Three Parts of God’s Will

In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in [Jesus Christ].
–Ephesians 1:8–9

When we talk about the will of God, what do we mean? The Bible uses the phrase “the will of God” in three distinct ways.

Sometimes “the will of God” refers to God’s providential will–the secret plan by which He governs everything that happens in the universe. Some people believe God has a perfect will and a permissive will. They say God’s perfect will is what He wishes would happen, and His permissive will is what actually happens when we mess up His perfect plan. But do you believe God is so impotent He can’t achieve His purpose? No, the Bible says God has one plan that was formulated before the foundation of the world. And Paul said in Ephesians 1:9 that, for the most part, God’s plan is a mystery. It’s in the mind of God. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God.” That’s God’s providential plan.

On the other end of the spectrum is God’s preceptive will, the part of God’s will we can clearly understand from the precepts in Scripture. Do you realize that most of what we need to know about God’s will has been revealed in the Bible? For example, let’s say you’ve been praying for a mate, and God has brought the perfect person into your life–but he or she is not a Christian. Is it God’s will for you to marry that person? No. The Bible says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). It is never God’s will for you to marry an unbeliever–He’s already revealed that in His Word. God’s preceptive will is the part of God’s will that has been defined in Scripture.

Finally, when we talk about discovering God’s will, we’re usually talking about God’s plan for our personal lives. Does God really have a blueprint that governs every part of your life? Look at Psalm 139:13—14: “You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” When you were in your mother’s womb, God wove you into the person you are–the color of your hair, the color of your eyes, your emotional makeup. Everything about you was according to God’s plan. Just think about all the details God had to orchestrate to get your father and mother together at the right time in order to produce your unique DNA code. God has a blueprint for our lives, and that ought to give us great assurance.

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Today’s devotion is adapted from “Discovering God’s Will” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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