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Following what we know to be God’s will is not optional. He is our Father, Creator, and Lord, while we are his children, creatures, and servants. That being the case, God is totally justified in requiring obedience.
Some people simply never take the time to discern God’s will for their lives. They live their lives and make their plans as if God is non-existent (James 4:13-16). God is never even a part of the equation.
Such an attitude is a prideful one in which the person assumes that he/she is in charge of his/her own destiny. Far from being a mere oversight in not including God, this attitude is inconsistent with a saving faith.
However, there is another group of people whose attitude toward God’s will is even more prideful. James writes, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” (James 4:17) These people act as though the will of God is something they can choose to accept or reject.
God’s will is not a mystery to these people, yet they make a conscious choice to disobey the will of God. Such an attitude expresses more pride than the first, because this person is saying to God, “I know what you want me to do, but I prefer not to do it. God, I really know more about this than you do!”
James labels this attitude as sin. Because it is sin, it comes with consequences. Most often, these consequences are simply the natural results of our failure to follow God’s will. It is dangerous to engage in activities that are clearly outside the will of God and expect that there will be no consequences.
While often knowing certain aspects of God’s will might take a great deal of prayer and discernment, so many things are just plain and obvious. The Bible is so plain on so many facets of God’s will for our lives. Maybe where most of us run into trouble is ignoring the obvious while searching for the hidden.
God says to us, “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Why in the world would we think we are able do better?