Sometimes when we are struggling to please someone we may exclaim, “What do you want from me?” This is an expression borne of frustration over trying to do what is expected, but failing to accomplish that goal. The reasons for one’s failure in such instances are usually because he has not been clearly told what will satisfy the other person, or the instructions he received were unclear, conflicting or incomplete.
Fortunately we do not have this issue in spiritual matters. God has been perfectly clear and complete in what His desire for us is. In 1 Tim. 2:3, 4 Paul said, “This is good and acceptable in the sight of god our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” In very simple language, Paul revealed God’s ultimate desire for all mankind. He wants us to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. This is a significant statement, because one cannot be saved without coming to the knowledge of the truth.
Our Lord Jesus Christ made this same point when He spoke to some believing Jews in Jn. 8:31, 32. He said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” In other words, in order to be a true disciple of Christ, one must continue in His word. This means not only learning it, but also living by it. One who knows the word of God but does not live by it is not a true disciple, and such a person will not be saved in that condition.
If we were to boil down God’s desire to a single word it is obedience. God desires us to obey His word. This has been the case since the beginning of time and will continue to be so until the end of time. God’s desire for Adam and Eve in the garden was that they obey His prohibition against eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God’s desire for Noah was for him to build the Ark according to the instructions given him, and that he take the animals and his family into the Ark before the flood. His desire for King Saul was that he obey God’s commands as king of Israel. When Saul failed to obey, God sent His prophet Samuel to rebuke him.
In 1 Sam. 15:22 Samuel told Saul, “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.” Saul did what he thought was best and tried to make up for it by offering massive sacrifices to God. It didn’t work, because God wants obedience more than He wants sacrifice.
This principle still applies today. When Jesus gave the Great Commission to the apostles, Matthew recorded it in these words: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt. 28:19, 20). When the Lord said to teach the disciples to observe all that He commanded, He meant to teach them to obey. We cannot please God unless we obey Him, and we cannot accomplish His desire in our lives unless we know the truth and obey it.
When Paul wrote his second letter to the church in Thessalonica, he warned them of what would happen when the Lord came again. In 2 Th. 1:7, 8 he said that when the Lord returns He will deal out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is not way around it. God’s desire is that we be saved, but the only way we can be saved is if we know and obey the clear instructions found in His inspired word. Will you obey and allow God’s desire to be fulfilled in your life?