How can you know God’s will? How is it possible for a person to know the mind of God? If God has a plan for your life, how does He reveal it to you? How does a sinful, finite human being come to know what a holy and infinite God desires? Our starting point for finding the biblical answers to these questions is the text we have now come to in our study of the Book of Philippians.
In the verses immediately preceding verse 15 Paul has written of the aspirations that should characterize our Christian conduct. At this point however, he turns directly to his readers and admonishes them to likeminded. He adds, “And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you” (v. 15). In this verse Paul says that in spiritual things the Philippians could be totally certain of God’s guidance. I believe that this verse can be rightly applied to every aspect of our lives, for all of life bears on God’s calling. Our text does not mean that we shall always be able to see more than one step ahead in our Christian lives. It does not mean that we shall even always be able to see ahead at all. But it does mean that God has a plan for our lives and that He promises to reveal the steps of that plan to us.
The basis for this assurance lies in the nature of God. For it is God’s nature to reveal Himself and His purposes to us. This statement brings us to the first of the biblical principles by which a Christian may unquestionably come to know God’s will. If you really want to know God’s will, you must be willing to do His will even before you know what it is. This is clearly taught in John 7:17. In this verse, although Jesus was speaking literally of the rejection of His doctrine by the Jewish leaders, He was actually teaching the greater principle that knowing the will of God consists largely in being willing to do it.
The second principle for knowing the will of God is that nothing can be the will of God that is contrary to the Word of God. The God who is leading you now is the God who inspired the Bible then, and He is not contradictory in His commandments. Consequently, nothing can be the will of God for you that is not in accordance with His Word. God’s will is expressed in great principles like: John 6:40; Romans 12:2; Colossians 3:23; Ephesians 6:5-6, are some examples. Perhaps you are saying, “Well, these are good, but they do not touch some of the small things I’m wrestling with. You want to know whether you should go to certain movies as a Christian, make friends with the people at work, join in social drinking, or some other thing. Let me give a final principle that covers some of these, Philippians 4:8. God says you are to pursue the best things in life. If these things are the best things for you, then do them. If not, you are to go another way. Just be sure that you take your guidelines from Scripture.
The third principle is also important. It’s the principle of daily and even hourly fellowship with the Lord. Psalm 32:8 states it this way: I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” The King James Version says, “I will guide you with my eye.” Clearly, if God is to guide us with His eye, He must first catch our eye. This means that we must look to Him regularly throughout the day. The Lord knows we shall go astray because it’s our nature. We will always do things that displease Him, but we must get into the habit of looking to Him often – in church, in our quiet time, in the various periods of our day – to catch His eye, to notice His sign. If we do, we shall find Him watching and He will direct us and guide us with His eye.
There is only one more point that I need to make, and it’s not difficult at all. If you are serious about knowing the Lord’s will and honestly seeking it, then you must be prepared for the Lord to guide you into new ways. If there is one thing that I have most learned about the Lord’s guidance it is that He does not often lead us in old ways. God is creative; He is creative in His plans for His children.
If you will seek God’s will, determining to do it even before you know what it is, if you will look to Him while responding to His voice in the Bible, then God will reveal His way and direct you in ever widening and ever more interesting paths. He will be close to you, and He will lead you in the way that you should go.
Philippians 3:15 Reflection Questions:
It what new ways is God leading you? Are you open to new ways?
Do you really want to know God’s will for you or do you fear what He might ask you to do?
How often do you look to Him?