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Discerning the will of god

In the two previous papers, we had therefore elaborated on the first two parts of the text of Romans 12:2. present century as well as the stratagem used (the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life)[i], since always, by the devil to seduce humanity, in particular the children of God_cc781905-5cde -3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_to incite them to transgress the law of God. Also we had shown what the non-conformity of Christians to the system of the current world could generate as consequences : sufferings and persecutions. Then, in the second article [2], we took care to analyze the expressions "be transformed" and "renewal of thought", in order to bring out the link between what we are inside, as believers, and what we display as conduct or behavior with respect to who we are. Since to be a Christian is to adopt a way of life maintained by the Word of God, consequently distinct from that of the world, we had indicated that this difference begins first at the level of the thought of our inner man before to be noticed in the way we act.
Thus, in this article, we will articulate our reflection around the expression " Discerning the will of God ". In the passage under study, we have noticed that the latter, being the consequence that follows from the correlation of the two preceding imperatives, is introduced by the conjunctive phrase “ afin que_cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_”, to mark the intention and the aim aimed at by the exhortations of the apostle to the Christians of Rome. De ce fait, nous tenons à explorer les termes « discerner » et « volonté » pour finally be able to elucidate the expression.

I-  cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d

It is therefore important to understand the scope of the word to determine the meaning of the apostle's speech. There are several Greek terms that translate the word " discerner ", such as  : diacrino, diacrino_k5019, doccazo_k5019, diacrino -3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_; but, as far as their use is concerned, they do not all have the same meaning. For this, we want to analyze the Greek term which translates it in the passage under examination which is " dokimazo[1]". The latter gives the idea of " examine, test, probe, approve ". So it is the fact of seeking to penetrate, to know or to understand the intentions, the thoughts of someone to perceive without ambiguity what he wants.

II- Facets of the will of God.

Speaking of the will of God, according to John Piper, “ there are two clear and very different meanings of this phrase through_cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf578_the Bible 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_[3]».  In this sense, it is important to know them, given the context, to detect which of the two the apostle is referring to. Thus, this will allow us to fully understand the full meaning of the word “ discerner ” in the context that Paul used it, in the third part of verse 2 of Romans 12. To do this, it is therefore essential to grasp the two scopes of the will of God.
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II-1. The sovereign will of God

The sovereign will of God is that which God does not reveal to anyone. Thus, man, in his quest, tries, all the time, to give himself answers by doing a lot of intellectual gymnastics to explain this side of God. It is in this sense that they invent all sorts of philosophical doctrines, some of which are taken as  example in our first article [1], to speculate on what they do not master. Moreover, it is one of the divine attributes of God : His sovereignty. Job, in his period of trials, recognized that « God can do anything, and that nothing can prevent Him from accomplishing the projects He has designed_cc781905 -5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_” (Job 42 v 2). In this sense, we will take a text among the multiple texts[ii] existing, for this purpose, in the Bible to support this fact. Paul quoted a portion of text from the Old Testament, to speak of this sovereign side of God in this way:
However, God has a plan which is accomplished according to his free choice and which depends, not on the actions of men, but solely on the will of the one who calls. And for this plan to remain, c is even before the birth of these children, and therefore before they have done either good or evil, that God said to Rebecca:_cc781905-5cde -3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_The eldest will be subject to the younger (Genesis 25 v 23). 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_I loved Jacob and not Esau. But then, what can I say? Could God be unjust? Far from it! For he said to Moses: I will have mercy on whom I want to be gracious, I will have mercy on whom I want to have mercy. This does not therefore depends neither on the will of man, nor on his efforts, but on God who is gracious (Exodus 33 v 19).

In Scripture, God said to Pharaoh: This is why I brought you where you are: to show my power in you, and so that all the earth may proclaim who I am (Exodus 9 v 15-16 ).  Thus,  God is gracious to whom he wants and he hardens whom he wants. You are going to tell me: why then does God still reproach? For who has ever been able to resist his will?
Here, in this text[iii], Paul  presents us with two facts to show the sovereign will of God. First, by this quote : " I loved Jacob and not Esau [iv]", even before they were born, he wants to emphasize that the preference and the preponderance granted to Jacob and his descendants are not motivated by their merits, but by the sole sovereign or absolute will of God. And, secondly, we understand that God, in his Sovereignty, chose to burst His glory by choosing Pharaoh. And, according to John MacArthur, “ Pharaoh certainly thought that his position and actions depended only on his free choice in view of the purposes he had set for himself, but he actually served the purpose of God [4]”. Either way, He did all things according to the counsel of His will (Ep 1 :11). In these circumstances, only God can know the reason for His actions.
According to Piper, this is the first scope of the will of God : God's sovereign control over all things. We call this "God's sovereign will" or "His decreed will." She can't give in. It always comes true. Thus, the prophet Daniel observed that "God does as he pleases with the host of heaven and with the inhabitants of the earth, and there is no one who resists his hand and says to him, What are you doing? ?" (Dan 4:35).
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 II-2. The revealed will of God 

The revealed will of God is that expressed in His commandments through the Bible[v], His revealed Word[3]. At this will, we fail almost daily by disobeying the commandments of God in the Scriptures (1 John 3 : 4) because of our shortcomings or our ignorance. This is how Paul, initially, in his letter to the Christians of Thessalonica, recalled what God expects of them in these words :
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What God wants is that you lead a holy life: that you abstain from all immorality;  that each of you know how to gain perfect mastery of his body in order to live in holiness and honor,  without letting themselves be dominated by disordered passions, as pagans do who do not know God. -136bad5cf58d_: 3-5, Sower version)
By this very fact, we see that God has made very clear in this passage what He wants from Thessalonian Christians. And, in a second time, a little later in the same letter, the apostle shared another specific aspect of what God expects from us in these terms:
      _cc781905- 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_     _cc781905-5cde- 3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_     _cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_     _cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b- 136bad5cf58d_ _cc781905-5c de-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_     _cc781905-5cde- 3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_     _cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_     _cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b- 136bad5cf58d_      _cc781905- 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d__cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b -136bad5cf58d_      _cc781905 -5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_     _cc781905-5cde -3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_     _cc781905-5cde-3194 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_     _cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b -136bad5cf58d__cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58 d_      _cc781905- 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_     _cc781905-5cde- 3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_     _cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_  
Thank God in all circumstances: such is for you the will that God has expressed in Jesus Christ.
God wants us to thank Him at all times for all circumstances. We should never, being Christians, draw near to God without giving Him thanks for all things (Ep 5 :20); because we are all dependent on Him. For Piper, "  this is the other scope of God's will in the Bible that we call His commandments[3]"


III. Context of the Will of God in the text

Now, in this part, we are led to contextualize the expression  used by Paul in verse 2 of the text of Romans 12. In this way, we want to define the notion of "_cc781905-5cde -3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_will ” and show what type of will the apostle was referring to.
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III-1. Will, quid ?

Will, according to the dictionary[2], can mean what everyone wishes or decides to do. However, will, in the context of the text, is translated as “ thelema ” in Greek. In this sense, there is even an occult philosophical current, baptized with the same name " Thelema [3]", which originated at the beginning of the 20th century, founded by Aleister Crowley, an occultist. It becomes a religion that embraces licentiousness by teaching that people have the right to do whatever they want. Nevertheless, we would like to rectify that here the latter (thelema) is used to express the intention of what someone wishes another to do. In a nutshell, it translates the desire for " what God wants us to do by following His commandments and precepts [4]", and not to do what we want as the Thelemites claim[5].
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 III-2. Understanding the expression in the text

In view of these two aspects of the will of God, we see clearly that, in the text, it cannot be the sovereign will of God ; for no one can come to examine, to understand, or to penetrate this aspect of God.   His sovereign will is invisible and unknowable in advance. Thus, it is clear that we cannot discern such a will. Therefore, when the apostle made mention of this expression in the third part of the thematic text under study, he meant incontestably the will of God, already revealed in His Word, which we can discern only from His precepts and His commandments. So we read :
“Hidden things belong to the Lord our God; the things revealed are ours and our sons', in perpetuity, that we may put into practice all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29, current version KJV).

Looking at this text, we understand that the people and their most distant posterity should not be concerned with unearthing the hidden things of God, or seeking to learn about divine secrets; but rather to seek to know the divine will which they are called to accomplish, and this, says Moses, we possess sufficiently 10). And, in the considerations made on the passages studied above,  we see  that the will of God is clearly explained and revealed in them. On the one hand, in 1 Thessalonians. 4 :3-5, He wants us to be holy and keep ourselves from immorality. Thus we see that transformation through renewal of thought will lead us to discern the will of God through His commandments concerning : holiness, sanctification and sexual purity. And on the other hand, in 1 Thessalonians 5 :18, He wants us to express our gratitude to Him in all circumstances. And this will, when we transgress it, which we continue to flout every day, hinders our relationship with God by bringing painful difficulties into our lives.

IV-  How to discern the will of God ?

The adverb " comment ", in interrogative sentences,   is used to ask a question about how to do something, on the means to achieve a result[6]. So, unequivocally, we quickly understand that " discerning the will of God " is the fact of recognizing as true what God wants us to do, after approval of His Word. In this way, there is no room for discussion to deceive oneself. To be able to know His will, one must allow oneself to be transformed by the renewal of thought[vi]; which will produce a concrete behavioral result [2]. And, this process is done by the regular impregnation and meditation of the Word of God. Thus, the Spirit of God will lead us into all truth, in order to enlighten us. In sum, His Word is the means by which we can know what He wants and expects of us as His children.

V- Why discern the will of God ?

The main reason for discerning the will of God comes from who we are. Serving God by conviction gives us pleasure as His children in seeking what He requires of our new position in Christ. Here are some reasons why we should seek to “ discern the will of God ”
    a) To know what to do in situations where biblical truth does not dictate a specific response to the choices we must make[vii]. (Proverbs 11 :14 ; 15 :22)
To see and evaluate each relevant factor with the guidance of the Spirit to accomplish what God calls us to do. (Psalms 32 :8)
   c) To put the Word into practice in new life situations using our renewed thinking. (James 1 :22)
     d). (Matthew. 12 :33)
To strengthen our conviction in God when the wind of discouragement wants to make us doubt His promises. (2 Thessalonians 3 :3)
    f) To unmask the plans of the enemy as well as his ministers who disguise themselves as angels of light to seduce us and make us sin against God. (2 Corinthians 11 :13-15)
In fact, " discern the will of God ", as John MacArthur pointed out, this should help to make us fit to "_cc781905-5cde-3194 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_lead a holy life approved by God [4]”. And this is what guarantees us the right to enjoy the blessings of God, to pray according to His Word, and to be able to realize what is good, what is pleasing and perfect to Him, in accordance with His will.


VI- Conclusion

With regard to these passages and many others, we conclude to say that there are two bearings to consider when we speak of the will of God. And, it is important to understand and believe both ways. One of them is called the sovereign will of God. It is fulfilled in our lives independently of the desire of our heart (Ps 115 : 3). It does not depend on our obedience. And the other is called the revealed will of God and calls upon our obedience, not under duress, but out of love for our Lord (John 14 :15). It is of the latter that the apostle speaks to us in the third part of the text of Romans 12 v 2. Since we are still on earth and our three main enemies – the flesh, the world and the devil –  are watching us every day, we can, in this sense, for lack of discernment, fail in the fulfillment of His commandments.
Since "discerning the will of God" is the concrete result of our determination to live for Him and of our implication in wanting to transform ourselves through the renewal of thought, which represents the antithesis of the first part of the text : "do not conform to the present century", the believer must, therefore, feed his thoughts with good intentions for this in-depth change for the better (Philippians 4 v 8). And this renewal is a process that can only be done by meditating on the Word of God. This will lead us to address ourselves to the Lord by prayer according to His desires (James 4 v 3). Then, we quickly understand that the foundation of all the good walk of the Christian life lies in obedience to the commandments of God. In a word, it resides in the daily practice of the revealed will of God, with the help of the Holy Spirit, so that what overflows is good, acceptable and perfect.
          _cc781905-5cde-3194 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_          « Psalms 119


General Secretary of Standing 4 Christ Ministry


[1]R. Saint-Paulin, “ Do not conform to the present century ”, [On line]. Available at:ésent.html. [Accessed: 07-Oct-2017].

[2] R. Saint-Paulin, “ Be transformed by the renewal of thought ”, [On line]. Available at: [Accessed: 07-Oct-2017].

[3] J. Piper, “ What is the will of God and how to know it? ”,, 2004. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 02-Nov-2017].

[4] J. MacArthur, The Holy Bible  with commentaries by John MacArthur, 4th Edition. Bible Society of Geneva, 2010.




[5] Followers of the Thelema religion.


[i]  See R. Saint-Paulin, “ Do not conform to the present century ”, page 8 in the version .pdf
[ii] In the text of 1 Peter 1 :18-20, we see that God had planned His plan of redemption even before the foundation of the world. He planned to redeem us by the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, before He created man or anything. And, He was arrested according to the decreed will of God to be put to death (Acts 2 :23).
[iii] The apostle Paul used this callousness as an example of God's inscrutable will and absolute power personal responsibility for our actions.
[iv] In Malachi quote  1 :2-3, according to John MacArthur's reading, “  does not act from a real feeling of hatred towards Esau and his posterity. Malachi, who made this statement more than 1500 years after their death, analyzed these two men – and by extension the peoples (Israel and Edom) descended from them – by observing that God had chosen to bless and protect one and abandon the other ”.
[v] And we know very well that the Bible, which contains the precepts and commandments of God, is the final revelation of God to mankind. In this regard, Mauley Colas, vice president of Standing 4 Christ Ministry, in his articles titled respectively : “ The Bible: Confrontation Between Christian Thought and _d04a07d8 -9cd1-3239-9149-20813d6c673b_secular thought” and “ The particularity of the Bible”, says a lot about it. 
[vi] The Word of God is the key to this renewing of the spirit. This work done by the Spirit will lead the believer to pray according to the will of God, making God his delight (his priorities) as expressed in the book of Psalms in chapter 37 v 4  in all his businesses.
[vii] The Bible does not tell us which person to marry, or which car to drive, or whether we should own a home or not, or where to take our vacations, or what phone plan to choose, or what brand of juice. orange we can drink. It doesn't give a specific answer to all the choices we have to make.



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