BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Jesus answered ‘for now this is how it should be, because we must do all that God wants us to do’” (Matthew 3:15 Contemporary English Version).
There are things that God wants you and me to do that we must do. They are God’s will for us and we must do them notwithstanding the obstacles in our ways. “Jesus answered ‘Let it be this way for now. We should do all that are God’s will” (Matthew 3:15 New Century Version). From this second translation, it is clear that all God wants you and me to do is God’s will. This verse says we must do all of them, not one or part of them. We must do all of them. The New King James says Jesus answered, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (NKJV).
I must quickly admit that it is not an easy task to do all that God wants us to do because not all that God wants us to do is palatable or enjoyable. However, we are forbidden from choosing what we prefer to do. We must do all that is God’s will for us.
Sometimes we don’t want to do what God wants us to do because of our ego. The things God wants us to do humble us or make us look small before others
Other times, we don’t want to do what God wants us to do because of another factor related to ego, which is selfish interest. Selfish interest hinders you and me from doing what God wants us to do because others are the direct beneficiaries, not ourselves. “Why must I do it for him?” we query.
The natural man is self-centred. Before we obey, we want to know “what is in it for me?” If our obedience will benefit others directly, we are, sometimes, not excited to obey. But the truth is that we are the greatest beneficiary when we obey God doing what He wants us to do. “If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat” (Isaiah 1:19 NLT). The New King James Version says if you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land. So our willingness and obedience every time will, ultimately, benefit us even if it doesn’t seem so in the first instance.
Our focus should not be our comfort but His will. Even if doing what God wants you to do will take you out of your comfort zone temporarily, do it. You will reap the fruit of your obedience later, which supersedes your present comfort, and will compensate for the pains of your obedience.
A test for Jesus
In Matthew 3, there was a test before Jesus and John the Baptist. It was the test of humility; it was also the test of doing the will of God. Jesus had abandoned his glory in heaven to become a man. He relinquished his position in heaven to take up a lowly position on earth.
The Bible puts it this way: “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8 NLT).
This Scripture tells us the contrast between what Jesus gave up in heaven and what he became on earth in order to save mankind. As part of fulfilling his earthly ministry, Jesus, the creator, (Colossians 1:16) stood before his creature, John the Baptist, to be baptized. Would he surrender himself in his humanity to be baptized by John or would he say no mortal man was fit to baptize the immortal God that he was (and is still)?
The baptism of John the Baptist was for those repenting of their sins but Jesus never sinned. Would he stoop low and join repentant sinners to be baptized by John?
Jesus passed the test. He submitted himself for baptism by John to identify with sinners he had come to die for and to give support to and endorse what John was doing. “But Jesus said, ‘it should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires’” (Matthew 3:15 NLT). Are you ready to carry out all that God requires of you?
A test for John the Baptist
John the Baptist, a relation of Jesus, and six months older than him, also faced a test. Before this stage, he had done some of what God wanted him to do pertaining the Kingdom of God by preaching repentance from sin and baptizing people and more importantly testifying of Jesus (Matthew 3:11-12). Suddenly, Jesus, the man he had spoken glowingly of, the man whose starting of his ministry would cause his own ministry to fade, showed up to be baptized.
He could have seen Jesus as a rival and decided to snub him or refuse to offer him the platform to launch his ministry. However, John knew better. Out of humility, he said, “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you…so why are you coming to me?” (verse 13 NLT). But Jesus insisted it should be done like that because all that God required must be carried out. John, therefore, agreed to baptize him.
John was committed to doing everything that God required of him even at the risk of losing his ministry as we would describe it today. “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.’ Then John testified, ‘I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God’” (John 1:29-34 NLT).
What was the consequence of this honest and sincere proclamation of the Messiah by John the Baptist? He lost two disciples! “The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, ‘Look! There is the Lamb of God!’ When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus” (verses 35-37). Verse 40 says Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of John’s two disciples that left him to follow Jesus. The Bible is silent on the name of the second disciple. However, Bible scholars tend to agree that John was the other disciple.
These two disciples abandoned John the Baptist for Jesus. That was the beginning of the end of his ministry and John wasn’t bothered. He wasn’t bothered because he was committed to doing all God wanted him to do. He was doing ministry and not building a ministry! He was on a pilgrimage, not on an ego trip!
Nevertheless, the disciples of John were concerned about his dwindling popularity! They, ostensibly, were not happy that Jesus was pulling more crowd than John! “So John’s disciples came to him and said, ‘Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us’” (John 3:26 NLT).
This kind of statement was enough to fan the ember of enmity by John towards Jesus. There would have been enmity if this had happened among ministers today! But John was not a man given to such jealousy and carnal reaction. Hear John’s accurate and divine perspective which he used to answer his disciples: “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (verses 27-30 NLT).
John the Baptist was not done yet. He continued to amplify the ministry of Jesus at the expense of his ministry. Here is what John said in verses 31-36 of the same chapter: “He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment” (NLT).
John never saw Jesus as a rival. He never had any bitterness towards him. The only time he said anything about Jesus, which may be considered as negative was when he was in prison, and probably disillusioned, expected Jesus, as the Messiah, to immediately begin to judge Israel and establish his kingdom as he (John) had preached in Matthew 3:1-12.
Matthew 11:2-3 “John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’” (NLT).
John’s reaction was also probably an expression of his confusion about what was happening and concern for the fulfillment of his divine assignment! His assignment was to prepare the people’s hearts for the Messiah as recorded in Matthew 3:3. Perhaps, he was perplexed, trying to reconcile his being in prison with the fulfillment of this prophecy. If he was supposed to be preparing the way for the Jesus’ coming, why should he be in prison? He, probably, was wondering whether his ministry was over, as it eventually turned out to be.
Jesus was not angry in spite of John’s doubt – a contradiction of his earlier proclamation before being imprisoned that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus, simply, told John’s disciples: “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me’” (Matthew 11:4-6 NLT). Jesus went ahead to speak of the greatness of John (verses 7-12).
John and Jesus knew that the will of God was superior to the preferences, feelings, or convenience of anyone. The two ministries glorified God, not the principal characters.
Not my will but Your will
Are you willing to do all that God wants you to do even when you’re bruised and your personal interest injured? Are you ready to do the will of God even if it will put you in a subordinate or inferior position to others?
Jesus explained to His disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work”(John 4:34 NKJV). In John 5:30, He said, “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (NKJV). Moreover, in John 6:38-40, He underscored His commitment to doing not His own will but the will of His Father. Jesus also told His disciples He had kept His Father’s commandment and abided in His love (John 15:10b).
In the Garden of Gethsemane, the sorrow of death engulfed Him and the humanity in Jesus came to the fore. Notwithstanding, He did not submit to His own will; He surrendered to do what God wanted Him to do. “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will’” (Matthew 26:39 NKJV). Three times, Jesus prayed that prayer before His arrest.
Furthermore, He refused to use His power to free Himself from those who arrested Him. Hear what Jesus told Peter who had struck the high priest’s slave, Malchus, slashing off his ear (John 18:10): “But Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?’” (Matthew 26:52-54 NKJV).
Will you do all that God wants you to do even if it is painful? God told the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute! “When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, ‘Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods’” (Hosea 1:2 NLT). Hosea obeyed and had children by this prostitute just to prophesy to the nation.
This verse has been a subject of debate whether God actually told the prophet to marry a prostitute or this verse is saying the woman would become unfaithful to the prophet later. However, I will take the verse to mean exactly what it says. Can you endure the disgrace associated, sometimes, with obeying God?
Consider also God’s strange instructions to prophet Ezekiel to lie on his left side for 390 days and on his right side for another 40 days. Both instructions were a symbolic prophecy of God’s impending punishment of the Northern kingdom, Israel, and the Southern kingdom, Judah. “Now lie on your left side and place the sins of Israel on yourself. You are to bear their sins for the number of days you lie there on your side. I am requiring you to bear Israel’s sins for 390 days – One day for each year of their sin. After that, turn over and lie on your right side for 40 days – One day for each year of Judah’s sin” (Ezekiel 4:4-6 NLT). That did not mean that he lay down throughout each day because subsequent verses state other things God asked Ezekiel to do with regard to the food he should eat.
Ezekiel’s food during this period was also a symbol of God’s prophecy to Israel and Judah.“Now go and get some wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and emmer wheat, and mix them together in a storage jar. Use them to make bread for yourself during the 390 days you will be lying on your side. Ration this out to yourself, eight ounces of food for each day, and eat it at set times. Then measure out a jar of water for each day, and drink it at set times. Prepare and eat this food as you would barley cakes. While all the people are watching, bake it over a fire using dried human dung as fuel and then eat the bread.’ Then the Lord said, ‘This is how Israel will eat defiled bread in the Gentile lands to which I will banish them!’ Then I said, ‘O Sovereign Lord, must I be defiled by using human dung? For I have never been defiled before. From the time I was a child until now I have never eaten any animal that died of sickness or was killed by other animals. I have never eaten any meat forbidden by the law.’ ‘All right,’ the Lord said, ‘You may bake your bread with cow dung instead of human dung.’ Then he told me, ‘Son of man, I will make food very scarce in Jerusalem. It will be weighed out with great care and eaten fearfully. The water will be rationed out drop by drop, and the people will drink it with dismay. Lacking food and water, people will look at one another in terror, and they will waste away under their punishment’” (verses 9-17 NLT).
Ezekiel paid a great price doing all that God wanted him to do up to the death of his wife and God’s unpalatable instruction to him not to mourn. “Then this message came to me from the Lord: ‘Son of man, with one blow I will take away your dearest treasure. Yet you must not show any sorrow at her death. Do not weep; let there be no tears. Groan silently, but let there be no wailing at her grave. Do not uncover your head or take off your sandals. Do not perform the usual rituals of mourning or accept any food brought to you by consoling friends.’ So I proclaimed this to the people the next morning, and in the evening my wife died. The next morning I did everything I had been told to do” (Ezekiel 24:15-18 NLT). Did you see that? Ezekiel did what God told him to do, which was painful.
Doing all God wants you to do is not always enjoyable. It calls for trust in God that He knows what He is doing and His will is the best for one in all circumstances, even if one doesn’t understand. That was what made Abraham obey God’s instruction to sacrifice Isaac. Although God had said Abraham would become the father of many nations, He still asked him to sacrifice his only child – the child of promise. Despite this seeming contradiction, Abraham chose to obey God before God eventually stopped him at the point of killing Isaac. He provided a ram for him to offer for a burnt offering instead of his son (Genesis 22:6-14).
The Bible says David served the will of God in his generation (Acts 13:36). God expects you to live your life to do His will as Jesus taught the disciples in the LORD’s Prayer. “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 NKJV). God’s priority for each of us is to do His will, not to offer unsolicited sacrifice, embark on religious activities, or impressive projects, etc. Hebrews 10:5-7 says, “Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come — In the volume of the book it is written of Me — To do Your will, O God’”(NKJV). Obedience is still better than sacrifice even in our generation as it shall be in every generation (1 Samuel 15:22).
According to 1John 2:17, this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave, but anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. We have to pray to God for the grace and strength to do all that God wants us to do just as Paul declared: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV). We must have no alibi or excuse for not doing all God wants us to do.
What to avoid
In order to be able to do all God wants us to do, we must each avoid the following:
1. Avoid comparison. Those who engage in comparison are not wise. Paul spoke on this: “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV).
Run your own race – the race set before you; don’t compare yourself with another person. Run with endurance the race God has set before you (Hebrews 12:1). What you must do may be different from what others must do so face your destiny.
2. Avoid seeking to please men. One of the surest ways to fail in life is to seek to please men! Be careful who and what you listen to. Paul said that after God called him, he didn’t confer or consult with flesh and blood (Galatians 1:16).
Seek to please only God who called you. Paul says, “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10NKJV). According to Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 2:4, his purpose in ministry was to please God, not people as He alone examines the motives of our hearts.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:1, Paul urges brothers and sisters to live in a way that pleases God, as they had been taught. He advises us further: “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4 NKJV).
3. Avoid complacency. Amos 6:1 says woe to them that are at ease in Zion (NKJV). The success of today will become immaterial tomorrow. The breakthrough of today will be inadequate to handle the challenges of tomorrow.
Paul said his philosophy was to forget the past and press forward to the future. “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, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV).
Conclusion: If you can avoid these three things, it will help you to do all that God wants you to do. Don’t forget, no matter the obstacles in your way, you must do all God wants you to do – not some of it, but all of it. You will not fail God in Jesus’ name.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523