If you’ve spent any time at all around Christians, then you’ve heard this question and you’ve probably asked it yourself a number of times too, right?
You know those excruciating times where you have no idea what to do, or which direction to take and you feel completely lost at sea. You’ve got questions and possible outcomes running through your head at a hundred miles an hour…Should I make that radical career change? Should I quit my job and go to Bible College? Which university should I apply for and what course? Is that the person that God wants me to marry? It feel like you’re going crazy.
You’re pulling at your hair in absolute despair as you crash to the floor and cry out for God to answer that question that you’ve been begging to know for years “GOD WHAT IS YOUR WILL FOR MY LIFE?” No answer. So you keep asking and you wait for that peaceful feeling which doesn’t seem to come. You search Scripture day and night and with every prayer you’re asking “God, show me your will! Help me decide, lead me to the right thing!”
I know I’m not the only one who has been there before. This is a question that many Christians want the answer to – How do I know God’s Will for my life?
But to answer that question we need to think about it as two questions; What is the Will of God? and, how do I live it out?
What is the Will of God?
The Bible speaks about two wills of God; His sovereign will and His moral will.
- God’s Sovereign Will
God’s sovereign will can be defined as – God’s eternal decree set out before the foundation of the world.
One of the passages that we see this in Scripture is Ephesians 1:11-12, where Paul is explaining to the Christians in Ephesus; that they were chosen before the creation of the world, called to be holy and set apart before they were even born. God’s sovereign will means that He knows who His people are, that He has called them to repent and believe the gospel and they have responded in accordance with the will of God.
God’s sovereign will stretches from Genesis 1 through to the end of time as seen in Revelation 22. We don’t know all the details of what is to come and we don’t have all the answers to why certain things happen, but we can be certain and take comfort that God is sovereign. There are things that we can be certain of, because Scripture tells us; people will become Christians, there will be judgment and those in Christ will be with Him for eternity those outside of Him will be in judgement for eternity.
The alternative to this is that God is not in control at all, that both good and bad things happen by coincidence and there will be no rectifying of things in the end. God’s sovereign will is one of the most comforting truths to me because it means that I know my suffering is not meaningless, I just don’t see the whole picture like He does.We don’t know God’s sovereign will until we look back over our lives and we still might look back and not understand many things. But the freedom is that we don’t need to know. Our creator, sustainor and heavenly father knows the plan and his wisdom is far greater than mine, his power and plan are far greater than we can comprehend, we need to trust God because only He is all-knowing and sovereign.
- God’s Moral Will
God’s moral will can be defined as – the way God wants or wills His people to live.
If you want to know God’s will, turn to His Word; because it is right there in black and white. We are not left guessing. God’s commands give light to our eyes (Psalm 19) meaning that we know where we are going. God’s sovereign will is a mystery to us and we only see it as we look back. But God’s moral will is revealed in the pages of Scripture, it is clear and we cannot ignore it.
God’s moral will tells us how to live and why we live that way, but it doesn’t answer the what, by that I mean that God’s moral will doesn’t tell us to choose a certain job, but it tells us to be great employees. It doesn’t give us the exact details of our lives but it tells us how God wants His people to live.
I like to know the rules, to know the boundaries, the do’s and don’t’s of life. But God’s moral will cannot be reduced to things like do not murder, or do not lie, do not steal. It is much more than that because it is about a whole heart attitude (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12).
The call on your life is to go into the world and share the gospel, to be ambassadors for Christ. The way we live out that call will look different for different people; for some it will mean living it out in the workplace, for some in the home with the kids and for some it might be in full-time ministry.
Some people want to have a Damascus road or a burning bush experience, where God miraculously intervenes and calls people. But those things happened to very specific people for very specific tasks. The task that we have been called to is to live holy lives that are built on the foundation of Scripture, lives that intentionally put the Bible into practice and lives that glorify God.
When it comes to grasping the will of God we can have some misconceptions that go beyond what Scripture tells us. For example, there’s the idea that God has a specific marriage partner out there and you must be careful not to marry the ‘wrong person’. But the Bible doesn’t teach us that. Maybe God doesn’t tell you to marry a specific person that you don’t even know yet, but what God does say is that marriage should be with a person of the opposite sex, that you should marry a godly person and also that singleness is good. That is God’s moral will for Christian marriage and singleness.
Practically this means asking yourself ‘am I loving God with all of my heart with this decision?’ am I loving or harming others with this decision? Am I standing up for God’s truth if I take this or that course of action?
The Bible doesn’t tell us to try and find out some kind of Grand masterplan of God’s for our individual lives, but God tells us to use the gifts we have, to make godly decisions and to go into the world and fulfil the great commission.
How do I live it out?
The second question we need to ask then is; how do we live this out? Here are
- Pray – express your dependance on God and for strength to live by the power of the Holy Spirit in a way that honours and glorifies God.
- Obey Scripture – If God’s Word speaks on your specific situation then you should obey it. We are not left alone in this but we have been given the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:1-5) who helps us.
- Seek godly counsel – We are not called and saved to live in isolation! God has given us the Church, a body of believers with experience and knowledge that we can draw on.
- Act – There will come a time when we have waiting, searched and prayed and we just need to do something. But we must make sure that our motivation is always to see God glorified in our decision making.