September 23

The “Secret” to Knowing God’s Will

John 7:14-17 Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.”

Psalm 25:14 The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.

Jesus had gone up to Jerusalem for the annual Feast of Booths. He began teaching in the Temple, and as usual, was equal parts impressive and confusing. Swirling around Him was the question of whether this man who healed on the Sabbath, who claimed to have God as His Father and said He was the bread of life was sent from God or was a madman.

Some asked how He could possibly have this level of understanding when He hadn’t been taught by any well-known rabbi. In His reply, Jesus gave us all insight into knowing the will of God: “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” In other words, Jesus was telling His listeners that if they set their will to do God’s will, they would receive the revelation that Jesus was speaking the words of God.

Jesus was speaking to them about the issue of His origin and identity. But His answer echoes down the centuries in its application. The key to understanding the will of God is not found in the mind, but in the heart and will. The “secret”–which is only a secret to those who don’t read His Word–is that the key to finding out God’s will is to already be willing to do it.

Psalm 25:14 rounds that out by approaching the same issue from a different angle. If we want to know His will (“the secret of the Lord”), we need to fear Him in the Biblical sense of fear, which includes following His will.

What this means for us is that the occasional hard work of finding God’s will begins with checking out our willingness to actually do what we might discover His will to be. It is a waste of our time to fool ourselves into praying, reading, and even fasting to discover His will if we never have any intention of doing it. Those are wonderful avenues of pursuing God’s will when we simultaneously fear Him and desire to do His will. But when accompanied by a heart unwilling to do His will, those exercises are similar to the empty sacrifices offered to God in the Old Testament by those whose hearts were far from the Lord—meaningless and ineffective because they were not offered in faith.

There is no condemnation if we initially discover that we are not completely inclined to do His will. If that’s the case, that is where we put our prayers and spiritual focus. And we are not to be discouraged if it takes a season of waiting on God and praying to have our hearts moved to a position of willingness to obey.

The Lord can show us direction in a split second; it often takes much longer to get our hearts rightly positioned to receive that direction. If that is where the work has to begin, rejoice that He has pointed it out, and that He will hear our prayers to soften and reposition our hearts.

Prayer: Lord, continue to soften my heart to do Your will as I walk with You. Show me by Your Spirit when I’m not being honest with myself. Thank You that You can change a heart. May I always be willing to be made willing to do Your will.

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