John 17:14-17 "I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 "They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

What is God's desire?

In this particular phase of our study, we are examining the sovereignty God, with the view of understanding how and why Satan can influence, and even control some believers. Before the Christmas and New Year's break, we saw from Scripture that motive and will determine actions. This is true of both God and man. We will see this factor in humans more clearly through the study of the soul in the Tuesday night Bible class.

God's person and will never change. Based on that fact, we know God's actions will always be in harmony with His will and motive. Therefore we can examine God's actions and see His will, or we can study God's will and determine His actions, as long as each is compared and harmonized with all Scripture.

As we have examined God's will and motive, we see that top on the list is the desire that all humans accept eternal salvation provided by God the Father through Christ. Not far behind in that list of God's desires, is that "all come to the knowledge of the truth". We see this fact in 1 Timothy 2:4.

This particular reference to God's desire is in the context of our proper attitude, respect and prayer for all people, and those in authority over us. One of the reasons believers should have this attitude and these actions of prayer, is so conditions will be more conducive for "All to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth".

We can further establish the fact of God's desire for all to have and know this truth by looking at what will happen when Christ comes back to this earth, sets up His kingdom and rules with a rod of iron.

Obviously, when Christ is ruling and in control of the activities of this earth, those things He allows and brings to pass are a demonstration of His will.

Isaiah 11:6-10 "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. 10 "And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious."

This passage in Isaiah is only one of many passages stating that when Christ sets up His earthly kingdom, one of the main features will be that the knowledge and truth of God will be universal.

In passing, look at one word in this passage. The word "for" at the beginning of the phrase "for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord...". It is a connective word indicating that what proceeded it is the result of what follows.

Therefore the cause of what proceeded is that the "knowledge of God was universal". The condition that was caused by such knowledge is that "They will not hurt or destroy in God's kingdom", which at that time will be the whole earth.

That principle is true in this day and age or even any age. It is true of a family, a church, a nation and a world. When the knowledge of God is prevalent and observed by many, there is less strive and violence. That fact is true anywhere. Suppress the truth of God, and unrest strife and violence will increase. Our great country is a classic example of this truth. But we must not follow this trail any further, or we will never finish the subject at hand.

We can see from God's predictions that His desire is to have all come to this knowledge of the truth. We can also know by what Christ said when on earth, in His 1st advent, that this was His desire, especially for those who believed on Him.

John 17:14-17 "I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 "They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

Not of the World

There is so much truth in this passage that we could compare every other passage of Scripture with it, and continue to gain deeper and deeper insights into God's person and plan. We must not go too far afield, but we must see some of these wonderful spiritual nuggets. Plus, the information contained in the truths of this passage will go a long way in answering some of the questions turned in a few weeks ago.

This passage is part of Christ's prayer to His Father concerning His disciples, and all those who would later accept Him as Savior. Therefore we can know without any shadow of doubt, that this prayer expresses the very ultimate of God's will and desire for all believers. Let's walk through this passage, without looking at a lot of information from other passages.

In this particular part of Christ's prayer, the first phrase sets the stage for what is to follow. Christ starts with the fact that the disciples had been given the "Word" personally by Him. In a real sense, we also have had, or can have God personally give us the Word through the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

Notice the little word that follows this statement of fact by Christ. It is the little word "and", but it tells us so much! The "world" hates the Word of God equally as much as it hates God Himself. If you are living by that Word of God, the world will also hate you. They may tolerate you, but that tolerance does not change their hatred for you, caused by the Word of God living in and out through your life.

You will also find that the more of the world you allow into your life, the more your hatred will grow for the Word of God. Yes, even Christians can have a real dislike for the searching, convicting Word of God. You will also find that the more of the Word of God you embrace and live, the less the world can invade your life and living. You can thank me later, but we are not going to follow that trail much further. It is a long one and would take us far away from our subject at hand.

Next, Christ states what He is not requesting. Christ's request or desire is not for the Father to take us out of the world. We need to hear and heed this, especially in light of today's religious trends. I call these trends religious because they have nothing to do with real Christian living. The Christian herd has come through a phase or philosophy, which praise God seems to be fading. That philosophy basically says to get away from the world. Don't live among those of the World. Hibernate and stay as far from the world as possible.

God does not want us to stay out of the World, He wants the world to stay out of us.

God so loved the world that He gave Christ into the world because of His love, and that love brought Salvation. The Believer has been left in the world, to continue demonstrating God's love to the world, and to personally grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior.

We are to be separate from the world, but not separated from the world.

Separated Unto Holiness

If you were dosing, or your attention was on some other distraction, you missed that. Re-run it again, and again! Just one letter difference, but that little letter makes a whole world of difference! If we are separated from the world, how is God's desire "that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth" going to be facilitated?

The way we are to be separate from the world without being physically separated from the world, is not by moving to some cave, mountain top or flag pole, but through the truth of God. The very Word of God. It is this truth that sanctifies or sets-apart the Believer from the world, not our physical location. We will study sanctification in more detail in our series on the Tabernacle. For now, it is sufficient to know that it means separated to, or unto holiness.

Believe you me, If we are separated unto holiness, we won't have to worry about separating ourselves from the world! If we are living in the true state of holiness, the world will RUN from us.

It really doesn't take a great deal of holy conduct to cause the world to separate from us. All you have to do is not be outwardly unholy. If you don't use profanity, are not vulgar or don't "hang-one-on" every so often... then the world will treat you like the "plague". The main object in this whole matter is to prevent the world from becoming a part of our personal desire and living.

Remember, motive dictates actions.

If my desire or motive is the world or the things of the world, then the world is already within me, and my actions will demonstrate that fact. The actions demonstrating my worldliness may not be humanly immoral, but they will not be holy actions, separated to and for God. Paul speaks about that horrid reality in....

2 Timothy 3:5-7 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

These people had all the outward trappings of "godliness". As a matter of fact, they probably looked more godly than real godliness. These denied the power of godliness. Therefore they are powerless to come to the knowledge of the truth. These people, even though very religious and outwardly godly, were not able to be a part of God's desire that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

There are a couple of Greek words that will help us see these facts a little clearer. These two words are from the same root and look similar, but are as different as day and night.

In 2 Timothy 3:7, we see that these people denied the very power of godliness. Then we see they are always actively learning, yet are unable to come to the knowledge of the truth. Notice, it didn't say they couldn't learn the facts, but they couldn't get the truth.

The two English words we need to see are "power" in 2 Timothy 3:5, and "able" in 2 Timothy 3:7. These English words give us a fair idea of what Paul is saying, but the meanings of the Greek words remove all doubt.

Power [2 Timothy 3:5] = (Greek)
Power, especially inherent power residing within by virtue of its nature.
Able [2 Timothy 3:7] = (Greek)
Able or possible to have power by virtue of one's own ability and resources.

These people, referred to by Paul in 2 Timothy 3:5, were religious people who had a form, or an outward fashioned model of godliness. However, they contradicted or rejected the real power of godliness.

The Essence of Godliness

Real godliness has power inherent and residing within because of its very nature. In 2 Timothy 3:7, Paul establishes what the power of godliness really is. Godliness is something we have received, not something we fashion by doing good things. If we have true godliness, then we will do good things because the godliness we received is inherently good.

Paul points out in 2 Timothy 3:5 that these who only have a form of godliness were ever so close to the real thing, but still missed it! The real thing is the knowledge of the truth, and these people tried to gain this knowledge through learning, and learning, and learning.

Paul says they were always, at all times and in every way learning. Yet they were not able, because they were trying by using their own power, ability and resources. The power of godliness is the knowledge of the truth.

This knowledge of the truth is more than simply knowing the facts.

Knowledge[2 Timothy 3:5 & 1 Timothy 2:4) = (Greek)
Full discernment and acknowledgment; To become fully acquainted with, by implication through personal contact.

Paul uses this Greek word often, and it expresses more than book learning. As we see from the definition, it is a full discernment of the truth. We know from 1 Corinthians 2 that the only way to discern spiritual matters is to be taught by the Holy Spirit as He compares spiritual with spiritual.

Ah, there we have it! Look at the definition again. The Power of godliness is a full discernment of spiritual things, through the personal contact of the Holy Spirit. That brings us back to 1 Timothy 2:1-4. This is the exact same knowledge that God desires we all have. It's the same Greek word, and the same phrase construction.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Paul's Application of Knowledge

Paul uses this Greek word in 9 of his 13 epistles. We can't follow this term through Paul's 9 epistles, plus Hebrews and 2 Peter. However, since it is God's desire that we all come to this knowledge of the truth, we do need to establish the parameters of its use, so we can know if we are operating within, or outside of God's will.

For this little bit of comparing, let's limit our study to the Book of Colossians. Even in this limited study, we will pretty well establish it usage.

Colossians 1:9-12 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.
Colossians 2:1-3 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Colossians 3:9-10 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

I'm sure we could make an expanded list of things declared by Scriptures to be the will or the desire of God. However, I feel that those many nuances of God's will fall nicely under three areas.

Number 3 grows out of, and is dependent on the first two. Obviously, no one can become like Christ unless they are saved through having experienced the new birth. No Believer can become like Christ in this earthly life without having the knowledge of the truth.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Transformation, not Conformation

Through this transformation of the renewing of the mind, we prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect "will of God". This transformation is not a form of godliness, as we saw earlier in this study. This transformation comes as we are personally taught the Word of God by the Holy Spirit, by allowing Him to compare spiritual with spiritual.

Conformed = (Greek) To fashion alike; To mold to the same pattern through association, companionship, possession, etc.
Transformed = (Greek) Metamorphose; To undergo a deep internal change; More than a changed appearance, but a change of form or substance.

This conformation to the world is not a reference to the old sin nature received at birth. It is a conformation that is originally external, which can (and usually does) become internal. This conformation can be the result of self-willed determination. It can also take place by a passive yielding to the pressure of the popular trend.

This conformation cannot take place without the willing permission of the one being conformed. Therefore the command, "do not be" conformed. We can choose "not to be" conformed. Many of us choose "to be" conformed, simply by not resisting such action.

If we are being conformed, we cannot be transformed.

Simply resisting conformation to the world, does not bring transformation. Transformation is more than just reforming or cleaning out life's trash. If you really want to know the will of God in more than an academic or theological way, here is your chance! You can give yourself to the Word of God through the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, and you will prove the will of God for yourself and others who will be watching your transformation.

With these facts fresh in our minds, let's move on to a question that was asked in this regard. It went something like this:

"I know so little of the Word of God! Even if I gave myself to serious study, it would take years before I would have any real skill in the use of the Word of Righteousness. How long, or how much study do I have to put in before I will be spiritual? It seems unfair that it takes so much time to get understanding of the Word, and therefore a holy life."

I gave a brief answer when this question was asked, and I will give a more orderly answer in the next lessons. For others who have similar questions, may I say that you don't have to wait until you have the New Testament memorized to know the spiritual life, or to be skilled in the Word of Righteousness. Rather, you must live by what you already know and keep on striving to know more, so you can obey that new information.

Philippians 3:12-17 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. 17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.

Paul, as he came to the end of his life, said that he had not yet arrived. Nor was he going to rest on past achievements, or past failures. He was continuing to reach forward. Paul goes on to state that any mature believer would have this attitude.

At this present stage, there is nothing you can do to change the past. Nevertheless, we need to live by the growth and knowledge we have already attained.

If we lived by what we already know., We would probably be the best Christians around.