Genesis 50:20a “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, …”
What is God’s will for my life? That question will inevitably enter the mind of a Christian at some point during their existence in this fallen world. It may manifest after a traumatic event, after the end of a relationship, in the process of making a weighty decision, or it may simply come to mind during an ordinary day. Whatever the context behind the question the universal reason for asking that question is that we are not all-knowing, but we sure wish we were.
What is God’s will for my church? Before we answer that we must first know what is revealed about His will in Scripture. We have all heard the Story of Joseph. When Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers were worried that he would destroy them because of their past wickedness. His response to their concern gives us a beautiful insight into the will of God. Joseph’s brothers willed to do evil against him, they almost killed him. But while they willed to do this evil act God willed it to take place for His glory and the preservation of His people. This shows us two aspects of His one will, often distinguished as the decretive nature of His will, and the Moral nature of His will.
Moral will – “You meant evil against me”. The moral will of God is His will regarding how we should act. This is revealed to us in the moral law and summarized by Christ in Matthew 22:37 – 40, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” The basic answer to, “What is God’s will for my life,” is that he calls you to obedience and faith. Now, it is imperative to know that God is sovereign and He, as RC Sproul put it, is not in heaven wringing His hands at our sin in despair, unable to do anything about it. Joseph’s brother’s act was truly evil, and it was their desire to do this evil. They acted against the Law of God and the standard He set for mankind. God, Himself is the standard of holiness and his moral will for His people is that they would be holy as He is holy.
Decretive will – “God meant it for good”. The decretive will (sometimes called His hidden will) is His unshakeable will in which he decreed the events that will take place in our time, in eternity (Eph. 1:4). His decretive will comes to pass without variation as He clearly reveals in Isaiah 46:9-10, “Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.” In the account of Joseph and his brothers, we see God sovereignly use man’s evil heart to accomplish His eternal purpose. We see this again 400 years later in Exodus 9:12, “But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had spoken to Moses.” We don’t know every detail of God’s decree because it is neither possible nor our position to have such knowledge. But we do know God, and we know His decretive will is perfect and we must trust in that perfection.
So, what can be said about God’s will as changes loom on the horizon? His revealed will for you is to seek His counsel during this season and do all you do to His glory. His plan will unfold in unfathomable beauty. Be faithful, pursue holiness both corporately and individually, practice the means of grace, and see the awesome work of the Spirit. Whatever direction He is to take you will be revealed, and it will be good!
David Chambers, Director of Middle School Ministries, Christ Covenant Church, Charlotte, N.C.