Knowing and Doing the Will of God

As a Christian, I’m sure at some point you’ve asked the question, “How do I find God’s will for my life?” We ask this question, in various forms, out of a genuine desire to please God. Sometimes, though, we ask it out of a fear of missing out. The problem with talking about “finding” God’s will is that it assumes God is “hiding” it, and it’s up to us to find it. And when we work out of this distorted view that it’s up to us to “find” God’s will for our lives, we will try to “divine” it in odd, unhelpful, even ungodly ways – from goosebumps to magic 8-balls, fortune tellers to horoscopes, random Bible verses to coincidental occurrences.
To understand God’s will, we must have a biblical view of God. Remember that God has an eternal plan for his glory and our joy. And because God is sovereign, he will accomplish all his holy will (Isaiah 48:8-11). But God is not only sovereign; God is also good. So, we don’t have to fear what God wills for us. And thankfully, God has revealed his plan and purposes – his will – by his word (Deuteronomy 29:29). We are not in the dark about what God desires. So, to know and do God’s will, let me encourage you to ask the following five questions, which I’ve adapted from Bruce Waltke’s book, Finding the Will of God: A Pagan Notion?

Question 1: What does the Bible say?

Because God has revealed his will in his word, the first question we want to to ask is, “Is it biblical?” One of the reasons so many professing Christians have a hard time discerning God’s will is that they are biblically illiterate. So, read your Bible regularly – not flipping through it to find a matching verse, but reading it in its appropriate contexts. And as you seek to discern God’s will from Scripture, pray the Scriptures. The Bible is, after all, God’s word.

Question 2: Do you have a heart for God?

As we draw near to God, he draws near to us, and his desires become our desires (Psalm 34:7). As our desires align with God’s, our good desires will be godly desires. Why do we think that God’s will for us must be something undesirable to us? Seek to please God, first and foremost, rooting your pursuit to please him in Scripture and steeping it in prayer.

Question 3: What are mature, wise, godly counselors saying?

We’re not meant to live the Christian life alone. Instead, we are to bear one another’s burdens and encourage one another. We are to speak the truth in love to one another. So, seek godly, wise, mature counselors. Many of us will try to find “counselors” who already agree with us. We must fight that temptation and find counselors who truly love us and are willing to tell us what we need to hear, especially when we need to hear hard truths.


Question 4: Do you see God’s providential hand at work?

Notice that this is question 4, not question 1. Too often we look for “open” doors and “closed” windows and make decisions accordingly. But what we want to do is root our decisions in the objective truth of God’s word and the wise counsel of mature believers. We want to be grounded when God, in his kind providence, opens a door or two or three. And we want to be encouraged when God closes a door, perhaps, even slams it in front of us.

Question 5: What is the wisest course of action?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed at times by the many opportunities before us, particularly when they are all good and when our counselors are giving us the green light. We need to remember that if what is before us is not contrary to Scripture, if we are pursuing God and walking in the Spirit; if mature, godly friends are encouraging us; if any number of decisions will please the Lord, then we just need to make a decision. Having asked questions 1-4, we finally come to the question of prudence. Will this be wise?
Unfortunately, we like to complicate matters. God has a plan for his glory and our good. God will accomplish all he has willed to do, and because he has revealed his overarching plan in Scripture, we can know God’s will. As we renew our minds, testing everything according to Scripture, seeking the guidance of those who love us, trusting in Christ for all we need, we may discern God’s will, “what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2, ESV).