7 Principles About Knowing Godís Will

Jerry A. Collins

One of the most often asked questions from believers is how can they know Godís will for this decision or that situation in their lives. The question assumes that there is a specific individual will that God wants us to follow for everything or maybe at least the Ďbiggiesí in our lives. Missing this, we surmise, is like the unpardonable sin to some. On the one hand, God has revealed His will for us. On the other hand that will does not include an individually directed will for our lives, say, as to the person we should marry or the career path we should follow or the community in which we should live. God does want us to Kino His will for us and he has written it down in the Bible for all of us to read, study, understand and apply to our individual lives. Letís take a look at seven principles that can guide us in determining what godís will is for our lives.

1. We should not burden ourselves looking for a personal will of God.

We should not try to identify what may or may not be the personal will of God for us in areas not revealed in the Bible. Things like should we sell our house or which person should I marry are not personally revealed to us in the Bible. The Bible clearly teaches that God has a sovereign plan by which He is involved in our lives individually And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). But we are not told to try and find out what that is. Godís sovereign plan for us can only be known through what actually happens. There are revealed things and secret things. We are to know the revealed things, that which is in the Bible (Deuteronomy 32:46-47; 1 John 5:3) but not the secret things, that which is Godís sovereign plan for us (Deuteronomy 29:29). Therefore, the personal will of God not revealed to us in His Word cannot be determined by us (Ecclesiastes 3:11, 11:5; John 3:8). We should not burden ourselves then, trying to find what God has not revealed. For instance, does God have a specific person he wants you to marry or a specific moment that you sell your house and if you do not Ďget ití you are out of His will? The answer is Ďnoí because he has not revealed that to us in His Word which is a record of His will for us.

2. We should not use circumstances to determine Godís will for us.

Circumstances gave David the opportunity to dispose of his enemy, King Saul in 1 Samuel 24:4-17; 26:8-10. In both cases his soldiers determined that this is the day in which the lord has given your enemy into your hands. In both cases David refused to allow circumstances to determine Godís will for him but instead submitted to what he knew God had already said or to what he knew of Godís nature and character. The apostle Paul also refused to allow circumstances to determine Godís will for him in Acts 21:4, 10-14. His own disciples pleaded with him not to return to Jerusalem because his life was threatened by his enemies there. The problem with circumstances is that we can use them when we want and discard them when we do not want to use them. Humanly speaking, circumstances told Jesus not to go to the cross. In nonmoral areas where we have no revealed Word from God there is no simple way to tell if circumstances are from God, the Devil or wishful thinking. Circumstances and hindrances to circumstantial leadings might be a closed door or a test of faith, each requiring a different response. How can we know? When we add something to the Bible, like circumstances, we tend to color or negate the Bibleís input. Circumstantial opportunities might justify sinful debt, an unbiblical relationship or illegitimate attitudes. The Dog (Bible) gets wagged by the tail (circumstances). Can God use circumstances to work out His plan in our lives? Of course He can but there is no conclusive way to know any specific event is dictated or determined by God. God is God not a jeannie in a bottle.

3. We should look to the Bible to determine Godís revealed will for us.

Our task as believers in 2 Timothy 2:15 is to Be diligent to present yourselves approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed handling accurately the word of truth. It is our responsibility to follow Godís biblically revealed directive will not a personal, individual circumstantial will. This does not mean using the Bible out of context by opening it up to a chance verse or phrase like a pair of dice like the person who randomly pointed to a verse that said Judas hanged himself and then decided to point somewhere else and landed on the phrase go and do likewise. We have enough revealed information to us from God about His will for our lives, to occupy us until He comes for us. Burdening ourselves trying to determine Godís personal individual circumstantial will distracts us from understanding Godís revealed will to us. We are tempted to do everything but handle accurately the Word of truth. You will have no problem being in Godís will if you are in Godís Word. We can assume, then, that Godís directive will as stated in the Bible is sufficient for decision making. It is the teaching of the Bible that dictates our moral actions.

4. Wisdom derived from the Bible directs our decisions not revealed in it.

God commands us to know wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:1). Wisdom is the skill for living. There is a human wisdom of this age 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 that is devoid of any input from the Word of God. This is the worldís wisdom and it is not the wisdom God wants us to use in our decision making. We develop this skill for living in nonmoral areas of our lives from wisdom derived from our exposure to the Word of God and the knowledge of God I have. For instance, while I cannot determine a specific person God wants me to marry because He has not revealed that to me in His Word, the wisdom I accumulate from His Word and my knowledge of God guides me in wisely choosing a partner from several potential ones. Using this kind of wisdom enables me to make godly choices or choices in nonmoral or unrevealed areas that move me in righteous paths. God commands us to know this wisdom because we will need it for the life decisions we will be making. It is this wisdom derived from His Word that directs our decision-making in nonmoral areas.

5. Wisdom uses circumstances as a guide for decision making.

It is important for us to study the situation we are facing if we want to make godly decisions. Wisdom uses the circumstances we are faced with as a context to guide our decision making not as something pointing out Godís individual personal will. That includes a number of things like (A) counting the cost in Luke 14:28 or (B) using wise counsel in Proverbs 19:20. We should examine every situation as Nehemiah examined the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:11-16). He made a thorough inspection of the walls and determined a appropriate response to the situation based on His knowledge of Godís Word and the knowledge of God he derived from that Word.

6. God has a plan for us and God has a will for us.

His will is revealed to us already in His Word. We are responsible to know it, understand it and apply it all our days. God also has a plan for our lives that is only revealed to us through what actually happens in our lives (Romans 8:28). Only God knows His plan for me. I know it when it happens. Right now I have knowledge of His will because he has already revealed that to me. The wisdom I learn from both His sovereign plan (realized through what actually happens) and His directive will (stated in the Bible) for me are sufficient for righteous decision making.

7. Look for Whatís closest to Godís heart.

Do not look for what you can get by with or away with but what is closest to Godís heart.. Dont settle for 2nd best morally.