I heard a wonderful teaching this morning on how to know what God’s will is for your life, and so I have put in some research of my own and would like to expound for you.
First of all, there are 2 kinds of God’s will; preceptive and decretive. Decretive will is when God declares a thing to happen. He opens His mouth and the thing is so. This is in line with His sovereignty over all things (everything happens for a reason and purpose, being an ultimate outcome for His purposes). This kind of will is hidden to us until it happens. Preceptive will describes a rule or principle that prescribes a particular course of action or conduct, and is instructive. We can easily see what God wills for our lives through studying His word, which reveals His character, which in turn should tell us weather or not to do something based on what God would be pleased over.
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” – Deuteronomy 29:29
Asking God to reveal His decretive and sovereign will would be like asking God to tell you the future. You will not know what His plans are until you have already accomplished them. This is why God so abhors fortune telling, astrology, and the like in the Bible. Asking to know His plans is like invading His privacy. Only He may know these things. On the other hand, we can know His preceptive will for us.
“For in the gospel, a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘the righteous will live by faith‘.” – Romans 1:17
- The question: ‘What is God’s will for my life?’ (i.e. should I do this, or should I do that?)
- The answer: salvation and sanctification. (i.e. the process of being set apart for God’s work and being conformed to the image of Christ)
Now, if you are a person who has come to know Christ and is seeking to be like Him and do as He commands then you might be saying to yourself, “but I am already saved, and am being sanctified.. what does that have to do with what God wants me to do?” Well, it has everything to do with it!
Let’s pretend you have 2 decisions to make. The first is a decision between job A and job B. The second is a decision on asking either Mary or Martha to marry you. By reading God’s word we come to know what He says is good, where our time should be focused, and with whom we should be interacting. If you hold up job A against the word of God and it doesn’t line up with the things God would want, or with the talents God has provided you with, you should decline. If you hold up job B and it does coincide with what is pleasing to God then you should accept. God gives you His will in His word, answering the question of which job to take by comparing it to biblical standards. On the other hand, if both Mary and Martha are acceptable by God’s standards then the decision lies in you. Your decision should now be based on which you like better. This is God’s will.
Through the process of sanctification God reveals what is most pleasing to Him, and the only way to learn these things is to be diligent in our study of His words to us, the Bible. Have you ever had an ‘ah-ha!’ moment while reading the Bible? This is part of your sanctification. That moment is a revelation given to you by God for a purpose laid out before you. Our ultimate purpose on this earth is to worship the Father in the things we do and say. By choosing what God sets clearly before you, you choose His will, and become more and more usable as a vessel for His glory.
“Where there is no revelation the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.” – Proverbs 29:18
In Matthew 16 verses 13-20 Jesus asks his disciples who they think he is: 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
Peter exemplifies this truth of revelation from God in the above passage. Notice that Jesus tells him that because Peter accepted what God revealed, Jesus will build the church through him. Later in Acts we see that Peter is the first to stand and speak about what Christ did for us on the cross and 3,000 people were added to the church in one day. God’s will and the portioning of His wisdom is revealed to us through His Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 2
Just as Christ saved us, He also sanctifies us. It is His work in us that produces the good works and fruit that easily come from obeying God’s commands in His word. It was by faith we were saved, and now it is by faith we must live, trusting God to reveal His will for our lives daily, and in His time.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” – Proverbs 1:7