The Will Of God

“What is God’s Will for My Life?”

The purpose of this lesson is to give you a clear understanding of what the will of God is, as revealed in the Scriptures and through His Church, so you can begin to accomplish those things that God would have you to do.

A basic definition of the will of God: That which God, according to His counsel and own pleasure, has determined is to be done (Ephesians 1:11, Hebrews 2:3-4 and Romans 8:27). God only acts in accordance with His own will.

When Jesus came into the world, He came to do the will of God (John 4:34, 6:38, Matthew 26:39, and Galatians 1:4).

EVERY believer can KNOW God’s will and DO it (Ephesians 1:9 & 5:17, Colossians 1:9-10 and Hebrews 13:20-21).

There are two aspects to consider concerning the will of God.  First, there is His general will, which applies universally to all humanity. This aspect is expressly revealed in the Bible and through Gods Church.  In addition, God has a plan for you individually: His specific will, which applies to you personally.

The GENERAL will of God for ALL mankind:

For the lost to be saved (2 Peter 3:9, 1Timothy 2:1-4, Acts 17:30 and John 6:39-40).

For all Christians, to be Spirit-filled; to be fully yielded to His control (Ephesians 5:17-20, Romans 6:12-14).

For all who are saved, to be sanctified; set apart for His glory, living holy lives. (1Thessalonians 4:3-4 & 7, 2 Timothy19-21).

For believers to serve the Lord with all their heart. Though we are now “the sons of God,” this is not yet our time to rest or reign. We are called to be laborers; now is the time for us to enter the harvest (John 4:34-36, 1 Corinthians 3:8-9 and Colossians 3:17 & 23-24).

To be willing to suffer for their faith to take it joyfully (1 Peter 4:12-16, & 19, 1 Peter 3:17))  In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you all. (1Thess.5:18).

For the saved to eventually be with the Lord and to be like Him. (John 17:24, 1 Corinthians 13:12, 1 John 3:1-3 and Romans 8:28-29).

The SPECIFIC will of God for you.

For every saved individual, God has a specific purpose and plan; He has things for you to do that other in the “Body of Christ” may not be called to do (1 Corinthians 12:5-12).  “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God…” (Eph.1:1).

His general will has priority.

As you face decisions about marriage, ministry, children, finances, career, and many other things, you must seek God’s will. Remember, these things are secondary to what God has already expressly revealed in His Word for you.  If you have neglected that, He will not show you His specific will  (Acts 9:6).

The specific will of God is your personal course to finish in life. The word “course” refers to a direction (Eph.2:2).  It also refers to the appointed time and manner of one’s service (Luke 1:5, 8). If you allow God’s will to determine the direction of your life and the time and manner of your service, you can finish your course with joy (Acts 20:24, 2 Timothy 4:7).

How can I know the details of God’s specific will for me?

Trust the Lord to direct your steps (Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 25:4-5 & 37:4-5).

Make sure that you have surrendered your own will to God.  Most people are self-willed and only want God to approve their plans.  You will have to “die to self”; be willing to sacrifice your plans and goals and replace them with His (Matthew 26:39, Romans 12:1-2 and1 Peter 4:1-2). In the words of a well known missionary from the 50’s “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Consider the “four witnesses” in helping you make the right decision in matters of marriage, family, career, finances, spiritual vocation, etc. The Lord uses a four-fold witness to confirm His will.  Any one of them, alone, would not be sufficient to reveal the specific details of His will for your life, but if all four witnesses agree then, you can have confidence that you have found the will of God.

  1. The Scriptures. The purpose and plan that God has for your life will never contradict the Word of God. Read and meditate on God’s Word; let Him speak to your heart (Psalm 119:105, Proverbs 6:20-23, Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 73:24).
  2. Godly counsel.Seek the counsel of your priest, spiritual director, and parents. They have a God-given place of authority in your life and will often be used by God to guide you (Proverbs 11:14 & 15:22, Hebrews 13:17 and 1 Peter 5:5).
  3. The circumstances. Many times God uses events and circumstances around you to direct your path. God opens and closes doors (Rev. 3:7-8).  However, circumstances alone never determine the will of God for anyone. Circumstances must be examined in the light of the other “witnesses.” Difficult circumstances do not necessarily indicate a closed door. If that were so, the work of the Lord would never get done. (1 Corinthians 16:9, Luke 5:4-5). On the other hand, good circumstances, conducive to one’s plans, do not necessarily indicate an open door. When Jonah, the prophet, wanted to flee from the will of God, he “found a ship going to Tarshish” (Jonah 1:1-3), but he should have never gotten on that ship!
  4. The peace of God in your heart.  As you pray and seek the Lord’s will, the Holy Spirit will provide an inner peace rather than turmoil when your decision is according to His will (Philippians 4:6-7, Colossians 3:15).

Basic questions.

Some people make a distinction between the perfect will of God and the permissive will of God.  Does God have a “permissive will? No, the will of God is not “good or acceptable or perfect” but good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2). He does not have anything less than that in mind for His children.

But what if I should fail to do His will and end up “out of His will”?  Does God have a “plan B” for me in those cases? No, God only has a “Plan A.” However, when you, by your own “free will,” choose to disregard or disobey God’s will, He is still your Heavenly Father.  He is still merciful and kind.  Even when you are out of His will, some blessings come. However, there will also be a price to pay every time you get “off course.”  There is wasted time and missed opportunities.  There is chastening and correction. There is the loss of God’s choice blessings for your life.  You could also end up with extra burdens that may have to be carried for the rest of your life.  Abraham left the place of promise and went to Egypt in a famine (Gen. 12:10).  He was undoubtedly out of God’s will for his life.  Although God was merciful and protected Abraham there, he brought back from Egypt the handmaid Hagar (Gen. 12:16, 16:1), who became a grief to Abraham and whose descendants became an implacable enemy of the Jews, a terror to the whole world.

Is it ever God’s will for bad things to happen?

Sometimes God permits bad things to happen that typically would not be His will for the sake of the good that He knows will come out of it.  Examples of this abound in the Scriptures and history: Adam’s sin brought death and condemnation to the world, but out of that, God revealed to the world His precious attributes of mercy, grace, and lovingkindness.

Joseph’s betrayal by his brothers and his sufferings in Egypt led to help for the brothers and their families when the famine came to the land. You thought evil against me: but God turned it into good, that he might exalt me, as at present you see, and might save many people. (Genesis 50:20).

Against the four-fold warning from God not to go there, Paul’s trip to Jerusalem brought prison and death for Paul but prison letters for the Church (Philippians 1:12).

The “fall” of Israel brought nearly 2,000 years of spiritual blindness and suffering to the Jews but salvation to the Gentiles (Romans 11:11-15).

In World War II, the persecution of the Jews caused the nations to briefly take pity and provide the Jews a homeland in the Middle East (in fulfillment of prophecy).

The Lord’s death on Calvary brought life to sinners. (Acts 2:23, 13:27, 1 Peter 2:24-25).

In each of these cases, we can look back and see, in hindsight, that the will of God was done. His ways and plans are seldom clear to us in advance; nevertheless, they are always perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4). God is always wise and good in everything that He does (Romans 8:28).