Thank you for submitting this question. Scripture often refers to passages which give instructions on doing the “will of God”. For example; in the Old Testament we find, (Psalm 40:8), “I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”, and in the New Testament, Jesus said; ( Matthew 12:50) “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” In both Scriptures the word “will” is applied to the “Will of God”, where God has the power and authority of choosing and determining a strong purpose, power of self-direction, deliberate action, choice, disposition or attitude toward man. God’s purpose is carried out in such a way that man’s actions are affected.(1) Note that the “Will of God” or His purpose remains supreme from Genesis to Revelation. His purpose always becomes reality.
There seems to be a difference in the Old Testament and New Testament on how the “Will of God” is carried out.(1) In the Old Testament “the action or purpose is ascribed to God.” Therefore, you find verses like Isaiah 46:9-10 “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” The New Testament brings about a shift, as Jesus makes a conscience choice to be an instrument of God’s work and purpose, as in John 4:34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” Jesus also encourages others to join God’s purpose as in John 7:17 “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.”
The early Saints of the church, in following Jesus, took up the theme as Paul notes in examples like Acts 20:27 – “For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.” , Romans 12:2 -“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” and Ephesians 5:17 – “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
In II Peter 1:21 – “ For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”, it is clear that there is a “Will of God” as opposed to a human will. The questions are therefore; how do we as Believers reduce our will and come more in line with the “Will of God”? Or, how do I know what God’s will is, what does He want me to do?
I have found no easy answer to this question because unfortunately Scripture doesn’t put together a “how to” on this one. My experience in my journey has led me to four keys:
1. Listen for the God’s instructions through “The Holy Spirit”. For years I have always felt that something, somewhere beyond my Earthly world has had an influence on my life. There was always a guide, it just took me a long time to listen and depend on the guide. I have since early days in Church training and Parochial School, heard of the “Holy Spirit”. I even remember when it was announced, that we are not going to call Him the “Holy Ghost” anymore, because a ghost had implications of Satan. At that early age I was familiar with the King James Version of John 16:7 “Never the less I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”, but the verse never made any sense. I did, however, keep listening to the voice, especially when I was in situations away from home, by myself around people who were not family. I depended on the voice, and it always worked out. It was later when I read the NIV translation of “Counselor” instead of “Comforter” in the KJV, I began to understand what was giving purpose to my life. Today I know that the “Holy Spirit” speaks to me as often as it does to everyone. We just need to listen to God’s instructions through the “Holy Spirit”.
2. Study the Scriptures to verify that your instructions are God sent. When God speaks He will confirm the message through Scripture or send Scripture that will let you know that it is not His message. As he “Holy Spirit” speaks often, we must stay close to Scripture and in prayer to receive the correct conformation. If you are not a reader, get into a bible study that requires reading Scripture with the intent of studying a specific lesson. I have found quite often that the intent of the message is one thing, and your conformation or instructions to stay away comes through.
3. Be Persistent. God’s work is not for the faint of heart. I Peter 3:13 says “For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” Understanding why God wants certain actions from us is not easy. Stick to it and His understanding will come through.
4.Understanding the message has changes and addendums. Wherever God is taking you, whatever is His purpose for your life, won’t be known right away. God only gives us as much truth as we can handle. In 1972, I went looking for a part-time job while living in Macon, Ga., I got the job, but had no Idea that the part-time job would lead to placement of 30+ years in Saint Petersburg, FL and a ministry of Bible Teaching. God gave me the part-time job in in 1972, but if He had told me the rest of the story, my family and I couldn’t have handled it at the time. Glenda often reminds me that Abram, to please Sara, wanted a son. God had planned not only a son, but a blessed nation (Genesis 12:1-3) and …all people on earth will be blessed through you (Genesis 12:3).
Finally after about 30 years of personally searching the process, I finally found a “How To” presentation. It is Experiencing God, Knowing and Doing the Will of God by Henry Blackaby and Claude King. For the last 20 years this presentation has been one that I have taken and presented. It is one of the staples of Homewords Small Group Bible Study Ministry, which we study about every 3 years. Those who are familiar with this series usually give a positive opinion of the workbook and videos. If you are not familiar with this presentation, but want to learn more, please contact us.
1.The Interpreter’s Dictionary of The Bible, Volume Four, Abingdon Press, New York, 1962
2. NIV Study Bible, 10th Anniversary Edition, The Zondervan Corporation, 1995