How do you know that God is your Father? Where can you go to see evidence in your life that you are, in fact, born again? As you read Scripture there are many cues given to help you evaluate whether or not you are truly “in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). And one of those parameters is by answering the question, “what do you want?”
Let’s shift gears for a moment. James K.A. Smith proposes an excellent observation when he talks about “[Our ultimate love is] what we desire above all else” (Desiring the Kingdom, 51). In that statement, he is showing our deepest desires (biblical language might also be lusts, cravings, etc.) indicate something greater; namely, what we want indicates what we love.
Do you want notoriety? Do you want appreciation? Do you want a mate? Do you want good grades? Do you want better health? In answering each of these you are explaining what it is that we love. I love me; I love recognition; I love companionship; I love fulfillment and so on. Our wants indicate our loves.
Now listen to this passage: “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires” (John 8:44). Jesus is reorienting the lineage of the Jews and in the process shows them something interesting. Their hard-heartedness indicates (1) that they are not God’s children and (2) that they are actually sons of the devil. Now without stretching this to connote more than it should, we can simply say that those who are outside of Christ (that is, haven’t been adopted by God) are sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2).
Yet, something that has to capture our attention is that Jesus says, “your will is to do what the devil wants.” Huh? That’s right. The Jews’ will was to do what Satan wanted. What they wanted indicated their ultimate allegiance, whether they recognized it or not. So when Jesus tells them they are not “of God” (v. 47), He substantiates that by saying this is so because they want to kill Jesus. They want to do what Satan wants to do (i.e., he has been a murderer from the beginning).
Likewise, how do you know you are a believer? You want what God wants. Philippians 2:13 makes this most clear by saying that God is at work in you to will and to work for His good pleasure. This simply means that God is growing you to want what He wants. That’s why you can read things like Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” This psalm is not teaching that God gives us Ferrari’s. No, rather, it is teaching us that God literally gives us the desires of our hearts. He is at work in us to want His will; to want what He wants (cf. 2 Cor. 8:10; the Corinthians not only gave but wanted to give).
So one of the key indicators for me in evaluating my own walk with Christ is do I want what He wants? Maybe that level of desire wanes yet it is still existent, albeit at a cellular level. And what is an indicator that God is not my Father? I simply don’t want what He wants. Paul applauded the Corinthians because not only did they give sacrificially, they wanted to give (2 Cor. 8:10). In other words, they wanted what God wanted. May God give us grace to want to want what He wants!