John MacArthur, in his commentary on James, said this: “God’s will is expressed in all the commands and the principles of Scripture.” Warren Wiersbe, in his commentary on James entitled Be Mature, says this about the will of God: “The will of God is a living relationship between God and the believer."
So, how then can you and I determine the will of God for our lives, both in the big decisions of life as well as the everyday decisions? The answer is found in God’s Word! Let’s walk through the passages that specify what the will of God is that is already revealed to us in God’s Word.
Let’s begin this study of the will of God in Romans 12:2:
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Paul defines the will of God with some modifiers – “good, and acceptable and perfect…”! That is the will of God that we should be seeking for our lives. This verse tells us that to find that will of God there are some things we need to be doing. First, in this context, we must be surrendered to God’s work in our lives (See Rom. 12:1). That willingness to be a living sacrifice leads us to the qualifications in verse 2. We are to avoid being conformed to this world’s system. Instead of being conformed, we are to be transformed. This is the same Greek word where we get the English word for metamorphosis. This is a change that happens from the inside out. We are being transformed how? By the renewing of our minds. This process will lead us to discover the “good, acceptable, and perfect will of God” for our lives! One preacher said, “How can we improve on what God calls good, acceptable, and perfect?” How do we renew our minds and not be conformed to this world? By being in His Word!
In Galatians 1:4, Paul says that God’s will for us includes salvation through Jesus Christ:
“Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.”
God made a way for us to escape this world and its sin through His Son’s death on the cross. Later in Paul’s writings, he says that it is God’s will that all people would be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). What a wonderful blessing to know that part of God’s will is that you and I would be saved
Paul gives testimony of a man named Epaphras in Colossians 4:12:
“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”
There's a very clear statement about doing the will of God found in 1 Thessalonians 4:3:
“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:”
With a statement that clear, it is impossible to argue that it is my right and choice to do what I want with my body. Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that when we are God’s children, our bodies are merely the temple of the Holy Spirit. We have been bought with a price, and it is God’s will that we use our bodies to glorify Him. These verses are often preached to teenagers, but the application is true for adult women as well, married or single alike. We must allow God’s Word to direct us in these matters.
Paul gives another very clear and simple explanation of the will of God in 1 Thessalonians 5:18:
“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
This is a simple statement, but it is much easier said than done. Did you know that being thankful for everything is part of God’s will for your life? Notice the text says to be thankful in everything. It doesn’t make sense to be thankful for everything when you are facing the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a long-term or terminal illness, or a myriad of other difficult things in life. How can we be thankful for those things? I don’t have the answer to that. But I do know that I can give thanks to God in every situation I face. I can thank Him for the peace and grace He gives to walk those difficult roads. I can give Him thanks for the wonderful blessings He sends as well. But one thing we must remember is that gratitude is something that God lists as part of doing His will.
That leads us in our journey through the New Testament about the will of God to 1 Peter 3:17:
“For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing.”
God tells us that sometimes the will of God is that we do suffer even for doing right. In fact, He says that it is better if our suffering is a result of doing right rather than our doing wrong. This is part of the will of God for Christians. Peter speaks often about suffering and helps us to see that the suffering we face in this world cannot compare to the wonders and joys that we will experience in Heaven to come. This suffering is but “for a season” (1 Peter 1:6). As hard as it is to go through, we must recognize that part of God’s will is suffering. Peter goes on in 1 Peter 4:19 to expound on this statement about suffering and the will of God – “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” Those who suffer for Christ can rest in the knowledge that God is going to make things right. He is our Creator and the Keeper of our souls. Knowing in Whom we have rest will help us face this part of God’s will for us!
The last passage in our journey is found in 1 John 2:15-17:
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”
Part of God’s will that He has clearly revealed to us here is that we should not be in love with the world and what the world offers us. John reminds us that the world is not eternal – it will pass away one day. The contrast in verse 17 is found in that those who do the will of God abide forever.
These are just a few verses that actually use the phrase “the will of God.” But what I find is that Scripture is full of guidance for our lives that will help us live each day in the will of God. Instead of fretting about all the details of God’s will that we don’t know right now, let’s be faithful to be in God’s Word doing what He has already revealed. When His timing is right, He will reveal the next steps with specifics for His will in your life and mine, but only for those who are already doing His will that He has revealed to us in His Word. This was a liberating truth to me in my late teen years. It has helped me make big life decisions with the assurance that those decisions were God’s will for me.
May the Lord use His Word to encourage you with what His will is for your life TODAY!
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