In what is often the case in the questions Christians often ask, this one is packed with theological implications. At our Fall Retreat a couple weeks back, this was the fundamental question we sought to ask and answer in order to equip our students to confidently move through life.
The Bible teaches us that God’s will can be spoken of in two distinct ways. The first is His will of decree which refers to how God governs everything that comes to pass (Ps 115:3; Eph 1:11; Job 42:2). Nothing that happens is outside of His will of decree and it cannot be hindered or impeded in any way.
The other way the Bible speaks of God’s will is is will of desire. God’s will of desire is what God has revealed to us in His Word and lays out what His creation is to do and what they are not to do (Heb 13:20-21). This is the way things ought to be and this will of God can be acted against which is called sin.
Sadly, many within the Christian community have been taught that there is a third way God’s will is spoken of called God’s will of direction. For them, this is the unique and specific path that God has just for them that they must figure out. To the extent they don’t figure this out, then that is the extend to which they believe they are out of God’s will. The Bible does not teach such a concept of God’s will. Our God is not a sneaky God who plays hide-n-seek with His people. Instead, He says seek Him and you will find Him!
In fact, the Bible is clear what God’s revealed will is for those who are His! His will for the lives of His people is that they live lives of holiness (1 Thess 4:3), fully dependent upon the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:17-18), praying and giving thanks (1 Thess 5:16-18) all while bearing fruit in their lives (Col 1:9-12). God’s will for each of us, simply put, is that we become more like Jesus Christ!
There is great freedom in the life of a Christian. A good way to help make the wisest and best decisions is known as the “Way of Wisdom.”1
- Where God commands, we are to obey (Lev 11:44-45; 1 Pet 1:16; Jn 14:15).
- Where there is no command, God gives us the freedom and responsibility to choose (Gen 2:15-17; Matt 20:14-15; 1 Cor 8:8).
- Where there is no command, God gives us the wisdom to choose (Prov 1:8-9; 2:1-6; James 1:5; Prov 19:20).
- When we have chosen what is moral and wise, we must trust the sovereign God to work all the details together for our good and His glory (Rom 8:28-29; Eph 1:11; Is 46:8-10).
God’s will for our lives is not complicated and involves much freedom. In addition, He has given us His Word, His Spirit, and those in His body to offer us advice, counsel, and even rebukes to keep us within His will. May we love Him boldly, live wisely, care for one another deeply and then do as we please.
- Gary Friesen with J. Robin Maxson, Decision Making and the Will of God, (Portland, OR: Multnomah Books, 2004), 116.
Photo credit: James Wheeler