(See THE WILL OF GOD and THE WILL OF GOD, PART 2.)
Two questions that are related:
1. What if we have sinned and are now paying the consequences?
2. What if we have simply made a bad decision or choice and are now paying the consequences?
Are we in such cases outside of the will of God?
Well, yes and no!
Whenever we sin we step outside of God’s Revealed (or Preceptive) Will. But we are promised that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness ... And if anyone sins we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 1:9; 2:1a). It would seem to me that at the moment we confess, we are back walking in the Preceptive Will of God. Yes there may be consequences to our actions. We may have fences to mend, others whose forgiveness we may need to seek. We may even be forced to change our direction. But if we have truly repented and confessed we are not “outside of God’s will.” And if this is true when we sin, then I would suppose it’s also true when we make bad choices.
But we can never step outside of God’s Decreed Will! God “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). “We know that to those who love God, He works all things together for good, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). And of course, God’s purpose is ultimately that we should be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).
I have known believers who have felt themselves under the hand of God, feeling His discipline, which is, often simply the consequences of our actions. They have felt that because of their own wrong choices they have placed themselves outside of God’s plan, and been in some way side-tracked. But God’s plan for us is not simply concerned with jobs or homes or relationships, as important as these may be. God’s plan is to make us like His Son. And He uses all things, all circumstances, all our choices, good or bad, even our own sin, to accomplish His purpose.
And God is not answerable to us as to how He is accomplishing that purpose. Sometimes events in our lives seem to make no sense. We long to see some indication of how God is working, but we often haven’t a clue.
I’ve been there. I have found myself searching my life, my heart, my actions, to find whatever I may have done wrong to warrant my being in the situation I have found myself in. I have confessed all known sin. Yet I have been forced to simply wait for God’s direction out. Sometimes He has showed me, or opened some door; often He has seemed to remain silent. It is at times like these, when I have been completely ignorant of why or how or where or what, that all I can do is trust. And as I look back on my life I find that it has been at these times that I often have felt God “conforming” me.
I still have a long way to go, but it is comforting to know that I can never, ever get outside of God’s purpose for me.