On Knowing God's Will.

J. N. Darby.


People would like a convenient and comfortable means of knowing God's will, as one might get a receipt for anything; but there exists no means of ascertaining it without reference to the state of our own soul. Moreover, we are often of too much importance in our own eyes; and we deceive ourselves in supposing some will of God in such or such a case. God perhaps has nothing to tell us thereon, the evil being altogether in the stir we give ourselves. The will of God is perhaps that we should take quietly an insignificant place.

Further, we sometimes seek God's will, desiring to know how to act in circumstances in which His only will is that we should not be found at all; and where, if conscience were really in activity, its first effect would be to make us leave them. It is our own will which sets us there, and we should like nevertheless to enjoy the comfort of being guided of God in a path which we ourselves have chosen. Such is a very common case.

Be assured that, if we are near enough to God, we shall not be at a loss to know His will. In a long and active life it may happen, that God, in His love, may not always at once reveal His will to us, that we may feel our dependence, particularly where the individual has a tendency to act according to his own will. However, "if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light"; whence it is certain that, if the whole body is not full of light, the eye is not single. You will say, That is poor consolation. I answer it is rich consolation for those whose sole desire is to have the eye single and to walk with God - not, so to speak, to avoid this trouble in learning His will objectively, but whose desire is to walk with God. "If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him." It is always the same principle. "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." You cannot exempt yourself from this moral law of Christianity. "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing by the knowledge of God." The mutual connection of these things is of immense importance for the soul. The Lord must be known intimately if one would walk in a way worthy of Him; and it is thus that we grow in the knowledge of God's will. "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ." Finally, it is written that the spiritual man "judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man."

20 It is then the will of God, and a precious will, that we should be able to discern it only according to our own spiritual state. In general, when we think that we are judging circumstances, it is God who is judging us - who is judging our state. Our business is to keep close to Him. God would not be good to us, if He permitted us to discover His will without that. It might be convenient just to have a director of consciences; and we should thus be spared the discovery and the chastisement of our moral condition. Thus, if you seek how you may discover the will of God without that, you are seeking evil; and it is what we see every day.