation, and then humbly submit to it.
Eph. 5:5-11 (NASB) 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn WHAT IS PLEASING TO THE LORD. 11 And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;
Col. 1:9-10 (NASB) 9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of HIS WILL in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to PLEASE HIM in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Striving to understand the “will of God” and to “please God” by knowing and doing His will in every aspect of life is precisely what it means to be a “living sacrifice.”
Romans 12:1-2 (NASB) 1 I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove WHAT THE WILL OF GOD IS, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Transforming our minds to conform to the mind of Christ instead of our own will, desires, dreams, and pursuits, is absolutely essential for endurance in the brutal storm that lies just over the horizon. The wise will take heed but fools will not.
Eph. 5:15-17 (NASB) 15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but UNDERSTAND WHAT THE WILL OF THE LORD IS.
This is a call for discernment, something that is severely lacking among Christians today simply because humility is lacking. Where humility is lacking, submission to God-ordained authority is lacking. This insubordination to God-ordained authority is manifest in insubordination to the commands of Scripture, wives being insubordinate to husbands, children being insubordinate to parents, and Christians being insubordinate to Church leadership and to the government authorities. Humble submission from the heart to God-ordained authorities is one of the foundational principles that runs throughout the entire Bible as being “the will of God” for His people. But it is rejected by most of modern Christianity which provides excuses, justifications, and work-arounds so that Christians can avoid the inconvenient commands and the conviction of the holy Breath of God. Yet it is found on page after page.
Paul continued in the following verses to make specific application of what “the will of the Lord is” in various spheres of authority.
Eph. 5:22-24; 6:1-3,5-8 (NASB) 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. … 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. … 5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6 not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, DOING THE WILL OF GOD from the heart. 7 With good-will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.
Humble submission from the heart to all God-ordained authority in everything is “the will of God,” and is the necessary precursor for success in the spiritual warfare that will be required of Christians in the last-days trial of our faith. This is abundantly evident in Paul’s next admonition which immediately follows:
Eph. 6:10-12 (NASB) 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
“The will of God” is that we follow the footsteps of Abraham, that we live as pilgrims and aliens in whatever country we reside, as citizens of the Kingdom of God and obedient to our King at God’s right hand, yet humbly submissive to current governing authorities (whether we agree with them or not) for the Lord’s sake, because God has delegated civil authority to them for the overall good of all humanity during this age.
1 Pet. 2:11-17 (NKJV) 11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 FOR THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men – 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
Scripture makes it quite clear that submission to the governing authorities is submission to God because He has delegated that authority to them. There will come a time when a certain human government is not delegated by God or operating under His authority, but under Satan’s authority. That is the time to defy the authority. Until then, we are to submit “for the Lord’s sake” unless rulers or laws require that we disobey God’s specific commands for us. Only then must we resist.
Christians cannot “put on the armor of God” in order to “withstand in the evil day” while rejecting God-ordained authority, and blatantly disregarding “the will of God” clearly articulated in Scripture, ignoring God’s commandments and turning a blind eye to the plethora of examples He has provided of those who submit vs. those who rebel.
Having considered what “the will of God” is and what pleases Him, we should consider what displeases Him. God abhors certain things; yet He also abhors those who practice those things especially if they are in a covenant relationship with Him. This is exactly what the 3rd Commandment – taking the Lord’s name in vain – is about.
The perfect example of taking the Lord’s name in vain was demonstrated by Saul. He was a part of God’s covenant people who were called by God’s name, thus he had taken God’s covenant name (Jehovah/Yahweh). God then chose him to be the commander of His people. He then commanded Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites, to spare no one and destroy everything they owned, keeping nothing. But Saul heeded the voice of his army instead of being a faithful leader and commander under God. He did not stand firm on God’s very specific command. Instead, he bowed under pressure to those under his God-given authority and allowed the army to take the spoils which God had forbidden. No doubt he reasoned that God had allowed Israel to take the spoils on many previous occasions. Unfortunately, Saul did not learn from the incident at Ai when after having conquered Jericho under Joshua, God abandoned Israel’s army to slaughter for precisely the same reason, when only one man took the spoils God had forbidden. The saying is true that “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Saul, as Israel’s commander, repeated Achan’s mistake and the outcome for him was similar. Just as with the incident at Ai, all of Israel suffered because of one man. Saul’s repeating this mistake caused him to lose the kingdom of Israel and caused all of Israel to suffer greatly for his failed leadership because he took God’s command lightly; he did not fear God.
1 Samuel 15:20-26 (NASB) 20 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I did obey the voice of the LORD, and went on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21 “But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God at Gilgal.” 22 And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king. 24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice. 25 “Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me, that I may worship the LORD.” 26 But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.”
Notice that Saul deflected his responsibility in leadership which required that he obey God, set the proper example for his men by public obedience, and by insisting that his men follow his lead. He then justified the insubordination to Samuel, claiming that they kept the animals of the Amalekites to sacrifice to the Lord. This is man’s natural tendency, to justify himself by pretending that his disobedience is for a noble cause. But Samuel gave Saul a reality check, explaining God’s perspective on the matter. “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.” This is how God views insubordination and the lame excuses we offer for disobedience to His commands, especially for those in leadership within the spheres of authority that He has ordained.
Saul’s rejection of God’s command and abdication of his authority and responsibility was exactly the same as Adam’s rejection of God’s command and abandoning his leadership role. Adam abdicated his responsibility to lead his wife, and Saul abdicated his responsibility to lead his men because he liked being popular, so he “feared the people and listened to their voice,” just as Adam heeded the voice of Eve.
Gen. 3:17-19 (NASB) 17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you shall eat the plants of the field; 19 By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”
God views rebellion against His commands as equivalent to witchcraft, and insubordination equivalent to idolatry, especially by those charged with leading in the spheres of authority that He has ordained. In Scripture, “idolatry” is abhorrent to God, the converse of doing “the will of God” and “pleasing God.” We often suppose that “idolatry” has to do with overt pagan activity. Yet as the above Scripture shows, rebellion and insubordination are placed in the same category as idolatry and witchcraft in God’s eyes.
Scripture also frequently also associates fornication and adultery with idolatry. In fact, the terms “fornication” and “adultery” are figuratively used throughout Scripture as metaphors for idolatry. A quick skim of the book of Hosea and Revelation 17-18 shows just how closely linked idolatry is with fornication and adultery. This is because both are apostasy from a God-ordained covenant relationship, whether that is the marriage covenant or being a covenant child of God. Thus “the will of God” for Christians is to “flee from idolatry,” not only in distancing ourselves from associations with pagan rituals and practices, but also regarding sexual purity which is just as essential to the marriage covenant as is subordination of the Christian wife to her husband within the family sphere of authority.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 (NASB) 1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and PLEASE GOD (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more. 2 For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 For THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8 Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.
Most of modern Christianity has rejected God’s consistent commands throughout Scripture regarding the wife’s submissive role in marriage because men have abdicated their roles as leaders to their wives just as Adam did with Eve. Coinciding with this neglect is the rampant prevalence of adultery, fornication, and pornography among Christian men who suppose that 1 Cor. 6:9-10 and Gal. 5:19-21 do not apply to them. But they are mistaken.
This neglect in the sphere of God-ordained authority in marriage has led to the rejection of God’s commands regarding the order in the God-ordained institution of the churches and the different roles of men and women regarding leadership. The overt insubordination to God’s ordained roles and spheres of authority shows up in modern churches both with women in roles that God specifically assigned to men and made off-limits for women, and in the nearly universal abandonment within the last century of the command for women to cover their heads in the assembly as a public testimony both to men and to the angels of their submission to God’s ordained order and spheres of authority.
All of these things are symptoms of the leprous state of modern Christianity which takes “the will of God” as clearly expressed in Scripture lightly, and which makes excuses and justifications for insubordination exactly like Saul, having no fear of God. Scripture is clear that God rejects those who reject His commands.
Psalm 119:118 (NKJV) You reject all those who stray from Your statutes, For their deceit is falsehood.
The “deceit” and “falsehood” refers to the self-justification and elaborate reinterpretations of Scripture to avoid God’s commands in the same manner that Saul sought to justified himself. But God would have none of it from Saul and His attitude towards today’s Christian leaders is no different. Notice the similarity in language between Saul’s rejecting the word of the Lord (you have rejected the word of the LORD) and what Paul said about those who reject and resist the governing authorities which God has appointed.
Romans 13:1-2 (NKJV) 1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
The same is true of those who reject and excuse the commandments concerning purity.
1 Thess. 4:8 (NKJV) 8 Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.
The fate of such Christian leaders and those who follow them will be the same fate as Saul’s and the Israelites who followed him. Paul warned Timothy that this would be exactly the state of end-time Christianity.
2 Timothy 4:1-4 (NASB) 1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.
This is exactly where we are today. Yet the Scriptures are extremely clear, in both the Old and New Testaments, that the inheritance is only guaranteed to those who “obey Him.”
Heb. 10:35-36 (NASB) 35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that WHEN YOU HAVE DONE THE WILL OF GOD, you may receive what was promised.
1 John 2:15-17 (NASB) 15 Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who DOES THE WILL OF GOD abides forever.
The benefits of searching out God’s will from the Scriptures for every situation, and then humbly obeying His will without excuses, not only has great benefits in the age to come, but also in this life. It is THE KEY to answered prayers.
1 John 3:19-22 (NASB) 19 We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him, 20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.
1 John 5:14-15 (NASB) 14 And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
To ask according to God’s will means that we have discerned His will by rightly judging ourselves, by keenly observing the Scriptures both His commandments and the plethora of examples throughout the Scriptures of what God approves of and what He does not approve, and living accordingly. Only those who have diligently searched out and understand “the will of God,” and are living in harmony with it (thus “pleasing God”), can ask in accord (agreement) with God’s will because they understand it, and thus ask for things that are consistent with God’s will. These are the ones who receive what they ask for.
 Heb. 6:12 (LGV)
 Rom. 8:5; 2 Cor. 5:9; 1 Thess. 4:1; Heb. 11:5-6
 Phil. 3:4-12
 Heb. 12:6 (NASB)
 Heb. 12:7-17
 Rom. 4:12
 Phil. 3:20-21
 Compare Eccl. 8:2-7 & Rom. 13:1-8
 Rev. 13:2,4
 Acts 5:29
 Lev. 26:30
 Exod. 20:7
 Josh. 6-7
 Josh. 22:20
 1 Cor. 10:14-22
 Gen. 3:17
 1 Cor. 14:34-38; 1 Tim. 2:11-15; Titus 2:3-5
 The sin of the angels who followed Satan and fell was insubordination and failure to keep their appointed ranks and spheres of authority (Jude 1:6). The local assembly is supposed to be a demonstration to the angelic realm of proper subordination to God-ordained authority (Eph. 3:10). But it has become just the opposite of that.
 1 Cor. 11:1-16
 Heb. 5:9