How Can I Know God’s Will?
When I was child listening to Christians talk about God’s will, I got the impression that it was a set map for our lives which must be discovered and followed or negative consequences would follow. The way to know God’s will was to see the signs. A verse during devotions or a coincidence that could not be overlooked. This view, of course, produced a lot of fear that a poor decision might set the course of a person’s whole life outside God’s will, with no hope of getting back on course. But God is not a trickster who gives us only one chance to get it right or else; he is our loving Father who is committed to leading us on the path that is right for us.
Romans 8:29 tells us plainly what God’s will is: that we “be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” God’s purpose for every believer is that the character of Christ would take shape in us. This doesn’t happen because of our ability to interpret signs correctly, it is a result of the life of Christ living in us through the Holy Spirit. Jesus always did God’s will, so as his life takes shape in us, we will also do God’s will.
What’s more, his promise is that he can use whatever circumstances we face in life to accomplish his purpose in us (Ro. 8:28). That includes our good decisions and our bad ones, as well as things that are beyond our ability to control. This is a great comfort because it assures us that God is always working in our lives to bring about his will for us, and the good work he has begun, he will be faithful to complete (Philippians 1:6) until we are indeed transformed into the likeness of Christ.
This does not mean, however, that we can go glibly on our way without a care, assuming that God will work everything out in the end. Rather, our part is to learn to be good decision makers, and to make our decisions in an attitude of dependence on God, with a humble awareness that even as we make our plans, he orders our steps (Pr. 16:9; Ja. 4:13-15). We can gain untold wisdom and direction from what God has already said in his word. If we know his word and obey his word, we will live in a way that brings honor to him, which is also his will (1 Th. 4:1).
When Paul prayed for the Ephesians, he prayed that they would be given special spiritual insight so they could know God better, and thereby grasp the wonderful proportions of his love and his ways (Eph. 3:16-19). The foundation for knowing God’s will, then, is to know God. As we grow in our intimate knowledge of him we will grow in our understanding of what is important to him. Increasingly, we will see our lives and our choices through the lens of his values and our attitudes and our decisions will be in concert with his will.
Pastor Jon EnrightJanuary 7, 2018