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“Trust God’s will to be good, test your confidence by doing God’s will, and you will discover God’s way truly is good, pleasing, and perfect.”
so that you may prove what the will of God is, That which is good and acceptable and perfect
Text with an outline.
- You give Him your will (v. 2b). Your mind controls your body, and your will controls your mind. Many people think they can control their will by “willpower,” but usually they fail. (This was Paul’s experience as recorded in Rom. 7:15–21). It is only when we yield the will to God that His power can take over and give us the willpower (and the won’t power!) that we need to be victorious Christians.
We surrender our wills to God through disciplined prayer. As we spend time in prayer, we surrender our will to God and pray, with the Lord, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.” We must pray about everything, and let God have His way in everything.
For many years I have tried to begin each day by surrendering my body to the Lord. Then I spend time with His Word and let Him transform my mind and prepare my thinking for that new day. Then I pray, and I yield the plans of the day to Him and let Him work as He sees best. I especially pray about those tasks that upset or worry me—and He always sees me through. To have a right relationship with God, we must start the day by yielding to Him our bodies, minds, and wills.
Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. Ro 12:1
- Paul added, Then you will be able to test and approve (dokimazein, “prove by testing” [1 Peter 1:7, “proved genuine”], i.e., ascertain) what God’s will is—His good, pleasing (cf. Rom. 12:1), and perfect will. These three qualities are not attributes of God’s will as the NIV and some other translations imply. Rather, Paul said that God’s will itself is what is good, well-pleasing (to Him), and perfect. “Good,” for example, is not an adjective (God’s “good” will) but a noun (God’s will is what is good—good, i.e., for each believer).
As a Christian is transformed in his mind and is made more like Christ, he comes to approve and desire God’s will, not his own will for his life. Then he discovers that God’s will is what is good for him, and that it pleases God, and is complete in every way. It is all he needs. But only by being renewed spiritually can a believer ascertain, do, and enjoy the will of God.
- * 12:2 The vast majority of commentators take the three adjectives (good, pleasing and perfect) as appositional to God’s will and believe that Paul is asking the readers to do that which is good and perfect in order to please God. Thus Paul is saying that to please God, they must do his will, that is, maintain good and perfect ethical behavior. However, does this fit the context well? While it is true that pleasing nearly always connotes pleasing God in the New Testament, Titus 2:9 uses the term of slaves seeking to “please” their masters. In other words, the individual context must decide whether the term means to “please God” or “please a person.” In the near context, it is true that it is used of pleasing God in verse 1. However, the question is whether verse 2 continues the thought of verse 1 or adds to it. In verse 1 we have the what of the command (“offer your bodies as living sacrifices”), and in verse 2 we have the how (not conformed but transformed). In verse 1 the sacrifice of ourselves pleases God, but in verse 2 the focus changes. First, after we are transformed by God, we are to test and approve or discover and live out his will in our daily practice. This is then followed by three adjectives that are either in apposition to will (“approve the will of God, namely, what is good, pleasing and perfect”) or in attributive relationship to it (“approve God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will”). The appositional view could favor a God-directed thrust—in doing his will, we do what is good and perfect in God’s eyes and therefore please him. The attributive view favors a people-oriented thrust—God’s will is good, pleasing and perfect for those who follow it. I prefer the attributive interpretation, for the context of verse 1 is what we do for God, and of verse 2 is what he does for us. He transforms us by renewing our minds, and thus his will is good for us, is perfect for us and thereby is pleasing to us. In short, we discover that God’s will is best for us and completes our lives. In verse 1 we please God, and in verse 2 he pleases us.
- Once believers begin to be transformed they may prove (dokimazō) that God’s will is good and acceptable and perfect (i.e., complete). Two things must be noted here: (1) The Greek verb dokimazō means more than mere knowledge of God’s will (2:18); it also implies testing (BDAG, 255) His will by doing it (cf. 1:28 and 14:22 where dokimazō is almost practically synonymous with “doing”). One can then become an expert of God’s good and acceptable and perfect will (thelēma, neuter noun). (2) These three qualities are not attributes of God as the NIV translates it but are neuter adjectives describing the will of God man should practice.