How may I know the Lord’s will for myself?
There are, of course, Christians who act as if they were free agents with no apparent regard for the will of the Lord in their lives, but there are still many for whom discovering the Lord’s mind is a very exercising matter. Indeed since the very basis of Christian life is obedience, it is not too much to say that we will make no progress at all if we fail to address this vital question!
One thing is immediately obvious, and that is, that the Scriptures do not give a neat little section on “how to know the Lord’s mind”. Now the omissions of Scripture are often as important as what Scripture does include, and what I glean from this is that the mind of the Lord is not arrived at by taking a light and superficial attitude to the issue. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant”, (Ps. 25: 14). God makes His will known that it might be obeyed. Implicit obedience is expected. I cannot have His will revealed and then decide whether or not I think it suits me. His will is revealed for obedience. One man who thought (no doubt sincerely), that he knew better, did positive damage to the testimony of the Lord, (See Mark 1: 40–45). What God intends our approach to be on this matter is more along the lines of Luke 11: 10 “For everyone that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it will be opened”. Discerning the Lord’s mind involves diligent and painstaking searching, and real soul exercise, not merely the reading of the instructions of a “how to know it guide”! The Bible is purposely constructed this way—Christianity is not simply following the rules of a religious guide book, but is a relationship with a real living Person. Knowing His mind depends to a very great degree on how well we know Him, (and relationships cannot be built up overnight). It is not perhaps an exact parallel, but is surely noteworthy that it was the disciple “leaning on the breast of Jesus” that was on the most intimate terms with the Master, (John 13: 21–26). The more I know a person, the more I will understand the way he feels and thinks.
Of course, it is obvious that we must ask the Lord if we would know His mind: “And I said, What shall I do Lord? And the Lord said to me, .... and there it shall be told thee of all things which it is appointed thee to do”, (Acts 22: 10). However, two further things are essential: study of the Scriptures and the presence of the Holy Spirit within. As to the first, it is manifestly evident that anything unscriptural cannot be the Lord’s mind—whether it be against the letter, or the spirit of God’s Word. In the addresses to the seven assemblies, (Rev. 2, 3), you have the word of the Lord at the beginning and the word of the Spirit at the end of each address, and there is no difference. What the Lord may say is entirely in keeping with what the Holy Spirit has penned in Scripture. Of course, many individual matters are not dealt with in the Bible, but the regular, prayerful reader will soon begin to see the trend of the Lord’s mind. After all, the Scriptures are a record of God’s will and mind. Sure, many of life’s problems are very specific and the Scriptures may not appear to furnish an answer, but it is sadly a little observed fact that the Word of God is one of the principle methods that God uses to speak to us today—on any problem. It is a living book! A particular Scripture may appear entirely unrelated to the issue in question, but God may use it to speak to me.
He who makes the Bible a living book is of course the Spirit of God, and this brings us to the second point namely that I must be wholly given over to the influence of the Holy Spirit! 1 Cor. 2: 10–16 shows us that possession of God’s Spirit gives us unprecedented access to the things of God, as far as it is possible for a creature to go. Now the Spirit is here to exalt Christ, (John 16: 14), and since He does not give instructions independently of the Head (v 13), to put myself under His control is a sure way of getting the Lord’s mind. Hence, at the end of the passage in Corinthians, in which he has detailed the benefit of having the Spirit within, Paul closes with the words “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him: But we have the mind of Christ”. It is the result of having the Holy Spirit.
In closing I can only re-emphasise our first point, namely, that there is no easy route to knowing the Saviour’s mind. Even Paul could only say “I have no commandment of the Lord; yet I give my judgement, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. And I think also that I have the Spirit of God, (1 Cor. 7: 25, 40). On another occasion he had to beseech the Lord thrice, (2 Cor. 12: 8), before he knew His mind. The point is if we earnestly seek it, we will surely receive it, though we may have to wait.