Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
“By testing you may discern”. But how can we test a thing? We can’t just go trying things willy-nilly and see if they turn out to be God’s will – and how would we even know? “Well, things seem to have gone smoothly, must have been God’s will.” or “It felt good, so it must be God’s will.” No, I don’t think those are good “tests”. Fortunately, there are some more objective ways to test if a thing is God’s will. Here are 3 Bible verses that give us ways to test if a thing is in God’s will.
- Is it lawful?
1 Peter 2:13-15 13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,[a] whether it be to the emperor[b] as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
Our governments may not be perfect, so our temptation may be to say “well, this law isn’t right anyway, so I will ignore it”. But being a lawbreaker is not a good witness for Christ. Doing good within the limits of the law will earn the praise and respect of even foolish leaders, setting us up to be a greater witness.
- Is it loving?
Romans 13:9 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”. (Read the whole chapter!)
Like governments, people are not perfect either. Sometimes they are infuriating, hurtful, and seemingly evil – but we are called to love them. The story of the Good Samaritan teaches us that everyone – especially the needy – is our neighbor. Everything we participate in should be done in love to others. If we’re displaying hatred, contempt, or disrespect – then we’re not acting in love, and we’re not within the will of God.
- Is it in the name of Jesus?
Acts 4:18-20 18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” When Peter and John were called before the council in this verse, it is in part because angels had freed them from jail and they had gone to the temple to preach some more. What you need to pay attention to is that they acted in love to their neighbors, (they had been teaching and healing), and that they first did the will of the authorities, (they allowed themselves to be arrested and jailed). They didn’t run, they didn’t fight, they didn’t start a militia. They did good, acted in love, submitted to authorities, but did not back down from their conviction to share God’s love.