When You Have Questions Regarding The Will Of God
As a pastor, I often get asked questions regarding God’s will. Let’s consider four of the more common ones.
1. What if I know the will of God but deliberately do not do it? Unhappily, this does occur. Imperfect human beings are, at times, openly disobedient. What happens on those occasions? As in every area of life, when we don’t play by the rules, we must pay the consequences. But consequences don’t usually happen immediately. In fact, for a temporary period of time, things may run along smoothly. Hebrews 11:25 mentions enjoying the passing pleasures of sin. Sin offers its pleasures . . . but they are short-lived.
Remember Jonah? He bought a ticket on the ship leaving for Tarshish and was even able to fall asleep. But by and by, he found himself in a threatening storm and finally in the belly of the fish. God brings discipline upon His children. This includes external consequences as well as internal conflicts. Guilt and heartache rage within. If you question that, check out David’s words in Psalm 32:3–4. After his disobedience connected with the Bathsheba affair, the man admits maximum misery within.
On top of all this, there can be public embarrassment and shame as fellow Christians in the body of Christ experience the impact of your disobedience. When necessary discipline must be administered by the church (Matthew 18:15–17), the transgression you tried to keep secret becomes public knowledge. Your family also suffers. We are not isolated individuals. Like dominoes standing on end, when one falls, others are affected.
2. Can’t I rely on my feelings? This is frequently asked with regard to things we really want to do—but which lack biblical support. Take the case of a young woman madly in love with the man of her dreams. She is a Christian, but he is not. With all her heart, she believes he will someday become a Christian. How does she think marrying him is God’s will? Her feelings.
But the Bible states unequivocally that to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever is NOT God’s will, her feelings notwithstanding. Second Corinthians 6:14–18 and 1 Corinthians 7:39 are not eased by romantic moonlit nights. No matter how strong our feelings may be, when there are biblical precepts and/or principles that point us in a certain direction, we dare not ignore or disobey God’s Word.
3. Can I be in the will of God and not know it? Yes, indeed. In fact, I’m of the opinion many Christians are! While it is true God desires us to be “filled with the knowledge of His will” (Colossians 1:9), many believers are not at that level of awareness. Furthermore, there is the weird yet popular idea that God’s will is always something uncomfortable, painful, or unfulfilling. To some, it is inconceivable that God’s will could be enjoyable—even delightful. Romans 12:2 states very clearly that His will is “good and acceptable and perfect.” Yes, we can say and do certain things that are in harmony with God’s will and yet not be aware of it.
4. What about specifics that aren’t addressed in Scripture? The Bible doesn’t tell the Christian specifically where to live. Or which career to pursue. Or where to go to college. If it did, how easy it would be. Yet how little faith we would need! That would reduce the Bible to a vocational guidance handbook, nothing more than a divinely inspired telephone directory . . . and just about as interesting. Our spiritual maturity would be no deeper than a third-grader’s.
The emphasis in Scripture is on who a person is and what a person does rather than on where a person lives. If the Lord wants you to get a specific message and to respond in an explicit manner, He has dozens of ways to communicate that to you. No mumbo-jumbo, no skywriting, no magic tricks or middle-of-the-night voices need to be sought. Those who really want to do His will, will know it (John 7:17).
Each believer is independently accountable to God for his or her response to the Lord’s specific leading, even though others don’t understand or agree.