When we study the will of God, we must consider the doctrine of Divine Guidance since it is the means of discovering the will of God. The Scripture declares in many passages that God will continually guide us. Jesus said that when He departed this earth that He would send a Comforter to teach and guide us. This Comforter is the Holy Spirit and He is indwelling all believers in Jesus Christ. The Greek word for will is “thelema” and refers to the designed plan of God for every believer. Therefore, the will, the plan and the purpose of God are all synonymous terms. Throughout the Word of God we are commanded to know the will of God. Therefore, the questions are: “How can I know God’s will for my life?” and “What is His plan for me?” (Romans 2:18; Ephesians 1:1)
A Christian who does not know God’s will is said to be foolish according to Ephesians 5:17. The opposite of being foolish is being wise. Wisdom, as we have studied, is application of the Word of God. Therefore, God’s will can be discovered by knowing and applying His Word. Knowledge and application of God’s Word can be gained only under the control of the Holy Spirit, since He is the teacher of truth. (John 14:26, 16:13-14; Romans 8:14; I Corinthians 2:16)As with everything in the Christian way of life, divine guidance from the Holy Spirit is only potential. We must make the choice to allow Him to guide us. We do this in three ways: know the will of God, submit to the will of God and grow in the Word of God.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may discover what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
We see from this verse that the way to discover God’s will is by knowing God’s Word. It takes the renewal of the mind, which means to change from Human Viewpoint Thinking to Divine Viewpoint Thinking. Since the Bible is the only source of the known will of God, whether by direct statement or by deduction from doctrine, knowledge of His will is based on our understanding of His Word.God the Holy Spirit guides the believer based on the doctrine that he has learned, believed and stored in his soul. Through knowledge of doctrine we learn certain things in the Bible that we know are the will of God and certain things that are not the will of God for all believers. For everything else, we must use a combination of known factors (doctrine in our soul), divine norms and standards, and the control of the Holy Spirit. If indeed the Holy Spirit is controlling our lives, He will guide us into all truth and will empower us to execute His will.
“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)
Presentation of the body means to place yourself under the authority of God (submit to His will). This is to be a life-long, constant, commitment, not a one-time decision. The Christian life is made up of thousands of moment-by-moment decisions to obey the mandates of God. Only by obeying His mandates, which include being controlled by the Holy Spirit, can God guide us to His will.
If you are out of fellowship with God, it is impossible to be guided by the Holy Spirit. This is the reason that we need to keep “short accounts.” (Ephesians 5:18; I John 1:6-10)
We also see that the only kind of sacrifice that is acceptable to God is one that is alive and set apart. As believers, we are said to be alive and set apart unto God and dead to and separated from the world system. God views this as a reasonable service on our part. It should be our love for Christ that constrains us to submit ourselves to God and allow Him to guide our lives. The will of God should be our constant rule for life. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW HIS WILL UNTIL YOU KNOW HIS WORD. (Romans 6:13; II Corinthians 5:14-15)
“But grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (II Peter 3:18)
Grace is God’s plan for mankind. God’s plan is salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. God’s plan after salvation is to grow in grace. Grace is all that God is free to do for mankind on the basis of what Christ did for us on the Cross. Grace is the undeserved mercy of God towards us. Being in the will of God is the same as being in His plan and being in His plan is the same as being in His will.
Spiritual growth is a grace process of learning the Word of God under the control of the Holy Spirit. Application of what you learn brings wisdom, stability and maturity to your spiritual life. Once again, this is a process; a little here and a little there, line upon line and precept upon precept. Consistent study plus application plus time equals compliance with and advancement in the will of God for your life.
All of these principles must be in place in order to do God’s will. Control by the sin nature, failure to know God’s Word and lack of spiritual growth prevent you from doing God’s will.
This should be clear to all of us by now. God wants us to think divine viewpoint. Divine viewpoint, of course, is found in the Bible. We have the completed canon of scripture in one book. Contained in this book is everything that God wants us to know about Him. As we learn to think His way, life becomes meaningful and understandable. Our strength to live the Christian life comes from Divine Viewpoint Thinking. However, we must have a spiritual vocabulary in order to think divine viewpoint. Therefore, we are right back to learning God’s Word.
There are certain do’s and don’ts in the Bible for all of us. It is God’s will for every believer:
1) To name your sins to God
2) To be filled with (controlled by) the Holy Spirit
3) To study and apply Bible doctrine
4) To claim the promises of God
5) To pray
6) To share your faith with others
7) To be occupied with Christ
8) To stop worrying
9) To stop feeling guilty
10) To stop being afraid
11) To share God’s happinessThis, of course, is only a partial list. So, in many cases we already know what God wants us to do. We will see later in our study that when God has a specific task He wants you to accomplish, He will put you in a certain place and give you the tools necessary to accomplish that task.
If you, as a believer in Jesus Christ, are doing what God has commanded you to do, eventually you will end up where God wants you to be. This is a matter of growth. No one does the will of God perfectly all the time. The important thing is to continue to advance. If we aren’t advancing, we are retreating. Many of us are like Jonah, we have to be swallowed by a whale and regurgitated before God can get our attention! The key to being where God wants you to be is doing what God wants you to do where you are right now. For example, simply going to a foreign country does not make a person a missionary. God uses believers who are willing to do missionary work, like sharing the Gospel, in their own town. It’s pretty certain that if you won’t share the gospel in your own town, you’re not going to share it abroad where conditions are much more difficult.
I believe that when we learn what God wants us to think, what He wants us to do and begin doing both consistently, He will guide us to where He wants us to be.In our next lesson we see that there are several things in the Bible that are declared to be the general will of God and that there are three types of the will of God. We will continue our study of these principles next time and also take a look at how God goes about guiding the believer.