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Jan 29, 2009

Knowing God's Will: Two Parts

Normally I do all my Bible stuff over on but my dear wife thought that there are some topics I should occasionally do on our family blog because they cover topics so vital to family and marriage.

Her first suggestion was some posts on "Knowing God's Will" since this is one of the most common questions we get. So here you go... I hope you enjoy, and I look forward to hearing what you think.

Two Parts To God's Will

1 John 2:17 - And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (NKJV)

One of the most common questions from the average Christian is "how do I know what God's will is?" The answer is two part, with the first part being "simple"; and the second being an exercise in "working out your salvation".

Philippians 2:12 - Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; (NKJV)

The rendered Greek for "work out" means to continually make an effort to bring something to pass or completion". From other Scripture, we know this can't be speaking of earning your salvation by "works". It refers to a Christian diligently seeking ("working out") God's will and then obeying it in order to become more Christ-like (sanctification).

Knowing God's will is hard work. In our day and age of "fast", "easy" and "convenient" everything, there are few people who want to do the hard work of knowing the mind of Christ.

The two parts of God's Will are:

ONE: God's plain, revealed Will in Scripture

  • Should I cheat on my taxes?
  • Should I get divorced because I love someone else?
  • We're engaged, can we sleep together?
  • Is it okay to get drunk occasionally?

TWO: God's Will for the "gray" areas NOT plainly and directly addressed in the Bible


  • Is it a sin to drink a glass of wine?
  • Should kids go to public school or be home schooled?
  • Can you ever see a Rated-R movie, or any movies at all?
  • What clothing is appropriate?
  • Should you celebrate Halloween or Christmas?
  • Can a Christian be in the military and kill someone in a war?

We'll do the "simple" part in this post, and begin next time looking at how to determine God's will for the "gray" areas.

The "simple" part is when our questions are directly and plainly answered in Scripture. It's only "simple" however in the sense that we can know God's will; obedience however is frequently NOT so simple.

The command might be simple;
obeying the command is often difficult.

Now I want you to prepare yourself. I'm about to impart to you some incredible, ground-shaking wisdom. Here goes: when it comes to knowing God's Will about those things that are plainly and directly addressed in Scripture...

Find out what the Bible says, and do it.

Okay, that wasn't exactly original or earth shattering, but it is beautiful in its simplicity and incredible in its effectiveness. And, I have to confess, I didn't make it up either.

James 1:22 - But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)

While in concept "finding and doing" is simple, it is NOT simple to actually do it. You have to diligently search the Scriptures (2Tim 2.15; Acts 17.11) and when you find a plain answer, you must obey it, or you are in danger of deceiving yourself about your walk with God.

Obedience has many benefits:

  • You can know you are in God's will
  • You can be assured God is pleased with you
  • You don't have to worry you're doing the wrong thing
  • It brings assurance of salvation (1 John 5.2)
  • You can trust that you aren't deceived about your faith (James 1.22)

For questions to which there is a plain answer in Scripture, we must not fall prey to "relativism" where we decide that in "some" situations, exceptions can be made to plain Scripture. We fallen and sinful humans are masters at making excuses and justifying sin. Once we open the door of "relative truth" then everything is up for grabs because we can always formulate a "reason" why we are the "exception" to God's Word.

Let me give a few examples where the Bible gives a black and white answer to certain questions about God's will:

  • Can I divorce my spouse because of " irreconcilable differences"? No (Matthew 5:31; 1 Corinthians 7:10-16)
  • Can I lie if it is for a "good" reason? No (Colossians 3:9)
  • Can we sleep together if we're engaged and in love? No (Col 3.5; Heb 13.4)
  • Is it okay to gossip for any reason? No (Matt 12.36; Prov 17.9)
  • Am I supposed to read my Bible every day? Yes (2Tim 2.15; Acts 17.11)
  • Should we assemble together with other Christians regularly? Yes (Heb 10.25)
  • Should I care for widows and orphans? Yes (James 1.27)
  • My employer treats me bad, do I still have to work hard? Yes (1Thess 4.11-12; Col 3.17; 1Pet 2.18-19)
  • Is it okay to treat some people better than others based on their social status or income? No (James 2.2-4)

These are just a few examples of God's will where the answer is "black and white". But you can't know these plain answers if you don't diligently search the Bible for them. God has promised to reward the sincere seeker of Scriptural wisdom though (James 1.5).

How can we know God's will? First, find out if God's Word has a plain and direct answer to your question or circumstance. If it does, then obey God regardless if you like it, agree with it or how you feel about it.

If there is no plain or direct answer in Scripture.... well, that's where we will pick up next time I post on this topic.

What are your questions about Knowing God's Will, or your comments about this post? Leave us a comment...

~ Brent


Chris said...

very plain and simple, I can't wait to see how you handle the other questions.
The world would be a much better place if people could remember those clear points


Molly said...

Hmm this is so true. I so often get overwhelmed with the struggle of finding God's will. As you said, it is not so difficult in the "black and white" areas, but it is very hard to follow through with the command!! I think I struggle the most, though, with seeking out the Lord's will for the future, a grey area. For example, I have the option of going back to Guatemala or NYC this summer for mission trips. I've been praying for the past month about which one to do and I just don't know! It is hard when both options are God-honoring and you can't figure out where God wants you. Sorry, that went a little long.

I'm looking forward to reading tommorow's post!

Prayin your little princess is doing well! :)


Baker Family said...

How amazing that you should post about this tonight. My husband and I were just discussing this. We look forward to your next post about the topic. Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

One thing that is hard is when someone quotes laws or rules from the old testament, and someone else says we aren't bound by the law because of Jesus' sacrifice.

shannon m said...

Referring to Molly's comment, is there always just one thing that is God's will (is only one of the mission trips the 'correct' one) or is it that both could be options that God would allow and He gives us the boundaries and allows us to work within those boundaries and decide for ourselves. As long as He was not clearly leading in one specific way but both doors seem to remain open even after much prayer.

Matt and Courtney said...

1 Thess. 4:3- For this is the will of God: your sanctification.

I think you hit the nail on the head. God's will for us is to become more Christ-like. That is done through obedience to Him. God's will is not some small dot that all of our life details are placed on and if we don't find the dot then we have missed out! No! That is not it at all. God wants us to live by His Word and ultimately strive to be more like Him. He is sovereign and He will take care of the details.

Thanks for your post


D and L and family said...

Exactly what I needed to read! Thank you for this wonderful post and I look forward to reading part 2.

I feel God calling me out to dig a little deeper but I am at a complete loss as to where He is leading.

My desire is to be like HIM!

Blessed Mom of 8 said...

Beautiful job Brent!

Praying this makes it way into the hearts of many deceived and falling away Christians.

Blessings to you and your family - your obedience and faith are heartwarming and so refreshing!

In His amazing grace,

Jennifer said...

I feel so blessed that I have found your blog! A wonderful post...Still praying for Abby!


Maggie said...

Great post! I, too, like Molly have a hard time discerning God's will for my particular life and circumstances. I know ultimately we were created to love God and love others, yet is it really that simple or is there specific way God is calling me to do that? I could go on and on, but will spare any details right now. I know I need to read the Word more and I have read more Scripture than ever before. But, I still don't feel I know enough about it to know where to turn to find an answer or some peace about a specific issue bothering me. Looking forward to more posts!

Hope Abby is feeling better. Praying for all of you!

Miss Anne said...

what i got from your post mostly... were great scripture resources.

thank you.

thinking of sweet abby.


Laurel said...

Great post!

I really liked Courtney's comment, "God's will is not some small dot that all of our life details are placed on and if we don't find the dot then we have missed out! "

As I have discussed God's will for their future spouse with my young adult children, I have shared this concept. If there were a "one and only" best mate ... than my son (for example) would be out of luck (so to speak) if his "one and only" did not follow God's will and chose someone else.

Now, of course, my dear husband is definitely my "one and only" and I cannot imagine there being any more perfect partner for me ... so I thank God that we were both seeking His will ... but, the concept is that God does give us free will, and He wants us to make choices that bring honor and glory to Him.

Laurel :)

Dimples and Stars Race Cars and Guitars said...

HELLO....You know I need you to get on to the next part like NOW....We have big decisions to make over here at our Casa....and this Post was just what I needed...but still i need MORE!

Making my Grocery list

Cracking my self up and everyone is is going to think I have finally lost all my marbles

Hugs Candy

Sarah said...

I'm looking forward to see how you approach the question "Can a Christian be in the military and kill someone in a war?"

My husband is in the military, and he and I have been struggling with this for 2 years. It can down to staying in and honoring a commitment that he's made and being thankful that he's not in a combat position at this time. Even then, we have a hard time supporting/working for an organization that kills. I could go on forever on this topic, but I'll hold off :o) Like I said, I'm really eager to hear how you approach it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting about this subject. It's a must needed reminder on how to go about our days. Thanks again.

Juls said...

Loved it...can't wait for part II.

Jana said...

I am so glad that I came upon your blog as I really enjoy your writing. I can't wait to receive my first issue of your magazine! I think this is an awesome topic and I am sure you could do a weekly blog to help those that are growing in Christ. I know that I need guidance in what I should be doing daily and I feel that this would really help. I would like an answer to the drinking question as I have had several different answers in the past and it bothers me that I might be doing something wrong...God Bless, Jana

Anonymous said...

Thankyou. That was so well written

Jess said...

Hello, you posted a couple of "gray areas" that really aren't gray. Drinking a glass of wine? NOT a sin. Jesus drank wine. Jesus never sinned. Therefore drinking a glass of wine is not a sin (or any other drink). God speaks of avoiding drunkenness all over Scripture (I can get you the references if you are interested) however having a drink is NOT a sin and it was the error of the "church" to give Christians the impression that drinking is wrong.

Secondly, you questioned sending children to public school. If we read Deuteronomy 6, God tells us to teach our children the things of God from the moment they rise up to the moment they lie down at night (my paraphrase). That doesn't allow for a 6-7 hour break to send them to a "God-less" public school with "Anti-God" teachings. Now I don't think all Christians should homeschool (but I plan to) but Christian parents that choose to let someone else educate their children should seek out a place where their children will learn the things of God.

So these two topics are not "gray areas" if you look to God's Word.

Thanks for your post - makes me think! I'm praying for Abby!

Sweet Joni said...

I'm LOST for words! :) I like your explaination much better than mine TODAY, yes I did touch on God's Will... *Guess it's meant I stay right here STUDYING* :D Thanks so much for sharing!!!

Nancy and Isaac McGee said...

I am praying for God's will right now. I am thinking of either becoming a CNA or a phlebotomist and I don't know which one to do. I stay at home right now with my son and have for almost a year now. But with times the way they are I need to find some work. Just want to make sure I do the right thing.

Tish said...

love it

Pastor Terry said...

Thanks for a great blog. This was very encouraging and so practical.
God bless you,
Terry Michaels, pastor
Calvary Chapel of the Springs

Anonymous said...

I love your blog! Spidey is so sweet!