‘How do I know God’s will for my life?’ That’s a question I’ve heard so many concerned believers ask.
I’ve often asked it myself.
Usually, for me, it’s been around important times of decision such as career choice, relationships or church.
After all, we all want to do God’s will, right? Scripture has some strong things to say about it:
‘The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.’ 1 John 2:17.
‘Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.’ Matthew 7:21.
Reading words like this begs the question, what happens if I make a choice that isn’t His will? Am I going to experience the consequences?
It’s too easy for our faith life to be lived in fear and anxiety.
But really it shouldn’t, ever.
I hope this will help because I’m going to clarify and calm any concerns about what it actually means to live out God’s will.
Because there are way too many believers who are confused or misinformed.
Time for that to end.
A big misunderstanding about God’s will for life.
The fear about this is based on a fundamental misunderstanding about the will of God.
People assume life has a strict set of steps you have to take that God laid out from the beginning of your life.
So you better walk those steps, even if you’re not 100% sure what they are!
This is plain wrong.
God’s will is not about Him telling you what to do each day. It is something broader and bigger, which your life has room to grow into.
It’s more like aligning yourself with His character and the desires He has for His creation.
Here’s what I mean.
The first way to know God’s will is to know His character
The best way to know God’s will is to know His character. This is because His will is expressed out of who God is. It never goes against it.
If you were to read every verse in the Bible that describes God’s character, you’ll see a common theme that points to one thing.
Here are just two scriptures to illustrate:
‘Our God is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.’ Psalm 116:5.
‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.’ James 1:17
God’s goodness is such that He wants to see all His creation restored and living His love. He wants everybody to know and to be living in relationship with Him.
‘This is good, and pleases God our saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.’ 1 Timothy 2:3-4.
This is the whole point of Him sending Jesus. To bring His goodness and rescue to the world (known as salvation). We must then see and experience that goodness and live it among others.
And the greatest example was perfectly lived out by Christ, who lived the will of his Father in heaven.
So how can we begin to live his goodness too?
The second way to know God’s will is through His commands
Secondly, we do God’s will by knowing and responding to His commands. That is the other aspect of His will.
Jesus says ‘if you love me you will follow my commandments.’ John 14:15.
Our response then must be, ‘Love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.’ Mark 12:30-31.
This sums up all of the commandments in the Bible and is our guide to what we do, say and live.
But it’s not something that always comes easily or naturally, as I’m sure you know!
Although it is His will for our lives.
Knowing God’s will for life and His commandments
Unfortunately ‘command’ is not a word with good associations. If someone were to say to me ‘I command you to do this…’ my response would not be friendly.
But that’s to miss the point as to why the commandments were given; first for Israel and then for those in Christ.
The reason again is goodness.
God’s commandments are to live out His complete goodness. They’re there to be grounded in everyday experience for our good and the whole of humanity.
In fact, the Bible gives this experience of living God’s goodness a name; we know it as holiness. It’s what sets us apart from the rest of the world.
‘You are the light of the world…you are the salt of the earth’ (Matthew 5: 13,14).
God’s will be done.
Living God’s commandments and working with Him in the process of being made holy is sanctification. However, it will often go against our nature to centre on God rather than being self-centred.
It’s no longer my will but His. It’s a central part of the Lord’s prayer that we pray;
‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ Matthew 6:10.
How you allow His will to be done is an individual experience because it’s your relationship with Him. But we must pray and ask that every day. Over time our lives will align more and more with God’s because we are conscious of being and acting according to His will.
This isn’t a daily test of spiritual strength because we are not alone. We have God’s helper, the Holy Spirit, to guide and strengthen us day by day.
We also have his scriptures; the gift of God’s word for us.
And we also have prayer and worship; the way we communicate with God and also be in His presence.
And we have each other, to support each other in growing together in Him.
What’s God’s plan for my life?
All of this though begs the question, ‘how does God guide me? Does He have a plan for my life?’ You will see that this is a completely different question from ‘what is God’s will for my life.’
Although the answer to that is yes.
That’s the topic of my companion blog, ‘the best way to know God’s plan for you’.
But God’s will for us is clear.
If we know and seek to live according to His goodness and to follow Him and His word, we’re 90% there.
The rest then, as we’ll discover, is living out His plan for you.
‘May God himself, the God of peace sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful and He will do it.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.
So don’t over worry when it comes to knowing God’s will. Instead, focus and pray on how you will allow God to work in you more and more.
He is faithful and will do it!
If you’d like to discover your unique life calling, download my free e-guide here.
Jeremy – Not Only Sundays (About Us).
© Not Only Sundays, June 2018. Images CC0 Public Domain – sourced on pixabay.com under a creative commons licence CC.