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How Should We Determine God’s Will for Our Lives?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

As Christians we all agree that we want to follow God’s will for our lives, but there are two general approaches to following God’s will that I’ve seen in evangelicalism.

The first approach operates under the premise that God has a specific will for each and every one of our actions and decisions, and that we are obligated to discover what that specific will is.

The second approach operates under the premise that God only specifically wills that we obey his commands as revealed in the Bible, and on issues where the Bible does not speak, we use wisdom.

A couple examples may illuminate.

Let’s say that you are a Christian man looking for a spouse.  You have come to know three wonderful and single Christian ladies and you are wondering which one you should pursue for marriage.

If you are a follower of the first approach, you believe that God has one, and only one, of these women chosen for you.  It is your duty to discover which one of these women he has chosen in order to stay in his perfect will for your life.  If you choose wrongly, you will be outside of his will for your life.

If you are a follower of the second approach, you feel free to pursue any of these three ladies for marriage.  You believe that God will be pleased with any of the three women, as long as you choose wisely.

A second example.  Let’s say that you are a looking for a new job.  You have job offers from three companies.  How should you decide?

If you are a follower of the first approach, you believe that God has one, and only one, of these jobs chosen for you.  It is your duty to discover which one of these three jobs he has chosen in order to stay in his perfect will for your life..  If you choose wrongly, you will be outside of his will for your life.

If you are a follower of the second approach, you feel free to pursue any of these three jobs, as long as there is nothing unbiblical about any of these companies (e.g., they produce pornography or something like that).  You believe that God will be pleased with any of the three jobs, as long as you choose wisely.

Now, which of these two approaches do you believe is more biblical?  I have been purposely vague about some terms because I don’t want to lead you to a specific answer.  Just choose the approach you believe is more biblical by completing the poll below.

Also, please, if you can, cite some Scripture to support your choice in the comment section of this blog post.  We are going to be teaching on this topic at our church in a few weeks, and we would like to know what people think about it.  Thanks!!


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Comments

  • Greg

    I voted incorrectly so i must not be in the will of God.

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Bill, I have a nagging suspicion that I am wrong on this, but my own experience of what the leading of God is like re-enforces my thoughts. Although God of course knows what would be best for us, I rather suspect that in most cases He teaches us *how* to decide, rather than *what* to decide. When we let the mind of Christ dwell in us, when we have been transformed by the renewing of our minds, will will make godly decisions, not because we can follow the instructions step-by-step, but because we are learning to think as God would have us think.

    This goes with my thoughts that He intends for us to be efficacious deciders and instigators in theis creation (and the next) and not mere reactors. He really wants us to become that which the serpent tempted Eve with: to become like Him, in this way as in others.

    My only quick scriptural support is rather obtuse, from the first council in Jerusalem:
    “It seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us…”
    Not just “We believe the Holy Spirit is saying…”
    but two parties involved – the Holy Spirit, and us.

    the Council represented themselves as being a player, and not just a message carrier. Granted, they possesed God’s grace and gift as apostles, and carry an authority that we don’t. But I think the pattern holds.

    Blessings!
    -R. Eric Sawyer

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Of course, that is NOT to deny special leading by God to do this or that. I have certainly experienced it, as I expect you have, and indeed all praying Christians. But I think such direct instructions are the rarity rather than the standard

  • Pingback: How should you go about finding God’s will for your life? « Wintery Knight()

  • Brad

    It’s OK, Greg. God already KNEW which way you would vote and had purposed it in your heart to vote that way, so no surprise to Him… :)

  • http://www.calvaryle.org Steve Wright

    If we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart (Psm 37:4). I see that as saying God’s desires will be placed in our heart, so we are on the same page.

    Rather than agonize over making the wrong choice, I would pray about which one I like better – then pursue that option. If I am walking in the Spirit and not disobeying any Scriptural command, I can have confidence I am in His will. I’m sure there is always a preference among multiple choice possibilities. However, this does not exclude me from asking for God’s confirmation, which can come in a variety of ways, Scripture, prayer, sermon, conversation with other believers.

  • Meg Cusack

    I highly recommend this resource which lays out strong scriptural support for the second approach. It is called Decision Making and the Will of God by Greg Koukl. It is a 2-3 hour CD with a PDF file that goes with it:
    https://secure2.convio.net/str/site/Ecommerce/1583899502?store_id=1161
    Another resource is a new book (quick read) called Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung that lays out the same info. I just bought 10 copies of this book to give to my college kids and their friends!
    http://tinyurl.com/ygwb2ha

  • Matt

    I was never under the impression that choosing the “wrong” spouse or job from a list of acceptable options would be sinful. I do think, though, that an omniscient God would know which choice I would enjoy most and which option would be best for the most people. For example, one of the ladies in question isn’t interested in anyone else and no other young man is interested in her. The other two have never had difficulty with young men but still behave righteously. Would God be ok if the young man pursued one of the other two and left the other hopelessly single? He wouldn’t count it as sin for the young man but surely he wouldn’t want that for the young lady.

  • I.Pigeon

    Matt, this is a slight tangent on the original post but i think perhaps you are looking at things from the wrong angle… who is to say that if said man chose one of the ladies thats never had trouble with men, that the other lady would be any worse off? i think you are assuming that marriage and partnership is always the best option. i do not believe the bible suggests anywhere that we are always better off in marriage, in fact, paul says that it is sometimes better not to take a wife, much like himself. This isn’t to say that marriage isn’t good, but i don’t believe you should assume God would be unhappy if said ‘hopeless single’ never got married, he could have other plans for her life and use her in other ways !

  • Timogose

    Aside my comments under the poll, I think some might find the article “The Will of God” helpful, its located at http://allanturner.com/ss02.html

  • Bill Pratt

    Timogose,
    Thanks for the link to the additional information.

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