For many, high school is a time where decisions about career paths are made, and for me it was no different. Yet, there was always an element of indecisiveness for me because of my uncertainty of the future. Thus, when asked about my future plans for career or ministry, it was easy, simple, and mindless for me to reply, “Oh, I don’t really know. I’m praying that God will reveal His will to me for my life.” Or sometimes I would even turn this into a prayer request: “Could you pray for me, that God would reveal His will for me to me?”
A lot of the material I wrote in a previous post hinges on the presupposition that God’s will is perspicuous and can be found in the pages of Scripture. I was first exposed to this idea in MacArthur’s book Found: God’s Will during my freshman year in college. Up until then, an element of immaturity may have played a role in my indecisiveness, but a full and accurate understanding of what the Scriptures teach on the will of God helped me to grow in this regard.
Briefly, as long as five presuppositions are fulfilled, Ps. 37:4 stands as the basic principle by which we can live our lives: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (ESV). There are a couple of different ways that I have interpreted this:
- Previously, I had believed that if I delighted myself in God, He would satisfy the preexisting desires that I had in my own heart.
- More recently, the view that I hold to now is that if I delight myself in God, He would place new desires in me as a reflection of His will in my life.
I don’t believe that these two interpretations are entirely mutually exclusive. It’s possible that preexisting desires in our hearts may indeed have been God’s will all along, and that He will fulfill them when we seek to honor and please Him first. But from my own experience, my preexisting desires were selfish in nature–I didn’t necessarily want those fulfilled because of His glory, but because of my own gain.
Thus, our desires are placed deliberately by God, and we should follow them! Of course, this hinges on the premise that you have “delighted yourself in the Lord”. John Piper discusses making Christ not only Savior and Lord, but Treasure and greatest delight, in Desiring God:
In recent years I have asked, “Do you receive Jesus as your Treasure?” Not just Savior (everybody wants out of hell, but not to be with Jesus). Not just Lord (they might submit begrudgingly). The key is: Do you treasure Him more than everything?
To expand upon this premise of “delighting yourself in the Lord”, John MacArthur pens Found: God’s Will. From Scripture, he presents five explicit instructions that God has commanded of us, which are His will (Scripture references are provided here):
Within the pages of the Bible, God has clearly spelled out His will for us. Beyond these things, if these five conditions are true of our lives, then we should do what we so desire, for it is in those desires that God brings about His will for our lives.
Knowing this, our decision-making efforts is a practical implication of these God-given desires. When we live in such a way that desires to honor and please God in all that we do, fighting sin and suffering for His name’s sake, we can know that our desires are placed within us by God and should not cause us to do anything that would cause us to violate our integrity or to misplace our priorities.
Thus, we can go forth and know that whether the outcome of a decision turns out well or not, God is working our circumstances for our good and His glory–we only need to be faithful to act on those desires, because He placed them there for us.
Taking a step back, can we even say that the will of God, as revealed in the list of five items, is manifest in our own lives? I would ask these questions of myself:
- Am I saved?
- Am I filling my mind with Scripture?
- Am I actively fighting sin?
- Am I living lawfully?
- Am I suffering for professing Christ?
It is only when we glorify God in the specifics that He has prescribed in Scripture, can we then glorify Him in the desires that He gives us in our hearts.