I’ve talked about the two different types of “God’s will” in a few other articles of mine, so I won’t do a full teaching on that here again.
But let me give a quick explanation of the two types of God’s will because it will be important to understand this to comprehend the content we will be covering in this article. The first type of God’s will is God’s “sovereign will” which is the type of “God’s will” that is completely dependent on God and can never be broken by humans. This type of “God’s will” is completely out of our control. In the sense, we are always in God’s will because we can’t ever do anything without God being in control of it.
So when we are talking about “being in God’s will” we are not talking about “God’s sovereign will” because that is out of our control. However, the second type of “God’s will” does involve our human choices and is something we can follow or reject. This is called “God’s will of command” or “God’s prescribed will.” Just as a doctor’s prescription is what the doctor wants you to do but you must actually choose to follow, so too is God’s prescribed will something he wants you to do but you can choose to reject or follow. Notice what Luke 7:29-30 states:
When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.”
God wanted the Pharisees and lawyers to follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but these men rejected God’s desire and thus they broke his prescribed will for their lives. So when we are talking about following God’s will or rejecting God’s will, what we are really talking about is rightly applying the word of God to the situations God sovereignly brings into our lives. God has a sovereign plan we cannot break, but each day God presents us choices that have eternal consequences.
So here are 3 signs you are following God’s will for your life, and for each point we will also see the signs that will be present when we are about to miss God’s will for our lives.
1. When You Are Obeying God’s Commands and Seeking to Glorify Him, You Are Following God’s Will for Your Life / When You Are Not Obeying God’s Commands and Choosing Not to Glorify Him, You Are Missing God’s Will for Your Life
Notice what is said in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8. It states:
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”
According to these verses, if you want to follow God’s will for your life, it will all start with obeying God’s commands. Notice the emphasis Paul puts on us to do what we “ought” and “walk and to please the Lord.” We are to follow the “instructions” of the apostles which Jesus gave them (which is the word of God). God’s will is that we be sanctified. God has called us to live holy lives.
Therefore, it is safe to say that when we are obeying God’s word we are following God’s will.
2. When You Are Choosing to Sacrificially Love Someone, You Are Following God’s Will for Your Life / When You Are Running from Sacrificial Love, This Is a Sign You Are Missing God’s Will for Your Life
God always leads us to love. How we express this love will look differently depending on each situation.
Sometimes God will lead you to commit to someone more so you can love them in a greater way. Sometimes God will lead you to let someone go because that is what is best for the both of you. The key to real love is to put that other person above any selfish desires of your own. Notice what Jesus said in John 15:12-17. It states:
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. . . . You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
Notice that Jesus actually “appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.” What is that fruit that he has called us to produce? That we love one another as he has loved us. You will recognize what path is God’s will for your life by choosing the path of sacrificial love.
3. When You Are Being Joyful in the Lord Regardless of What Doors God Is Sovereignly Opening and Closing in Your Life, This Is a Sign You Are Following God’s Will / If You Are Resenting God Because You Do Not Like What God Is Doing in Your Life, This Is a Sign You Are Missing God’s Will
When it comes to following the will of God for your life, often what is more important than “what” you choose to do is “how” you choose to do it. In other words, the details and events that occur in our lives are often outside of our control and fall under the “sovereign will of God.” But how we go through these events and experiences that God brings into our lives will be determined by the choices we make and don’t make when we choose to follow God’s Spirit or not.
You will know you are following God’s will for your life by your attitude towards the things that are out of your control. As 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 states, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
So whether you choose to date that person or not, whether you are single or get married, whether you stay at that job or go work somewhere else – the most important variable in the equation of following God’s will for your life is whether or not you are choosing to honor the Lord by remaining joyful in him at all times. God will open and close certain doors in our lives and this is out of our control. But God desires that no matter what happens, we go through it all with him in a spirit of prayerful submission and joy.