Living for God’s Will—Today and Forever
“You too . . . live the remainder of [your] time in the flesh, no more for the desires of men, but for God’s will.”—1 PETER 4:1, 2.
1, 2. (a) How do many react to the idea of submitting to someone else’s will? (b) How may some react in the Christian congregation? (c) What questions are therefore raised?
HOW do you react to the idea of letting your life be controlled by God? Many today find repugnant the very idea of submitting to someone else’s will. Even in so-called stable societies there is a growing rebellion against authority. Riots, protests, disorder, and violence are the daily fare. Under stress the veneer of civilization turns out to be thin and brittle.—2 Timothy 3:1-3.
2 In contrast, Jehovah’s Witnesses show that they are living for God’s will by their faithfulness, for example, in their house-to-house ministry. Yet, even within the Christian congregation, a spirit of independence has sometimes been manifested by a few. They may chafe at the discipline of the elders. A few show disrespect toward “the faithful and discreet slave” class and its Governing Body. (Matthew 24:45-47; Acts 15:2, 23) Therefore the questions arise: Why should I submit to God’s will? Why should my life be controlled by God?
Christ’s Selfless Example
3. What counsel did Peter give regarding our mental disposition?
3 Peter, who had shared many experiences with Jesus, believed that there was a very good reason to live for God’s will rather than for one’s own. He said: “Therefore since Christ suffered in the flesh, you too arm yourselves with the same mental disposition; because the person that has suffered in the flesh has desisted from sins, to the end that he may live the remainder of his time in the flesh, no more for the desires of men, but for God’s will.”—1 Peter 4:1, 2.
4. How did Jesus show his submission to his Father?
4 Why did Jesus suffer in the flesh? Because he supported his Father’s side in the issue of universal sovereignty, or rulership. He proved God to be true and Satan a liar. And he did that by letting his earthly life be controlled by God, even though it resulted in a martyr’s death.—2 Corinthians 5:14, 15.
5. What challenge does Christ’s example place before us?
5 Yet that death was an expression of God’s love through Christ. (1 John 4:10) Why so? Because as a result of it, benefits were made available to all mankind. (Romans 5:8; 6:23) But how many are willing to accept those benefits? How many are willing to imitate Christ and sacrifice their own desires in submission to God’s will?—Hebrews 13:15, 17.
Benefits Now and in the Future
6, 7. What are the benefits of submission to Jehovah’s will?
6 Thus how appropriate even in our times is the invitation that Jehovah extended to Israel 2,700 years ago: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”—Isaiah 48:17, 18; compare Genesis 22:18.
7 Jehovah teaches us to benefit ourselves by our living for his will—and those benefits are not just peace and righteousness here and now. They include the future blessings of everlasting life, even as Jesus promised: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone that beholds the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting life, and I will resurrect him at the last day.”—John 6:40.
8. In what way is Jesus’ promise of a resurrection a comfort today?
8 Those words are a great comfort to faithful Christians today who are advanced in years. This system of things is into its 72nd year since the crucial date of 1914. Satan’s world has lasted longer than many expected. In fact, some faithful Christians who expected to see Armageddon and the beginning of the new system of things in their lifetime have died. Yet their lives, dedicated to doing God’s will, have not been in vain. True to his word, Jesus will resurrect them and grant them the benefit of everlasting life.—John 5:28, 29; 1 Corinthians 15:58.
Christ’s Mental Disposition
9 What can make it easier for us to submit to God’s will? According to Peter’s counsel, quoted in paragraph 3, we must arm ourselves with “the same mental disposition” that Jesus had.—1 Peter 4:1.
10 Peter here uses a Greek word that is found only twice in the Greek Scriptures—enʹnoi·a. Although some translators render it “mind,” it is not the usual Greek word for “mind,” which is nous. Therefore Peter, under inspiration, had some specific point in mind when he chose this less common noun. Greek scholar W. E. Vine says that enʹnoi·a “denotes purpose, intention, design.” J. H. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon defines it as “manner of thinking and feeling.”
11. What can we learn from Jesus’ example with regard to the way we use our lives?
11 Jesus’ self-sacrificing course of action clearly showed his purpose, or design. He was not leading a superficial life, just seeking pleasure and fun. He knew that he had not given up his former life in heaven in order to waste away a few years on earth in selfish pursuits. (See the contrast in Genesis 6:1, 2, 4, and Jude 6.) Thus he stated: “I have come down from heaven to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 6:38) Jesus was single-minded in his devotion to his Father’s cause, always putting it above his own will, even down to an ignominious death.—Luke 22:42.
12, 13. (a) How did Jesus manifest his mental disposition at Jacob’s fountain? (b) What did Jesus mean when he said, “I have food to eat of which you do not know”?
12 Even when tired and hungry, Jesus clearly showed his mental disposition toward his Father’s will. On one occasion, while his disciples went off for food, he rested at Jacob’s fountain. Instead of taking a well-earned nap until the disciples returned, he exerted himself to do God’s will. He took an unusual step for a Jew. He entered into conversation with a Samaritan woman. He opened her eyes to an understanding of the true God. As a result, “many of the Samaritans out of that city put faith in him on account of the word of the woman.”—John 4:6-26, 39-42.
13 When his disciples returned, they urged him to eat. How did he answer them? “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” They were baffled by his response until he added: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” Clearly, Jesus took pleasure in submitting himself to his Father’s will. To him it was like food, and just as with eating good food, he enjoyed real satisfaction as a result. If we want to feel truly fulfilled in our lives, we can do no better than follow the example of Jesus Christ.—John 4:31-38.
Effects of Christ’s Mental Disposition
14. What do we need in order to have Christ’s mental disposition? Illustrate.
14 How should having Christ’s mental disposition affect us? If we learn to think like Christ, then we will have an inner force that will guide us to do what Jesus would do under any circumstances. (Luke 22:42; Ephesians 4:23, 24) This force will not result just from fear of punishment, such as discipline from the elders in the congregation, but rather from an overwhelming appreciation for Jehovah’s laws and principles. We can compare the situation to the person who obeys traffic laws only when there is a policeman in view—he subjects himself only to an exterior influence. But the person who values life, loves his neighbor, and sees the wisdom of having traffic laws will obey because he respects the law. He has a strong inner motivation.—Psalm 51:10.
15. (a) What proves that Jesus had an inner force actuating his mind? (Ephesians 4:23) (b) What examples of integrity give evidence of Christ’s mental disposition in modern-day Christians?
15 Jesus had that inner ‘force actuating his mind.’ Thus he was faithful to his Father’s will, even unto death. He endured suffering without complaining or reviling his persecutors. (1 Peter 2:21-24) Sometimes we as Christians may come under similar pressures. Opposing authorities may try to stifle our preaching activity and meetings, as they did in Spain during the Franco era and in various European lands during the Nazi occupation. Many brothers and sisters were mistreated in an effort to have them betray responsible brothers in the local congregation. In spite of persecution the majority stood firm. (See 1978 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, pages 171-2, 182-3; 1986 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, pages 137-59.)
16. What are some of the ways in which we might be tested today? How can we resist?
16 We may come under pressure in relation to Christian neutrality or the use of blood transfusions. (Acts 5:29; 15:28, 29) Then the issue arises, Do we live for God’s will or for man’s? Or temptation may arise from a combination of fleshly desires and unwholesome companions. Perhaps at school or at our place of work, the opportunity may present itself to smoke or to take drugs without anyone else in the congregation knowing about it. Or what about the temptation to gamble in the lottery? Or to commit fornication or adultery? So often a worldly work atmosphere can be conducive to wrong thinking and wrong action—unless we have the same resoluteness as Christ regarding the doing of God’s will. What will you do? Will you have an upright force actuating your mind so that you will follow Christ’s course of action under such circumstances?—Ephesians 4:17-20; 1 John 2:15, 16.
17, 18. (a) What powerful point does Peter make regarding those who practice sin? (b) What is needed in order to resist the inroads of sin?
17 Peter further emphasizes the need for doing God’s will when he counsels: “For the time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will of the nations when you proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine [or any other alcoholic beverage], revelries, drinking matches, and illegal idolatries. Because you do not continue running with them in this course to the same low sink of debauchery, they are puzzled and go on speaking abusively of you. But these people will render an account to the one ready to judge those living and those dead.”—1 Peter 4:3-5.
18 Here Peter makes a strong point—those who ignore God’s will must render an account. (Compare Romans 14:12 and Hebrews 13:17.) Paul arrives at a similar conclusion in his letter to the Colossians, where he writes: “Deaden, therefore, your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of those things the wrath of God is coming.” All those who practice such things are certainly not living for God’s will but, rather, for the satisfying of their own greedy compulsions. Yet people can break away from such moral degradation, for, as Paul states, “In those very things you, too, once walked when you used to live in them.”—Colossians 3:5-7; Ephesians 4:19; see also 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
Perceiving What God’s Will Is
19. How are many now showing that they live for the will of Jehovah? (Romans 12:1, 2)
19 During these final years of the 20th century, more than three million people have come to perceive what God’s will is for them. As a consequence, they are zealously preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom government. (Acts 8:12; Mark 13:10) They are not living just for themselves, as the majority of others do. They know that God will soon bring an end to this corrupt system, and they are making sacrifices to help others to gain this accurate knowledge, even as the apostle Paul counseled: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked. On this account cease becoming unreasonable, but go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.”—Ephesians 5:15-17.
20, 21. (a) How should we view the gift of life? (James 4:13-17) (b) How can we avoid being fashioned after the world?
20 Life is like a glass of cool, fresh water. In the first decades of a person’s life, he “drinks” deeply and hurriedly—until he begins to wonder how many years of life are left in the “glass.” That is the puzzle that baffles everybody. How important, then, to live life with a sense of responsibility toward God and one’s fellowman! How vital to take into account God’s will and not just one’s own selfish will!—Matthew 7:21, 24, 26.
21 However, living as we do in a world controlled by the spirit of Satan, it is not always easy to live for God’s will. (Revelation 12:9) Pressures are exerted all the time to mold us to the world’s will and attitude of mind. Fashion fads and manias can even influence some in the congregation, so that they begin to look like clones of some famous entertainment personality. How appropriate, then, is Paul’s counsel: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God”!—Romans 12:2.
22. (a) What is God’s will for our time? (b) How can we show that we are living for God’s will? (c) What blessing awaits those who do live for God’s will?
22 God’s will is that “this good news of the kingdom” be preached worldwide before he brings an end to the present world system. (Matthew 24:14; Revelation 14:6, 7) This gives all the more reason to respond to the call for more full-time ministers if your circumstances allow for it. It is reason, too, for elders and ministerial servants to make themselves available to move into congregations where there may be a need for their help. And it is an overwhelming reason for every Witness to be an authentic Christian witness—not just bearing a label but actually living for the will of God now and forever. Know that by so doing ‘you will be safely treasuring up for yourselves a fine foundation for the future, in order that you may get a firm hold on the real life.’—1 Timothy 6:19.
How Would You Answer?
□ How did Jesus show that he lived for God’s will?
□ What benefits are available to those who live for God’s will?
□ What was Christ’s mental disposition toward God’s will?
□ How should the ‘force actuating the mind’ affect us?
□ How should we view life?
[Picture on page 21]
Does appreciation for the law make you obey, or only the presence of the police?