Understanding God’s Will
By Mark A. Finley
Have you ever been faced with an important decision and wondered how you could understand God’s will? What is the difference between a human impulse to do something and the divine conviction that you ought to do it? Is it possible to distinguish between our own will in a given situation and God’s will? This Bible study will uncover biblical principles that provide answers to these questions. We will learn how to discern God’s voice and understand His plan for our lives.
1. Read about Jesus’ Gethsemane experience in Matthew 26:36-42, and compare it to John 8:29. What attitude did Jesus exhibit that prepared Him to understand the Father’s will?
Jesus was willing to do the Father’s will, even if it conflicted with His own. The Savior was committed to pleasing God in every circumstance of His life.
If we want our own way bad enough, God will allow us to have it. But we will not experience the joy of knowing God’s will. To understand God’s will, we must be willing to surrender our own opinions and the things we desire to follow wherever He leads and do whatever He asks.
2. Read John 14:26; 16:13; and 2 Timothy 3:16. What two divine guides will assist us in making decisions?
God has not left us alone in the decision-making process. He has given us the witness of His Holy Spirit and the witness of His Word. As we seek God’s will with the desire to please Him, the Holy Spirit will guide us. The Holy Spirit often guides us through the Word of God—the Bible; in fact, the Spirit never leads us to do anything contrary to God’s Word. While the Bible may not speak directly to our specific situation, it provides us with principles to assist us in the decision-making process. When we are faced with a decision, the Holy Spirit will help us discern Bible principles in answer to our prayers that will impact our decision.
3. What reassuring, hopeful promises does God give us in James 1:5 and 1 John 5:14, 15 regarding the decision-making process?
As we seek to understand God’s will in prayer, He promises to give us wisdom. In prayer we acknowledge our total dependence on God.
4. When we are uncertain of which way God is leading, how does God often guide us? Read Proverbs 15:22 and 23:12.
God often leads us to godly, Christian friends who provide wise counsel. Sometimes we need a broader perspective, and a wider vision that a close friend, pastor, teacher, or confidant can provide.
5. In making wise decisions we should observe how God is leading and watch for the opening doors of His providence. Read Proverbs 23:26 and compare the principle you find there to the apostle Paul’s experience in preaching the gospel in 2 Corinthians 2:12-14. How did Paul know that God wanted Him to proceed?
As we carefully observe God’s leading, we too will see God opening and closing doors. This will help us to discern His will.
6. What principle in John 12:35, 36 do you discover for knowing God’s will? How important is it to be obedient to God’s will and walk in the light He gives us now so that we can know where He is leading us in the future?
Faithfulness in “walking in the light” God gives us today is one of the best ways to assure that we will understand His will in the future. If we fail to live up to the light He has given today, we may become confused in discerning His ways and end up “walking in darkness.”
As we commit our lives to do whatever God asks and desire to please Him in all things—praying, studying His Word, seeking godly counsel, and watching for the open door of His providences—we can be confident that He will guide us. He has not left us alone in the decision-making process. The Holy Spirit will bring us deep conviction, and we will know which course to pursue. He has promised to guide us, and we can take Him at His Word (Ps. 32:8; Isa. 58:11).