Sometimes God delays revealing His will because He is getting me ready. Perhaps He knows I am not prepared to fulfill His plan. Perhaps God knows in three months He has the most fantastic ministry ready for me, but He is working on some character traits in my life in the interim.
My own will is often the problem in seeking God’s will. When He draws me into conformity to His will, my circumstances will no longer be a priority because my attitude about them will be different. My own pride is the major obstacle I must overcome before I can pray for God’s will to be accomplished in my life. Pride caused Satan to rebel against God and pride also causes me to reject God and disobey Him at times. I must abandon my own will for God’s. The Apostle Paul tells me how to do this:
Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. —Romans 12:1–2, NIV
Paul knows that unless I lay down my life as a living sacrifice—until my will is dead—God’s will cannot manifest in my life.
I do believe God is interested in my decisions and has a plan for my life. I believe He has a preference as to which direction I should take. God’s will falls into two categories. One category is His “moral will.” The other category is His “personal will.” God’s moral will is the prohibitions in Scripture: “thou shalt do this; thou shalt not do this.” Peter says it is God’s will we obey human government. Paul writes it is the will of God we be sanctified and abstain from moral impurity. There are almost a dozen other instances in the New Testament where God says, “This is my will.”
The other category of God’s will is His personal will, that is, His personal agenda for my life. These are the things He has specifically designed for me to do. Paul was “called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God” (1 Corinthians. 1:1). God did not call everybody to be an apostle. That was His specific will for Paul.
God is involved in the process of discovering His will and while I may simply want information, He wants me to trust Him. The principle of discovering God’s will is couched in the context of a relationship. He is working to reveal Himself to me because He wants me to walk away from the process with my faith greater and my relationship with Him more intimate. I believe God has given an incredible and practical approach to discern His will. It is not some kind of mysterious journey. He has given objective markers to help me know if my decisions agree with His will for my life.
The first marker is God’s moral will. He will never lead me to do anything that is in conflict with His moral will. Any decision I make or any option I am looking at that is in conflict with God’s moral will is simply not of God. God’s moral will plays another important role. Obeying His moral will (the things that are clear) is the foundation for decision making in the more challenging area of discerning God’s personal will.
Whoever has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. —John 14:21, NIV
When I develop a lifestyle in harmony with God’s moral commands, I will experience God’s guidance. When I live an obedient life, I am constantly in step with God’s thoughts and ways. It makes sense that I would be able to discern His voice more easily.
The second marker is the principles of God’s Word. The Bible is full of principles. At some point in my decision making, my options will intersect with the principles of His Word. God has given His principles as a check and balance in our decision making process.
The difference between God’s moral law and His principles is this: God’s moral law is clear commands. “This is what you do. This is what you do not do.” Principles, however, are more like equations – an equation where God says, “If you do this, you can expect that to happen.”
God has given principles that intersect with all the choices I must make. God wants to renew my mind with His principles. I believe principles take precedent over a sense of inner peace. God does not want me to be a slave to vacillating feelings. If I keep God’s moral law and constantly renew my mind to what is true, then as the decisions come along, I will be able to sort out the options and discern what the will of God is.
I must spend a good amount of time in God’s Word. I must have a systematic discipline to fill my mind with God’s principles. If I do not, I am going to have a difficult time making the right decisions because the key to decision making is the principles of His Word. I need to meditate on the Word of God. Scripture gives understanding of the ways, will, and purpose of God.
Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light unto my path. —Psalms 119:105, KJV
As I search and think deeply on the Word of God, asking Him to speak to my heart, God will work in such a way to help me understand His will. The only way to know the mind of God is to know the Scriptures. The Scriptures sift, purify, and clear up my thinking process, so I am able to think after God.
The third marker is wisdom.
Be very careful how you live, not as unwise but as wise. —Ephesians 5:15, NIV
In light of where I want to be in the future, what kind of marriage and family I want to have, where I want to be financially, and where I want to be in terms of my ability to serve God, is this the wise thing to do? Thinking about the ramifications of my actions is especially important in discerning God’s will. When what I decide to do affects other people, being in God’s will is doubly important because I have more than my own life at stake.
Sometimes God will give me wise counsel through others. A godly counselor will tell me the truth whether I like it or not. If somebody is committed to God’s principles, he is going to be honest with me. Godly counselors are often God’s way of providing direction when I am unclear.
The Holy Spirit also has an essential role in helping me know God’s will (1 Cor. 2:12). One of the purposes of the Holy Spirit is to reveal truth.
When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all the truth. —John 16:13
There will be times when I am faced with a decision. In that moment, I may not be certain what to do, which way to turn. As one of His prescribed, designated, divine responsibilities the Holy Spirit unfolds and unveils God’s will by interceding on my behalf with God to reveal the mind of Christ in that given issue.
God has made a commitment to tell me what I need to know when I am trying to make wise decisions. God does not want me to make foolish choices. The Book of Proverbs is full of wisdom because God wants His children to make wise decisions. It is evident God is interested in directing and guiding our lives, providing helpful wisdom for effective decision making.
In seeking and knowing God’s will, I need to measure my decisions against God’s moral will and the principles of His Word, and determine if this is the wise thing for me to do. If I do all these things and still do not know God’s mind, I do not need to worry. I believe God, through His Word, has demonstrated if His children are willing to be honest and, to the best of their ability, do what He wants them to do, He will intervene if they make faulty decisions.