In this article/commentary you will be introduced to the four aspects of God’s will and how each one impacts your life.

God desires to gives us guidance. He wants to direct us and point us in the right direction. Listen to the following from God’s Word.

  • Jesus told Paul in Acts 9:6, “Get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (HCSB). Jesus gave Paul some guidance. He said, “Your first step is to go into the city, once you get there I will give you your next step.”
  • Look at Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them” (HCSB). There are some “good works” that God prepared ahead of you being born and becoming a follower of Jesus. Throughout your life He will guide you into those good works.
  • Check out Psalm 37:23, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives” (NLT). God wants to give you guidance in everything concerning your life, big things and little things.
  • Listen to what God says in Psalm 32:8,I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you, I will give counsel” (HCSB). What an incredible promise.
  • If you seek God’s guidance Isaiah 58:11 simply states, “The Lord will always lead you” (HCSB).
  • Listen to the wisdom of Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take” (5-6, NLT). God wants you to know His will. He wants to give you guidance. He wants you to hear Him clearly about making the right decision and not a bad decision, choosing this way over that way.

With that said, let me introduce you to four different wills of God. Today we are going to look at the four aspects of God’s will. Next week we will specifically examine how to determine God’s personal will for your life.

God’s prevailing will

First of all, you need to know about God’s prevailing will. God’s prevailing will deals with His sovereign will. God’s prevailing will… will happen no matter what. Nothing or no one can stop God’s prevailing will. Revelation 4:11 says, “You [God] have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created” (HCSB). When God decided to create everything, nothing was going to stop it. He would create what He wanted, how He wanted it, and when He wanted it. That is a prevailing will of God.

Listen carefully to Acts 4:27, “For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place” (HCSB). God’s prevailing will is His predestined choice. God’s prevailing will is going to take place, it’s going to happen, and nothing can stop it. The creation, the details about the crucifixion and resurrection, future events like the Lord’s return and rapture will happen. God’s prevailing will, will happen.

God’s private will

A second aspect of God’s will is God’s private will. This is sometimes called God’s secret will. These are things that God has decided to keep hidden. For whatever reason, we don’t need to know it or we don’t need to know it yet. Let me give you some examples.

  • Moses said in Deuteronomy 29:29, “The hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law” (HCSB). Those things that God has revealed are so we can obey Him, but there are some things God has decided to keep secret. His private will.
  • After Joseph was thrown into a well, sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, placed in prison, forgotten about in prison but eventually was placed in the second highest command underneath the pharaoh he confronted his brothers and said in Genesis 50:20, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result – the survival of many people” (HCSB). While Joseph was going through all the horrible things God’s will was hidden or private, but later God’s hidden will was revealed. Joseph was able to look back and see what was really happening behind the scenes of his life.

God has something in motion, He is carrying out plans that we may or may not ever know or understand. That is God’s private will.

God’s permissive will

Another aspect of God’s will is God’s permissive will. Here is where God says, “Here is My will for you, but I give you permission to choose it or not.” God says, “I’m going to tell you what My will is for you. I going to tell you what is the right and best thing for you to do, but I give you the freedom to obey or disobey Me. I’m not going to make you do this.” Let me give you some examples.

  • Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4, “For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality” (v.3, HCSB). God’s will for you is to be sexually pure, but you have a choice whether you will follow that will.
  • Paul also wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5, “Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (v.18, HCSB). God’s will for us is that we be thankful people and grateful people. However, you can be unthankful and ungrateful if you want. You have a choice in this. It is God’s permissive will.
  • Ephesians 5 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25, HCSB). God’s will for you as a husband is to sacrificially lead and love your wife. God will let you choose whether you do that or not. It’s God’s permissive will.
  • Ephesians 5 says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord” (Eph. 5:22, HCSB). God’s will for you as a wife is to humbly follow your husband’s leadership. God will let you choose whether you do that or not.
  • 1 Peter 5 says to pastors like me, “Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-4, HCSB). Because of God’s permissive will, I can choose to obey or disobey God as one of His shepherds.
  • Hebrews 13 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17, HCSB). Because of God’s permissive will you can choose to obey or disobey God’s Word.

The concept of God’s permissive will is seen in Deuteronomy 30 when Moses addressed the people as God’s spokesman saying, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live” (v.19, HCSB). God’s permissive will is what’s best for you, but God has given you a free will to choose whether are not to obey. So when God gives us a command or direction in the Bible we can obey it or not, but we have to remember that our obedience produces life and blessing and our disobedience produces death and hurt in some way. There are sowing and reaping principles in effect here.

God’s personal will

A final aspect of God’s will is God’s personal will. God’s personal will deals with you personally. The things we just looked at about husbands, wives, sexual purity, and thankfulness is God’s general will for everyone. However, God has a will for each one of us that is unique. God has a personal will, a personal plan for your life that is different for your children’s life or from your parent’s life. God’s personal will for my life is different than God’s personal will for your life. God’s will for Pam was to marry me, not you. God’s will for you is to work where you work, not me. God’s will for me was to be the pastor of this church, not you or my friends that are pastors. Let me show God’s personal will from the Bible.

  • Jesus went to the garden, this is right before Judas was to show up with a small army to capture Jesus. This is right before the trials, the mocking, the beating, the crucifixion, and Jesus being separated from the Heavenly Father and paying for our sins. In Matthew 26:39 we are told Jesus fell face down on the ground and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will” (HCSB). There was only one person who could drink the cup of the cross for our salvation and that was Jesus. The Heavenly Father’s personal will for Jesus was to live a sinless life and become the sacrifice for our sins on the cross. The Son of God had to do that, not you or me.
  • Later Jesus raises from the dead, ascends to the Father as the resurrected Lord. People became followers of Jesus. The early church begins to grow. There are some who don’t like that. One of them was a man named Saul. He began to persecute the church and its leaders. One day on the road to Damascus to arrest more Christians he had a unique encounter with Jesus. At that moment Saul became a follower of Jesus. Eventually became known as the Apostle Paul who God would use to write nearly half of the New Testament. Listen to what Paul says about himself in becoming an apostle in Ephesians 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will” (HCSB). God had a personal will – a personal plan for Paul. It was unique to Paul. Not everyone could be an apostle, but for Paul that was God’s personal will for him.
  • Listen to what we are told in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them” (HCSB). God had some good things that He wanted someone to do. So God created you. He made you male or female, gave you a personality, allowed you to go through some experiences (good and bad), gave you some abilities, and gave you a spiritual gift as one of His followers. God prepared ahead of time some good things that needed to be done, so He created someone who could do them. That someone is you. Those good things that God designed you to do, that is God’s personal will for you.

God has a personal will for you. God’s personal will involves some important decisions in your life. God has a personal will for you regarding…

  • Marriage: whether you should marry or not, who you should marry
  • Education/career: whether you should go to college, vo-tech, military, straight into the workforce or start your own business
  • Church: where you should go to church.
  • Ministry: where you should or should not serve, who you should and should not help
  • Money: when, where, and how you should budget your money, who you should give to and who you shouldn’t
  • Home: God may want you to live in one neighborhood and not another, because of how He wants to use you and your home for mission.

This personal will is also true for local churches. All churches are given the Great Commission to make disciples. How they organize, structure, and the methods they use will vary. But God has a unique and personal will for this church on how He wants to accomplish His mission through us.


Let me sum it up this way.

  • It is God’s prevailing will that the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord. Every knee will bow. That’s going to happen, hallelujah!
  • It is God’s private will that is hidden from us. We don’t need to know it. We may never know it. Our all-wise God knows what we need to know about His will and what we don’t need to know. That’s okay.
  • It is God’s permissive will that I make right choices. There are things that God has told me do, like be thankful, be generous, and be pure but I can either obey or disobey Him in these matters. I will reap what I sow, but God has given me freedom to obey or not. This is His permissive will.
  • It was God’s personal will that I marry Pam Brubeck. I knew that it was God’s personal will because of the five things God’s Word says about discovery God’s personal will for your life. They all lined up and they all pointed to Pam Brubeck. And next week we will walk through those five things to discover God’s personal will for your life. They are true for you personally and also true for us as a local body.

What is your next step?

What is your next step? When God reveals His will to you, you are going to experience a crisis of belief. This crisis of belief is a turning point or a fork in the road that demands that you make a decision. This is where you decide to obey or disobey God. You must make a decision to either do what God is telling you to do or not. Listen to God or ignore Him.

It is a crisis of belief because you must make major adjustments in your life to obey God and join Him in what He is doing. These adjustments may involve relationships, circumstances, commitments, actions, thinking, or beliefs. You cannot do nothing and go with God at the same time. When God reveals His will to you, it is an invitation by God to follow Him. The crisis of belief is asking, “Will you do what He is telling you to do? Will you leave behind what He is saying to leave behind? Will you repent of what He is telling you to repent of? Will you add what He is telling you to add to your life?”