How can you understand God’s will for your life? What factors should control your personal decision-making? The answers to these questions will have a profound affect on whether or not you will grow and mature as a Christian.
I. What ways should you not attempt to determine God’s will?
1. The use of astrology or any occult practice are strictly forbidden in Scripture as a means of seeking God’s will. (Is. 47:13-15) (Dan. 2:27-28) (Deut. 18:10-14)
2. The counsel of the ungodly is also specifically condemned in God’s Word. How can you ever think that God’s wisdom or will could ever be communicated by someone who does not know or follow the Lord? (Ps. 1:1)
3. False spiritual leaders must also be avoided as a source for godly counsel. False spiritual leaders would include any person belonging to a cult group (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, Christian Science etc.). (Is. 9:15-16) (Jer. 50:6)
4. Putting out fleeces or other tests that you require God to perform. (Judges 6:36-40) In this story, Gideon is questioning God’s clear and specific command and promise to him. He puts out a test for God to fulfill, which in reality, was proof of his unbelief, not a step of faith. God had already clearly told him what His will was and Gideon didn't think it was possible. God has given clear instruction in His Word and desires us to obey it. (1 John 2:5)
5. Listening for supernatural voices from heaven, seeking visions or prophesies. God does use supernatural means at times to speak to His people (we will cover these at the end of the second study). However, there is great danger if a Christian begins to seek supernatural means without first seeking the Word of God as the primary source for guidance. (Jer. 23:28 Ez. 7:26)
6. Feelings are very undependable in determining God’s Will. Example: You will never feel like forgiving someone who has hurt you. Nevertheless, it is the will of God according to Scripture that you forgive anyone or anything. (Mark 11:25-26) Therefore, don’t depend on always feeling good about the will of God.
7. The open your Bible and point method. Many use this method to determine God’s will. When they have a question they simply open the Bible and whatever Scripture their eye’s fall upon or whatever their finger rests, that is the will of God. This is really trying to use the Bible in an occultic manner.
II. Defining the Will of God 1. The sovereign will of God a. The word sovereign means “supreme.” God has a supreme will that rules over all circumstances and all individuals. These purposes will be accomplished no matter what man does or decides. (Ps. 103:19) (Is. 46:10) (Dan 4:17) (Prov. 16:9) b. God’s sovereign will is the ultimate plan that He is working out in the world today. All things are working together to accomplish these eternal purposes. (Eph. 1:11) c. God’s sovereign will is certain. It will come to pass. (Dan. 4:35) (Prov. 19:21) d. God’s sovereign Will is secret except where He chooses to reveal it in prophecy. (Rom. 11:33, 34) We can only know this sovereign plan in-part. (1 Cor. 13:9) (Deut. 29:29) (Eph. 3:3-11) (Ecc. 3:11) 2. The moral will of God a. God’s moral will is revealed throughout the Bible by every command. (1 Thess. 4:3) b. God’s moral will deals specifically with what we are to do, how we should do it, and why it should be done. c. Your only decision concerning God’s moral will is whether or not you will obey these commands or not. Example: Forgiveness (Mark 11:25) d. Therefore, you must pray for a willingness of heart and the power of the Spirit to fulfill His moral will by obeying His commands. (Acts 8:21, 22) 3. Personal decision making over non-moral issues. (Rom. 14:5) (Prov. 16:9) a. Where God has not directly spoken on an issue, He gives you the freedom to decide for yourself, based upon practical wisdom, love, and godly priorities, governed by the moral principles in the Word of God. In addition, you must always be willing to allow God to correct you according to His sovereign will. (2 Cor. 2:1) (Acts 11:29) (Acts 15:34) (1 Thess. 3:1, 2) (James 4:13-16) When dealing with personal decisions over non-moral issues you cannot say, “I’m going to let the Lord decide what I should do.” No! God requires you to make a wise and godly decision. b. Any decision made within the moral will of God is acceptable with God. - See examples: - Adam and Eve. God gave them the right to eat of all of the trees of the garden except one. (Gen. 2:16) - Who should you marry? God gives you the responsibility to choose wisely using Biblical principles. (1 Cor. 7:36, 39) - Personal decisions within the moral will of God is why Paul prayed for the Colossian church to have wisdom. (Col. 1:9) c. Therefore, first conclude whether or not your decision is a moral or non-moral issue. - If the issue is within God’s moral will, search the word for God’s specific commands concerning that issue, and obey them. If your decision is a non-moral issue you need to ask God for wisdom using Biblical principles, and choose wisely (James 1:5, 6).