Principles for Discerning God’s Will

Principles for Discerning God’s Will

What pleases God?

As we have discussed in this series, we must have a relationship with God to answer this question. So how do we cultivate this relationship in a way that we can discern God’s will?

1. Communication

Communication is the main way in which we discern the will of God. It involves immersing ourselves in Scripture and coming before God in prayer.

God will not guide us to do something contrary to Scripture. As we seek to discern His will, we must constantly be in prayer and examining our decisions in light of Scripture. If we think we hear God’s voice telling us to do something that is clearly contrary to Scripture (e.g., commit adultery), then it is not from God.

2. Conscience

Although Scripture and prayer are the main means of discerning God’s will, there are a number of secondary means that can aid us as well. The first of these is our conscience. Although it is not infallible, our conscience provides a sense of moral direction. A choice may make sense intellectually but be morally despicable—taking advantage of a client’s situation to better our own, for example.

One slight modification to our values and our conscience, and we can rationalize anything. That is why good and evil both increase at compound interest. The smallest choices we make matter. One compromise to our integrity can lead us down a slippery slope, deadening our conscience. On the other hand, the more we seek to listen to God, the more clearly we will hear Him.

3. Common Sense

God has also given us the capacity for common sense. We have minds, and God wants us to use them. We ought to evaluate the consequences of our choices and live wisely before God. But because we are nearsighted when it comes to the big picture, this should not be our only means of discerning God’s will.

4. Circumstances

God is sovereign, and He has our best interests at heart. He puts us in our unique circumstances for a reason. One way He reveals His path for us is by opening and closing doors, so we ought to pay attention when He does so. This means that if He decisively closes a door we were hoping to go through, we should resist the urge to be despondent and instead be thankful, trusting that God has a good reason for doing so.

5. Counsel

When faced with a decision, we are called to seek godly counsel. As Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.”

Godly counsel can caution us against foolish plans and help us avoid our blind spots. When we invite people into our lives who have wisdom, we can avoid errors we would make on our own. This counsel should never trump Scripture, but it can help reveal the way we ought to go in accordance with God’s will.

6. Compulsion

We should desire to be pleasing to God. Sometimes He places a specific burden on our hearts, a call to serve someone or get involved with a particular ministry. When we submit that burden or desire to God in prayer, we can learn His will for us.

7. Contentment and Confirmation

If you do not have peace about a decision, try to put it off until you do have peace, especially if the decision is not urgent. This is a supplemental method of discerning God’s will, but necessary in some cases.

[divider style=”solid” color=”#cccccc” opacity=”1″ icon_color=”#666666″ icon_size=”15″ placement=”equal”]

Watch more of Ken Boa’s Friday morning study videos here.

This series is based on Ken Boa’s booklet Think on These Things: Discerning the Will of God.

Related Posts

Image of the crucified Christ

The Seven Last Words of Christ

These are the last recorded statements of Jesus Christ before His death on the cross. Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34) When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and

The Ocean of Eternity

Mortality and the purpose of life are prominent themes in Thomas Cole’s paintings. Through his paintings, he vividly brings out the human dilemma of mortality, a dilemma we ourselves must wrestle with. Given the inevitability of death, what are we to do with our days? We can try to stave

The Five Loves—and the Highest of These Is Agape Love

In the article below, Dr. Boa synthesizes material from several teaching sessions from his series Biblical Principles for Marriage and from portions of his spiritual formation text Conformed to His Image (primarily from chapter 18, “Holistic Spirituality”). Dr. Boa focuses on agape love as one of the five forms of loves (based on the different Greek words). After reviewing all forms, he gives reasons for why agape is the greatest.