I want to clear up a wrong conception of the will of God. Have you ever heard this? “God has one perfect will for your life, and if you mess up, then your life is messed up forever.” God has a Plan A for your life, and when you seriously deviate from it, you can never get back to Plan A again. Therefore, you need to accept God’s second best. This is not true; God has a more hopeful word for you than this!
You know the story of David and Bathsheba. David has Uriah killed, and he marries Bathsheba. II Samuel 11:27 says, “And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son.”
Think of this: Should David be married to Bathsheba at this point at the end of our text? If he hadn’t killed Uriah, he would not be married to her. David has messed up ‘God’s plan’ for his life, hasn’t he? He has sinned and now is living in the aftermath of his sin with Bathsheba as his wife. So should he divorce her? Well, that would be another sin, wouldn’t it? How can David possibly do God’s will in this situation?
Let me try to explain. When we speak of God’s will, in a sense, there are two wills of God. The great 18th-century theologian Jonathan Edwards wrote about this, and I have found his explanation very helpful. The first sense of God’s will is that which pleases God – that which accords with His holy nature. God wills for us to do what is righteous and holy – that is His will.
You have – I have – like David, sinned many times; we have irreversibly swerved away from God’s perfect will for our lives. There is no such thing as a person who is perfectly “in God’s will” in this sense.
Let’s use the example of a young Christian lady who lets her love for God cool. She begins to date an unsaved young man and falls madly in love with him. They get married. Was this God’s will? In other words, was God pleased with her marriage? No. God clearly states that believers should only marry believers. So fast forward to today. She is still married to him 20 years later. Perhaps he is saved now; perhaps he is still unsaved. In either case, she should not have married him. What if she wouldn’t have married him? Perhaps she would have married the “right” person – a godly Christian man. But she didn’t, and now it’s too late. Her marriage shouldn’t exist; if she has children, they shouldn’t exist, because she should not have married this man. But let’s go further – when her children grow up and get married, even if they are Christians and they marry Christians, their lives are affected by this woman’s past sin. If she would have obeyed God and not married that lost man, these children would not exist. How about the spouses of these children? They should actually be marrying someone else, because their mother-in-law should not have gotten married to the man she married. Now these innocent people are living completely different lives because of one woman’s sin. How about the children who “should” have been born, and the people they “should” have married? Now those other people will be stuck marrying the “wrong” spouses, and having the “wrong” children!
How about a Christian husband and wife who get a divorce? They believe their marriage can no longer survive; they ignore pastoral counsel, and they get divorced. Then they both remarry – and both of them have children with their new spouse. Should they have gotten divorced? No! Can they get undivorced? No, not without getting another divorce and committing another sin! Now they have stepped away from God’s will, and their new children – who should never have been born if they had done God’s will – are they not permanently outside the will of God, since they should never have been born?
These are not imaginary events; these things are happening all around as we speak, even in our own lives. Do you see how one sinful action has innumerable consequences? When you throw a pebble into a pond, the tiny ripples it creates slowly spread out and touch the borders of that pond far beyond where the stone originally landed. And so it is with your sin, church! Even a sinful word can have ramifications far beyond its original intent. Who can untangle this mess? Because each of us have sinned and gone against “God’s will,” how can God possibly achieve His will in the world? Surely His original intent for our lives has been twisted and changed beyond recognition both because of our sin and the sin of others.
But no, that is not the case. This is where the second meaning of God’s will comes in. Remember, the first meaning of God’s will is that which pleases God – that which accords with His holy nature. God wills for us to do what is righteous and holy – that is His will. Here is the second meaning: God’s will is everything that happens in the world, be it good or bad. Nothing happens that is not God’s will in this sense. Christian, nothing has happened to you that has surprised God or that He didn’t know would happen to you! God either actively causes or permits, as in the case of Job, whatever happens in your life – and in everyone’s life. Ephesians 1:11 says that God is the one “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” This is the second meaning of God’s will, and it is vital that we understand it if we are to understand how we as sinners can live in God’s will even after we have messed up.
Let me give you an example from the life of Joseph. Answer this question: Who sent Joseph into Egypt? Was it not his brothers? But there is another, deeper answer. Psalm 105:17 says, “He [God] sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant.”
So according to this verse, who sent Joseph into Egypt? God did! God’s will was the ultimate reason behind Joseph’s going into Egypt.
Now why did God plan this? Genesis 50:20 says, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”
So what was the brothers’ purpose? It was to harm Joseph; it was evil. What was God’s purpose? It was to do good to Joseph; it was to do good to the world.
So what has your purpose been in the past in rebelling against God’s holy will? Was it not evil and selfish? But if you will repent and confess your sin as David did, you will see that God meant it unto good.
So, because God is control of every event, even if you have sinned and failed and gone away from God’s will, in a sense, you are still in God’s will. You cannot undo the past, but you can still move forward in the will of God! So even if you have blown it regarding God’s holy will, you are still in His general will – and you can live again in His holy will if you confess your sin.
Now, I want to caution you here. My point in telling you about God’s will, and pointing out God’s blessing to David in our story, is to help you cope with past failures. It is not meant to be a guide for decision-making! Do not say, “Well, if I sin, God will work it together for good, so I’ll go ahead and sin.” Do you think David thought within himself, “I’m glad I committed adultery with Bathsheba”? No! This sin resulted in the death of three of his sons and great heartache for himself. Oh, if David had not sinned, how much sweeter would God’s blessing have been; how much happier would his family have been!
But it is too late now. The deed is done. But David’s life is not over; He can still do God’s will; God will still bless him after his repentance, and even use his sin to accomplish good in his life! It is the same for you, whatever your sin.
I have struggled with this truth of God’s will. Not so much with when other people’s sin has affected me, but when my sin affects my life. Oh, but we need to remember that the grace of God is greater than our sin! We need to humble ourselves before His Word and trust His promises to work all things together for our good. We need to repent of our sin and worship and bless Him for His faithfulness.