The Dangers of the Permissive Will of God

But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else” (Exodus 4:13 ESV)

Traditionally, we have categorized God’s will into the perfect and the permissive. The perfect will is what He wants, while the permissive will is what He allows if we reject His first choice. Like the Trinity, the Bible does not contain the phrase “permissive will” per se, but we find the concept throughout the scriptures. However, there are hidden dangers in the permissive will of God.

Many of us might not associate Exodus 4:13 above to Moses—Israel’s most revered prophet. God’s initial plan (perfect will) was to send Moses alone as the leader to deliver Israel. When God called Moses, he politely told the Lord to send someone else; the Lord then called Aaron to accompany Moses (permissive will). A few days later, Aaron will be the leader to endorse the people’s request to build an abominable idol in full view of God’s glory on Mount Sinai.

There is a dark side to the permissive will of God. If you agree the Lord has perfect wisdom, then we can see there is a reason the permissive will is not His perfect will. And when we choose the permissive will, undoubtedly, we will always face the ugly reason the Lord did not want it in the first place, as Moses did. 

In His infinite wisdom and grace, the Lord can still rescue us and use our wrong choices with their consequences for His glory. However, we always have to go through the process — often painful—of allowing Him to bring beauty out of our mess. This might take years, and with tears. Therefore, the best place to be is always in God’s perfect will.

Read more: The permissive will of God.


What is the difference between the perfect and permissive will of God?

Can you think of another example of the permissive will of God in the scripture and the consequences that followed? See 1 Samuel 8:4-8.

Apply the Word

God’s perfect will is the perfect place for us at all times. Do not be wise in your own eyes, but trust and depend on His infinite wisdom always.


Ask the Father to help you not move from the perfect to the permissive will in your life.

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