Doing God’s Will
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall read [and meditate on] it day and night, so that you may be careful to do [everything] in accordance with all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will be successful.
Many sincere believers are confused about the will of God. They’ve heard stories of God speaking to others to tell them what to do, and they’ve read accounts of God giving someone a chain of circumstances providing an unmistakable path through one of life’s quagmires. Voices and signs, these confused believers assume, should be the norm in knowing God’s will.
God can use any method He chooses to lead His children, but certainly His Word is the surest, yet most neglected, compass. The Scriptures are referred to as a “lamp to my feet and a light to my path” by the psalmist in Psalm 119:105. They are the source of wisdom to sort out black, white, and gray in our lives, and they expose the heart of God. In addition, they sometimes painfully expose our own hearts so that we can admit we are headed in the wrong direction and repent.
If the Bible is such a wonderful source of insight, encouragement, direction, why do we spend so little time in its pages and expect God to lead us in some other way? Because studying the Bible takes work. It contains vast riches, but only a few of them are on the surface. The bigger veins of gold require effort to dig out. But for those of us who mine these treasures and follow their leading, God promises wisdom and success in relationships with Him and others. If we are wise, we cultivate the habit of internalizing God’s truth so that we meditate in it day and night(Psalm 1:2). That a lot more productive than many other ways we spend our time.
When we want to know God’s will there are three things which always occur. The inward impulse, the word of God, and the trend of circumstances. Never act until these three things agree.
F. B. Meyer
Of all the ways to know the will of God, the most reliable one is through Scripture. Having said that, let me say not by random readings as though the Bible is some sort of a spiritual horoscope, but through careful reading and thorough reading. Getting to know the character and nature of God along with His teachings, precepts, and laws leads to knowing more clearly the will of God. Just as Christ never spoke outside the Word of God, neither does the Holy Spirit. We will never be given counsel that contradicts the teachings of the Bible. Many times people will trust some impulse, some sign, or some word given by some other human over what the Bible says. I’ve observed people over the years that just set aside the instructions of the Bible when they contradicted what they felt was the right thing to do or what they wanted to do. Our sin nature will always assist us in justifying any choices we make and often we will attempt to try to bend spiritual permission such as the idea that anything done in the name of love is acceptable.
There are times when we try to conform the counsel and teachings of the Bible with culture or environment or times. The question that comes from moving away from the absolutes of the Bible is upon what other foundation do we build our decisions upon.
In my own personal journey, I have heard God speak, been given strong impulses by the Holy Spirit and watched as God orchestrated circumstances in almost miraculous ways. In every case and every time, all of these ways that God made known His will, they always complied with the truths of the Bible and the character and nature of God.
It is easy to subjectively try to determine God’s will. As a matter of fact we often fall into that trap as Christians. How often are there those who operate from subjectivity rather than seeking the counsel of Scripture. Some years ago, a young woman asked me to meet with her to provide spiritual advice. It seems that she was dating two guys and was trying to decide which one to move forward in relationship with and which one to end the relationship with. As we talked, I asked her to describe each one, especially their spiritual condition. Since this young woman was a professing Christian, our conversation drifted to questions about spiritual values. One of the guys was a self-proclaimed atheist so I asked her how she thought that would work in their future together. She agreed that that was one of their strong points of disagreement and they had agreed to not discuss it on any dates but in thinking about a full life commitment that was something that could not be ignored. I shared with her the biblical instructions that believers could not walk in agreement with unbelievers nor unbelievers with believers.
“Do not be unequally bound together with unbelievers [do not make mismatched alliances with them, inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership can righteousness have with lawlessness? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial (Satan)? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said: “ I will dwell among them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people .”
2 Corinthians 6:14-16
She agreed and since that was the only real difference between the two guys decided to end her relationship with the atheist. The very next Sundayher mother asked to meet with me after service. Her mother was a professing Christian who projected an intense relationship with God. Often to myself and others she would quote scripture or provide some “word from the Lord.” The words that came from her that day were mind boggling. She was unhappy that her daughter has chosen to break off the atheist relationship. When I shared the above scriptures, she shouted at me, “I don’t care what the Bible says. I know what God’s will is for my daughter.” I had no response for when Christians choose to disregard the Word and substitute their own beliefs or thoughts as God’s will, there is nothing left to say.
If you are seeking God’s will in a matter today, begin with the Bible. The beauty of technology is that any subject matter can be Googled and instantly at your fingertips you can have every scripture pertaining to it. As you begin to read not just one but each scripture and the surrounding verses, you will be amazed at how God reveals His will.
God certainly wants you to know His will. He doesn’t delight in keeping us guessing. I think for us sometimes it’s not as much as not knowing the will of God as it is in doing the will of God. Like those of Jesus’ day who had over 600 written variations of the law so they might write in an exception, we too find ourselves seeking an exception when we are reluctant to do the will of God. True peace and happiness and completeness can never be found, especially for the Christian, until they are seeking and finding and doing the will of God.
Take the time, ask the Holy Spirit to search your life to see of you are living in the revealed will of God to the level which you know. As you live where you know the will of God is, as you search the scriptures for the future and specific will of God, you will discover the amazing truth that God wants you to know fully His plans for you. He doesn’t always give us the full picture, but He always points out the next step. Often we won’t see the next step until we take the one that has been revealed to us. Maybe, just maybe, instead of us waiting on God, He’s waiting on us!
Dr. John Thompson