Sometimes when we are standing at a cross-road in life we want someone to tell us what direction to go or what decision to make. Have you ever felt that way? As Christians, the most important opinion that we should get is from God. Knowing God’s will is essential.
But what about lesser decisions, like how to make a living, or where we should live? Is knowing God’s will important in these situations?
You may be thinking:
- What is the meaning of “knowing God’s will” anyway?
- What does the Bible say about God’s will for us?
- It seems so complicated. How do you discern God’s will?
Actually, people often make knowing God’s will more complicated than it needs to be.
I get it. It can be scary sometimes to make decisions. What happens if we make the wrong choice? Then what?
So let’s get down to answering your questions.
What is the meaning of “knowing God’s will?”
In its simplest terms, the will of God is His plan for us.
So we can live according to His plans, or we can choose to ignore what He wants. This is what makes us different from all the rest of creation. We know right from wrong and can choose to do God’s will or not.
The first sin committed by the first humans was not following God’s plan or God’s will.
What does the Bible say about God’s will for us?
These are probably the cornerstone verses about knowing God’s will.
“I appeal to you, therefore, brothers (and sisters), by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2 ESV (explanation added)
In these two verses, we see three things about knowing the will of God.
1. We are to worship God
Our worship of God includes giving our lives to him which is sometimes a sacrifice. We may have to change our plans to align with His.
Yes, we can worship by praying, singing, and serving, but none of that matters if we have not first surrendered our life to Him. Here is a quote from Jesus.
“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me.” Matthew 15:8-9a
This is one of the first steps in knowing the will of God. Everything else will make more sense and be achievable once we have settled this crucial element in our lives.
2. We are not to let the world shape us
How does the world shape us? It is when we buy into the way non-Christians think and act. We want their approval more than God’s and we try to be like them.
3. We are to develop a new way of thinking
It is impossible to be conformed to the image of God if we think like non-Christians. How we think is critical. Unfortunately, many Christians are held captive by old ways of thinking. This prevents us from doing the will of God.
You may be wondering how we “renew our minds”. This is it:
- Read the Bible often
- Think about what we have read throughout the day
- Memorize key scriptures so that we have them with us all the time
- Talk to God about the Bible verses we have read
- Discuss God’s word with other people who love Jesus
How do you discern God’s will?
God isn’t extremely concerned about many of the decisions we make like the who, what, and where. This may seem controversial, but I will explain.
So when we are wondering which way to go in life, God wants us to ask ourselves questions like the following.
- Is it strictly forbidden by God?
- Will the decision lead me or others closer to God or away from Him?
- Can I make this decision and bring honor and glory to God in it?
- Am I willing to listen to the counsel of Godly friends or family?
- Am I willing to let God change my plans?
Answering these questions will help us in knowing the will of God.
1. Is it strictly forbidden by God?
Knowing God’s will requires that we know God’s word. Here is an example. We are forbidden to have idols. So if we want to purchase something that will take so much of our time that it becomes our god, then it is not God’s will.
But there are other things in Scripture that are forbidden by God. This is a partial list:
- We are not to try to talk to spirits (Deuteronomy 18:9-12, 1 Chronicles 10:13-14 and many more). There are games that seem innocent but lead us right into the spirit world.
- We are not to marry non-believers (2 Corinthians 6:14). Missionary dating rarely ever works so we are opening ourselves up to a lot of grief as well as influencing others to do wrong.
The following Scripture lists more but not everything.
“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” Proverbs 6:16-19
2. Will the decision lead me or others closer to God or away from Him?
Knowing God’s will requires that we look at long-term consequences. Some choices we make have the potential to lead us or others away from God. If that is the case, then it is not God’s will for our lives.
3. Will this decision bring honor and glory to God?
Scripture says that whether we eat or drink we are to do it to the honor and glory of God. Even our little decisions matter to Him. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
It isn’t that God will strike us dead if we eat or drink certain things. The point is that our entire life right down to the repetitive things we do every day should reinforce our relationship with Him.
4. Am I willing to listen to the counsel of Godly friends and family?
Knowing God’s will should include the advice of Godly friends and family.
This can be a really big RED FLAG in our decision-making.
If it rubs us the wrong way to have others tell us that what we are about to do is not good, then in all likelihood, it is not the will of God for us.
Scripture has a lot to say about wise counsel from others. This is just one of the verses.
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man (or woman) listens to advice.” Proverbs 12:15
5. Am I willing to let God change my plans?
Even more important than advice from Godly friends, is our attitude about God’s opinion. Knowing God’s will requires that we are willing to let Him make some changes.
If we simply are unwilling to let go of our plans, then it probably is not God’s will for us.
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
When we demand our own way it is because we want to be our own god and simply don’t believe that God’s plans for us are good. This is what happened to Adam and Eve.
Final thoughts on knowing God’s will
The first step in knowing God’s will is to have a relationship with Jesus.
If you don’t know Jesus, you probably have questions. The people at Chat About Jesus have answers. You can text, call, or chat with them online any time of the day or night.
Knowing God’s will is important. But what happens if we sometimes make the wrong choice?
Let me assure you that God’s big picture is never altered by our decisions. His plan for mankind will always be accomplished, if not by you and me, then by someone else, or by other circumstances.
God is quite capable of running this world without our help. But our joy in living only comes from knowing God’s will and doing it.