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What Is The Will Of God?


Basically, there are three types concerning the will of God:

  1. sovereign, secret or hidden will
  2. revealed will
  3. perfect will

Firstly, concerning God’s sovereign will, it is often hidden from us until after it has come to pass. For example, it was the will of God that Christ Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day. Nobody understood His sovereign will until it had actually happened. The disciples of Jesus didn't understand what He was trying to convey to them. No finite mind could comprehend His hidden will until it came to pass.

1 Corinthians 2:9
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

God is sovereign. His will and plans can never be frustrated. Nothing happens beyond His control. He can also use evil Pharaohs and wicked kings to do His will. He can even use the devil to fulfill His divine purposes!

Revelation 17:17
For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.

God’s sovereignty ordains that everything in His Word will come to pass according to His will and timing.

The patriarch Job didn't know why so many disasters and tragedies had happened to him personally and to all of his family members. He didn't know about the hidden conversation between God and the devil.

Job 1:6-12
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.
7 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?”
So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”
8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”
9 So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing?
10 Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.
11 But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”
12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

In the case of Job, he had suffered without doing anything wrong. Even after all the tragic things had happened to him, he continued to live faithfully and humbly in God’s sight. Job lived out the commandment found in 1 Peter 5:6-7:

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,
7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

After Job’s repentance, he was restored twice as much as he had before. Job finally understood the greatness and sovereignty of God even though it caused him a lot of pain, heartaches and anguish.

Job 42:1-6
1 Then Job answered the Lord and said:
2 “I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.

3 You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 Listen, please, and let me speak;
You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’
5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
6 Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes.”

The sovereign will of God does not imply that every happening is caused by Him but it simply acknowledges that He permits or allows the happening to take place. But even if they do happen, they are still all completely under His sovereign controls and jurisdictions.

Sometimes, the people of God will suffer for His glory at the hands of their enemies and oppressors.

1 Peter 4:12-14
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.

Secondly, concerning God's revealed will, it is clearly written in the Bible. The revealed will of God declares what we should or should not do. For example, it is God’s will that we do not steal, that we love our enemies, that we repent of our sins, and that we be holy as He is holy.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;
4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,
5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;
6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.
7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 in everything give thanks; for
this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
19 Do not quench the Spirit.
20 Do not despise prophecies.
21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
22 Abstain from every form of evil.

The revealed will of God is clearly written in His Word. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.

1 John 5:1-3
1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.
2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

God desires to write His laws upon our hearts so that we will be His people and He will be our God! The laws of God are binding upon us. We are accountable to the written laws in His Word!

Hebrews 8:10
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

However, when we make unwise decisions to disobey the commandments of God, we are also fully accountable for our actions! Adam disobeyed God even after God had clearly revealed His will to him. As Adam had sinned against the Lord, he was punished and eventually died.

Genesis 2:16-17
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;
17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Thirdly, concerning God’s perfect will, it describes to us what is pleasing and acceptable to Him.

Romans 12:1-2
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

God's perfect will is that we shall become like His Son, and be transformed into the same image of our Lord Jesus Christ from glory to glory!

1 John 3:2-3
2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

This transformation is a spiritual transformation that we become like Him. It is not about social transformation of turning a third world nation into a first world country. It is also not about turning a small congregation into a mega church. It is not about moving from a small chapel into a futuristic complex or auditorium with large seating capacities fully equipped with the latest musical instruments, audio and video equipment, and with fancy restaurants and luxurious shops. That's social and not spiritual transformation! The transformation that God desires is all about we becoming more like Jesus every new day!

Many of us can easily become preoccupied or even obsessed about finding the secret or hidden will of God for our lives. Often, we want God to give us detailed specifics - where to work, where to live, whom to marry, what car to buy, what to eat or drink etc. However, not everything in life is about the will of God. God allows us to make choices.

For example, a will or testament of a person is a legal document by which the testator, expresses their wishes as to how their property is to be distributed at death, and names one or more persons, the executor, to manage the estate until its final distribution. There are things written in the will and there are also things that are not written in the will. Whether to eat noodles or rice, to buy a car or a motorcycle etc. may not be in the will.

God has given us free choices. Not everything in life is about His will. However, when we walk closer to the Lord and are submitted to Him, His Holy Spirit will prevent us from making wrong choices.

Acts 16:6-7
6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.
7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.

The better we get to know God, the more acquainted we become with His desires. For example, a youth and his father. When a youth see something in the internet that is not edifying or good, he will not click the mouse and start surfing the forbidden pages. Why? Simply because he knows that his dad wouldn’t want him to do so. He doesn’t have to ask his father for advice on every particular situation. He knows what his father would say because he knows his father. The same is true in our relationship to God. As we walk with the Lord, obeying His Word and relying on His Spirit, we find that we are given the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16
For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

As we know Him more, we will know more about His will. God will lead and guide us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Psalm 23:2-4
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

When we are walking closely with the Lord and truly desiring His will for our lives, God will place His desires in our hearts. We will seek and desire to do His will, not our own.

Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

John 6:38
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

Matthew 26:39
He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

Many of us are eagerly seeking to know the secret or hidden will of God without really desiring to know or do His revealed or perfect will! What we should seek to do is the revealed and the perfect will of God.

Many of us are seeking to do the work of the Lord without knowing the Lord of the work! We become too busy in doing ministries without spending quality time with God. We become like hamsters running nonstop to keep the church wheels spinning every week. Many of us become burnouts! Even so, we keep doing the work at the expense of our relationship with the Lord! But the Lord is more important than the work!

The mark of true spirituality is when we fervently desire to live according to the will of God as revealed in the Bible.

1 Peter 1:13-16
13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;
15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Our responsibility is to obey the revealed will of God and not try to speculate on what His hidden will for us might be. As we are led by the Holy Spirit, we must always remember that the Holy Spirit is first and foremost leading us to righteousness, and to be transformed into the image of Christ so that our lives will glorify God.

God calls us to live our lives by every word that proceeds out of His mouth. When we are obedient to God and draw close to Him, He may choose to reveal some of His secrets to us someday.

Amos 3:7
Surely the Lord God does nothing,
Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.

Finally, knowing the will of God is one thing but doing His will is another. Jesus told us about the difference between knowing and doing the will of the Father in the Parable of the Two Sons:

Matthew 21:28-32
28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’
29 He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went.
30 Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 Which of the two did the will of his father?”
They said to Him, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.
32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.

Herein is a warning about not doing the revealed will of God:

Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’
23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’


Written on: 11 July 2017