Knowing God's Will

By Randy Alcorn

There are tons of books, tapes, and sermons about finding God's will. The assumption seems to be that God's will is lost or buried-like God doesn't really want us to know his will and hides it from us. It's as if God is a Cosmic Easter Bunny who hides the eggs and maybe says "You're getting warmer," and sometimes we stumble onto them, but we never know whether we've found them all or not.

Some think God's will is revealed in a dramatic experience or sudden revelation. A voice that says "Go on the Mexico trip this summer" or "Ask Cathy to the prom."

Some think God's will is something to be afraid of. "I hate spiders and humidity so I just know God's going to send me to some equatorial jungle in South America."

Some think God's will is nothing but circumstances. "I've been offered a job there, so it must be God's will." Or, "he asked me out, so it must be God's will," or "the bank approved my loan application so it must be God's will."

Is God's will mainly about lots of personal details, including school, job, who to date, where to live, etc.? Or is it about something else?

  1. God's will is that we be saved. (2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:3-4)
  2. Once we're saved, God has a further will for our lives. There are certain things he wants us to do and not do (Eph. 2:9-10). God's will is something for us to do, not just to know or believe or affirm (Mk. 3:31-35; 1 Jn. 2:17).
  3. Because God loves us, his will for us is in our best interests too. Where God wants us is the very best place to be, the only safe place. What is to God's glory is also for our good (Matt. 16:26; 25:21; Lk. 2:10; Jn. 16:7; 1 Cor. 7:35; Eph. 6:8). If God wants you in an equatorial jungle, you wouldn't be happy anywhere else!
  4. God wants us to know his will-He's not cruel. Because he loves us he gives us his Word, the Road Map, so we don't have to grope in darkness. (1 Cor. 2:9-10; Ps. 119:105)
  5. God's will is that we be sexually pure (1 Thess. 4:3-7). This extends to fleeing from temptation (1 Cor. 6:18) and keeping our bodies from impurity, but also keeping our minds pure (Matt. 15:19-20; 5:28; Prov. 4:23; Ps. 119:37; Phil. 4:8).
  6. God says those who don't know his will are unwise, and it is God's will that we be filled with and controlled by his Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:17-18). (James 1:5 says we don't have wisdom because we don't ask for it-prayer is critical in seeking and living the will of God.) When we are controlled by the Spirit, we show it in certain ways. We will not commit the acts of the sinful nature (Gal. 5:19-21), but will produce the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). We will participate in worshipping the Lord, teaching each other, giving thanks to God and serving others (Eph. 5:17-33).
  7. God's will is that we live in submission to God-given authority, that others may see our willingness to humble ourselves as servants (1 Pet. 2:13-15). It also means we recognize God as our highest authority and put obedience to him above obedience to men (Acts 4:18-20).
  8. Sometimes God's will is that we go through difficult times, even suffering, to accomplish his purpose in us and through us (1 Pet. 3:17, 4:19).

The Bible is the revealed will of God. If you want to live in his will, then "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly" (Col. 3:16) Fill your heart and mind with the Word of God, trust in his empowerment to obey Him, and confess and repent when you disobey and fail. If you do this, you will be living in the will of God!

Summary: The will of God is not wrapped up in the details of what we do, but the character of who we are. It is not just the large choices, but the daily small choices that cumulatively build us into who God wants (wills) us to be. God cares about the little things and his will can include details, but these are secondary. What is primary is that we choose to follow his clear direction in spiritual and moral arenas. Then all the details fall into place from there.

"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Ps. 37:4). Augustine said, "Love God and do as you please." Because if you're really loving God, you want to do what pleases him.

By Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspective Ministries, 39085 Pioneer Blvd., Suite 200, Sandy, OR 97055, 503-668-5200, www.epm.org





Recommended Resources

Found, God's Will
John MacArthur

Discovering God's Will
Sinclair Ferguson


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