How Do I Know God’s Will?

The Bible is our guide.

What is God’s will? We’ve all wondered that at some point in our lives. Sometimes while we wait to know what it is, we find ourselves paralyzed. The Bible is our guide to understanding more about this topic.

What Is God’s Will for My Life?

The subject of God’s will is quite popular among Jesus followers. There’s one pressing question that many of us have: “What is God’s will for my life?” Because this can be a confusing thing for many, we often put our lives on hold until we “hear from God.” The truth is, we have heard from God about this very topic.

To understand God’s will, we must go to the Bible for guidance. There are Godly people around us who will have insight and advice that can be valuable. But it’s vital that we seek God’s truth above all. No amount of human reasoning or input can replace what we find in the Bible.

God’s will is specific, and it’s not. It’s specific in that we can read what God has in store for us. But, it’s not specific in that maybe we’re asking the wrong question. Instead of asking, “What is God’s will for my life?” maybe we should be asking a more simple, profound one: “What is God’s will?”

This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have good plans for you specifically. He does. Nor does it mean that He isn’t personally concerned with you. He is. And it doesn’t mean He hasn’t gifted you to do specific things on earth. He has. It’s just that God’s will and plan on this earth are to accomplish His purposes, not ours. God is the Heavenly Director, orchestrating His plan on earth, and we get to play our part in it.

Some things are easy to decipher while others require faith and patience. Author and pastor, John Piper, describes two wills of God: His Will of Decree and His Will of Command. God’s Will of Decree can’t be undone; it will happen. It’s often considered to be unknown or a mystery. God’s Will of Command is what God commands us to do. We can disobey these if we choose. These are things from the Bible that we know we’re to do.

The Known Will of God

A few passages in the Bible tell us exactly what it means to do God’s will.

  • Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks always (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18)
  • Do Good (1 Peter 2:15)
  • Avoid Sexual Sin (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

It seems like such an odd mix of guidelines to follow, doesn’t it? Be joyful, pray a lot, show gratitude, do good, oh, and don’t be sexually immoral. But surely there’s more to God’s will than that, right?

We find many commands in the Bible from God. Here are some of them:

  • Love God and others. (Matthew 22:37–39)
  • Don’t gossip. (Ephesians 4:29)
  • Don’t murder. (Matthew 5:21–26)
  • Be honest. (Colossians 3:9)
  • Be generous. (Luke 12:33)
  • Help others. (Philippians 2:4)

It’s so common for followers of Christ to desire to make great strides in the kingdom of God. We want to change the world but don’t consider it very important to change our part of the world, let alone ourselves. We get laser-focused on the will of God that is Unknown to us and push the Known will of God aside. The Unknown will of God is much more exciting and grand to us. The Known will of God, which includes numerous dos and don’ts, tends to be boring and monotonous. We want to know what He has for us tomorrow but we disobey Him today.

What if we directed our desire to know God’s will to do the things we actually know to do? We may not know the path ahead for us when it comes to our career, but we know that it is God’s will for us to help others today. We may not know who our spouse will be in the future, but we know that it’s God’s will for us to give thanks in all things right now. And we certainly don’t know what our financial situation will be 15 years from now, but we know that it’s God’s will for us to be generous with our time and resources now.

God is looking for people who are faithful. Faithful in the little…first. Let’s be loving, kind, generous, honest, and grateful people because it’s in the small, seemingly ordinary things in life that give us a glimpse of God’s greater plan. It’s often the completion of ordinary tasks that leads to extraordinary outcomes.

The Unknown Will of God

There’s so much about God’s will that we don’t know. No matter how smart we are or what we try, we’ll never know what’s going to happen in the future. That’s God’s realm. Not only that, but there are things we pray for — even beg God for — that won’t happen as we desire. We’ll still have questions until the day we depart this earth.

While we can’t know it all, we can know more of God’s will. It’s true. Romans 12:2 states that God’s will is good, pleasing, and perfect and that we’ll be able to test and approve it. But, in order to do that, we have to do something that can be quite a challenge. We must eliminate our need or desire to conform to what everyone else is doing and instead, allow our minds to be transformed by God’s power.

This isn’t easy. It’s challenging because we are surrounded by influences that are far from godly. At every turn in our lives, we get bombarded by new ideas, new fascinations, and new people. New things aren’t bad, but we do have to figure out which ones pull us from God’s best. In order to grasp any part of God’s Unknown will, we have to bring Him our transformed mind. We have a transformed and renewed mind when we seek to follow Him in the Known will of God and the things He calls us to.

Think about it like this. When we’re living in sin, giving in to every harmful temptation that crosses our path, how likely is it that we’ll be able to truly discern what God’s best is? We wonder why we can’t sense where God is leading us, and it’s because our lives can sometimes be wrapped up in the pleasures of this world. But when we obey God’s Known will by loving others well, choosing to refrain from gossip, and walking honestly in our lives, won’t it be easier to possibly discern God’s Unknown will that is “good, pleasing, and perfect” because our minds have been transformed?

Today begins our daily opportunity to cast aside the standards our society puts in place as truth. As we do, we seek the power of God’s Holy Spirit to transform our minds. And with transformed minds there is no telling what God will reveal to us in His perfect timing.

How Specific Is God’s Will?

Over the past two days, we’ve talked about both the Known and Unknown wills of God. But there’s one more aspect of God’s will that makes so many followers of Christ nervous. We often want to know just how specific His will is.

Should I buy this house or that house?
Should I go to this college or that college?
Should I marry this person or that person?
Should I choose this plan or that plan?
Should I take this job or that job?

The Bible does not answer these kinds of questions specifically, nor does it say, “You should be a doctor,” or “Marry Jim next year.” Maybe we need to take our specific questions to the Word of God and see how our desires and questions line up with the truth from God’s Word.

Is there one perfect person for you to marry? Probably not. If that were the case, then if one person chooses the person they shouldn’t have, then everyone else’s choice is wrong. Instead, what we do when it comes to spending our lives with someone is use wisdom and discernment as to what is God’s best.

Now, that doesn’t mean God won’t answer a specific prayer we pray. God loves us and often surprises us with exactly what we asked for! But, most of the time it’s wise to allow God’s Word to be our guide, for it has plenty to say about decisions we should make. Let’s pray for wisdom and discernment as we learn from God’s Word and consider asking these questions:

Would this choice contradict God’s truth?
Is this the wisest decision? (financial, relational, emotional, etc.)
Are any fears guiding my decision?
Would I regret this in a week, month, year, or ten years?
Which path brings me the most peace?
Have I sought Godly wisdom?

Too often we live with anxiety about making the wrong choice. Chances are strong that we’ll make some decisions we wish we hadn’t. Making wrong choices is often what leads us to making better choices in our future.

But no matter the choice we make, God’s love for us never increases or diminishes. He’s absolutely smitten with us. God’s transformative power changes us. With a renewed mind that is led by God’s Spirit, we can discern God’s best for our lives.

God’s Absolutes

When it comes to the will of God, there is so much more we know than don’t know. God’s Word is full of direction for us if we would have eyes to see. He has so much for us to do on this earth, not to earn His love, but to live out this abundant life on earth that we’ve been promised through Jesus. Instead of constantly thinking about what we wish we knew about God’s master plan, what if we focused on becoming who God wants us to be? When we do this, we’ll know what we should do.

Love God: Often we want to know what we should do. Well, this passage in Matthew 22 could not be more clear. Jesus said the greatest commandment given to us is to love God with our entire being. Not just a part of ourselves, where we compartmentalize our walk with Him, but our whole selves — body, soul, mind, and spirit.

Love People: Jesus also taught that loving our “neighbor as ourselves” was incredibly important, second only to loving God. It’s easy for us to love ourselves. We almost always make sure our needs are met. God calls us to love others the way we would care for and love ourselves.

Make Disciples: Since we are followers of Christ, we’re to take what we believe and invest it into others. God desires that everyone would come to know Him. Because we follow Jesus, we possess the antidote to the eternal sickness of sin that the world has. The gospel of Jesus is what the world needs to hear. This good news — which is what the word gospel means — is for everyone. So, whether someone knows Jesus as Savior and Lord or not, we can still share the good news with them.

When we focus on the most important callings that God has given to all followers of Christ, we will become less preoccupied with the unknown part of God’s will. And as we forsake the customs of the world and instead, choose to renew our minds, knowing what God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will is will be made evident to us.

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