How to know God's will is probably one of the most-studied topics for Christians of all ages. It takes the form of the question: "How do I know God's will?" Whether we're talking about the broad scope of "God's will for my life," or the smaller scale of "God's will for me in this situation," the question is asked constantly. And, like all questions, it has innumerable wrong answers, misunderstandings, and skewed viewpoints attached to it.

One of the biggest myths about how to know God's will is the belief that the will of God is a roadmap. Here's how this looks in someone's thoughts: "In this situation, God's will is either A or B. If his will is A, and I choose A, then everything is fine. If I choose B, then I'm outside of his will."

We run into problems with this point of view, not on the little scale, but on the big scale. For example, let's say someone holds this point of view. The logical argument looks like this:

* God's will is a roadmap.
* Since God's will is a roadmap, I am supposed to get from point A to point B. The destination is the most important point.
* At every decision point in life, I have to make the right choice in order to stay on the road.
* If I make a mistake, I get off the road.

The problem with this myth is found right here: if some mistakes are uncorrectable and irreversible (i.e., they leave lasting consequences and permanently alter the choices you will have in the future), then you could make a mistake that could cause you to miss out on ever arriving at "point B" on God's roadmap for your life. Therefore, if you assume that God's will is a roadmap, you'd better make sure you never make a mistake.

However, God knows that - whether through outright disobedience or honest ignorance - we are going to blow it. We will make mistakes, we will sin, and we will royally screw things up. Therefore, we can make a deduction: since God knows we will blow it, yet he does call us to know and do his will, his will has to be big enough and full of enough grace to cope with the fact that we are going to make some whopping sins and mistakes.

Where can we go with this? We see that the roadmap point of view is insufficient. If it were true, we could never hope to "do God's will." We'd step out of line, not once, but many times, and lose the possibility forever.

But we know that we can do God's will. We can live in his will:

* Ephesians 5:17 says, "So then, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."
* Romans 12:2 reminds us to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."
* Jesus himself summed it up when he said in Matthew 5:48, "You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

These verses give us a hint as to what God's will is really about - how we can transform the roadmap myth into something true and right and good.

If we paraphrase the above verses, they would say, "To know and do God's will be wise ... sanctify your mind ... seek good, acceptable, and perfect things ... be yourself sanctified and holy ... live your life in imitation of Christ."

Do you notice a word that's missing? The word "choice." It's not there. Instead, all the words are about who we are inside. And that tells us something very key: God's will is not so much about choice as it is about character. What God wants most is not that you "arrive" at point B (whether that is a certain career, accomplishment, destination, etc.), but that you become who he has called you to be.

So let's destroy the myth that God's will is a roadmap. God's will is not primarily about getting us from point A to point B. It's about becoming Christ-like. And that, at its core, is a process. It's daily life - step by step, and day by day. We can therefore transform the myth into the truth: the will of God is a journey.

As a journey, the will of God can cope with all the twists and turns of life - good and bad, holy and sinful, wise and foolish. Why? Because God has promised that he can use everything in our lives for our good (Romans 8:28). Everything - nothing is excluded. The person who loves God can be assured that he can know and live God's will - no matter what his past is, no matter what sins he has to overcome, no matter how long the process takes - because the will of God at its most basic level is about becoming more like Christ every day.

© 2008 Paula Marolewski

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Author's Bio: 

Paula J. Marolewski provides challenging and interactive adult Bible studies for individuals, Bible studies, small groups, and adult Sunday School classes at Sink Your Roots ( The above article is an excerpt from Debunking the Myths about Knowing God's Will. The site also offers free weekly Seedlings - “Little thoughts that grow big results.”