People sometimes ask me for advice about how to determine God’s will for their lives. It can range from the big, broad questions (“What does God want me to do with my life?”) to more specific decisions (“Should I look for a new job?”).
I’m happy to try to help, but I don’t have any special ability, like a mythical crystal ball that would allow me to see what job you should take or the name of the person you should date. I’m not a soothsayer; I just try to be a truth-sayer. Because what I do have is God’s Word, which has truth you can apply to your life on any questions you might be facing.
But you have God’s Word, too. And did you know it tells you what God’s will is for you? And not in some cryptic or hard-to-understand way; it literally says “this is the will of God.”
Take a look:
_It is God's will _that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God… – 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5_
For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil. – 1 Peter 2:15-16a_
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
They do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. – 1 Peter 4:2-3
Those are pretty clear, really. Do good; don’t do evil. Avoid things like sexual immorality, lust, and drunkenness. Pray always; rejoice always; be thankful always.
They may not cover your specific question, but I’ve had people ask me for help with some specific questions about God’s will when they’re willfully ignoring the things He’s already been clear on. They want to hear God speak into some obscure, minor question, without listening to where He’s already spoken about bigger, clear-cut issues. If you aren’t going to listen to what God has already said, why do you think He should bother to say anything else to you?
If you are listening to what God has said in His Word, then He will make you better able to discern what His will is in more specific situations. That’s also from the Bible:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2
And remember that God gives us freedom in most decisions. As one of the 1 Peter verses says above: “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil.” As long as you’re not using your freedom to sin (and therefore going against God’s stated will), you can generally do what you want.
The Most Important Thing
There’s one overarching aspect of God’s will that I haven’t mentioned yet. This is truly God’s will for you, and in comparison, none of the other questions you may have really matter all that much.
What is it? Jesus spells it out:
For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me , that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. – John 6:38-40
It’s what God wants for you:
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. – 1 Timothy 2:3-6
And since none of us fully follow God’s will for every second of our lives—everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23)—the only way we could be saved was through Christ taking our place and being sentenced to death on the cross. That was God’s will, and is why Jesus said:
Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. – Luke 22:42
Like Jesus, we do have our own will, and so we decide for ourselves whether to choose God’s plan and accept His free gift of salvation.
What questions do you have about God’s will for you?
(With help from Kevin McConaghy)