How Can We Know God’s Will?

How can you know what you should do? How can you make decisions? And I’m not talking about little things like whether or not to brush your teeth. Please go ahead and do that. I’m referring to bigger decisions.
 
So, how can you know God’s will?
 
#1 Know and Delight Yourself in God
Proverbs 1:7 says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and Psalm 37:4 says delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Those verses are both very helpful for us as we make decisions (see also Prov. 16:3; Matt. 6:33).
 
If we fear the Lord and delight ourselves in Him then our decisions won’t be self-consumed, they won’t be all about our selfish desires. The desires of our hearts are shaped and transformed as we fear and delight in the Lord.
 
So, evaluate your choices in light of your fears and delights.
 
#2 Search and Know God’s Word
God’s word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. It reveals where we are and helps us know where we need to go. God’s word is truth (Jn. 17:17) and equips us for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). God reveals Himself and His will in His word. 

For example, if you are considering whether or not it’s God’s will that you view pornography, you can be sure that it’s not His will for you to do that. Because God tells us His will in this regard: “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” (1 Thess. 4:3–5).
 
There are various things that Scripture is clear on, that it tells us to explicitly do or not do. Here are a few other examples: “do not be anxious” (Matt. 6:25), “offer your bodies as living sacrifices” (Rom. 12:1), and “do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
 
So, as you are making a decision, consider what God says as well as apply principles from Scripture.
 
#3 Trust God
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and He will direct your paths. We can be sure that all our days are written in His book (Ps. 139:16). 
 
So, as you evaluate your choices ensure you’re trusting the Lord. He will direct you.
 
#4 Pray to God
When Jesus taught us to pray, He said, “Our Father.” So, we pray to God as “our Father” because for all those who have trusted in Jesus He is their Father. And our Father loves us and will give us good gifts to His children (see e.g. Lk. 11:5-13). For example, if we ask our Father for wisdom, He’ll give it to us (James 1:5).
 
So, pray and ask God for the wisdom to make the decision.
 
#5 Listen to Wise Counsel
When we are facing a difficult decision we should also get advice from wise friends. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” (Prov. 12:15 cf. 1:5; 11:14; 15:22; 19:20; 24:6). It’s also important to realize that part of considering wise counsel is considering life experiences, circumstances, timing, as well as your personal desires.
 
So, as you seek God’s will it’s important that you bring godly people into the process to help you.
 
#6 Do Something Godly
When you’re still unsure what exactly the best thing is to do but none of the options are clearly sinful just do something. To quote Nike, “Just do it!”
 
The Bible says, “whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17). It seems, however, if you don’t know the right thing to do and it’s clearly not sinful, then just do something!
 
It’s interesting to me that when the disciples had to pick a disciple to replace Judas they just picked. They essentially rolled dice (Acts 1:26). After all, “the lot is cast into the lap but its every decision is from the Lord” (Prov. 16:33).
 
So, when you don’t know what to do, but there’s no bad option, just do something. You can trust that God is in control.
 
#7 Be Humble
Remember “you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16).
As part of being humble, be weary of your own motivations (see Jer. 17:9) and guard your heart (Prov. 4:23). 
 
So, as you consider what God’s will is, be humble and flexible regarding the future.

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 9 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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