I was recently traveling with the associate pastor where I preach on a long journey. Thus, we had much time to discuss. One topic that came up was finding God’s will. Yesterday, I spoke about the same kind of thing to a friend of mine who is in ministry as well. This was an idea I grew up with and I find I still have to un-think a lot of what I learned.
When I read the Bible, I see two wills of God presented. The first one is the sovereign will. This is what is going to happen and nothing can change that. Now I do believe that while there are fixed events, we have been given liberty to kind of ad-lib. God knows what we will do, but we freely do. Nothing we do though can change sovereignly declared events like the second coming of Christ. We can’t know about when these events will happen though or the entirety of his sovereign plan.
The second kind is the moral will. This is the way God tells us we should live. We could consider the Ten Commandments as an example. God’s moral will tells us that there is a way we ought to live and there is a way we ought not to live. We may not be absolutely certain on every moral issue, but the main aspects of the moral will we can know.
Yet somehow, people find a third will that is not taught anywhere that I see in Scripture. That is God’s individual will for their lives.
I know some people won’t like this post, but I just have to say I don’t see it. Instead, I see God telling us how to make wise decisions that are in accordance with what I call the way of wisdom from earlier blogs. I find it hard to believe God left us a book called Proverbs but at the same time, says to wait on him to decide for us.
In this case, I think the onus of proof is on those who wish to tell me that they see this will presented in the Bible. Go ahead. Give me the verses. I’ve probably seen all of them. Or, you could simply consider this. Could it be that all the ideas we have of feeling led and hearing God’s voice and such are not taught as normative practices in Christianity?
So what do we do?
It’s simple. We obey God’s will. Which one? Well, it can’t be his sovereign will because we don’t have access to that. It must be his moral will then. We need to ask of each action we do if it is the right action or not. There are some that I think would be valid no matter what path you took as there are many moral things one can do.
For a minor example, consider this. You’re just had a shower in the morning and you’re getting dressed and you’re putting on your socks. Do you put on your left one first or your right one? I see no reason to think any such action would be sinful. You don’t have to pray and see which one to do. You simply put one on.
Now take another example. Suppose you have some money you want to donate to charity. Is there just one charity you have to give it to? Not at all. You can go and donate to many different charities and be just as beneficial. My family donates to St. Jude’s for instance. Does that mean they’d be sinning if they took some money instead to give to the Red Cross at another time?
Consider the mission field also. I have a friend who really wants to go to Japan and witness there. Do I think he’ll do good? Yeah. He’s an awesome friend and he knows his stuff. Let’s suppose he changed his mind though and said “I’d like to go to China instead.” Do I think he’s sinning? Not at all.
Why not? Because each of these falls into the moral framework. None of the other choices are immoral actions. They are just different actions. There are a lot of good things you can do and it’s okay to choose one because that is the one you want to do. It is not a sin to enjoy serving the Lord.
Ultimately, it comes down to what I heard someone say on this once. I don’t know how he got there in the discussion as it was on a different topic originally, but we did get into this and he had someone ask what God’s will for their life was. His response is still my favorite: To conform you to the likeness of Christ.
So let’s look at what we do. Will it conform us or not? If so, there’s no reason not to do it. If not, there’s every reason not to.