Proving God’s Perfect Will
Proving God’s Perfect Will
Zac Poonen | 23 October 2022
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
“Who among you fears the Lord and obeys His servant (the Lord Jesus)? If such men walk in darkness, without one ray of light, let them trust the Lord and let them rely upon their God (Isaiah 50:10 – Living Bible).
Under the old covenant, God often made His will known to His servants by a voice from heaven. But in the new covenant, God seeks to guide us by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit within our hearts. This is the way of faith and is superior to the old covenant way of walking by sight.
And so, when seeking to know God's will in a matter, we may at times be perplexed. God permits this in order to strengthen our faith. He wants us to press closer to Him and thus know Him better. Such times of uncertainty are also used by God to sift our motives.
We should not be surprised or discouraged therefore when we encounter perplexity. Even the apostle Paul was often perplexed, but he never despaired or gave up (See 2 Corinthians 4:8). God may sometimes show us His will only just before we have to make a decision – and may keep us waiting a long time prior to that.
In any case, He will show us only the next step at each stage. He leads us step by step because He wants us to depend on Him day by day, and to walk by faith and not by sight. When He shows us only one step at a time, we are compelled to lean on Him. To find God's will for our life, therefore, all we need to do at any time is to take the next step that God shows us. As we do so, we will find God's plan unfolding gradually.
The Lord’s promise is, “As you go, step by step, I will open up the way before you” (Proverbs 4:12 – Paraphrase).
When unsure about God's will in a matter, it is good for us to ask ourselves twelve questions. As we answer these questions honestly, it will become increasingly clear to us what the will of God is.
● Is it contrary to any of the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, or to the spirit of the New Testament, as far as I know?
● Is it something I can do with a clear conscience?
● Is it something I can do for the glory of God?
● Is it something I can do in fellowship with Jesus?
● Can I ask God to bless me as I do it?
● Will my doing it blunt my spiritual edge in any way?
● Will it be spiritually profitable and edifying, to the best of my knowledge?
● Would I be happy if I were found doing it at the moment when Jesus returns to earth?
● What do wiser and more mature brothers think about it?
● Will my doing it bring dishonour to God's Name or ruin my testimony, if others know about it?
● Will my doing it cause others to stumble if they know about it?
● Do I feel free in my spirit to do it?
On many occasions, we will have to take a step forward, even though we are not perfectly sure about God's will. This too is a part of the discipline of walking by faith - because certainty can sometimes be the equivalent of “walking by sight”. God sometimes gives us a clear assurance of His will. But at other times, He expects us to move forward without a clear knowledge of His will. Once we have waited on the Lord in prayer and ascertained the mind of the Holy Spirit, to the best of our knowledge, we should move forward without waiting indefinitely.
The Bible says, "We should make plans - counting on God to direct us" (Proverbs 16:9 - TLB). Looking back over such decisions later, we will find that in spite of the dimness of our vision, God did not let us go astray. In other words, although there may have been much uncertainty in the beginning, there will be much certainty and rejoicing at the end.
And if, when taking a step in sincerity, but in uncertainty, we miss the path of God's perfect will, we can trust God to bring us back to the right path. The promise in Isaiah 30:21 (Living Bible) is, “If you leave God's paths and go astray, you will hear a Voice behind you say, 'No, this is the way; walk here'”.
God will order circumstances to alter our course when we miss His will. But we should not remain in perpetual inaction waiting for spectacular guidance for every move. A ship can be turned around much quicker when moving than when it is stationary. So can we.
In Acts 16:6-10, we read that Paul and Silas tried to go into Asia – not as a result of any clear leading from the Lord but yet desiring to do His will. They were hindered – perhaps by God-ordered circumstances. Next, when they attempted to enter Bithynia, their way was blocked once again. But because they were actively seeking God's will, and not passively waiting for guidance, He led them finally to the place of His choice - Macedonia.
In the smaller details of daily life, guidance is not necessarily a question of constant conscious enquiry. It is a matter of walking in the Spirit. Right relationship with the Lord will lead to right action. In such small details, the guidance of God is not something that we should be acutely aware of all the time. We may be unconscious of it. It is only our basic relationship with the Lord that is the important factor, for guidance is a spiritual matter and not a mechanical technique.