The preceptive will of God relates to the revealed commandments of God’s published law. When God commands us not to steal, this decree does not carry with it the immediate necessity of consequence. Where it was not possible for the light to refuse to shine in creation, it is possible for us to refuse to obey this command. In a word, we steal.
We must be careful not to make too much of this distinction. We must not be lulled into thinking that the preceptive will of God is divorced form His decretive will. It is not as though the preceptive will has no effect or no necessity of consequence. We may have the power to disobey the precept. We do not have the power to disobey it with impunity. Neither can we annul it by our disregard. His law remains intact whether we obey or disobey it.
In one sense, the preceptive will is part of the decretive will. God sovereignly and efficaciously decrees that His Law be established. It is established and nothing can disestablish it. His Law exists as surely as the light by which we read it.
During the next few days, read Psalm 119, which praises the preceptive will of God as revealed in His written Word.