There is a will to live, a will for sorting affairs after death, a will of determination, and a will that is a way. In the Bible, emphasis is placed on the will of God. The Lord’s Prayer says, “… your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus prays, before He goes to the cross, “… yet not my will, but Yours be done.” We often talk about being “in the will of God”. What is the will of God? How can we know it? What is the purpose of God’s will? Here are some thoughts.
1. God’s will is a commandment.
Specifically, it is a commandment to love God. [Matthew 22:37-38] says,
“… You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.”
The second greatest commandment is to love one another and, as the book of Matthew then describes, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” [Matthew 22:40]
In the Old Testament, the law and the prophets showed the way of God, His will for the people of Israel. It was in this context that Jesus answers the question poised to Him about the greatest commandment in the law. His answer, that the greatest commandment is to love God, shows how ultimately, God’s commands are there to help us love Him. The law and the prophets point to God. They show us what it looks like to love Him. They show us what His character is like. They show us how God thinks of us, and they demonstrate His love for us. It is not a matter of simply obeying God’s His commands, but rather that as we grow in love for God, we will find ourselves obeying them.
[1 John 5:3] – “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”
2. God’s will is direction in life.
[Proverbs 21:1] says this:
“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord,
Like the rivers of water;
He turns it wherever He wishes.”
This passage reminds me that when our heart is towards God, when we have surrendered to Him, He will direct us in His will. We can trust Him and know that His way is good.
[Jeremiah 29:11] – “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
While we have a responsibility to respond to God’s voice, and to act in obedience to His commands, we can also rest assured that He is in control and that He directs our lives.
3. God’s will is a plan for humanity.
God cares about individuals and He cares about the world. He has a plan for Israel, a plan for His church, a plan for those who at the current moment do not yet know Him. [Revelation 21:2-3] tells us what God’s fulfilled will is:
“Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.'”
From the very beginning, God’s will has been for humanity to be in intimate relationship with Him. It is the reason He created us in the first place – to be loved by Him, and to love Him. When Adam and Eve sinned, God had already planned the way for salvation – the Seed of the woman would bruise the serpant’s head (hinting at the victory to come through Christ) [Genesis 3:15]. Jesus, praying out the very word and will of God asks, “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me, may be with Me where I am…” [John 17:24] and [Ephesians 1:4-5] says,
“…He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will…”
Your kingdom come, Your will be done. When we pray these words, we pray in accordance with God. He desires His kingdom to come on us, and He created mankind for this from the very beginning.
4. God’s will is His nature.
It matches with His commands, with His word, and with His desires. Being made in God’s image, God’s will reflects how He has created us. Consider the following passages:
[1 Thessalonians 5:16-18] – “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ for you.”
[1 Thessalonians 4:3-4] – “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honour.”
[Romans 12:2] – “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.”
[Hebrews 13:20-21] – “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom he glory forever and ever.Amen.”
All these passages give us instructions for living that match the characteristics of God. They show us how to be holy just as He is holy. They teach us things that will work for our good, just as God says He does. They assure us that God will prepare us for the things He has in store for us. God’s will reflects His nature – His love for us, His holiness, and His desire that we would walk in a way worthy of our calling.
. . .
Ultimately the will of God is about relationship – He wants us to be with Him where He is. As He leads us further into His love, how will we respond? Will we acknowledge His voice? Will we obey His commands? Will we love Him with all our heart, mind and strength? If we are with God, then we are in His will.