6 Elements of God's Will for Everyone
Pastor Tim Lee
Here’s a simple question: What is God’s will?
Ok, maybe not so simple.
Have you ever tried to figure out God’s will? It can be a pretty intimidating topic!
It’s one thing to know that Scripture tells us that God has a will (a desire or plan) for my life. Jeremiah gives us that much:
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord.
"They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
But the real question is, how do I find out what God’s will is for my life? How do I find answers to questions like:
"Where should I go to college?”
"Where should I work?”
"Who should I marry?”
"Should we have kids?”
"Should we have more kids?”
One of the biggest challenges to discovering God’s will is that the Bible is not as specific as we would like it to be. There is no verse that says, “God’s will is for Tim Lee to marry Sharon Baird and together they will have two daughters named Hannah and Selah.” God doesn’t come right out and tell us the direction for every specific detail of our lives; but that does not mean He doesn’t care! It doesn’t mean His will cannot be known.
Simply put, God has a general, revealed will for all mankind and a specific, unrevealed will for each individual life. Greg Laurie once said, “Obedience in revealed truth guarantees guidance in matters unrevealed.”
In other words, there is a general will of God that is for all mankind, which is made clear in Scripture. If you obey the big picture stuff, God will fill you in on things He has in mind specifically for you.
So we have to begin with learning God’s general, revealed will. The following will be a brief overview of 6 major categories of God’s general will for all mankind that can be seen in Scripture. Afterwards, if you would like to learn more about how to discover God’s specific will for your life, I preached about that at Life Church in a series called The Heart of Prayer. You can listen to that message here.
1) BE ALIVE
The first and foundational piece of God’s will for every single human being is that we would be fully alive. Not in the living my best self sense that is popular today; but in the sense that you have put your faith in Jesus as the Son of God, Savior of the world, and Lord of your life.
Here are some key scriptures:
- Ephesians 2:1; 4-5 (NLT) Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. … 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
- 1 Timothy 2:3-4 (NLT) This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
- 2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV) The Lord is...not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
- John 10:10 (NKJV) The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
If you are a human being (and the odds are pretty high since you’re reading this), then it is God’s desire for you to be alive; fully alive. This life can only be found by placing faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and submitting to Him as the Lord of your life. No matter who you are, God’s will for all mankind begins with the free gift of eternal life in relationship with Him.
If you are reading this and would like to talk with someone about how to come fully alive, click here.
2) BE FULL
Once alive…now what? Great news! God sent help!
- Ephesians 5:17-20 (NLT) “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul implies that a life without the Holy Spirit is like living thoughtlessly; without intention, direction, or purpose. In other words: If you are not full of the Holy Spirit, then you cannot know the will of God.
The solution to a life without direction is not found in things that control our actions, like wine, drugs, or empty religion. Instead, the Holy Spirit is sent as a helper, to lead and guide us toward making choices that would match God’s will. In this way it is helpful to think of the Holy Spirit as the wind, and your life life a sailboat. The wind is always blowing in the direction of God’s will. It is up to you to position your sailboat so that the wind fills your sails and moves you in the right direction.
The result of a full life is one that is willingly led by God, and enjoyed in healthy community. If you would like to learn more about the Holy Spirit, watch this sermon.
3) BE THANKFUL
This might seem like an obvious point…but it is a piece of God’s will a lot of us seem to struggle with. This is because God’s will is not just that you would be a polite person, who says “Thank you” when someone does something nice for you. More than just being a nice human, God wants you to be able to be thankful in every situation…even the bad ones.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT) “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
- James 1:2-4 (NLT) “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
Instead of being thankful when things go our way, God’s will is that we would be thankful all the time. In fact, it almost seems like James is implying our remembering to be thankful is more important when things go wrong than when everything is falling into place.
This doesn’t just require an etiquette class, it requires a paradigm shift. We need to see the world differently…which can only be done if we have already lined our lives up with the first two points of God’s will. If we are alive and full of the Spirit, this will help us to put everything else into perspective.
If I lose my job, or a friend says something deeply hurtful, I can still be thankful because I am alive. That is not to say pain is not real or relevant…but God’s will is that we would view all things through the lens of salvation and realize that in light of how great life with God is, every terrible thing suddenly carries so much less weight.
Thankfulness is not about being polite. God’s will for us is to demonstrate the value of God in our lives by being thankful for His presence and work in and through us no matter is going on around us.
4) BE PURE
The work of salvation is enough to forgive any person of any sin. So you might be thinking that salvation is enough to clarify God’s will on this subject. But it is important to understand that there is a difference between justification and sanctification.
The following scriptures are important for this understanding:
- Romans 5:1 (NKJV) Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ
- Philippians 2:12-13 (NKJV) Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Where justification is the action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God, sanctification is the process of acquiring holiness. Justification happened the moment you came alive in Christ. Your sins were forgiven and you were no longer counted as guilty for your unrighteous behavior. Sanctification, however, is the work that a justified person has to do to live righteously after the moment of justification.
Here are just three of the many Biblical texts that reveal God’s will for us to live pure and holy lives.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:3 (NLT) God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.
- 1 Peter 1:13-16 (NLT) So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
- Philippians 4:8 (NLT) And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise
The call to purity touches on the way we act, speak, and even think. God’s will is not simply that we check off a list of bad behaviors that we have avoided each day. Instead, His will is that we enjoy the blessings of a pure life; self-controlled and focused on what God calls excellent and worthy of praise. God does not want us to live a a life full of punishment and guilt. His desire for you is that chasing purity would help you to live guilt-free!
5) BE WISE & HONORABLE
The book of Proverbs is full of instruction to be wise. In fact, the introduction to the entire book is the plea of a father for his son to value, chase, and get wisdom at any cost. The father in proverbs represents the heart of Father God, who’s great desire is that we would be wise. To respect and honor God, is said to be the root of all wisdom.
- Proverbs 1:7 (NKJV) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Peter puts it right out there that honor is part of God’s will for every person.
- 1 Peter 2:15 (NLT) It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.
To be clear, this does not mean that your arguments silence the fools Instead, it is your honorable life that will silence them! Wisdom and honor are shown when you busy yourself living a good life; not in wasting energy arguing with fools.
A Modern Proverb:
Much Facebook debating help little in honorable life making.
Proverbs 29:11 (NKJV) A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.
The lesson of Proverbs 29:11 is "Learn how and when to keep your mouth closed”. The Bible is full of lessons that will bring wisdom. God’s will is that you would discover that wisdom as you study His Word; and then the more wisdom you gain, the more you will naturally find yourself living an honorable life.
6) BE COMMISSIONED
Finally, God’s will for every single human being comes full circle as Jesus gives His final instructions before going to sit at right hand of His Father in Heaven. These instructions were given to gathered group of followers, and have been passed down through generations of followers to you and me.
You might know this piece of the Bible as The Great Commission:
- Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT) Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
A commission is not just a suggestion for future future action. Jesus was not giving His Disciples a good option; He was giving them (and us) a job description. In other words, if you want to be a Disciple, if you want to live inside of God’s will, then you must make Disciples.
Think about an apple for a moment. What is the fruit of that apple?
If you answered, An apple, you would be wrong. The fruit of an apple is not another apple. When you plant an apple seed what you get is an apple tree. A tree with the potential to grow many new apples. In the same way, the fruit of a Disciple is not just another Disciple; it is a new Disciple Maker.
This is our commission.
This is the will of God for every person.
To make Disciples who make Disciple making Disciples makers.
When Jesus taught His Disciples to pray, one of his instructions was to say “Your will be done.” He was teaching us to pray that God’s desires would become the reality of our lives.
If you study Scripture, God’s general, revealed will for all mankind can be plainly seen. It is not difficult to discover these elements of His desire for your life.
The beauty of human life is that there are no two people for whom God has planned the exact same will and purpose. There are billions of possibilities for how your personal life is meant to unfold. There is an infinite number of things God could have planned for your days. You are unique, and God’s plan for you is special. If you want to learn more about how you can begin to discover God’s specific will for your life, click here.