There are many opinions about God’s will on earth. Some say we can clearly know it. Others say we can only know some of it some of the time. The former might say we ought to never say “if it’s God will,” while the latter might say we must always say “if it’s God will.” But are either of those biblical? Is saying or not saying “if it’s God’s will” just a matter of opinion?
To answer this let’s look at what the Bible has to say about this well-known phrase.
Is it in the Bible?
The exact phrase “if it’s God’s will” isn’t found in the Bible. The closest thing is “if it is the Lord’s will” found in the book of James. Nowhere else in Scripture does it say it in this manner. However, James is making an important point that we need to look at.
To understand what James was trying to communicate we need to read it in context.
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them (James 4:13-17).
This passage sounds a bit harsh. It might leave a believer feeling like that can’t do anything without first saying “if it’s God’s will” or they’re being arrogant and evil. This isn’t true. There’s a reason for James’ rebuke that brings the understanding we need for our lives today. Read how James begins the chapter.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (James 4:1-3).
In this part of the letter, we see that James was dealing with believers living as if the will of God was irrelevant. These believers had a huge problem with strife and self-centeredness. James’ point was to cause proper humility in the heart of a believer, not to give a formula for prayer.
Walking in the will of God is something believers ought to do but how do we know what it is?
Knowing the Will of God
There are places in the Bible where the will of God is clear and places where it isn’t. Either way, the Bible makes it clear that we as believers are to know the will of God.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is (Ephesians 5:17).
To know the will of God for your life start with what is clear.
For example, the following two scriptures clearly identify things that are God’s will: Having and communicating a thankful attitude toward God no matter what’s happening in your life and silencing foolishness with good actions instead of arguing.
For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people (1 Peter 2:15).
When You Don’t Know
Although you can find many other scriptures to know the will of God, some things aren’t in the Bible. For example, who to marry, what house to buy, if you ought to go to college, and many more life decisions.
These lead us all back to James’ point.
When you don’t know the will of God there are four things you can do:
- Submit to God — asking for his will
- Pray for wisdom
- Seek godly counsel
- Trust the Holy Spirit
When you sincerely want to know the will of God, he will always help you find it.
Yes, it is God who is working in you. He helps you want to do what pleases him, and he gives you the power to do it (Philippians 2:13, ERV).
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Danielle Bernock is an international, award-winning author, speaker, and coach who helps people embrace their value and heal their soul through the power of the love of God. She’s written Emerging With Wings, A Bird Named Payn (now available in audio), Love’s Manifesto and Because You Matter. A long time follower of Christ, Danielle lives with her husband in Michigan near her adult children and grandchildren. For more information or to connect with Danielle https://www.daniellebernock.com/