Determining the Good, Acceptable and Perfect Will of God

As a young man, it seems the only thing that I hear about, think about or work towards is the future. I can only speak for myself in this post, but I want to highlight thoughts that on the surface may appear to be correct, but when examined closer, I’ll show how they can actually be detrimental to our future.  

My name is Nathan Zimmer.  If you are one of the few people reading this post who actually know me and are around me daily as I work on projects and discuss ideas, you know that I enjoy order and structure…a lot. 

I constantly think about the next project, action item, place I want to go or goal that I have.  

My whole life eats, sleeps and breathes my future plans. 

On the surface you might think, “Great! We should all be like that!  Doesn’t the Bible say people perish because the vision isn’t made plain?” 

All that is correct, but I’m here today to tell you about a different side of our meditation and actions, and the problems that it can create if we don’t keep our heart right. 

Our Text

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2 KJV

What are the “right things”?

The world (and church world) places a lot of focus on doing the right thing.  Go to college, get the right job, marry the right person and have the right number of kids, invest in the right things, etc. etc.  

But what are the “right” things?  If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time thinking about this question.  

I’m writing this post after my last bout of the seemingly constant progression of constant goal reevaluation. 

Talking to my father about this, I complained how it seems I take one step forward and two steps back every time I try to set up a goal for the future.

I genuinely want to do what God wants me to do, but what is that? 

I am a goal oriented person meaning I want to have the plan, think through the plan, outline all the steps and pitfalls and schedule due dates and get to work.

This is great for projects in my website building business and IT consulting business, but not so much for the things of God and long term vision. 

Creating our Life Plans

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV

God doesn’t lead us by showing us the whole path and our entire future.

Remember what the psalmist said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path… (Psalm 119:105 KJV)” Well in the natural world we understand that if we have a light on a path we won’t see the whole path!  We’ll just see where the lamp hits. 

The same is true for our life plans. 

I come back to this.  People ask young people all the time, “What do you want to do with your life? Where are you going?” 

The frustrating thing happens when I would give an answer and then go try to make it happen. 

I had all the knowledge, ability and skill to physically make it happen. I have many many opportunities to go various places and make lots of money, but when it comes down to it my lack of peace steals the will right out of me. 

I’m going to say it again because it’s true.  

My lack of peace in my heart – you know that gut sense that something just isn’t right – would steal the will and drive out of me.  I would be doing the task looking like a success feeling like a failure because no matter how “cool” the task or how “important” it was – it wasn’t right.

You know they say hindsight is 20/20… 

Well looking back on my college years I can tell you right now I spent most of my time miserable trying to become happy. 

Why? Because of a lot of things, but primarily because God told me to start this blog and I didn’t want to do it. 

Who wants to be vulnerable and write about their failings? 

Moreover, who wants to take the time to study the Bible long enough to actually have something to say – consistently.  

Why am I telling you this? Because you need to know these things! 

Your life might be just like mine and have no clue how to get out.  I wish someone came to tell me these things!

You don’t HAVE to do it. 

That’s the biggest adjustment that you have to make coming from school or a job.  Everyone tells you that you HAVE to do certain things. 

Remember Martha and Jesus? Martha rushed around and worked really hard while Mary sat and listened to Jesus speak.

In Martha’s mind, she HAD to do those things, but what did Jesus tell her? “Mary chose the better thing.” 

People everywhere are going to try to tell you all the things that you can and cannot do.  9 times out of 10 they really don’t know what they’re talking about. 

“All decisions made out of fear will be wrong on some level”

This is the most important thing that you can take away from this. 

Don’t just do something because everyone tells you that you should. It’s not about them. They don’t hear the things you hear in your spirit. From the outside my life looked like I had it all figured out. 

An Example from My Life

I graduated highschool, scored a 30 on my ACT, got into a good college, graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 3.9GPA in computer science, did really cool programming projects with NASA, worked my own hours and set my own work schedule, build software applications and sold them, lead worship, etc etc etc. 

All these things sound really impressive and they weren’t all wrong, but the common thread throughout all of them was that I had MY plan for MY life and I only let God into it as it fit into my idea that I used to call – “God’s plan for my life”.

“Your life is not your own.” 

Little did I know that my life wasn’t my own.  I literally didn’t understand this concept of Christianity. 

My Christiananity was very superficial.  Oh I really did want to do what was right, but my thought life and this feeling that I had to have a plan was stealing my reliance on God away from me. 

Now you might be saying, this is all well and good but where’s your proof?  I want you to back these claims up with scripture! 

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2 KJV

This verse tells us to do two things: renew our minds and prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.

I could quote this verse from elementary school, but I never understood it. I really quite literally had no revelation of the verse, but I had a lot of good head knowledge (another thing that made me look like I had it all figured out). 

Don’t be fooled.  It’s not about how many verses you can quote.  I could quote entire chapters of the Bible, but that doesn’t mean I had revelation of any of it or walked in any of it. 

#1 Renew your Mind

To Renew your mind simply means to DO the things you know to do.  1 Peter talks about this extensively and we have blog posts discussing this if you’re curious.

#2 Prove the Will of God by doing what’s right

The second part of this verse was even more of a mystery to me.  What’s the difference between the good, acceptable and the perfect will of God? 

I have walked to some degree in all of these versions of God’s will.  When I was producing the “To Dry Lands” album, I had a moment where I walked in God’s perfect will.  

I honestly didn’t know of anything more I could do for God at that moment. I gave up TV, video games, secular music and spent my time praying and worshiping stepping away from my job. 

All of these things I did for God not because of God. 

I lost as much of myself and my desires as I could because I wanted to. 

And from this place, I had more peace and joy than I’ve ever experienced in my life.  My life was truly just for God.  I heard his voice better than anything else.  I was used by God to meet others’ needs.  God would lead me to random people throughout the day and they would get healed. 

Why am I saying all this? It isn’t bragging.  

Everyone of us is supposed to operate in this kind of a life – doing all that they know to do for God.  

This is the Good versus Acceptable versus Perfect Will of God. 

Your level of commitment to renew your mind and do the things that you know to do will affect and determine what will you walk in today. 

We are all called to leave all and follow Christ. Some of us do it and others don’t.  

I truly believe that God’s perfect will for each and everyone of us is to leave all and follow Him.  

Now that doesn’t mean that we will not have to work a job, but I promise you it won’t be the way you live now! Life isn’t meant to feel like something you have to survive through.  

Do you think Jesus and his disciples had boring days? I don’t think so!  

We are called to leave all – that’s the perfect will of God.  The question is will we? 

There is so much revelation in this verse if you will just take the time to read and study it.  We are going to arrive at the level of God’s will we want to operate in as we prove or test through application the decisions we make. 

Our own human spirits and the Holy Spirit are supposed to direct our steps through consistent application of the Word of God.  

It should then begin to be clear exactly what we are supposed to do and where we are supposed to go.  

So what am I saying?

Don’t build intricate, long and complex plans for the future.  Focus instead on what you’re doing today.  Your habits determine your future.  Spend your time in God’s Word and steadily doing EVERYTHING you know is right to do – today.