First Things First: On the threshold of the book of Proverbs is one of the key phrases to understanding the plan of God: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).” Of those who refuse this revelation, it is written, “they hated knowledge, and did not choose to fear the Lord: they would none of my counsel: they despised my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices (Proverbs 1:29-31).” It was because they wanted their own way that Christ had to die on the cross (Isaiah 53:3-6). It is because people want their own way that they live unhappy, defeated lives.
The matchless words of Solomon about divine guidance are found enshrined in the heart of this section of Proverbs: “Trust in the lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).”
Having considered several passages of Scripture which deal with the subject of God’s will, as it applies to the daily life of the believer, it is necessary to gather together more important truths of the Bible into a simple, comprehensive, and practical series of rules by which any sincere Christian can discover for himself God’s plan for his life.
The central New Testament teaching about the subject is found in Romans 12:1-2, which presents a summary of what the Lord expects of us, and an appeal based on His love and mercy. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Peace of mind should attend the doing of God’s will. It is quite evident that the divine program will be in accordance with the convictions of our highest judgment, as illuminated by the Holy Spirit. There should be nothing ordinarily, to disturb our assurance that we are in God’s will. We are promised “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding (Philippians 4:7).” “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them (Psalms 119:165).” If this is absent, there is something wrong, and we had better go again to the Word of God and to prayer, or re-examine the circumstances.
Every means we have used to learn the mind of the Lord should be in agreement with every other means. He cannot deny Himself, and therefore the teaching of the Scripture, the answers to our prayers, the providential position in which we find ourselves, and our own intelligent convictions should be in harmony.
This consent of the mind to the leading of the Lord, this recognition that His will is good, acceptable and perfect, is a ministry of “the spirit of wisdom”, who enlightens the eyes of our understanding (Ephesians 1:17-18), and by which we are able to perceive God’s future direction for our lives. It is sometimes called “spiritual intuition”, “spiritual intelligence”, or an “inner light.” Since many evil spirits are in the world whose intent is to deceive the unwary, we must always keep this inner persuasion that we know the will of the Lord in its proper peace of subjection to the appointed means of learning His will. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God (I John 4:1).” As we walk close by the Lord, “the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you (I John 2:27).” As long as we do His blessed will, we shall know of the teachings, whether it be of God. (John 7:17).
Probably no better brief statement on how to discover the will of God has ever been written than that by which George Mueller, one of the outstanding Christian leaders of the last century, guided his own life for Christ.
1. “I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has not will of its own in regard to given matter. Nine-tenths of the trouble with people is just here. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is.”
2. “Having done this, I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impression. If I do so, I make myself liable to great delusions.”
3. “I see the will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word I lay myself open to great delusions also. If the Holy Spirit guides us at all, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.”
4. “Next I take into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God’s will in connection with His Word and Spirit.”
5. “I ask God in prayer to reveal His will to me aright.”
6. “Thus, through prayer to God, the study of the Word, and reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge; and if my mind is thus at peace, and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly. In trivial matters, and in transactions involving most important issues, I have found this method always effective.” (S. Maxwell Coder, God’s Will For Your Life).