Discernment: How do I know God’s will?
When we are really seeking to honour The Lord with our life, oftentimes we are faced with spending time waiting to know His will for us with particular decisions, to remain walking in the intended path He has planned for us.
We understand from the bible that it is His will for us to be saved from our sin – And that in order for this to happen we must repent of sin and give our life to Jesus – That it is only through Jesus that we can be forgiven and born-again to spiritually become children of God…But what happens after this decision has been made? How do we know if we are making the right decisions and walking the new path He has set before us?
“How do I know God’s will for me?” may be a question one asks many times in their Christian life. We call the process of seeking God’s will, ‘Discernment’.
While this ‘discernment’ process is costly in regards to time and effort, it brings great rewards; such as becoming closer to Jesus, learning to better distinguish His voice from other competing ones, increasing in wisdom from studying scriptural examples, exercising the gift of patience, and not to forget the blessing of remaining on the best, chosen path He has for us!
Remaining in God’s good will for us will ultimately result in us having His godly peace with the decision that is reached, or the option that has been chosen. Colossians 3:15 advises us to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, and interestingly we here on ‘Study Scripture Today have found the word PEACE is a great tool to help us with discerning God’s will…So let’s break it down and look at PEACE for discernment now.
P = Prayer is the first key to knowing God’s will for us.
Prayer is the intentional effort we ‘put in’ to the relationship we have with God through Jesus. Our reconciled relationship with God through Jesus Christ is not passive, it is living and active, and we need to intelligently engage in the discernment process to stay on track. Yes, God is sovereign, but He is also not a ‘puppet master’. For it is truly in Him we live and move and exist, Acts 17:28. You see, we are made in His image and therefore we retain our free will and can choose to obey or ignore, His best interest for us! Therefore we need to humbly come to God, through Jesus, for His will to be made known to us, Hebrews 4:14-16. As God’s children through Jesus, we need to ask in prayer for the wisdom to discern carefully against competing voices such as our own and the fleshly desires we may have, or the subtle voice of the enemy through other people he may use to pull us off-track, Ephesians 3:6-12.
E = Enlightment through Scripture.
In the process of discernment, after prayer, the next step is seeking enlightenment from scripture, 2 Timothy 3:16-17. If we do not know scripture for ourselves it is much more easily for us to go ‘off track’. If we do not know scripture for ourselves we cannot weight the words of our mind or the words of others against God’s standards, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22. Sometimes scripture is direct on a matter (like sexual sin), whereas other issues may be addressed more indirectly across the whole cannon of scripture. At times you may have a personal question such as, “Is it time for me to move on from the ministry I am involved in?” Whatever the type of answer you are seeking clarity on, the good news is all these types of issues revolved around God’s will for us and The Lord wants us to seek Him about them. Therefore we must seek The Word of The Lord for direction as He does ordain our steps as His children, Psalm 37:23-24, and He is always faithful to confirm His will for us, and will use scripture to do so.
A = Accountability.
Accountability is important for our Christian pilgrimage and is modelled for us in scripture, 1 Timothy 3. God will not ordain your steps to leave you alone and super-vulnerable. If you have an amazing idea for ministry, for example that would result in you having no one above you for accountability…or where you are a lone ranger so to speak…be very cautious you are not rebelling from authority God wants to place you under for growth and maturity. We are designed for relationship and community with God and each other as Christ’s body – We cannot and should never do without each other. Be careful, very careful, especially as a young Christian you do not get ‘puffed up’ and led astray. Is the step you’re considering going to grow you, and are you able to openly share this idea or decision with other mature Christians for expected support? Are you being transparent and walking openly and honestly, or are you arranging things in secret? If you are arranging things in secret you need to question your motives and ask is this idea a self-motivated and fulfilling one, because The Lord’s will involves the care of all people and His children.
C = Confirmation through other people.
Seeking confirmation from other people either, in person or via a secondary source such as a sermon they’ve preached, or something they’ve written is an important part of the discernment process. If you have godly people speaking in opposition to your idea you should be really cautious. For example, if you have an uncommon theological idea/doctrine you are beginning to adhere to that will lead you to make a choice that doesn’t align with the majority of past faithful Christians, it’s probably not God’s will. Or something more practical; if you are dating someone and no-one in your family likes the person, or people in your church who care about you are concerned…that person is probably NOT God’s a part of God’s will for you, no matter how much you may convince yourself they are.
E = Engaging, Entrusting & Empowerment.
The final letter represents 3 final ideas for discernment.
- Engaging – We must actively and intelligently engage with God to know His will. We must physically wrestle with the idea until we come to a place of either staying where we are and not moving, or changing, or knocking on a door and stepping right through it to see if we have discerned right or not.
2. Entrusting – The truth is we walk by faith and not full sight, 2 Corinthians 5:7 and so we need to entrust our choice/s to God for Him to protect us in them. Oftentimes we will need to make a choice and a decision in faith BEFORE we have His full peace. Prior we may only have a partial peace, and after we do step out in faith His peace floods our soul confirming it has been handled with correctly, or we have a sense of, “No, this is wrong!” and know we need to retreat and after we do His full peace comes. Often it is after we have entrusted our choice to God, and have matched our choices accordingly in obedience that His peace fully comes to us.
3. Empowerment – Also often before His peace comes, and we know without a doubt that we have remained in His will, we have human fear so He empowers us to take the step of faith. When we step out in faith and obedience He will empower us to bravely do so and fulfill His will for us. After we have been obedient and empowered to do what He has called us to do, then we receive His peace knowing we have continued walking in His will for us obediently.
We hope you have found this post on discernment helpful with the PEACE acronym and if you’re currently seeking His will we pray you truly find it and walk in it!
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This post is a stand alone topic but we do offer ‘Study Series’ for Christian growth in the ‘Study Posts’ section of the site.
God bless, Melanie & Richard.