Sometimes one is stumped, flummoxed, perplexed and bewildered and driven to a state of utter apoplexy and helplessness and in truth almost to a point of permanent despair at certain conundrums created by people's lack of discernment as regards God's will. People' ideas tend to resort to pure fiction as they relate to doing God's will as if it is a commodity to be bought, used and discarded at their convenience. Just because someone says he is doing God's Will does not make it so; even if he sincerely believes it. The world has grown accustomed to meaningless platitudes and inane semantics about God's Will to the point where healthy scepticism is giving way to toxic cynicism that is fast becoming the norm.
Politicians, lawyers and journalist are the greatest cause of this cynicism, and by the way, as if you did not already know, they are the three most hated groups in every country, because they have turned lying and deception and two-facedness into a fine art and they have the presentational skills to fool the unwary, the gullible and the less perceptive.
In the USA three words condemn virtually every politician and yet they repeat those three words as an indispensable mantra for garnishing votes; God Bless America. They have no genuine regards for God real or imagined, they are absolutely clueless as to the meaning of the word bless and their idea of America is as clear as a mud-fish at the bottom of a muddy river at night. Their practice of kissing little babies is as genuine as the devil having a bath in holy water. Oh what a mighty sham! All this generates utter scorn and derision.
In the Old West when the European settlers were pushing to expand westward into Native American (Indian) territory many battles were fought. It was the custom for the pioneers to go to church and ask for and get blessings on their expeditions to slaughter the Indians. Were these expeditions really blessed?
During the American Civil War the most heinous crimes were committed and atrocities were vast and regular and yet each side had their church's blessings and religious chaplains and priests accompanied each army on the battle field. Churchmen on one side opposing and killing churchmen on the other side and each thinking he is right and doing God's will. Was God on anybody's side and if so which one?
In World War 2 the churches exceeded themselves with the German churches overflowing with patriotism and showering praise and blessing on the German troops and the Allies doing just the same and even on a grander scale. Church-blessed armies on one side killing and maiming church-blessed armies on the other side and each convinced that their armies are in the right and doing God's will.
This is the very reason that some religious bodies do not serve in anybody's military and in truth all Christians should be non-combatants.
Is God divided? When two groups are adamantly and sometimes violently opposed to each other and they both claim the mantle of God's approval and direction then how is one to know who is actually doing God's Will?
Can God's Will during conflict be ascertained or do we just have to wait the outcome between combatants and determine that providence has shown what is God's Will?
What is God's Will? Is it something that is fixed for all time and so once determined is inviolate or is it something flexible and accommodating to suit differing circumstances?
Perhaps at this juncture it would be useful to quote a very important scripture on which foundational truths can rest and that would guide our thoughts, "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." (Romans 12:2)
Notice if you will that pretenders cannot know God's Will. Those who are unconverted, be they academics or scholars or just ordinary church-goers cannot know God's Will. The carnal mind is unable to grasp, appreciate and identify God's Will. Paul made it clear in this scripture that the TRANSFORMED, RENEWED MIND is the only one that can know God's Will. This is absolutely fundamental for if you are not a genuine, born-again, committed Christian then you will always be having problems knowing God's Will. If your spiritual eyes are not divinely open then you are like a blind person struggling but failing to see. "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14)
Without the renewed mind we become unreliable and dangerous when dealing with spiritual and moral matters because we will distort the scriptures to suit our partisan and personal agendas. When we prioritize our partisan and personal agendas ahead of God we are telling God that he is not first in our lives and that he is to be dragooned to our assistance when needed. If God is not first in our life and first in our affection then he is not there at all and any pretence will not affect that reality one iota.
So what then is God's Will?
Many people over many centuries have tried to understand the Will of God and have failed to do so and many have just given up; trusting everything to what they call fate. The Muslins whenever you hear them talk, or quarrel or fight constantly say, "Allah will be done". Sometimes you hear people say, almost daily, "God's Will be done". When we say the Lord's prayer we say "Thy will be done". But what is God's Will and how can we know it?
It is vital that we understand God's Will for if we do not then we are lost, set adrift in a sea of hopeless confusion and unable to find anchorage and solace in a dark and dangerous world for how can you do something that you are not sure what it is? God will not have his people in such a stupor for we are told in the Scriptures, " For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." (1 Corinthians 14:33)
Let us be clear this is a difficult subject to understand but understand it you must for God will not have you to be ignorant of his Will and lacking the necessary knowledge of his plan for your life. Knowing the Will of God helps us to understand the biggest and most difficult thing in the entire world, i.e. that God's Sovereign Will controls the entire universe and yet there are things that happen that God dislikes.
Put another way, there are things that God wills that he hates and put even more severely and utterly challenging; there are things God wills on one hand, that is against his will and he finds abominable on the other hand. Remember what I told you earlier on that this is a difficult subject but it is important to stay with it, grasp its full implication and get to know the Will of God.
There are many aspects to the will of God and we need to look at them to get a proper appreciation of this powerful and complex subject, and deal with the paradoxes as they arise, and keep moving forward in our Christian walk.
We can see the will of God from many perspectives and people refer to the will of God as follows: God's SOVEREIGN WILL, God's DECRETIVE WILL, God's WILL OF DISPOSITION, God's PERFECT WILL, God's MANDATORY WILL, God's PERMISSIVE WILL, God's PRECEPTIVE WILL and God's HIDDEN WILL. Each of these Wills, used so often interchangeably, has a different meaning or nuance and together forms the one cohesive, majestic and for some of us profound Will of Almighty God. However when we do a proper analysis, taking into account all that the Bible clearly states, we can safely conclude that God's Will can be understood in three distinct ways.
FIRST THERE IS GOD'S SOVEREIGN WILL
This is the Will of God that is uncontainable and must be done and no power known to man or devils can resist it or make it of no effect. After the flood God promised Noah, " While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." (Genesis 8:22) And so it has been and will continue in accordance with God's Sovereign Will until the end of time. One more example from the New Testament will reinforce this. Jesus said this, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18) Some of the mightiest regimes in the world, along with Satan himself, have fought fiercely against the church and never succeeded, and never will succeed, in their efforts to destroy it. This is because of God's Sovereign Will for no one can disallow it.
NEXT THERE IS GOD'S PRECEPTIVE WILL
This is God declaring his Will in written or verbal form and making it available as a resource for all mankind in the Holy Scriptures. As we know a precept is a rule, a guideline or writ. This is where a lot of confusion occurs because God's Preceptive Will can be flouted, disregarded and made null and void by our freewill. Here is what the Bible tells us, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) God's Preceptive Will is that no one should perish but people have the right to choose their destiny and align themselves with Satan. A lot of suffering in the world is not in keeping with God's Preceptive Will and it will continue because we make bad choices, "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19)
FINALLY THERE IS GOD'S DISPOSITIONAL WILL
This has to do with the things that please God and you may not find anything written about it in the Bible but you can still get it right because you know the character and outlook of Almighty God. For example the Bible does not address pornography yet Christians abhor it, the Bible does not tell you where to live but a Christian will not live in a brothel; the Bible does not tell you what TV programmes to watch but Christians know the ones to avoid, etc. Because God's Spirit is within you and guiding you then your conscience is sanctified and alive to His promptings and you fall in line with God's Dispositional Will. This is the character in Christians known as godliness and is the quality of life that exists in those who seek to glorify God by doing His Will.
HOW TO KNOW AND DO GOD'S WILL
This is not an academic exercise; you must sincerely want to find and do God's Will: "Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever." (Hebrews 13:31) "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." (Colossians 1:9)
God's Will for you, however defined, will always harmonize with the Bible: "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." (Psalm 40:8) "But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." (Psalm 1:2)
God's Will for you is made known through studying the Bible, meditation and especially through prayer: "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us." (I John 5:14) "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." (Philippians 4:6)
God's Holy Spirit has been given to you for good reasons so rely on Him through the entire process: "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth." (John 16:13) "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16) "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Romans 8:26)
God's Will for you will always bring glory, and never shame, to God's name: " Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Whenever you know and comply with God's Will for you the result is always an inner peace: "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful." (Colossians 3:15)
God's Will for each of us is peerless for we cannot fulfil someone else calling. God made us as unique individuals and each of us must find for our self what God's Will is for our life. This will free us from all the angst, confusion and condemnation of those who have not sought and has no sincere desire to do God's Will.
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013