The phrase “will of God” appears several times in the Bible. In most of those instances, it is used to describe something that has happened, as when Paul describes himself as called to be an apostle “according to the will of God.”
We previously discussed Two Directives involved in a believer’s attempt to walk in the will of God: his moral will and mission instructions. Because the Bible does not direct us to find God’s personal, individual will for our lives other than these things, we start with these directives as a guide for making those choices which need it and for which there is no clear biblical answer.
In addition to the Two Directive of God’s moral will and his mission instruction, we also have God’s Five Demands (depending on how you count them…). In those few instances that the Bible describes the “will of God” and then actually defines it, we find further resources to make decisions. The Five Demands (“the will of God is…”) are:
1) that you be saved (2 Peter 3:9)
2) that you be wise (Ephesians 5:17-18)
3) that you be sanctified (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4)
4) that you be submitting (1 Peter 2:13-15)
5) that you be rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Some describe 2) as that you be Spirit-filled, and include another description of the will of God that we be suffering. For them, the list looks like this:
- that you be saved
- that you be Spirit-filled
- that you be sanctified
- that you be submitting
- that you be suffering
Regardless of how they are counted, the point is that these clear expressions of God’s will — in addition to God’s moral demands — provide the believer with ample material with which to evaluate decisions, opportunities and choices facing us for which there is no clear biblical direction.
If we are saved, are being wise (being Spirit-filled), are being sanctified, are submitting, and are rejoicing (in suffering, perhaps), then we need not resort to putting out the fleece, casting lots, reading signs, walking through open doors or around closed ones, or any of the other myriad ways we sanctify pagan notions of receiving divine guidance.
While neither the two directive or five demands serve as a checklist for each decision we face, they do provide us an overall “trajectory” for a life directed toward God, powered by the Spirit, legitimized by Christ, and aimed at making disciples.