In John 17:4, Jesus makes an astounding statement in His conversation with His Father, “I brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you told me to do.” (NLT) That’s a claim that none of us can ever make. Jesus did everything the Father had given Him to do.
What is success? The world defines it as achieving great things, making a good living, or generally finding happiness on earth. But God defines success in this way: doing everything God tells you to do. In other words, success is simply fulfilling the will of God for your life – nothing less, and nothing more.
God knew your life story before you began living it, and He has given you the exact amount of time and resources to complete every bit of His desire for you, and nothing more. If you’re living in obedience to Him and something doesn’t fit, it isn’t God’s will, not matter how noble it may seem.
The phrase “God’s will” creates a lot of questions for people, and it’s always helped me to sort out the subject of “the will of God” in the following way…
- God has a decretive decretive will, which includes all that He decrees or commands, such as the Ten Commandments. It’s never God’s will that we murder or steal – He has issued clear and universal decrees against these things.
- God also has a permissive will – that which He allows, such as evil and rebellion. Obviously this will is not what God wants, but God allows His creatures to make free moral choices. Satan’s rebellion and humanity’s sin are allowed by God, in spite of His own holy nature.
- God has a specific will for each of us. This is where we like to put our focus – the specific decisions he wants me to make as an individual, but we often turn it into more of a confusing mystery than it should be. God is far more concerned with whom He desires for us to be than for the specific things He wants us to do. Nevertheless, this is the realm in which God communicates to us through people, through circumstances, through prayer and the Holy Spirit.
- God is sovereign, in spite of His permissive will, so we can take all of the above and visualize them as intertwined to make up God’s sovereign will. God knows all, sees all, and governs all. Nothing takes Him by surprise, including our breaking His decretive will. So He has planned and prepared for all of it and Scripture shows it all coming to a grand conclusion in the return and reign of Jesus Christ.
It is God’s specific will that I want to address in this article. I can know God’s decretive will by reading His word, but how can I discover God’s specific, unique, and individualized will for my life? Here are some biblical words of wisdom on discovering the will of God for your life…
There must be an absolute surrender to whatever God’s will may include.
Paul spent eleven chapters of the book of Romans giving us a detailed theology of God’s ways. Then he opens chapter twelve with the “big ask…”
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind He will accept.
~ [youversion]Romans 12:1-2 NLT[/youversion]
Discovering God’s will for your life is far more about your attitude than your aptitude. It isn’t your abilities God is focused on. He wants your availability. So He calls us to live our lives as a continual sacrifice. “I’m yours, God. Do with my life today whatever you will.”
It starts with an attitude.
We should be fully convinced before doing anything new.
I didn’t say we should be fully prepared or there would be no fun in chasing the will of God. But before we jump into anything, we should be convinced it’s the right thing to do. Paul later said in the same book of the Bible…
… Blessed are those who do not condemn themselves by doing something they know is all right. But if people have doubts about whether they should eat something, they shouldn’t eat it. They would be condemned for not acting in faith before God. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.
~ [youversion]Romans 14:22-23 NLT[/youversion]
When in doubt, stay put! If we can’t forge ahead into a new area, we should remain where we are. Whatever cannot be done in full faith and assurance should probably not be done. This doesn’t mean you won’t doubt yourself along the way, but if you think God might not approve, don’t move.
Watch for God’s peace as the greatest green light of all.
God doesn’t create confusion. He creates peace. (see [youversion]1 Corinthians 14:33[/youversion]) When confusion sets in, we should wait for the storm to lift before moving on. God will grant peace when you’ve discovered His will. This doesn’t mean all of your circumstances will be peaceful. Otherwise those living under persecution would be living outside the will of God. It simply means that when I’m doing the will of God, I have peace that it is the will of God in spite of any circumstances.
Follow God one step at a time.
There is a classic verse in Psalm 119:105 that says “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.” We don’t know all the steps we’re going to take between where we are and our ultimate destination, but we can know two things: 1.) what the ultimate destination is, and 2.) the next step toward it. I don’t have the detailed map that God has to the future, but God will lead my next step toward His goal for me.
There is much more to say about the subject of God’s will. We should listen to wise people, be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit as He speaks to us, and re-train our broken conscience with the truth of Scripture. But before actually doing anything, we need to be properly prepared.
photo source: alpoma