Published Apr 27, 2019

A Biblical analysis of the will of God

Article by Casey McFall

            Just to clarify, this article is not about understanding God’s specific will for your life, but rather an expose on what the Bible says about the will of God. This topic is being broached here because there seems to be a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about the will of God amongst Christians today and that misunderstanding leads to mental distress when expectations and reality do not align. For example, one thing that many Christians like to say about God is that everything is in His will and everything will happen as He wills it. Biblically speaking, this both is and isn’t true. Sound paradoxical? Welcome to learning about God!

            The seeming paradox stems from the fact that the word “will” can have many definitions depending on how it is being used. This aspect of the word “will” holds true even when it comes to the will of God. While Biblically studying the will of God, one may find the following types of will: the determined will of God, the decreed will of God, the desiring will of God, the delegated will of God, and the directive will of God (To any preachers out there, please feel free to steal the alliteration for a sermon!). Please note that while the categorizations of these wills are found in the Bible, the terms for them are not! In other words, you won’t find a verse that specifically states: “This is the delegated will of God”, and one could just as easily call it the forsaken will or the allowing will.

 

The determined will of God

* Something that is vital to understand about the subsequent paragraphs that describe this will, is that there are several phrases saying that something “has to” happen. This is not negating either the power of God nor the choice that Jesus made to obey the will of God, nor the choice that men make to accept Christ’s sacrifice.

            It may actually be more descriptive or correct to call this the predetermined or foreordained will of God. There are certain events that God, in His omniscient foreknowledge, determined would happen; and determined them even before He created the world. This is why it is called “foreordained” in I Peter 1:20. This “will” is not what God wanted, but rather is an event of divine intervention that He knew would happen. God did not want His Son to die on a cross, and yet it was clearly His will! (Matt. 26:42)

            How is that even possible? The very words “He didn’t want it to happen but it was His will” seem to contradict themselves. This is why it is so important to understand that there are different types of will and also that not everything that does happen is what God wanted to happen! More on that later, under the delegated will of God; but for now, suffice it to say that the determined will of God is not that which God chooses to happen but rather is what must happen as a result of other events. Thus, God did not choose for Christ to suffer and die, but He knew that Jesus would have to (John 3:14, I Peter 1:20) in order to pay the blood price that is demanded for sin (Heb. 9:22) and divinely intervened on our behalf. If everything had happened according to the desiring will of God, then man would still be living in the garden of Eden and there would be no need for Christ to suffer and die.

            Another example of the determined will of God, is the salvation of believers. Ephesians 1:5 says, “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will”. There are a lot of people who use this verse and Romans 8:29 to teach that God chose people to be saved; that He picked them out even before the creation of the earth. We can know that this isn’t true; and that the salvation of the saints is actually a part of the determined will of God because to say otherwise would be an absolute contradiction of Romans 10:13. The Bible will never contradict itself! Thus, rather than God choosing certain people to be saved, it is rather that God knew who would be saved and that it must happen as a result of their acceptance of Jesus Christ as savior.

 

The decreed will of God

            The decreed will of God is literally the decrees of God. In other words, everything that God has commanded we should or should not do is the decreed will of God. For people to abstain from murder, to abstain from stealing, to abstain from adultery: all of these are the decreed will of God. To a certain extent, this will is a subset of the desiring will of God as it is what God wants; but is a more narrowed and refined version of it that God has declared to be non-negotiable and to which He will hold all men accountable. Unfortunately, we can never meet the demands of the decreed will of God by ourselves due to our sin nature. It is only through the redeeming power of Jesus’ blood that we are able to live free from sin and law and live within the will of God! (Read more about this in the article “Can Christians live without sinning?”

         

The desiring will of God

            The desiring will of God is actually what God desires. This is what God wants to happen even though He is constantly disappointed and His will consistently does not come to pass. These words may seem a bit shocking to some people. After all, God is all-powerful and all-knowing. It should be impossible for something to not happen if He wants it to happen. This is exactly what we see in the Bible however. II Peter 3:9 states that He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Yet there are so many people who have already died in their sins and there will be so many more in the future! (Matt. 7:13) This is clearly an unfulfillment of the will of God.

            There are also many other examples of the desiring will of God not actually happening. In Matthew 23:37, Jesus (God) declared His love for Israel and His desire to gather and protect them. Yet, He was not able to do so in spite of His will. Another example of the desiring will of God not happening, and one that is very interesting, can be found in Luke 22:42. In this passage, Jesus (God) is actually praying for God the Father to remove this cup (Jesus’ pending suffering and death) from Him. He very clearly makes it known that it is His desiring will to not have to die on the cross; yet this desiring will was denied because of God’s determined will!

            These two examples serve not only to illustrate the fact that God’s desiring will may be denied, but also to give an explanation of why this is so. Namely, because of the other types of God’s will. Jesus’ request in Luke 22:42 was denied because of what had to be done (God’s determined will), and Jesus’ desire that was expressed in Matthew 23:37 could not come to pass because of the delegated will of God. Thus we can see; that, out of love for us, He actually suspends His own will in order to allow to happen that which is not His will!

 

The delegated will of God

            The delegated will of God is often referred to as the permissive will of God. The truth of the matter, is that this is not God’s will at all! Rather, this is what God allows to happen in spite of His will. In a word, this is the free will of man. God did not want Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. In fact, it was actually the decreed will of God (His commands) that they not do so! (Gen. 2:17) Yet, He allowed them to do so. He could have enforced His desiring will (for man to remain sinless) and sent an angel to block Eve from taking the fruit, but that would make a mockery of the free will which He had given man. This was still a transgression against the decreed will of God however; making it a sin, so Adam and Eve could not escape the consequences! (Rom. 5:12)

            This is why I call it the delegated will of God instead of the permissive will of God. The word “permissive” comes from the root of “permit” or “to allow”. In this way, it is correct to say that God is allowing things to happen or permitting them to happen because He does not stop them. But the word permit also carries a connotation of requirements being waived or rules being suspended. For example, ambulances are permitted to go above the speed limit or run through red lights. They are allowed to do so with a suspension of the rules. But God never suspends the rules or allows anyone to transgress against His decreed will without suffering the consequences!

            Thus, the term “delegated”. The word “delegate” means to entrust something (usually a task or responsibility) to another person. This is exactly what God has done for us! Instead of determining our actions for us, He has entrusted us with the responsibility of making decisions for ourselves. But if we take advantage of this trust and authority to break the law of God, He will doubtlessly hold that to our account!

 

The directive will of God

            The directive will of God is God’s direction for our lives. Just as the decreed will of God is a subset of the desiring will of God; the directive will of God is a subset of the decreed will of God. The difference between the two is that the decreed will is general and applies to everyone while the directive will is specific to an individual. It is important to note that, as a subset of the decreed will, the directive will of God will never go against His decreed will! In other words, it will never be God’s specific will for your life to do something that does not align with the decreed will of God as outlined in the Word of God. For example, if you are thinking of marrying someone who is not saved, you don’t even have to pray if that is God’s will for your life because He has already told us in II Corinthians 6:14 that we must not be unequally yoked!

            Another important point to note, is that since the directive will is specific and personal, it will not be explicitly called out in the Bible. It would make things a lot easier (aka no faith necessary) if the Bible would just straight out say “Casey, you must go to this college to study that major and marry this girl and eventually work at that company”. But God doesn’t work that way! God wants to have a personal relationship with us, and will declare His will for us only when we are in a state of constant prayer to Him and are living a life in His will (Acts 10). To this end, He also does not give us a roadmap of His will for our lives. The Bible is a lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119:105); but the interesting thing about lamps, is that they have a limited range of light. They only show what we need to see to take the next couple of steps! This is how God wants us to live; completely dependent on Him!

 

A challenge to Christians

            Previously, I stated that I prefer to use the term “delegated will” over “permissive will”, and explained why. There are many Christians which, either through ignorance or abuse, attempt to twist the will of God to excuse their own actions. Whenever they do something that they know is wrong, they comment that they have missed out on God’s perfect will for their life but that they are still living in His permissive will. This goes against what the Bible teaches! God does know what is best for us; and if we ask Him, He will show us what steps we should take and what decisions we should make. But God also shares with us at times His directive will, and that will is non-negotiable! If God calls you to be a missionary and you choose to become an engineer instead; you are not living in God’s permissive will, you are living in sin!

 

 

Psalm 40:8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

 






Hi! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us so I came to look it over.
I'm definitely enjoying the information. I'm book-marking and
will be tweeting this to my followers! Wonderful blog and great style and design. This
is a topic that's close to my heart... Take care! Exactly where are your contact details though?

I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written! http://Foxnews.net/

Jasmin            July 17, 2019, 7:17 a.m.

Hi! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us so I came to look it over.
I'm definitely enjoying the information. I'm book-marking and
will be tweeting this to my followers! Wonderful blog and great style and design. This
is a topic that's close to my heart... Take care! Exactly where are your contact details though?

I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written! http://Foxnews.net/

Jasmin            July 17, 2019, 7:17 a.m.

Hi! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us so I came to look it over.
I'm definitely enjoying the information. I'm book-marking and
will be tweeting this to my followers! Wonderful blog and great style and design. This
is a topic that's close to my heart... Take care! Exactly where are your contact details though?

I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written! http://Foxnews.net/

Jasmin            July 17, 2019, 7:17 a.m.

Hi! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us so I came to look it over.
I'm definitely enjoying the information. I'm book-marking and
will be tweeting this to my followers! Wonderful blog and great style and design. This
is a topic that's close to my heart... Take care! Exactly where are your contact details though?

I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written! http://Foxnews.net/

Jasmin            July 17, 2019, 7:17 a.m.

Great job.

Mac            July 14, 2019, 12:49 p.m.

Wow. This is some truly top-notch thoughts you have shared! I've never heard or seen the will of God broken down in such a way before. Well done!

Pastor Mark            May 26, 2019, 4:42 a.m.

Let me start by saying, excellent devotion on the will of God. I greatly appreciate the explanation of the delegated will of God. Always had a problem with "permissive" will. And for the reason that you mentioned, He does not give me permission but gives me a choice.
It would be nice if God "wrote on the wall" what I am to do, but praise the Lord that He doesn't, I need the fellowship.
Again thanks for the challenge.

Anonymous            May 7, 2019, 3 a.m.

Another excellent study of the Word!
Thank you for exposing the various
definitions of the 'will' of God. By His grace, we must discern between these definitions.

Darlene H.            April 28, 2019, 8:45 p.m.

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