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By Bob Perry

“What is God’s will for my life?” This is a common question to hear from someone who is pondering a difficult life decision. Making big decisions can be confusing. But using “God’s will” as the benchmark for success adds a whole new element of agony to it all. The key to less stressful decision-making is to be clear about what that actually means.

The Key To Less Stressful Decision Making

What if we make the wrong choice by picking the wrong place to live? The wrong job? Or, most dauntingly, the wrong spouse? Think about it. If we marry the wrong person that means our spouse was meant to marry someone else. And the person they were supposed to marry also married the wrong person. The string of wrong spousal choices soon multiplies out of control. Something must be wrong with a view that turns one wrong decision into a global catastrophe. How do we prevent the calamity and avoid the uncertainty? Is decision making supposed to be this hard?

God Will Hunting

Making decisions is hard enough. But we make it worse when we add to the burden by evaluating our options against a false standard. We are misunderstanding God’s will when we equate it with some kind of hidden Divine Plan. The simple fact is that any of us can assess our alignment to God’s Will with clear assurance. To understand how, we need only check this way of thinking against what the Bible actually says about God’s will.

“If there really is a perfect will of God we are meant to discover, in which we will find tremendous freedom and fulfillment, why does it seem that everyone looking for God’s will is in such bondage and confusion?”

Kevin DeYoungJust Do Something

A Hidden Message

The contemporary model of Christian decision-making amounts to something like a treasure hunt. God’s will becomes a secret blueprint that has been hidden from us. We can only access it by imploring God to reveal it to us in doses small enough to protect us from misusing it. He whispers his revelation and guidance to us and we must learn to listen. God uses gentle nudges to assure it to us that we are following the right path.

Under this method, God’s “plan for your life” is a road map we can only decipher through painstaking deliberation. The pressure is on us to uncover the plan or risk straying from the course he has mapped out for our lives. Within this model, our distress is understandable. The pressure to conform to the plan is enormous because the treasure we are seeking is not some worldly, material payoff. It is the very purpose of our life.

There are two problems with this model. The first is that it becomes an exercise in trying to see the future. This is a futile errand if you’re not an ordained prophet endowed with the authority and responsibility that comes with that position. The second and more important problem is that this decision-making model is not found anywhere in the Bible.

God’s Sovereign Will

God does have a Sovereign Will. He planned it before He created the universe. And he put the plan in motion at the moment of creation. It will play out in exactly way the Creator intended. That we know. We can also be sure that we cannot know it ahead of time and that there is nothing we can do to change it.

The Bible describes this sovereign will in passages that refer to God’s purposes. He knows the future. He makes it happen. We can see evidence of this, but we can never see it by looking forward. There is only one way to recognize God’s sovereign will. We see it by looking backward.

Your own life is a testament to this. Look back at all the amazing “coincidences” you have experienced in your life. Each of these have brought you right where you are in the present.

There are times when we don’t appreciate this aspect of God’s will. We want to know how things are going to turn out. Our motivation may be good. We may be sincere about wanting to stay aligned with God’s purposes. We may be trying to avoid pain and hardship for ourselves, or trying to avoid hurting others. But no matter how pure our motives, this desire reveals an unwarranted preoccupation with the future.

God’s Moral Will

There is a second aspect of God’s will that is also crystal clear. Paul tells us what it is in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified.” This is God’s Moral Will. It is an ongoing project, not to decipher the future he has in store for us, but to conform to his likeness. Theologians refer to this process as “sanctification.” Sanctification is a process that begins with the renewing of our minds and continues for the rest of our lives. It is the process that molds our will and character to align with “his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). Our sanctification manifests itself when we live out the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). God’s moral will is that we reflect the character of Christ.

The Wisdom Model

If you take these two aspects of God’s will into account, we arrive at the real biblical model for decision making. It is simple and direct. First, when it comes to making life decisions, God’s sovereign purposes will always happen, no matter what decisions you make. After that, any life choices we consider must be consistent with God’s moral will. In other words,

God’s desire is not about the specifics of where we go or what we do; it is about who we are. It is about the person we are becoming.

If the decisions we make are consistent with God’s moral standards, we are free to do whatever we want to do. Our motivation should be to develop wisdom, not to receive marching orders.

What The Wisdom Model Doesn’t Say

This is not to deny that God can speak to anyone at any time. God is God, after all. But nothing in the Bible suggests we should use the common Christian decision-making practice that has become so popular in our culture.

There is no hint that we should grovel for guidance, then listen for personal messages from God about what to do. Quite the opposite. As apologist Greg Koukl puts it, the record shows that personalized guidance in the Bible is not only rare but an intrusion into the lives of those who receive it. No one in the Bible pleads for secret knowledge and then waits quietly for instructions. God’s voice is supernatural and unmistakable. Even Paul, a man who hated and persecuted Christians, heard God’s voice on the Road to Damascus. In short, if God speaks to us, there will be no doubt who is talking, or what he is trying to say.

Do Good, Then Do What You Want

Making life decisions does not have to be disconcerting or overwhelming. As long as the options we consider don’t violate God’s moral boundaries, we can do whatever we want to do. The Wisdom Model allows godly believers to pursue their own desires. Once we understand that, decision-making becomes a joy. We learn to pursue life with confidence and humility. We don’t approach difficult life decisions with fear and trembling. Instead, we pursue a God-centered lifestyle.

What is God’s will for your life? Paul couldn’t make it any clearer. “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for [us] in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Recommended resources related to the topic:

How to Interpret Your Bible by Dr. Frank Turek DVD Complete Series, INSTRUCTOR Study Guide, and STUDENT Study Guide

Jesus, You and the Essentials of Christianity by Frank Turek (INSTRUCTOR Study Guide), (STUDENT Study Guide), and (DVD)      



Bob Perry is a Christian apologetics writer, teacher, and speaker who blogs about Christianity and the culture at He is a Contributing Writer for the Christian Research Journal and has also been published in Touchstone, and Salvo. Bob is a professional aviator with 37 years of military and commercial flying experience. He has a B.S., Aerospace Engineering from the U. S. Naval Academy, and an M.A., Christian Apologetics from Biola University. He has been married to his high school sweetheart since 1985. They have five grown sons.

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