A Brief Overview of the Will of God — The Reformed Collective

“What is God’s will for my life?”  That question will inevitably enter the mind of a Christian at some point during their existence in a fallen world.  It may manifest after a traumatic event, after the end of a relationship, 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 Joseph was sure to let them know of this impending rule.  Obviously, they weren’t enthusiastic. His brothers threw him in a ditch and planned to murder him.  But, by the sovereign work of God, they sold him into slavery instead.  Through a series of providential events, he became the second most powerful man in the ancient world. When Jacob died his sons were worried that Joseph would destroy them because of the whole slavery debacle. 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 (ESV)

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, 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 and is summarized by Christ in the following way:

“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.”

— Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV)

The basic answer to, “What is God’s will for my life,” is that He calls you to obedience and faith.  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 jacked-up plan. They acted against the Law of God and the standard He set for mankind because they wanted to.

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 through Isaiah

“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.”

— Isaiah 46:9-10

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 when God calls His people out of Egypt.

“But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had spoken to Moses.”

— Exodus 9:12

Encouragement Through God’s Sovereign Will

If you were to ask anyone what God’s will is for your life, the only honest answer would be, “I do not know, but whatever it is, he decreed it in eternity for His glory.” Our temporal circumstances shift by the second. But the eternal plan of our Holy God stands forever unaltered.  And His designs are exceedingly pleasant.

So, you may ask, how should we then live?  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 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 eternally live under the security of our Lord’s will.  He’s superior to anything we could ever want.

Recommended Resources

What Is Gods Will for My Life by Jonathan Parnell
Guidance and God’s Will (A Variety of Articles) from Monergism.com
God’s Revealed Will by Ligonier Ministries

via A Brief Overview of the Will of God — The Reformed Collective

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