The will of God is an interesting topic, one that you here people talk about all the time ... but how do we know what God's will actually is? You can have varied answers to that question: I just feel like it's God's will for me to ... I have received a sign that it is God's will for me to ... I have faith that it is God's will for me to ... etc., etc. Do you believe God has a specific will for which color shirt you wear today? Most people would quickly think, "of course He doesn't!" But do you think God has a will on whether or not you dress modestly? Most people would say yes. But how do you know the answer to these questions? I would like to propose that the only way that we know God's will for sure, is that He tells us through His word. For instance, we know that God has a will for how we dress in terms of modesty (c.f. 1 Tim 2:9), but we cannot be sure exactly what his will is in terms of something more specific (like which color shirt we wear) because we have not been told that through His word. Now, it is possible (and the word records it happening) that God could by some 'special revelation' (i.e. a vision, dream, etc.) reveal something to someone that is specific to them and not given generally through His word to all. But, and this is a very important but ... God would never contradict Himself (c.f. Num 23:19; 1 Sam 15:29) by what he reveals through special revelation to you specifically, and His word generally to all. For instance, staying with our previous example, God could not tell you (and others) generally via His word to dress modestly, and then give you some special revelation to dress immodestly. If you believe that you have received some special revelation, then you must check it against God's word to know if it is contradicting something He has already revealed. And this is, I believe, where most people go astray. They don't actually know God's word (or take the time to get to know His word) in order to check their 'revelation' against it. And thus, they are simply following their own desires, feelings, or even worse; the Evil one and his forces (c.f. 2 Cor 11:13-15). What about instances where God has not given us his revealed will through the word? For instance, how do I know what God's will is about me taking such and such a job in such and such a place? Or, how do I know it's God's will for me to marry person x, instead of person y? For such things there might not be a specific will revealed to us through the word, but there are general principles that are applicable (i.e. God wants us to marry only a believer (c.f. 1 Cor 7), and God wants us to glorify Him with all that we do and work as though working for the Lord and not man (c.f. Col 3:23)). It is up to us to apply God's principles when there is not a specific will given to us on a matter. And God has revealed specific wills for our lives, such as there not being a hint of sexual immorality among believers, or not looking lustfully at a woman, or loving others as ourselves. Where God has not given us a specifically revealed will such as those above, He has given us the great freedom, and great responsibility, to apply his principles and make our own choices, moving in a direction in faith (c.f. Rom 14:23; Gal 6:7). In conclusion, we must be careful when we say things like; "God put this on my heart" or "I know this is what God wants for my life", until we have really checked and examined what God has actually already said on these things in His word (this puts the responsibility on us to know God's word!). And if His word is not specific about something, that we are applying the appropriate principles from His word and that we are moving in faith. Faith, perhaps not that it is God's will per se, but faith in the fact that He has given us freedom to make the choice we are making and that He has promised that He will be with us along the journey. :-) For more on this topic, and an excellent resource see Gary Friesen's: Decision Making & The Will of God Also see Douglas Jacoby's article on the subject here.
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