Here are 4 things God wants you to do so you don’t miss his will for your life.
1. God Wants You to Trust His Sovereign Will So You Have the Faith to Follow His Personal Will for Your Life
From the start, we need to humbly acknowledge that there will always be some mystery when it comes to the intersection of God’s sovereignty and man’s freedom. One element, however, that complicates conversations about God’s will is that people often mean different things when they use this phrase, “God’s will.” I believe the Bible points to at least three different types of “God’s will,” although all three of these types of “God’s will” are also intertwined together:
- God’s “sovereign will” is his preordained plan that was set before the beginning of time. This is the type of “God’s will” that is unchanging and is completely dependent upon the power of God and not the power of man, although God still uses man’s free choices to accomplish his sovereign will. (Psalm 115:3, Ephesians 1:11, Romans 9:18)
- God’s “prescribed will” is what God wants you to do morally. This type of “God’s will” has also been called “God’s will of command.” It’s God’s will that we obey God’s word, but since we are free to sin it’s clear that God gives us choices here. But when we disobey God’s will in this sense, we sin and thus are not following his will for our lives. (1 Thessalonians 4:2-8, 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18, Romans 12:2)
- God’s “personal will” is what I refer to as the morally neutral decisions God wants us to make in life (Acts 16:6-10, Philippians 4:6, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:17).
God’s sovereign will always happens. God’s prescribed will is what God wants you to do morally. And God’s personal will is what God is leading you to do personally when it comes to morally neutral decisions that God has something to say about. For example:
- It would not go against God’s sovereign will for you to switch jobs and move to a different city. If God didn’t want you to do that, in his sovereign will he could prevent it.
- It would not go against God’s prescribed will for you to switch jobs and move to a different city because there is no clear command in the Bible that would prevent this type of choice.
- But it is possible that God simply doesn’t want you to do this. Perhaps he wants you to stay at your current job because he knows it’s a better fit for you and he knows you will get a promotion there or meet your future spouse there or simply have a better quality of life there. Through the Spirit’s impression on your heart, he could simply be telling you not to switch jobs even though you could make that choice if you chose to.
God’s personal will for us is often where the bulk of our emotional energy is spent. But the key to following God’s personal will for your life is to take seriously God’s sovereign will and prescribed will. I’ll talk more about God’s prescribed will in point 2, but if you want to follow God’s personal will for your life, you have to start by having a strong faith in God’s sovereign will.
When you doubt God’s sovereign ability to bring about what he wants to bring about, you will end being the frozen chosen. You will believe intellectually that God chose you but in your life you will be so afraid of making a mistake you will never feel free to do anything. When people think about the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, many people feel like paralyzed robots who lack free will.
But biblically, a strong faith in God’s sovereign power is the bases for a life where you walk by faith and actively seek to follow God’s personal will for your life. When you know that God can ultimately bring about whatever he wants, it frees you to follow him to the best of your ability in your personal life choices. As Proverbs 16:9 states, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
(For more on this topic, you may want to read J.I. Packer’s book called Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.)
2. God Wants You to Apply His Prescribed Will So You Don’t Miss His Personal Will for Your Life
If you feel lost and you are worried about missing God’s will for your life, I encourage you to take out your Bible tonight and spend time reading Psalm 119. In this passage of Scripture, you will learn how important it is to daily go to God’s word for guidance.
God’s personal will for our lives can be confusing at times. We want to know what will happen next but usually God will only reveal what is happening right now. When you focus too much on figuring out God’s personal will for your life, the anxiety can build and build until it feels completely overwhelming.
God’s prescribed will is very different though. Unlike his personal will for our lives, God has revealed his prescribed will in full. You can read about what God wanted from the beginning, what God wants you to do today, and what God will cause to happen in the future.
Many people email me and say that God is silent towards them no matter how much they ask him to reveal his will. This is impossible if you understand the importance of God’s prescribed will. Every time you open your Bible, you are reading God’s will for your life. In one sense, God’s will is that you follow God’s word.
But when you follow God’s prescribed will – meaning you apply his word to your life and actually obey it – you will find a lot of clarity about his personal will for your life as well. As I said in point 1, God’s sovereign will, prescribed will, and personal will for your life all intersect and connect. When you make personal life choices that are reflective of the eternal truths found in Scripture, the Lord will lead you down the right path he has for your personal life.
As Psalm 119:105 states, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
3. God Wants You to Humbly and Energetically Attempt to Intentionally Follow The Spirit’s Leading in Your Life While Trusting His Sovereignty to Overrule Your Genuine Mistakes
I believe a mistake is different than a sin. A sin is when you disobey God’s commands. But a mistake is when you do something that was not the wisest thing to do even though it was not technically a sin. It’s not easy to avoid sin but it is simple. Just do what the Bible says. But things get greyer when we start trying to avoid mistakes in following God’s personal will for our lives.
There are two cliffs you can easily fall off of when trying to follow God’s will for your life. You can fall of the cliff of passivity or you can fall off the cliff of doing too much. God doesn’t want you to just sit and let life pass you by. God doesn’t want you putting the burden of responsibility for your life onto other people, “Oh, if God wants me to get married, someone will find me.” “If God wants met to get a job, someone will just give me a job.” “If God wants me to witness to that person, that will person will just ask me about the gospel.” Normally God wants you to actively make wise choices that will cause you to follow the Spirit’s leading.
But on the other hand, in pride we can begin to make choices without actually considering the Spirit’s leading. God doesn’t want us to just date anyone, apply to every job possible, or force the gospel down everyone’s throat during every conversation we have with just anyone. In humility, we must submissively depend on God the Holy Spirit for guidance.
So if you want to follow God’s will, you must ask him for the grace to know how to humbly but also energetically make active choices in life for the glory of God. As 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 states:
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
4. God Is Calling You to Make Choices Based Upon Exalting Jesus Christ
Whenever life get’s too confusing and you start getting stressed that you are missing God’s will for your life, take a step back and try to see the big picture.
When you remember your ultimate aim in life, God will help you know what little steps to take on a daily basis too. Ultimately, our purpose as Christians is to bring glory to God by exalting Jesus Christ while we are still on this earth. As Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-20, which states:
And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
How you spend your days will be how you spent your life. If you want to live a life that is honoring to Christ, make little choices every day that bring him honor.
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)