A. Introduction: Recently, we’ve been talking about the fact that Jesus, in His humanity, is the pattern for
God’s family. God desires sons and daughters who are like Jesus in holiness, character, and love. Rom 8:29
1. As part of the discussion, we’ve made the point that Jesus was fully submitted to the will of God, His
Father. And, as sons and daughters of God through faith in Jesus, we also are supposed to be fully
submitted to God’s will. John 4:34; John 8:29; Matt 26:39; Matt 16:24; etc.
2. This brings up the question: What is God’s will for us? How can we know God’s will so that we can
submit to it? We began to address this question last week and have more to say tonight. First, a quick
review of key points from last week’s lesson.
a. The will of God is a broad topic that would take many lessons to fully unpack. But for the purpose
of our discussion about becoming sons and daughters who are fully submitted to God’s will, we
gave a simple definition. God’s will is His purposes, intents, and desires—or what He wants.
1. God’s will (His purposes, intents, and desires) is revealed in His written Word—the Bible.
The Bible is actually called and divided into the Old and the New Testament.
2. Testament comes from a word that means will, as in a legal document that expresses what a
person wants, how they want their property distributed and their affairs settled, after they die.
b. Jesus summed up the will of God for us as it is revealed in the Bible in two commands: You must
love the Lord God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest
commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the other
commandments…are based on these two (Matt 22:37-39, NLT).
1. This love is not an emotion. This love is an action that is expressed through our obedience to
God’s moral will (found in the Bible) and our treatment people (treat them as we want to be
treated, according to principles laid out in Scripture).
2. The Bible speaks of doing the will of God rather than being in the will of God (Matt 6:10; 7:21;
12:50; John 4:34; 6:38; 7:17; Eph 6:6; Heb 10:7; 10:36; 13:21; I John 2:17; etc.). If you are
doing His will (obeying His written Word and treating people right) you are in His will.
c. We tend to think of God’s will in terms of getting direction from Him for specifics in our lives—
what car to buy, who to marry, which job to take, what ministry to pursue. But that’s backwards.
1. Being Christ-like in your character and behavior is much more important than finding your
ministry, which job you take, or who you marry. How you treat the people at your job or and
how you treat the person you actually marry is what matters most to Almighty God.
2. God’s will for your life is that you become His son or daughter through faith in Christ, be
conformed to the image of Christ, and then imitate Him (follow His example, Eph 5:1-2):
Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did (I John 2:6, NLT).
A. This is God’s will: In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that
no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as
children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine
brightly before them (Phil 2:14-16, NLT).
B. This is God’s will: Obey God because you are his children. Don’t slip back into your old
ways of doing evil…now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God—who chose
you to be his children—is holy. For he himself has said, “You must be holy because I am
holy” (I Pet 1:14-16, NLT).
3. Sincere Christians want guidance for their lives, but they overlook the primary way that God leads and
guides us. God, the Holy Spirit, guides us through the Bible, the written will of God. II Tim 3:16-17
a. The Bible functions as a mirror that shows us which thoughts, attitudes, and actions are Christ-like,
and those that are not. God’s Word helps us become aware of what needs to change, and assures us

of the Holy Spirit’s help, as we commit to doing God’s will in every area of our life.
b. People want to bypass reading and obeying the Bible, but then they expect direction from God in
specific details of their lives. But if you aren’t endeavoring to do what is most important—become
increasing Christ-like through looking into the mirror of God’s Word and obeying it—you aren’t
going to get direction on who to marry or what car to buy.

B. This brings up a question: How can the Bible help direct us in specific areas of our lives, when there are no
verses about specifics—who to marry, what job to take, or which house to buy?
1. Consider these passages from the Book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a collection of statements (inspired
by the Holy Spirit) that exhort people to become godly and wise through obedience to God’s written Word.
a. Prov 6:20-23—My son, obey your father’s command, and don’t neglect your other’s teachings (the
Word of God). Keep their words always in your heart. Tie them around your neck. Wherever
you walk, their counsel will lead you. When you sleep, they will protect you. When you wake up
in the morning, they will advise you. For these commands and this teaching are a lamp to light the
way ahead of you. The correction of discipline is the way of life (NLT).
b. The written Word of God directs us by giving principles which will help us make wise choices.
The Book of Proverbs says that in a multitude of counselors there is safety (Prov 24:6). Almighty
God, through His Word, is the ultimate counselor. Note these statements about God’s counsel.
1. Ps 19:7-8—The law of the Lord (His written Word) is perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees
of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are
right, bringing joy to the heart. The commandments of the Lord are clear, giving insight into
life (NLT).
2. Ps 73:23-24—You are holding my right hand. You will keep on guiding me with your
counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny (NLT).
c. Our glorious destiny is to be sons and daughters of God who are fully like Jesus in character and
holiness, who live in loving relationship with the Lord, not only in this life but in the life to come.
2. The Bible also assures us that God does and will lead us and guide us. Ps 16:11; 31:14-15; 32:8; 37:23;
48:14; Ps 73:24; 139:10,23-24; Isa 58:11; John 10:27; John 16:13; Rom 8:14; James 1:5; etc.
a. Prov 3:5-6—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 direct your path (NLT).
1. When you set yourself to do His will (obey His moral law and treat people right), He will take
care of getting you to where you need to be when you need to be there.
2. This is the pattern for Christian life: We walk in agreement with and obedience to God’s
revealed will (His written Word) and He gets us to the right place at the right time.
b. When we need guidance from God and direction for our lives, many of us resort to begging Him
over and over to show us what to do. But, we’re actually in disagreement with God’s revealed will
because the Bible says repeatedly that it is His will to lead and guide us.
1. When you need specific direction, get into agreement with what God, in His Word, says about
guiding you: I don’t know what to do Lord, but I thank you that you are and will guide me. I
acknowledge you in all my ways and you direct my path. My times are in your hands. You
order my steps. You are showing me the path of life.
2. This isn’t a technique or formula we can use to get something from God. It’s recognition of
His truthfulness and faithfulness. Almighty God has promised to lead and guide us, so we
thank and praise Him for His guidance before we see or feel it.

C. Reading the Bible also helps us become familiar with the Holy Spirit’s voice, since He is the one who
inspired it. If you aren’t familiar with God’s voice in the Scriptures, then you won’t be able to accurately

discern the Holy Spirit’s leadings in specific areas. Let’s discuss this in more detail.
1. The night before Jesus was crucified He assured His apostles and followers that once He was gone, He
and the Father would send the Holy Spirit to help them. Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Comforter.
a. Comforter (in the original Greek language) means someone called alongside to give aid or to help—
The Holy Spirit is a Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby (John 14:16 Amp).
b. When we read the Book of Acts (the record of the apostles’ activities and ministry after Jesus
returned to Heaven) we see that, as they did God’s will (proclaimed His resurrection and taught the
Scriptures, Luke 24:46-47; Matt 28:19-20) the Spirit of God led them into specifics (where to go,
when to go, Acts 8:25-29; 10:19; 11:12; 16:7; etc.)
2. Paul was an eyewitness and apostle of Jesus. The Book of Acts details much of his ministry. He wrote
these words: For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Rom 8:14, ESV).
a. This verse is often used to mean that we get specific directions for our life directly from the Holy
Spirit. Several weeks ago we talked about the fact that that’s not the primary meaning of the
passage. Paul’s point is the Holy Spirit leads us into holiness through His sanctifying influence.
b. But, the Holy Spirit does communicate information to us. Just two verses down from Romans 8:14
Paul wrote that the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are sons of God.
1. Rom 8:16—The Spirit Himself [thus] testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that
we are children of God (Amp). The Greek language used here has the idea that the Holy Spirit
testifies (gives evidence or witness) to what He knows.
2. Paul’s point is that the Holy Spirit in us communicates to us, an assurance or an inner knowing,
that we are sons of God through faith in Jesus. Paul’s statement gives us insight into how the
Holy Spirit leads and directs us.
3. Words fall short when we try to explain the Holy Spirit’s leading since He communicates to each of us
internally and individually, and it’s a subjective experience. Consider these guidelines and safeguards.
a. It is extremely unusual to actually hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. Instead, we get a hunch, a
sense, or an inner knowing about something. This is the primary way He leads His people.
1. The Holy Spirit’s leading is very gentle and rarely spectacular. And, because it is subjective
(arises in your inner self), you must hold it lightly because you could be misperceiving it.
2. However, each time you follow that leading (and it turns out to be right), it becomes easier to
perceive the next time.
b. Sadly, too many Christians attribute every thought or idea they have to the Lord, and are way too
free with the phrase “the Lord told me”. It makes it seem as though God literally spoke to them.
1. With all due respect, if the Lord is telling people everything that they say He’s telling them
then He’s crazy, because He often tells people to do things that turn out badly. I don’t doubt
that the Lord does speak to some people and they hear His voice, but that’s a rare exception.
2. Too many people credit God as the source behind their actions, insisting that He told them what
to do. But in the New Testament, when Christians heard the Holy Spirit speak, it was direction
for specific ministry situations, not guidance for which car to buy or who to marry.
c. The Holy Spirit will never lead you to do something that is contrary to the written Word of God.
He leads and guides us in line with the Scriptures. Nor will He lead us to do something ridiculous.
d. The Holy Spirit is here to bring glory (not ridicule) to Jesus by revealing what He receives from
Jesus. John 16:14
4. Often, people look for a spectacular sign to tell them what to do in their situation. But, they don’t get it
because God has already given instructions in His Word that can help them know what to do.
a. In many, if not most decisions, you gather all the facts you can and, following the principles of
wisdom laid out in God’s Word, you make the most reasonable decision you can, all the while
maintaining the attitude: I’ll change course immediately, if you tell me to do so, Lord.

b. We could cite many examples of this, but, for the purpose of illustration, consider these two points.
1. The Bible says that in the multitude of counselors there is safety (Prov 24:6). So, if you are
facing a big decision, wisdom says get counsel from trusted, trustworthy people.
2. The Bible says we’re not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (II Cor 6:14). So,
wisdom would dictate that it’s not the will of God for a Christian to date or marry an unbeliever.
You don’t need a specific word from God because you have His will, revealed in His Word.
5. We all want some type of spectacular, supernatural sign from God. But, in most decisions, that is not
how guidance comes to us. The Holy Spirit most often says no or nothing rather than yes. Remember,
if you are doing the will of God, you are in the will of God.
a. We pointed out last week that much of our desire to know the will of God is self-focused, not God-
focused. Wanting to know the will of God for our lives comes out of immature or wrong motives.
1. We want to know the will of God because we want to have what is best for us and what will
bring us the most blessing, as opposed to what will most glorify Him and advance His kingdom.
2. Or, we’re motivated by fear—not awe, respect, and reverence for God, but fear that something
bad will happen to us if we are out of the will of God.
b. We try to hear from God who we should marry because “we don’t want to miss God”. Wisdom
would dictate that you marry someone who is godly and someone with whom you are compatible.
God is much more interested in how you’re going to treat the person you marry than that you find
“the one”. (The idea that there is one person we are supposed to marry is a romantic idea we’ve
adopted from the culture, not Bible. Lessons for another day.)
c. We fret over whether or not we should buy the blue chair or the red chair because “we don’t want to
miss God”. Wisdom would dictate that you buy the one you like and can afford. God is much
more concerned with how you’re representing Jesus and treating the people in the furniture store.
6. Before we close let’s address a common mistake that some make when trying to determine God’s will.
They look at their physical circumstances and try to figure out what God is saying and doing.
a. You can’t determine the will of God by looking at your physical circumstances. He does not guide
us through what we can see. God leads us by His Spirit in line with His written word, the Bible.
b. Christians are instructed to walk by faith and not by sight (II Cor 5:7). Since God tells us to order
our lives according to what we can’t see (II Cor 4:18), what makes us think that God will guide us,
direct us, or speak to us through what we can see, through physical circumstances?
1. Someone might ask: Doesn’t God lead us and guide us through open doors and closed doors?
Doesn’t He lead us and guide us by closing some windows and opening others? No.
A. Once again, why would God lead you by something you can see (an open or closed door)
when He tells you to walk by faith and not by sight?
B. When the Bible speaks of open doors it always means an opportunity for ministry. The
New Testament never uses “open doors” as a method of guidance or a means direction.
Acts 14:27; I Cor 16:8-9; II Cor 2:12; Col 4:3
2. This doesn’t mean that if something looks good it can’t be the will of God. The question is:
What are you looking to for guidance and direction—circumstances or the Word of God and
the Spirit of God through His Word?

D. Conclusion: God’s written Word makes it clear that it is His will for all of us is that we be conformed to the
image of Christ. If you make it your aim to grow in Christ-like character through reading and obeying the
Bible, you will get better at making wise choices in your life. You’ll get better at recognizing the Holy
Spirit’s leading and direction. And, you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be. More next week!