Phil Cox

Knowing the Will of God

(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)

Knowing the Will of God
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Knowing the Will of God

Part 1

19th March 2009

A few weeks ago, I wrote (and preached) on the prayer "Your will be done" that Jesus taught us. It's important to pray for His will. But how do we know what God's will is? This series of columns tries to answer that question.

Firstly, we can never know ALL the will of God; God's will is far too vast for us to comprehend. And it wouldn't be good for us if we did. God keeps many things from us, for our own sakes. But we can know quite a lot about God's will.

In particular, we can know what God is saying to us about our own lives. And that is the part of His will that we need to pay most attention to. We can learn in Scripture about His will for the world, and for the church. But we need most of all to know what God wants US to do, so that we can live lives that are obedient to Him.

So how can we know what God wants to tell us about our own lives?

Firstly, this may sound obvious, but the biggest single key to knowing God's will for our lives is wanting to. Think about it. Do you really want to know what God is saying to you? If you do, you might not like it. Arthur Wallis used to say, "I have no problem with the will of God, so long as it doesn't conflict with my own". And sooner or later God's will will conflict with yours! Are you ready to submit your life - and your will - to His will? The biggest single key to knowing His will is being sure in your heart that the answer to that is "Yes".

As always, our example is Jesus Christ:

John 4v34
"My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.

John 6v38
For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.

Jesus wanted to do whatever His Father wanted. Can we say the same? Paul taught us that we should:

Romans 12v1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of Godís mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God ó this is your spiritual act of worship.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Godís will is ó his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Paul describes God's will for you as being "good, pleasing and perfect", and it is! But you will only be able to prove that when you offer yourself as a living sacrifice, allowing God to change what you do, what you think and what you believe. That's the price of knowing His will and proving that it is good.

Of course, God's will for you is better for you than your own will. After all, God knows better than you do what's good for you. So although being a "living sacrifice" sounds like you're giving up a great deal, it's actually in your own self-interest to do so. If you truly believe that God is all-wise, and that God loves you, you'd be daft not to let Him take control.

The second greatest key to knowing God's will for you is reading the Bible. At least 95% of what God reveals to us, he reveals through the Bible. And the Bible is completely reliable:

2 Timothy 3v16-17
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

(I realise that Paul was referring to the Old Testament, because the New Testament had not yet been collected together, but his advice surely applies to the New Testament as well)

The Psalmist realised this. He wrote:

Psalm 119v10-16
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

Sometimes, reading the Bible will reveal to you God's will for today. But it will always reveal to you something of God's will for next month, next year, next decade. Do you hide God's word in your heart so that it will be there when you need it? Do you rejoice in following God's statutes? Do you meditate on God's precepts?

If so, you will find in Scripture most of what God wants to tell you. Your understanding of His ways will be a major part of His guidance for your life:

Psalm 119v105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

There is much more to be said about finding God's will for our lives, and I'll continue with this subject next week.