Part Two of a Three Part Series on God’s Will.
By Pastor Don Strand
What is the will of God for my life? That’s a question that each of us has probably asked at one time or another. The Bible speaks of God’s will in three distinct ways and last week I wrote about God’s “decretive” will. That is a fancy way to describe those things God has willed by decree. And because God is sovereign and controls all things at all times throughout creation, what He decrees will always come to pass. Therefore God’s decretive will can never be frustrated.
The second way the Bible speaks of God’s will is called His “preceptive will”, our subject this week. The word “precept” means a “general rule to govern behavior or thought”. Precepts are rules, commands and principles and God’s preceptive will is His Law summarized in the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20:1-17. These are the familiar “Thou shall not…’s” we have heard many times and they actually form the basis of our system of laws since the earliest days of human civilization.
While God’s decretive will is often hidden from us until those decrees come to pass, His precepts; His rules for right living are clearly revealed in many places in the Bible. For example God commands us to love our neighbor (Leviticus 19:8), to care for the poor (Leviticus 25:35), to treat strangers with respect (Numbers 15:16) as well as to not steal, bear false witness or envy other people’s possessions (Exodus 20:15-17). We are to be kind, honest, humble, and gracious (1 Corinthians 13:4) and to work with our hands in making an honest living (Ephesians 4:28). In summary, Jesus said that God’s preceptive will for all mankind is to love God and to love one’s neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). The Bible also tells us that God’s precepts are literally “written on our hearts”. We know this as our conscience (Romans 2:15). People don’t need a Bible to know that murder, slavery and theft are wrong because of the moral compass of conscience within us tells us so.
God’s preceptive will to follow His commands whether found in Scripture or in our hearts is binding on all mankind everywhere and at all times. Yet we break His precepts all the time. This is called sin. And, while we have the power in our choices to violate God’s preceptive will, we never have the authority or the right to do so. Neither can we excuse our sin by saying it was God’s decretive or hidden will for us to do so to accomplish His greater purposes.
For example, while God decreed that Jesus would be betrayed by the treachery of Judas Iscariot that does not make his sin less evil or treacherous. Judas was morally responsible for his actions and judged for them even though God permitted it to accomplish His purpose. When God “permits” us to break His preceptive will, it is never to be understood as permission to sin or His granting us a ‘pass’ to do so. His “permitting” gives us the power, but never the right to sin.
It has been said that we don’t break God’s law, we only break ourselves against it. God’s preceptive will for His children is to obey His law. When we do, we find that we are healthier, happier and safer which are real blessings from Him. God’s will for each of us is to obey His commands because it shows our love for Him and that is His first and most important will for our lives (John 14:15; 15:10).
Next week we’ll look at a third way the Bible speaks of God’s will and then discover the key to knowing His will for each of our lives.