Charles Stanley - Before You Step Out of the Will of God
God has made it very clear in His Word, that He has a purpose and a plan and a will for our life. Have you ever thought about that in your life? Think about this, He not only has a plan and a purpose and will for our life, but He sent the Holy Spirit to live within us, in order to make that plan crystal clear. Not only to make the plan clear, but also to enable us, whatever we face in life, to live out that plan. You and I cannot look at someone else and say, "This is God's plan for your life". God makes His plan known to us individually. Sometimes it clearer than at other times. And because He's made a will and purpose and plan for our life, He has chosen the best for your life. Whoever you are, wherever you are, God's choice is the best.
Now whether you choose to follow that best or not is another question. But when I think about the Scriptures, I think about it in this light. Life at its best is a life lived in the will of God. That's the best life. Now, you have a choice. You don't have to walk in His will. He has a plan, a purpose, a will. You don't have to walk in it. You can choose to do whatever you choose. But I want to remind you of one thing. When you choose to live outside the will of God, you choose to pay the price of disobedience to God. How foolish. When the all loving God, has chosen the best for you and you choose what is not the best but what you think is the best that will bring you the most enjoyment or the most pleasure.
So, when I think about all that, I think about, oftentimes the painful consequences that people go through. When their choices they make, and then they wonder why, "Why does God bless so and so this way, and why does he allow this to happen to my life". Well, we can't always explain that. But one thing is for certain, if you know that you're living in the will of God, He's going to turn it for your good. When you know that you're living outside the will of God, you're going to suffer the consequences.
And I think about the title of this message. And I had to think about it a long time. The title is this, "Before you step out of the will of God". That's the title. Before you step out of the will of God, what? The best consequences are having it His way. The worst consequences — having it your way. But most people won't discover that and understand that until it's rather late in their life. So, we've been talking about the will of God, the purpose of God, the plan of God for your life, where you have been, where you are, where you intend to be and if you intend to make whatever changes are necessary in order that God may have His perfect will in your life from this point on. Does He forgive us for the past? Yes. Is He willing to pick us up where we are and lead us to where He wants us to be? Yes, He is.
So, we can't change the past, but we can change the direction that we're living in today and the way we're thinking, what our habits are, where are we intend to be in the future. We can change that, because we have the Person of the Holy Spirit living within us to enable us to make any change that is absolutely necessary. So, I want you to consider the inescapable consequences of living outside the will of God. Now, you say, "Well, that's sort of what you think". No, no, no. These are not my opinions. We're talking about the inescapable consequences that happened in a person's life (different people, different consequences) as a result of living outside the will of God. As a result of saying, "You know what? I want to live my life my way. I know what I think I want in life and I'm willing to go get it. I'm willing to have it at whatever price it is, but I want to live it my way".
Well, you can have it your way if you choose. But I want you to turn to the book of Colossians. Colossians is one of the most beautiful epistles, informative epistles, in the New Testament. And the Apostle Paul has been talking about how to live out the Christian life and he comes down to the eighteenth verse and he starts talking about husbands and wives: how they're to treat each other with their children and so forth. And then he also talks about the servants: how they should be treated. And then he says, listen to this, beginning in verse twenty-three of this third chapter of Colossians: "Whatever you do, do your work heartily," that is, put your whole heart to it, "as for the Lord," as if you're working for Him, "rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve".
And sometimes we think you know, we're just doing our own thing. No, the truth is once you're saved, you and I become servants of the Lord Jesus Christ and we must not forget that every day we're serving Him. And if you don't think about Him and you don't read the Word of God and you don't pray in the morning before you start your day, it's all about you and your work and your friends. But the Scripture says that "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve".
Now watch that. Do you see that? "It is the Lord Christ whom you serve". When you wake up tomorrow morning, remember that. Whatever you're doing, wherever you're working, it's Jesus whom you are serving. He's the one you give an account to. Now watch this, "For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality". Look at that verse: "For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality".
Now we've been talking about His will, His purpose, His plan, and there's a warning. And the warning is simply this. You cannot live outside the will of God and be happy. You may try and be successful. You may be successful in some areas but not when it comes to living. And so, he says, notice how he says it. He says it, "For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that," what's that last phrase? "Without partiality". That is, it doesn't make any difference what your occupation is, God's laws apply to every single one of us the same way. When I stand before Him, I give an account for all my opportunities, and with the way I responded. You stand before Him, you'll give an account to your opportunities and the way you responded.
Notice what he says, no partiality. Think about that. God is impartial. No partiality. That is, I'm not going to get by with something that somebody else wouldn't and neither are you. We stand before a Holy God who's given us His purpose, His will, His plan for our life and we will stand before Him and give an account for it. Which reminds me of this verse in Galatians 6:7: "Whatever a man sows," the Scripture says, "that he will also reap". In his family, among his friends, coworkers, health, faith, whatever it might be. Whatever we sow, we're going to reap. And then he says in Numbers chapter three, thirty-two, twenty-three: "Be sure your sin will find you out". That is, not some people, but all of us.
So here are three statements: no partiality, we reap what we sow, and our sin will find us out. So, we have a choice. I can either follow the will of God, which is the wisest thing I can do, or I will choose to have it my way. And there is no partiality with God. If I choose to have it my way, I suffer the results. You choose to have it your way, you suffer the results. There's no exception. Now, what I want to do is take you through a short journey. On what it means when you step out of the will of God. Because what we're talking about, the phrase, the title is "Before You Step Out of the Will of God".
And so, before you step out of the will of God, let's look at it. Adam and Eve had it perfectly. They could have been no additions and no improvements in the Garden of Eden. They chose by an act of their will to disobey God, and to listen to the wrong voice and to step out of the perfect will of God where there was no want, no issues but to live in the presence of Almighty God with His perfect creation, and enjoy life and enjoy each other forever. But that's what they did. Then I want you to think about the wickedness of Noah's day. Lot of things went on from Adam and Eve till Noah's day. And men had totally resigned themselves to live in the life they wanted to live it. It got so bad in the eyes of God, He said I'm going to destroy the whole thing. But God found somebody, Noah, who decided to obey God. And so, God said, "It's gotten so bad I'm going to wipe out everything on the face of this earth and start all over again".
You say, "Well, that doesn't sound very fair". Yes, it is. Watch this. There's no partiality with God. We reap what we sow, more than we sow, later than we sow. You can't change that. Adam and Eve had it perfectly, they walked away. Noah's day it got so bad, God saved him out of a society that was hard to describe. Then of course, God chose a nation, named them Israel, and they served hundreds of years in Egyptian bondage. And God chose to save them out of Egyptian bondage. And then they walked through a period of time when they received the Ten Commandments and God was teaching them how to live and how to worship Him, offering them the very, very best. They disobeyed Him. They obeyed Him. They disobeyed Him.
But God had something in mind. Because His purpose and plan and will for their life was to give them a land, in which they could serve God freely. God would be their God. He would demonstrate His awesome love for them because He chose them. And so, they had the opportunity of taking the land. And so, when the time came, they said, "Well, we don't know about that. There are giants in the land". And they began to take their eyes off God and look at what they heard about. They heard about giants and they heard about the land and they heard about how fruitful it was, but they also heard that there would be dangers and some people would lose their lives.
So, God had a purpose and a plan and a will. Now remember this. Whatever purpose and plan and will God has for your life, remember this, you have the omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence of God with you through every single stage of your life. Did you hear that? Well, some of you did. So, remember, you have the purpose, the plan, and the will of God; His omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence to walk with you through anything God has you to walk through. But they decided maybe it won't be as beautiful as Joshua and all these fellows tell it's going to be and so we're not going to do it. They spent the night weeping, talking among themselves, I'm sure, and doing what? Rebelling against God because they did not believe that God's purpose, God's plan, and God's will was best. They thought theirs was best.
You know what theirs was best about? God said here's the result: forty long years back in the wilderness with all the serpents, looking for something to eat, all the enemies you're going to face. And it cost them forty years, a whole generation. Now think about that. Before you step out of the will of God, you mark this down. There is a price to pay. There is always a price to pay when you step out of the will of God. Canaan, with everything Almighty God could create for them, He created for them. He would defeat their enemies. And they chose out of fear and doubt, listening to the wrong voices. They chose not to take His purpose, not to follow His plan, not to believe in His power to do it. Forty years, a whole generation died in the wilderness because they thought their plan was best.
Let me tell you something. There's a whole generation today who have chosen to live in the desert. Chosen to live in the spiritual desert, chosen to live without God, chosen to live apart from God: not God's purpose, not God's plan, not God's will. Their own plan, their own will, and their own purpose. You can't improve on God. He has a purpose, a plan, and a will. This isn't somebody else's purpose, plan, and will. This is Holy God's purpose, plan, and will for our life: to obey Him in the midst of a generation of people who do not want to obey Him, who want to have it their way. And you read the Scriptures, when you want it your way and you don't want it God's way, you can have it your way. His purpose, His plan, His will you throw aside.
You know, many people, some of them you work with, some of them maybe in your family, some of them your friends, not God's purpose, not God's plan, not God's will, their own. There is a consequence. There is a penalty. There is always a price of stepping out of the will of God or ignoring the will of God. And so, I said I'd take you on a short journey to show you that over and over and over again the same thing. Now let's get onto somebody personal. Let's say, for example, let's say, let's take Samson. God blessed Samson with awesome, almost miraculous power. He gave him a secret and He said to him, "You must never cut your hair. The day you cut your hair, you'll lose your strength".
And so, the early years of his life, he defeated the wicked over and over and over again. And then, he met Delilah. And so, the enemy found Delilah and offered her a big price if she'd find his secret. Over and over and over again she tempted him, and he turned her down because God had a purpose and a plan and a will for his life: defeat the enemies of God. To defeat the enemies of God, and he had the power to do it. And you know the story. And finally, in a moment of weakness he told her his secret, his God-given secret: cut his hair. She cut his hair. Where did he end up? In prison.
The next think you know, he was blinded. Next thing you know he was going round and round in a mill. And then when they brought him out to demonstrate his defeat, God used him in his repentance attitude toward God, and he wrecked the whole coliseum, bringing death to the enemy. God's purpose, God's plan, and God's will for his life. He was a symbol of strength and power of God for godly people. And for whatever she offered him, it cost him everything. God's plan is perfect. If I insist on having my will, my purpose, and my plan I can have it at a price.
Don't forget this sermon. There is a penalty that is unavoidable for ignoring Almighty God, no matter who you are. There's a penalty for ignoring the will of God. And then there's David. We know him as the shepherd boy that killed Goliath. And we know what a wonderful young man he was. And he was best friend of the king's son. And we know so many good things about David. And how many parents name their children after David? And so, one day when he should have been out with his soldiers fighting the enemy, he decided to stay at home. And then Satan set him up. Watch this carefully. Satan will set you up with whatever is necessary to bring you down, if you're not purposed in your heart to live according to the will and purpose and plan of God.
So, my title... and what is it? "Before You Step Out of the Will of God", think, pray, think, think, think, pray, turn to God. So, he was walking around in the evening. Happens to look over the rail and sees Bathsheba down there taking a bath. He saw enough of her that he couldn't get that out of his mind. So, what did he do? He forgot about God. He forgot about how blessed he was. He was nothing but a shepherd boy. Now he was the king of all of Israel, the power to rule the whole nation of God. And for one night, one look, one call, one adulterous act he ruined his life.
There is a price to pay when we ignore His purpose, His plan, and His will for our life. Then of course, Jonah decided that he was not going to do the will of God. He was not going to preach to people whom he hated, and so he takes a boat ride. You can't escape God. And we think about this story and we laugh. God had a purpose and a plan and a will; His purpose, plan, and will was: Jonah, I want you to go to Nineveh and I want you to preach the truth that they might be saved. He was so prejudiced against Ninevites that's the last thing he wanted to do, and he chose foolishly, just like people do. I'm not going to do what God said do and I'm just going to take myself a vacation. I'm heading out of here.
Many men and women have chosen to walk away from God to be swallowed up in a lifestyle that they hate and almost destroy them, and oftentimes did and has. And so, what happened? When God brought him to the point of death, he escaped from the whale and he couldn't get to Nineveh fast enough. And then of course, there's Peter. Peter was one of Jesus's choice disciples. Strong, great fisherman. He'd seen miracle after miracle. And the night Jesus was taken and here he was in the purpose and plan and will of the Lord, and some little girl looked at him and said, "I think you're one of those. I think you're one of those followers of Jesus". And he said, "No, I'm not. No, I'm not". And the Scripture says at this particular moment, "And Jesus walked by and turned and looked upon Peter".
And I'll never forget this phrase in the Bible: "And Peter remembered". What did he remember? Three wonderful, awesome, indescribable years of walking with Jesus and seeing Him heal and perform one miracle after the other, walking on top of the water he'd fished on all those years. And he said it, "I don't know Him". Before you willingly, knowingly step out of the will of God, you'd better think three times not once. Can you say today, "As best I know my heart, I'm living in the will of God? As best I know my heart, I'm surrendered to Him. The best I know my heart, my witness, my testimony before others is good. Because I attempt to live daily in His will and way and purpose for my life".
A will, a purpose, a plan. He loves you enough to have planned the best. And the reason I go through these particular persons is because I want you to see there is a price. There is always a price. There is a cost of disobedience to God. And you don't want to have to pay that price. He says, "If we confess our sins, He's faithful and just to forgive us of our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". We've all had to claim that verse, probably many times. But have you ever claimed the one that's called you? "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved".
Have you ever responded to that verse? Have you ever trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? He doesn't say you have to recount all your sins. You confess the fact that you are a sinner. That you've disobeyed God. But you have the privilege by the grace of God of confessing that sin. Asking Him to forgive you and then choosing to step in the will of God. Doesn't mean you'll live a perfect life. But it means by His grace and goodness, and love and mercy, and help, you can live a godly life, because you have the indwelling Holy Spirit there to help you.
Father, we love you and praise you, that you have given us your precious Word as a warning, as an encouragement, as a help, as a source of strength, a source of healing. May the truth of your Word sink deep into every heart that hears it. May there be definite, definite, clear, absolutely unquestionable change in the attitude and in the actions of every person who hears this, who has never trusted Christ as their Savior. And of all us who have, would look at our lives to see, are we walking in the light of the truth of Jesus Christ? I pray so dear God, in Jesus's name, amen.