How to know God's will - and why so many don't


Why is it that so many Christians are always struggling to know God’s will on some important matter? I think it’s because they are approaching the subject from the wrong perspective.

Paul prays that believers would be “filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9). And he prays similar prayers elsewhere. So to know God’s will is an important thing.

The problem is we interpret knowing God’s will as receiving a laundry list of instructions from God as to what we are to do about various problems we face. We don’t understand that to know God’s will is first and foremost simply to know God.

The world looks at knowledge as the accumulation of pieces of information. That is in truth the lowest form of knowledge. You can know a lot of information and be a very foolish person. Knowing information may have no effect on our lives at all, but knowing Christ changes everything. Knowledge in the Bible applied to God is a term of the closest intimacy, as in a man “knowing” a woman. We can know information about a person, but do we know the person? We can know information about Christ, even correct information, but this does not mean that we know Christ.

We should not think of the will of God as a kind of cosmic library of God’s opinions on things, and the knowledge of God’s will as the accumulation of information on those topics and how that can benefit us.

Sometimes we think of the Bible as a collection of information to be downloaded and applied. That is the wrong way to approach the Bible. You have to come to the Bible through Christ. Why? Because the will of God confronts us most completely, powerfully and accurately in the one person who walked completely and totally in it. If you want to know the will of God, look at Christ. He embodies God’s will. He came as God’s will in the flesh. The knowledge of God’s will is the knowledge of Jesus Christ. If you don’t know Christ, you cannot understand the Bible, no matter how much you study it, because the Bible is about Christ.

Knowing Christ unlocks the door to the amazing treasure house of the Bible and to knowing the will of God. Why? Because knowing Christ means receiving his Spirit. The more deeply we know him, the more powerfully his Spirit invades our lives. The Spirit unlocks the Word of God to us and applies it to our lives. He shows us how to live as Jesus did. He turns information into revelation. His will comes to us as we dwell in his presence. We know by his Spirit within us what we are to do if we are to follow Jesus with all our heart, and we avoid the consequences of the many mistaken and often self-centred actions we take as a result of being out of relationship with him.

So often, our attempts at seeking guidance are rooted in a crisis or problem in our life that has come about because we have been out of relationship with the Lord. Suddenly we find out we are drawing a blank when it comes to knowing what he wants us to do, because the heart has fallen out of our relationship with him.

I want to know Christ more than anything else, even more than what I am to do with my life. I want to know him no matter what it costs me to know him. In knowing him, I will for the first time truly know myself. And I will truly begin to know what he wants me to do today, tomorrow and the rest of my life.

This knowledge is pure gold. Be like the merchant who bought the pearl. Sell everything else and get it. It’s the best investment you’ll ever make.