How do I find God's will?

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How do I find God's will?

Mar 22, 2001 |J. Budziszewski
Question

I have a question for you pertaining to the will of God. I am a college freshman, and in my humanities class this semester, we have been reading the book on the will of God. Much of what the author says in this book I find in contrast to what I have been taught at church and by my parents. His main idea seems to be that if we seek first the kingdom of God, all of the decisions we make become God's will for our lives. I find it very hard to believe that God would have His will for our lives be whatever we ended up choosing. True, if we are totally given over to God, and He controls every aspect of our lives, then I suppose our will would be aligned with His will, so we would make decisions accordingly. However, who among us has completely surrendered everything yet? If we were, wouldn't we be perfect? None of us are perfect this side of eternity.

I have been taught all my life that in whatever situation a person may be, there is one option (or combination of options) that God wants the person to do. One must discern from the Bible, trustworthy spiritual leaders, situations and a variety of other sources what the will of God is.

I would like to get your input on this matter. Thank you for your help! 

Answer

That's a super letter — but you are really asking three questions, not one. Your first question is, "Is it possible that in some of the choices I make, God might be equally pleased with more than one of my possible decisions?" Your second is, "Is it true that if my will is completely surrendered to God, then I will never make the wrong decision about anything?" And your third is, "Can I ever be certain that my will is completely surrendered to God?"

As to question 1: Suppose that among all the many paths open to you, there were two that would equally glorify God through the employment of the gifts He had given you. Then yes, I suppose He would be equally pleased no matter which of these two paths you chose. Of course this raises another question: Is it ever the case that more than one of the paths before you would give equal glory to God through the employment of the gifts He has given you? I don't think we know the answer to this question, but I don't think we need to. The important thing to remember is that His glory should be our aim.

As to question 2: Suppose that your will were completely surrendered to God, but your head were as empty as a schoolhouse on the first day of summer break. It would be pretty reckless to assume you could do no wrong. To do the right thing, you do need purity in your will — but you also need wisdom in your mind.

But as to question 3: I think you've hit the nail on the head. In this life, not even the holiest believer can be sure that his will has been surrendered entirely to God. In fact, except for Jesus, the holiest people we know of have been the least willing to trust their own holiness. David knew what he was talking about when he prayed, "Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression" (Psalm 19:12-13, NIV, emphasis added). John's first letter is even more emphatic: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives" (1 John 1:9-10, NIV).

Keep thinking; God has given you a gift for it.

Grace and peace,
PROFESSOR THEOPHILUS

Copyright 2001 J. Budziszewski. All rights reserved.

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