How Can You Know God’s Will for your Life?
The topic of God’s will for your life is a popular one among Christians. I know that I myself, many times in the past, have wondered about it and even once considered taking a class on it. I used to think, “If only I knew what God’s will was for my life then I would really be focused on him.” I know this is a common train of thought because I’ve often heard people talk about God’s will for who they will marry, what job they should take, where they should live, even whether or not they should tell someone about the gospel. So, how can you know the will of God for your life?
I think the most obvious, but most overlooked place to start is in the Bible. If God has a will for your life and mine, isn’t it important? And if it’s important, wouldn’t he want us to know what it is? And if he wanted us to know what it is don’t you think he’d tell us? He did, and it’s written right where the rest of the important stuff he wanted us to know is found….in his Word; the Bible.
My study right now is in the book of Colossians. I just started reading there and it’s so exciting. The chunk of scripture that I’m looking at tonight deals with the three things that take place in a Christian’s life once they are “filled with the knowledge of God’s will”. So while the majority of my post will be on those three effects I’d like to mention three things talked about elsewhere in scripture that help answer the “God’s will for my life” question.
Three Things that are the Will of God for Your Life
I learned what I’m about to share from a sermon by John MacArthur and there is so much more to it than the brief summary that I’m listing here; however, if you take the time to look up the accompanying scriptures it will be so helpful and inarguable that these three areas truly are God’s will for all who genuinely believe.
1. It is God’s will that you be saved (2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:3-4)
2. It is God’s will that you be filled with the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9, Ephesians 5:17-18, 1 Corinthians 12:13)
3. It is God’s will that you be sanctified (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
I’d also like to add that it is God’s will for you to share the living hope of your faith in Christ with all of humanity, to “shout it from the rooftops”, so to speak. For evidence that this is God’s will for you (that you share the gospel) just look at Matthew 28:16-20.
Three things that will happen when we Know God’s Will for our Lives
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:9-10 ESV
When we are “filled with the knowledge of his will” (which means that we understand what God’s will is for our lives) three effects will take place. First of all we will begin to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord“. Why? Because when our minds and hearts are filled with thoughts of God with concern and passion for His plans, and we no longer strive to accomplish our own plans, then we will live our lives differently than when we belonged to the world. We won’t live to please ourselves, but to please God. We won’t be consumed with seeking out comfort, entertainment, and pleasure for ourselves but rather seeking out ways to fulfill God’s will and serve him each day and not ourselves.
When we are filled with the knowledge of his will we will be constantly thinking about ways to actively serve him and it will affect the way we live, move, speak, and act. So, how are we able to understand God’s will? By the Holy Spirit. (“..that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”)The word “spiritual” in this context means, “given by the Holy Spirit.” So the Holy Spirit is the one who opens our minds to understand God’s Word, and through his Word we learn his will.
Although Christians are completely justified from the moment of initial saving faith, they are not fully sanctified, and they can do things that either please or displease God every day. So it is important to understand what “a manner worthy of the Lord” means. It means living our lives in such a way that we make God look glorious. When our words and actions, and even our private thoughts, glorify God and show that he is to be treasured above all else, then we are walking in a manner worthy of the Lord because he IS worthy to be glorified, treasured, and adored!
This passage from Colossians also says that when we understand God’s will for our lives we will be “bearing fruit in every good work..”. This can be connected to the parable of the sower that Jesus told in Matthew 13:1-23 which revealed the effect of the gospel on a person who receives it with true faith (just like the good soil), they bear fruit “thirty fold, sixty fold, and a hundred fold.”
So when we are full of the knowledge of God’s will we can expect to bear fruit in every good work because we will not be doing good works in a self-seeking or self-righteous manner, trying to make ourselves look good, but we will practice good works as an outpouring of our love and obedience towards God which will in turn cause the good works to bear good fruit, as opposed to “filthy rags” fruit that comes from good works done on our own strength. (See Isaiah 64:6)
When God’s will is top priority in my life then my good works will be for the purpose of bringing him praise, which automatically bears fruit for his kingdom. If God’s will for your life was limited to your personal desires and concerns it would be a pretty shallow existence. There is a bigger picture here and I will soon be blogging on this verse, “…all things were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16b), so I’ll just say this, God’s will for your life and mine is to bring Himself much glory through you and me. Our happiness is secondary and is ultimately found in Him alone and in His promise of eternal life.
Finally, when we are “full of the knowledge of his will”, we will “increase in our knowledge of God” because as we dwell on him and his plans, as we draw near to Him, he will draw near to us. As we are cleansed by the Son, as we repent and believe the gospel, and as we say “not my will, but Your will” to God, He will draw near and we will KNOW Him.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8 ESV
So God’s will is a thing to be KNOWN, and KNOWING God’s will comes by the Holy Spirit and by faith, and once we KNOW it and are filled with it and dwelling on it each day we will:
1. Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (What a privilege!)
2. Bear fruit in every good work (Amazing!)
3. Increase in our knowledge of God (The Creator of the Universe!)
Why Do You Want to Know God’s Will?
Please, as you finish reading this, think about your motive in wanting to know God’s will and pray that He will make His will your will. In this you will find much joy and peace.
“When your will is God’s will, you will have your will.”
-Charles H. Spurgeon
Preparing the Way,