How to Know God’s Will
Be not ignorant, but rather be understanding what the will of God is for your lives. Ephesians 5:17
In one of his plays, William Shakespeare wrote, "There is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them how we will." What the great poet of England was saying is that the hand of God guides us, and, at times, His guidance overrides the human will.
Today many would question the statement by the poet of Stratford. They believe that when God created the world, He started the world spinning like a top and then went back to heaven and left man to find his own way. And by the looks of the world today, it seems as if our friends might be right; yet it seems to me that God would have had a cruel sense of humor to have created man and then to have lost all interest in his well‑being.
The Bible says that God has a will, no less than a plan or purpose for our lives even today. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is" (Ephesians 5:17). Those words of direction are much needed in an uncertain world, where the very foundations seem to be corroded.
What is God's plan for our lives and how do we find it? I am thinking of the mother who wrote telling how her daughter was injured in an automobile accident and the surgery recommended by the doctors was highly experimental. What should be done? She asked that God would indicate His will in the decision. I am thinking of a businessman who has been offered another position with less pay. Could this possibly be the will of God? How do we determine the direction of our Heavenly Father?
The first test to determine the will of God is to ask what the Bible says regarding the decision to be made. In the pages of the Bible, God has given us guidelines--in precept or principle-- regarding everything that will ever confront us: marriage, the place of sex in our lives, how to relate to the world, how to control our thinking and our impulses. Years ago, the Psalmist said, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:105).
The second test of the will of God is this: "How do I recognize the hand of God in circumstances?" At times, we are brokenhearted when a door is closed. Have you considered the possibility that God closed that door so that He could open another one for you to enter? Generally, one door closes before the next opens. What do you do? Curse the darkness or wait for the light of God's direction?
Briefly let me warn you of a great danger. It is always dangerous to base God's direction on circumstances apart from the statements of God's will. Many today make that mistake, and it is a deadly one. They follow the philosophy of situational morality that says the end justifies the means. Translated into life today, it means that love is the basis of sex, and the good intentions or the outcome is more important than breaking the laws of God and man. We fool ourselves into believing that the end justifies the means.
The man or woman who determines to live by the guidelines of God's Word will often walk apart from the crowds, but he will walk in the company of those who dare to follow the voice of conviction and integrity.
Finally, God gives direction to us through the inward guidance of the Holy Spirit, who resides in the heart of every true believer. The Holy Spirit of God is the One who directs us.
Resource reading: Ephesians 5: 1-21