How do I know if I’m following God’s Will?
At some point, all of us have, or will, ask this question.
What is God’s will for my life?
How do I know if I’m following it?
Before I share my thoughts and what the Father has been teaching me through His Word, I have to acknowledge that not all of my readers believe in God. Not all of them care what His will is or if they are following it.
Still, others believe in God and agree that Jesus was a “good” person who lived on the earth at some point, but they don’t believe or understand what Jesus has to do with them.
So does that mean we’re exempt from His will if we don’t believe God exists?
Whether we believe in God or not, and whether we’ve submitted our lives to Jesus or not, He has a will and a plan for all of us.
The first step in the will of God is that we’d all come to know Him as our Father, to accept Jesus as our savior, and to believe through faith that our sins were paid for on the cross.
Just like with everything else in life, if you haven’t followed step one, how can you move on to step two?
The great news is that if you’ve never submitted your life to God, you can do it right now, today!
A simple prayer invites Jesus to live in your heart and to make heaven your home for eternity. All you have to pray is something like this: “God, I understand that there are no ‘good’ people. We’re all broken and we’ve all sinned. I know that my sin has separated me from you my whole life. I am sorry and I want to turn away from my sinful past. I want to lay a stake in the ground today and give you my life. Please forgive me. I believe that Jesus, your son, died for my sins. I believe that He was raised from the dead, that He’s alive today, and He hears this prayer that I’m praying to you! I invite Jesus to become the boss of my life. To rule and reign in my heart from this moment forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey you and to follow your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.”
If you prayed this prayer, please let me know. I’d love to help connect you to a local church near you who can help to lead and pastor you as you learn more about the Father, his Word, and the Spirit that now lives inside of you.
God’s will for His children
Now, let’s talk about what His will is for His children. That is, those who are in Christ Jesus.
If we’re being honest, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all made at least one decision in our lives that was based on our will, our plan, and we desperately wanted it to be God’s will. But, we can’t approach Him with our own will and twist his arm to get him to comply! We can’t look for random “signs” to tell us if we’re following His will, either.
The Word says that His will is, “Good, pleasing, and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
Would we rather live out His perfect will or our own mediocre plan?
At this point, you may be wondering if I’m planning to give you an easy 5-step process to figure out if every specific decision you’ll ever have to make matches His perfect will or your own mediocre plan.
Sorry to disappoint, but a quick 5-step process doesn’t exist.
But there is something even better…
The Word and his Spirit.
The Word reveals His will for our lives. His Spirit reassures us, guides us, prompts us each step of the way.
The Word may not tell you what you’re supposed to eat for lunch or if you’re supposed to marry that guy, but it does reveal the heart of Jesus and His character.
The Word is the lamp for our feet that lights the path, leading us in the way we should go. (Psalm 119)
The Word says that we were created in the image of God. (Genesis 1)
As blurry and rough around the edges as that image may be on this side of Heaven, we still reflect His image and likeness.
And the more we understand who He is, the clearer the image becomes. Edges sharpen. Lines are defined.
When we know who He is, we know who we’re called to be.
One of the best things I read this year, outside of the Word, was from Jen Wilkin’s book, In His Image. Jen says:
“Our inclination is to discern God’s will by asking, ‘What should I do?’ But God’s will concerns itself primarily with who we are, and only secondarily with what we do. By changing the question and asking, ‘Who should I be?’ we see that God’s will is not concealed from us in His Word, but is plainly revealed.”
Asking, “Who should I be?” points us back to the Father and His likeness. Instead of asking if it’s His will if we go to this college or that one, let’s check ourselves to see if we’ve modeled his holiness, love, goodness, justice, and mercy where we are today. Have we given grace, activated faith, offered patience, soaked in the truth, prayed for wisdom?
These are the traits of His character and it’s who we’re called to be, too.
So, whether we decide to go to this school or that one, we can bear His image by modeling His character.
What about bigger decisions, such as whether or not you should marry that guy? The more you understand Jesus’ heart, the clearer the image becomes of the man who can lead your heart.
While we may not hear a voice from Heaven declaring who you should marry, if you should buy a house, or where you should retire, we have been given the free will to make these decisions. His Word reveals the image and character of God and we can choose to reflect His image through all of the decisions we make in our lifetime.
In addition to His word, we’ve received the gift of the Holy Spirit - the Spirit of Jesus, living inside of us! As we walk in step and submission to the Spirit’s leading, he reveals each step we should take. He gives clear yes’s and no’s. Clear rights and lefts. We have peace when He speaks to us and reassures us as to how we should move.
If you hear nothing else, I hope you hear how crucial it is to be aligned to the Father and to His Word if you desire to know His will.
If you aren’t interested in knowing His will, then by all means, free will allows us to make decisions without consulting anyone else. But, if you want to know His will, you have to know what He said and who He is.
more scriptures that help us understand God’s will:
God’s will is that we will experience overflowing joy!
John 15:10-11 “If you keep my commands, you will live in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands, for I continually live nourished and empowered by his love. My purpose for telling you these things is so that the joy that I experience will fill your hearts with overflowing gladness!” (TPT)
We sow eternal fruit when we follow His will.
1 John 2:17 “This world and its desires are in the process of passing away, but those who love to do the will of God live forever.” (TPT)
His will is that we’d be conformed into His image.
1 John 3:1-3 “Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children. The reason the world doesn’t recognize who we are is that they didn’t recognize him. Beloved, we are God’s children right now; however, it is not yet apparent what we will become. But we do know that when it is finally made visible, we will be just like him, for we will see him as he truly is. And all who focus their hope on him will always be purifying themselves, just as Jesus is pure.” (TPT)
It was always His plan that we’d look more like our oldest brother, Jesus.
Romans 8:27-29 “God, the searcher of the heart, knows fully our longings, yet he also understands the desires of the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit passionately pleads before God for us, his holy ones, in perfect harmony with God’s plan and our destiny. So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose. For he knew all about us before we were born and he destined us from the beginning to share the likeness of his Son. This means the Son is the oldest among a vast family of brothers and sisters who will become just like him.” (TPT)
The Word is crystal-clear on one specific thing on this topic: God’s will is that we would avoid sexual immorality.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 “God’s will is for you to be set apart for him in holiness and that you keep yourselves unpolluted from sexual defilement…For God’s call on our lives is not to a life of compromise and perversion but to a life surrounded in holiness. Therefore, whoever rejects this instruction isn’t rejecting human authority but God himself, who gives us his precious gift—his Spirit of holiness.” (TPT)
Intimacy with God leads to an understanding of His will.
Proverbs 3:6 “Become intimate with him in whatever you do, and he will lead you wherever you go.” (TPT)
It’s the Father’s will that all of His children would devote their lives to growing the Kingdom.
Matthew 28:18-20 “Then Jesus came close to them and said, ‘All the authority of the universe has been given to me. Now go in my authority and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to faithfully follow all that I have commanded you. And never forget that I am with you every day, even to the completion of this age.” (TPT)
His perfect will is that our lives would emanate pure joy, constant prayer, and unlimited thankfulness, regardless of our circumstances.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Let joy be your continual feast. Make your life a prayer. And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus.”
Still unsure if you’re following his will?
Pray, pray, and then pray some more. We trust that His Spirit will guide us. He will never ask us to do something outside of His will or the Word, but we have to know His word to know if His voice is the one leading us.
The Father’s will isn’t hidden or kept in secret. He wants you to know His will. He’s not going to make it difficult for you to find it.
I wonder if when we say we don’t know His will if we actually mean, “I think I know what God says on this point, but I don’t like the answer. So, I’ll keep searching and see if He changes His mind and comes around to my plan.”
If you’re unsure if you should move one way or the other, consider if the options presented allow you to reflect His character: holiness, love, goodness, justice, mercy, grace, faith, patience, truth, and wisdom. Consider if God can be glorified in each specific choice. If the answer is yes, then choose one and move forward in confidence. And guess what? If you make a decision that is outside of His will, He knows where to find you! He knows where you are and he’ll guide you to the next step.
Find godly friends to encourage you and speak truth over you - what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear. Find people who will lead you back to the heart of Jesus. Ask them hard questions. Tell them the hard things you’re struggling with. Encourage one another. Then, act boldly in faith as you live out His will!
Your feelings can easily deceive you. Sometimes the right thing to do, or the thing He’s willing you to do, isn’t the thing that makes us feel good. And usually, it isn’t. Releasing forgiveness doesn’t feel good. It is hard and it takes everything within us to practice forgiving others when they’ve hurt us. But, it’s the Father’s will that we would not harbor forgiveness or hate in our heart. So don’t trust your feelings. Trust the Word and the Holy Spirit.
Let me leave you with a bit of encouragement…
If you feel like you’ve been living outside of His will, following your own mediocre plan instead of His good, pleasing, and perfect will, the good news is that you can humbly go before Him right now, ask for His forgiveness, and begin following His plan for your life.
He’s the God of healing, restoration, and writing new stories.
And I can’t wait to read yours.