Charles Stanley - How to Be Sure of God's Will
If somebody should ask you the question, "What do you Christians mean by the will of God"? What would you say? How would you answer that question? They deserve an answer. Would you say the will of God refers to the purpose of God, the plan of God, the desire of the heart of God? If you did, that's right. God has a plan and a purpose, and a desire for all of us. And oftentimes people never think about the fact that God has a personal interest in them. They think God is just thinking of this worldwide kind of things. The Bible says once you trust Jesus as your Savior your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
So, when you think about your relationship to God, and we talk about the will of God, we're talking about His purpose, His plan, His desire for your life. That is, God didn't ignore you when you were born. His purpose, His plan, His desire for your life. And I wonder when is the last time you ever stopped to think, "Now Lord, where am I in Your plan? Where am I in Your purpose? Where am I in Your will for my life"?
And I want us to think about in this message is can we be sure? Can we be sure of God's will and purpose, and plan for our life? And when I think about that I think about what He says in the fortieth Psalm in the eighth verse: "I delight to do Your will, O my God, Your Law is written in my heart". And I think about the people who sit in church week after week, go to all kind of churches, never think about the fact of what's God's plan? Not just what am I to do today? What does God want me to do in this particular situation? But what, what's His plan, what's His purpose, what's He trying to accomplish in my life? Did God just put you here just to exist for a while and then call you home? No. He has a purpose, a plan, and a will for your life.
The question is can we be sure? And the answer is certainly we can. And when I think about that, I think about the people who go through difficulty, hardship, suffering, pain, all kinds of things and they have a right to ask, "Well God, if You have a will for my life, how does all this fit into Your will"?
Well, when you and I are walking in the will of God, whatever He allows is for our good. That's hard to take sometimes, but it is true. And so, when we talk about the whole question of can we be sure? Yes, we can be sure. So, I want to talk about several categories of God's will. Now we've talked about this before.
So, here are the categories about God's will. The first one is this. The predestined will of God is His sovereign control. This is what He's going to do, what He's going to accomplish, and nobody can stop it, His sovereign will, His predestined will. His moral will for our life. That is, how He intends for us to live. The Ten Commandments would be a good example of that. And they apply to everybody. Then His desired will, that is what does God desire for us in the Christian life? What does He desire for us from the very beginning? And then His circumstantial will, that is, what's His will for our life when we mess it up? We want to live a godly life, then we must know how to respond to the circumstances of our life.
And so, then, the last question is, "What's His immediate will"? That is, what is His will today in your life? So, when you look at it, you are faced with a decision about your job, whatever it might be, you have to make a decision about it. You have to make a decision about your morals. You go to work tomorrow and somebody passes something to you, and you have to make a decision whether you're going to turn it down, whether you're going to ignore it, whether you're going to accept it. You have to make a decision, for example, of how you relate to money? What happened yesterday or tomorrow?
In other words, every aspect of our life is going to be scrutinized by the will of God. Because remember this. He's already chosen the best route. You say, "Well, but I didn't become a Christian till I was forty". That's okay. But, the next forty or fifty or sixty, what about His will for that? And remember this: that God knowing us perfectly knows how we came into the world, what our advantages were, what our disadvantages were, what our opportunities were, what our parents knew, how they knew to raise us or not raise us, all of that is a part of God's wisdom and knowledge and His grace and goodness and mercy in working in our hearts throughout our life. But what is the will of God for our life today, His purpose and plan.
So, I want to give you a number of statements that'll help you confirm in your own mind and heart this is or this is not the will of God. So, a test to confirm God's will. Here's the first question. Is this decision consistent with or in agreement with the Word of God? Is this decision you're making, is it in agreement with the Word of God? And you and I can think of a lot of things that are not in agreement with the Word of God that people practice. This is a part of confirming His will for your life.
And then, is it a wise decision? And you say, "Well, how can I tell whether it's a wise decision or not"? Here's how you tell. Listen carefully. You ask yourself the question, "What are the consequences"? If I do thus and so, what will the consequences be? Not what I'd like for them to be, what will they be?
There are always consequences to our decisions, whether we plan it or not, whether we like it or not, there are consequences that are unavoidable. And this is why we should teach our children, and grandchildren early in life that there are consequences to your decisions. You can't make decisions without some consequence. It may be a good consequence, certainly we'd hope so. Maybe not. But it depends upon your motive, depends upon your relationship to God. Because, think about this. You're living out the will of God, or out of the will of God every moment of your life you're awake. You could lie in the bed on Sunday morning and not come to church. What's the will of God? His will is that you be somewhere worshipping Him. And so, we're either in His will or out of His will.
So, what are the circumstances? Things that we need to consider in our life because your life is affecting somebody else's life. No one in here is living in a capsule. You are affecting in some degree to, some way, somebody else's life. They watch you. They hear you. They watch how you dress. They see how you act, how you respond. The will of God, His purpose and plan and desire for your life. We won't live it out perfectly, but He has a will that's for our benefit as well as for the kingdom of God. So, is it a wise decision? What are the consequences? Then number three, can I honestly ask God to enable me to achieve whatever I'm going through or this decision? Can I honestly has Him to help me to achieve it?
So, think about the last big decision in your life. Did you ask God about that decision? You say, "What do you mean big"? Well, you know what a very serious decision is. Did you ask Him about it? Or, did you say, "Well I'm going to toss a coin"? How foolish. Or did you say, "Well, I've got three choices, I'm going to just think about them and make a choice. I'm mature enough to make choices for my life". We're all mature or maturing to a point. There are some decisions none of us, not a one of us is adequate to make wisely without God's direction and help for the simple reason we live in a world that's opposed to God, that's opposed to righteousness, that's opposed to godly decisions.
And so, one thing you have to remember: decisions we make will affect us no matter what we think. Somebody says, "Well, you know, that just happened once". Yes, that's right. Sometimes things happen once, but have a lifetime of consequences. Then of course, do I have genuine peace? Do I have genuine peace about this decision I'm facing? And one of those questions that comes along with that is this. Is this the right timing? Watch this carefully. It may be the will of God that you do or whatever that may be, but is it the right timing? And people make serious decisions that cost, very costly decisions because they stepped ahead of God or were too late.
You say, "Well, what's this peace got to do with it"? When you are walking in the will of God, and you ask Him about a question, some decision you're having to make, when it's His will, He will give you a sense of peace. Now you say, "What do you mean by peace"? I mean there will be a sense of quietness in your spirit. There will be no sense of irritation going on within you. There will not be any crowding of doubts into your mind. You won't be asking somebody else, "What do you think"? When you have the peace of God there's this overwhelming sense of, "Yes, Lord. Thank You, Jesus. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes, yes, yes".
And somebody says, "Well, I don't know that I've ever had that feeling". It's because you haven't stopped to ask God, "Lord, what would You have me to do"? Listen. Watch this. God's not going to keep a secret from you when you want to do the right thing. He's going to show you what to do every time. And that should start early in life. And sometimes, the less opportunities we have in life, early in life, the more it drives us to God. And you know, I grew up with no father. And so, it drove me to God very early in my life, after I got saved when I was twelve and I learned enough right after I was saved to know that prayer was the secret to everything.
And so, I learned to listen to God very early. And how did I learn to listen? Not listening. That's one way you learn to listen is not listening. And so, what happens? You suffer the consequences, and if you're wise, it won't take you long to realize it's always wise to listen to God. He's willing to speak to your heart whether you're twelve or a hundred and twelve. Very important. And God will give us peace when that's exactly what we need. And then you have to ask yourself the question, "Is this consistent with the way God works"?
In other words, with the way He works in the Scriptures through different characters in the Bible? Can I do this and know that I have His approval? Listen, if it's consistent with the will of God it will be consistent with the Word of God. So, if you're in the process of making a decision, and you should teach your children very, very early in life that when they're making the decision, before they make a decision, ask God about it. You say, "Well, what does that twelve-year old kid know about asking God"? I can tell you. I believe anybody who genuinely wants to know the will of God for their life, God will show them.
Now if you're living in sin and distant from Him, that's a whole different question. What He's going to show you is you need to get right with Him. But the question is, is this consistent with what God says? You say, "Well, how will I know that"? You turn to the Word of God. You say, "Well, I don't know where to turn". I'll tell you what I learned. I had my mother's big Bible and had a big index. If I wanted to know something about anything, I'd get her Bible, turn to the index, and see if I found a word that had to do with what I was dealing with. You can find something about any subject. And so, the question is, is it consistent with what God says? And you can find out.
And people say, "Well, you know what, I think this is okay". Well, is that what God said? No. And sometimes the Word of God is so explicit, and this is absolutely sin. And people say, "Well, I prayed about it and I think it's okay". So, sometimes I think people are afraid to open the Word of God because what it will do, it will expose your life. It will expose your life. If you're being obedient to God, yes, you'll know it. If you're being disobedient to God, He will lead you to the verses that warn you not to partake in a particular area of your life.
Then, of course, does this fit who I am as a follower of Jesus Christ? And that should settle a lot of things. Does this action fit who I am as a follower of Jesus? Not as a church member. Not as somebody who claims they're a Christian, but as a follower of Jesus, that is, born again, claim to be saved by the grace of God, want to do His will. Does this fit that? Does this fit who I am as a follower of Jesus Christ? For example, does my language fit that? Does my dress fit that? Does my responses fit that? Do my actions fit that? That is, does it fit?
When you obey the Lord Jesus Christ, what's going to happen is this. Your actions are going to fit who you claim to be. So people who know you as a follower of Jesus, as a Christian, would they say of you, "Well, their conversation fits that". Certainly, she dresses like that. Certainly, he treats people like that. That is, in other words, it's real simple. Here's what He says. The question is how do I act? What do I say? How do I respond? How do I dress? Since I'm a follower of Jesus, does this really and truly fit who I am? Then of course, another question. Does this act fit God's overall plan for my life?
For example, let's say you got saved and you want to be baptized and you ask a question, it's a simple one. Should I get baptized? Well, what does the Word of God say? Sure, you should. So not a question about that. But then there are those decisions like in your office, they're having a big party and you know they're going to drink and carouse and whatever it might be. And do you have to ask God shall I go or not? You shouldn't have to ask Him. Because it is an atmosphere you don't fit in. It's an atmosphere that you're not comfortable in. It's an atmosphere that doesn't fit who you claim to be and who you are. And so, if I'm walking in the will of God, things are going to fit. If I'm not walking in His will, they're not going to fit.
And so, a mother told me some time ago, she said, "My daughter was getting ready to leave and when I saw what she was wearing, I told her, 'There's no way you're getting out of this house'". Which was a wise woman. Because what she was saying is you don't dress that way because that's not who you are. That doesn't fit who you are. And so, there's no inconsistencies in the will of God. So you ask yourself the question, "Well, Lord, does what I do fit who I claim to be"? In your family, where you work, or in school or whatever it might be. Does your action, your conversation, your conduct fit who you claim to be?
So ask yourself that question. There should be consistency. Here's who I say I am. Here's the way I act. But if here's what I say I am and this is the way I act, probably the greatest hindrance to the Christian life is Christians acting other than who they say they are. Our testimony, our witness, our influence. You teach your children and your grandchildren how they are to respond to situations and circumstances. Is that the way you act? And then of course, will this decision honor God? If you make a decision, can you say that it's in keeping with the Word of God?
That I can make this decision, and when I get on my knees, or when you pray before you go to bed at night, you don't have any of this ruffling, scuffling going on in your heart because you obeyed Him. Listen carefully. Any decision that keeps you awake at night and you can't sleep, you should ask yourself the question, why? When God brings something to your mind, don't let it pass without dealing with it. Do you know why He does that? To protect you, watch over you, care for you, because He loves you. God will send things into our life that we don't like to protect us from things that He knows we wouldn't like if we got into it. He's a loving God. He has the best plan.
And the reason... why do people get on drugs? Why do they become addicts or alcoholics? What is it going on in a person's heart that would cause them to drink so much they can't be themselves and know that one of these days they could have an accident? Or they could just die. What is it people are trying to cover up? I can't answer that question. I wouldn't even attempt to try. But I don't have to answer question for them. You and I have to answer the question for ourselves. Here's where we are. Here's where God has led us so far. And my purpose and plan is to be obedient to God through the last moment of my life. And you can't ever go wrong with that.
Then of course, the question is, "Will this decision result in unrest and regret for the rest of my life"? There are decisions people make they never outlive. They never get over it. They're still talking about it in their latter years of life. If I'da. How many times have I heard this? If I'da, I-F-I-D-A, If I'da. If I'da done this. If I'da thought about that. If I'da just known about this. If I'da, if I'da, if I'da. And if I'da's usually end up with some suffering and heartache or regret of some sort.
Think about this. God has your very best in mind. He works to get you to do the right thing. And if you ignore Him, there are consequences. Then, "Can I expect God to reward me for this decision"? Think about the decisions you make, or thinking about making. Can God reward you for making that decision? If you'll think about it, there are some big time, serious decisions you have to make in life, serious decisions that affect not only you but other people. So, you ask yourself the question, "Can I expect God to reward me for treating her or him this way"? Or doing this or that? Or going here or there? Or participating in this? Can I expect God to bless me, reward me as a result of that?
If you'll just think about these sermons on the will of God, it's all about obeying God. It's all about how you're living your life. It's all about what you're going to do, how you're going to think. God has a plan, a purpose, and a desire for your life. And He's all for what's best for you. He's all for what's good for you. Your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life and He wants to keep everything else right. And you and I have to decide am I going to trust Him with my life? Watch this. Think about this for a moment. You trusted Him with your eternity. You were born again. Your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. And you said, "God, I'm trusting You that when I die I'm going to be in heaven with You".
Now if you can trust God for that, which is an eternal decision, can you not trust Him for daily decisions that are not nearly so important? Yes, you can. God has a purpose, a plan, a desire for your life. You say, "Well, suppose I miss about half of it"? Well, is God disappointed? Well, He knew you were going to miss half of it before you were born. So, God isn't disappointed. He's willing to step into your life at any moment, at any place you're willing to welcome Him and ask Him to straighten things out.
God, I know I'm heading in the wrong direction. I'm asking You to forgive me. Would You please give me direction for my life at this point? Will He? Yes, He will. Suppose you've missed about, let's say three-quarters of your life is gone. And nobody knows whether that's true or not. You can be twenty-one and it's true. Or you can be a hundred and it's true, whatever it might be.
Are you willing to say to Him, "Lord, I want Your will. I want Your best plan for my life, whatever that is. And I'm willing to surrender whatever needs to be surrendered, willing to change whatever needs to be changed, but I want Your best". Would you be willing to tell Him that? You want His best in your life. You're willing to change whatever needs to be changed. That's the wisest decision you can make. Lord, I want Your will, whatever that requires. And I want to live in it the rest of my life.
Let me tell you how that starts. If you have never trusted Jesus as your Savior, this is not going to work. It's when you surrender your life to Him, confessing your sins, repenting of them, turning away from them. Surrendering your life to Him, then you become a child of God. Then the two of you from that moment on make decisions together, if you're willing to listen. But right now, without Jesus, you're by yourself. You can't expect God to give you wisdom if you have rejected His Son.
You may luck out, as you say, and do a few things right. Or you may do really well as far as the world is concerned, but there's a payday coming, and you will have to give an account for life in disobedience and rebellion that paid off for you. That made you rich, made you famous. You name it, but all out of the will of God. All in opposition to God's purpose and plan for your life. And remember this: you'll never make enough money to pay off God. You'll never be famous enough that you'll be accepted by God. It's the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from sin. That makes us one of His children.
Father, we love You, and praise You, and thank You that You love us enough to take personal interest in our life. And I pray that every person who hears this message will take it seriously. Eternally serious, for it is the truth. That wherever they may be at this moment, surrender their life to You, their Savior and Lord. And surrender their life to You as a habit, as a natural part of their life every day, in Jesus's name. Amen.