What is God’s will for my life? That question will inevitably enter the mind of a Christian at some point. It may manifest after a traumatic event, after the end of a relationship, in the process of making a weighty decision, or during an ordinary day. Whatever the context behind the question the universal reason for asking it is that we are not all-knowing, but we sure wish we were.
A Cursory Look at the Ineffable Will of God
We have all heard the Story of Joseph. He was the favored son of Jacob and had visions of ruling his family and was sure to let them know of his impending authority. They weren’t enthusiastic. His brothers threw him in a ditch and planned to murder him, but instead, they sold him into slavery. Through a series of providential events, he became the second most powerful man in the ancient world and was eventually reunited with his family. When Jacob died, his sons were worried that Joseph would destroy them because of the whole “enslavement” thing. Joseph’s response to their concern in Gen. 50:20 gives us a beautiful insight into the will of God.
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. – Genesis 50:20
Joseph’s brothers willed to do evil against him, they nearly killed him, then they unapologetically sold him into slavery. But while they willed to do this evil act for their own purposes God willed it to take place for His glory and the preservation of His people. This shows us two aspects of His will, often distinguished as the decretive nature of His will, and the moral nature of His will.
Moral will – “You meant evil against me”
The moral will of God is His will regarding how we should act. This is revealed to us in the moral law which is summarized by Christ in Matthew 22:37 – 40,
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
The basic answer to, “What is God’s will for my life,” is obedience, faith, and holiness. Now, it is imperative to know that God is sovereign and He, as RC Sproul put it, is not in heaven wringing His hands at our sin in despair. Joseph’s brother’s act was truly evil, and it was their desire to carry out their villainous plan. They acted against the Law of God and the moral standard He set for mankind.
Decretive will – “God meant it for good”
The decretive will is His unshakeable will in which he decreed the events that will take place in our time, and in eternity (Eph. 1:4). His decretive will comes to pass without variation as He clearly reveals in Isaiah 46:9-10,
Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.
In the account of Joseph and his brothers, we see God sovereignly use man’s evil heart to accomplish His eternal purpose. We see this again 400 years later in Exodus 9:12,
But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had spoken to Moses.
We don’t know every detail of God’s decree because it is neither possible nor our position to have such knowledge. But we do know God, and we know His will is perfect and we must trust in that perfection.
God’s Will and Our Holiness
If you were to ask anyone what God’s will is for your life, the answer is ultimately “I don’t know, but whatever it is, he decreed it in eternity for His glory.” Or, if you want to be a wee bit snarky, the answer to that same question is simply “Yes.”
Our temporal circumstances shift by the second, but the eternal plan of our Holy God stands forever unaltered and it is exceedingly pleasant. Seek His counsel during whatever season of life you’re in, do all you do to His glory. His redemptive plan will unfold in unfathomable beauty, you’re simply called faithfulness in whatever place He has put you. Be faithful, pursue holiness, and see the awesome work of the Spirit. Whatever direction He takes you will be good. His will is eternal, His Kingdom is eternal, and Christ’s rule is eternal. Everyone who trusts in Christ alone for salvation will experience bliss forever under the security of our Lord’s will. It’s superior to anything we could ever imagine.