God’s Will and Man’s Free Choice

By: Nancy Missler; ©2000
Nancy Missler asks: What is God’s will for us and how does he achieve it in our lives? The answer to this question may help us endure the “night seasons” that so often overwhelm us.

Four Aspects of God’s Will

In order to thoroughly explore “night seasons,” their origin and purpose, we need to go back to the beginning. What is God’s will for us and how does He achieve it in our lives?

Because the term “the will of God” has become so overused in sermons, teachings and devotionals, it has now almost become a cliche. In 1 Peter 4:2, it says we are to “live the rest of [the] time…[no longer for] the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” The question is: How can we live the rest of the time to the will of God, unless we first understand just exactly what that will is?

As we seek to do this, it’s important that we base our knowledge only upon what the Word of God says, and not upon our own human understanding, because often they are contradictory.

Remember God’s ways are not our ways. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) God’s ways of doing things are often completely opposite to what we would do, and thus, sometimes very confusing to our own rational and logical mind.

According to the Bible, there are four different aspects to God’s Will:

  1. His Sovereign Will—God’s ultimate redemptive goals and purposes that are often hidden from mankind
  2. His Revealed Will—God’s will already disclosed through His Word, the Bible
  3. His Will For Mankind—Salvation—union with Christ and thus, freedom from sin
  4. His Will For Believers—Sanctification—purification of the body, soul and spirit

Let’s review these four aspects of God’s will in detail, because again, if we understand what His will is and what He is trying to accomplish in each of our lives, then we won’t struggle so hard when the night seasons come.

God’s Sovereign Will

(His ultimate redemptive goals and purposes)

Ephesians 1:9-10 says, “Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself. That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth: even in Him.” (emphasis added)

This Scripture tells us that God’s sovereign will is not only the redemption of all things, but it’s also a “mystery.” In other words, mankind does not understand how God is guiding the universe and the human race toward His ultimate goals. Thus, much of God’s sovereign will is still a mystery, hidden from us.

God’s sovereign will, even though it is a mystery as to how it will all be implemented, is that the natural world be restored back to its original glory and that man would be redeemed back to fellowship with Him. The word redeem actually means “to release, to free, to liberate or to restore one from captivity.” It carries the meaning of purchasing or buying back (out of the market, never to return) by paying a ransom. This perfectly describes God’s ultimate plan for creation. The earth and everything in it was made for God and He desires to redeem (or purchase back) all things to Himself.

As a result of Adam’s tragic disobedience (and the resulting fall of mankind), man’s sacred union and fellowship with God was broken and sin permeated the world. Yet from the Lord’s perfect Love came forth His plan of redemption. By His “determinate counsel and foreknowledge,”[1] God chose to literally become a man and to die for the sins of mankind.

That God Himself would undertake the task of personally atoning for (covering for) the sins of all people is astounding. Christ’s death cleanses us from all sin[2] and by His onetime sacrifice, He has perfected for all time those who come to God through Him.[3]

Only through God can creation be set free from the slavery and the corruption of the fall and only through Him will mankind ever know “the glorious liberty” of being the children of God.[4]

The idea behind the word “redemption” is twofold: It refers to a deliverance and it refers to the price paid for that deliverance, a ransom. We are delivered from the penalty of sin and from the power of Satan and evil, by the price (or the ransom) Jesus paid on the
cross for us. We are redeemed from sin to a new relationship with God and a new life of Love, by our own appropriation of that atonement.

The Open Bible tells us that:

The whole of the Bible, whether the Old Testament or the New Testament,looks to the mighty, redemptive atonement of Christ. His blood sacrifice is thebransom paid for our deliverance. He took our sinful nature upon Himself in order that He might satisfy the demands of the law. His sacrifice is accepted as the payment for the debt the sinner owes to God, and His death is accepted as the full payment for the individual’s deliverance.[5]

Have you ever wondered why God would go to such lengths to redeem His fallen creation?

The answer can be summed up in one word: Love. As Song of Solomon 8:7 says, “Many waters cannot quench [God’s] Love, neither can the floods drown it.” Love is the only thing in the universe as strong as death (verse 6) and therefore, the cross was simply and purely an act of unconditional Love. God’s motivation always comes from Love, because He, Himself, is Love.[6]

Love is the reason God created us in the first place and Love is the only key to our locked identity. We can never expect to “find ourselves” apart from an ever-deepening relationship with our Creator.

Man is not the center. God does not exist for the sake of man. [Nor does]man exist for his own sake,” writes C. S. Lewis. “We were created for His pleasure. We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too), but that God may love us.[7](emphasis added)

This is the very heart of God’s redemption.


  1. Acts 2:23.
  2. 1 John 1:7.
  3. Hebrews 10:10, 12, 14.
  4. Romans 8:21.
  5. The Open Bible, page 1762.
  6. 1 John 4:8.
  7. The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis, page 43.

Leave a Comment