We are created in God’s image. One of the implications of that reality is that we are to live out God’s character in our lives. The best life, the life we were created to live, is discovered in doing God’s will.
Since God created us to do His will, then it is logical to assume that God will not hide His will from us. He wants us to know His will.
How do we discover God’s will?
We discover God’s will by studying His word. The combination of the Bible and the Holy Spirit allow us to know and do God’s will.
This is the point Henry and Richard Blackaby make in the book Hearing God’s Voice:
Many people underestimate God’s Word. It is far more powerful than many realize. From Genesis to Revelation God’s Word has the power to speak directly to a person’s heart. By the Holy Spirit, God takes his written Word and applies it specifically to people’s lives…The Bible is not merely one option for discovering God’s will. God’s written Word is the plumb line for our lives as we walk daily with him (p. 91).
If we hope to discover God’s will then the starting point needs to be the Bible. The Bible is God’s revealed word to us, and the Holy Spirit is our divine teacher who helps us understand how God’s will applies to our lives.
Rather than starting with the Bible our starting point, too often, is ourselves: our dreams and our desires. We take the bad graduation advice to “just follow your heart,” and think that this points us to the life God wants us to live.
The problem is that our hearts are not good guides about how to live life. The heart too often is influenced by the moment and ignores the larger truths about the world that we live in. The result of living by our hearts is that we are led astray from what God’s will for our lives, as we pursue the life that we want.
It is easier to live our lives based on our emotions and desires rather than submitting to the spiritual discipline of study and prayer to learn what God’s will is. We would rather spend a few moments of self-reflection than doing an hour’s worth of studying the Bible. Yet, it is the Bible that provides us the foundation we need for knowing and doing God’s will.
I know that it is frustrating for God not to provide a detailed plan for our lives, but you and I can spend the rest of our lives aligning to the truth we find in Scripture. God doesn’t need to get anymore specific, and He certainly doesn’t need to get any clearer. The Bible, being the very words of God, give us what we long to have: the knowledge of God’s will.
For us to discover God’s will in the Bible we need to make two commitments. If we do not make these commitments then the Bible will not have any value to us.
- Commit to know the Bible. The author of Hebrews wrote; For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12; ESV). The Bible is God’s word and it is the tool the Holy Spirit uses to convict our lives with the truth. That means the Bible has the ability to get to the very heart of the matter. Through studying the Bible God grants us insights into this world as well as into our own lives. This isn’t just about our own personal study, but it also includes studying with other Christians. Find good Bible teachers who will help you discover the truth of God’s Word and a group of people you can discuss the truth that God has been revealing to you with.
- Commit to apply God’s word to your life. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing (James 1:22-25; ESV). It is not enough to know what the Bible says if we do not do what it says. The key to our spiritual formation is adjusting our lives to match God’s will. That is not easy, which is why we need to make the commitment to apply God’s word to the way we live. Without the commitment we will not do it.
We were created to be God’s image bearers in this world. In order to correctly reflect God’s image to the world around us requires that we know what God’s will is. The foundation for knowing God’s will is the Bible. The Bible is God’s revealed word to us, and thus it gives us the knowledge we need to know how God wants us to live. To properly demonstrate God’s character we need to commit to knowing the Bible and obeying the Bible. There is no other way to know and live out the will of God.