Monday, September 1, 2014

The Will of God vs The Will of Man


St. Augustine is often quoted as having said “Love God and do as you please.”

It is unfortunate that so many people are careless by mis-quoting and mis-representing what another person has said.  In this modern day of Twitter hashtags and Facebook gossip, we should know better than to trust the verity of someone’s words without making a diligent search to prove whether those things are true.  The full sentence of St. Augustine’s statement is thusly stated: “Love God and do as you please; for the soul trained to love God will do nothing to offend the one who is Beloved.”

When honestly and accurately considered in the entirety of his statement, we can agree that St. Augustine’s statement is true.  Jesus said: “If a man love me, he will keep my words… He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings.”

If we seek to know the truth, the Holy Spirit will witness to us that if we truly love God, we will completely submit our will to God’s will because it is our wholehearted desire to keep all the commandments of God.  If we have been trained by the grace and goodness of the Holy Spirit, “we will do nothing to offend the Beloved.”

Jesus Christ is our example and He did not allow His human nature, which had an element of self-protection, to become His will and displace the will of His Father.  Jesus ruled over His flesh and made the choice that His will was to do the will of the Father.  Jesus was tempted to make choices which would have been contrary to the will of God.  However, temptations, thoughts and desires are not equal to the “will”.

If Satan could not put thoughts into our mind to appeal to our five senses and the natural desires of the flesh, then there would be no temptations.   But we “count it all joy” when we fall into these testings and temptations because they are opportunities to prove our love and devotion to God.  My will is to do the will of God.  As a justified and sanctified person, I do not yield to the will of the flesh to fulfill the desires of the flesh.  I have crucified the flesh so that I can keep all the commandments of God. 

When Jesus came to the hour of His death, He said: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Jesus is not saying that He wanted something different than what His Father wanted.  His human nature expressed itself with the desire to escape, but Jesus overcame that desire with a complete submission of His will to the will of His Father.  It was not Jesus’ will to do anything other than what His Father had sent Him into the world to achieve.  So it must be with every Christian, it is always, continually and constantly our desire to do the will of our Lord Jesus Christ.  His will is our pleasure.  We are not pleased to do anything but the will of God.  Therefore, “Love God and do as you please: for the soul trained to love God will do nothing to offend the one who is Beloved.”

So then the question arises, “What is the will of man?” and “What is the will of the flesh.”

In keeping with the contextual definition which is herein sought after, we define the word “will” to mean that informed consent which is expressed by a distinct determination, a choice, purpose and volition.  The will is much more than a thought provoking suggestion or even a natural desire stemming from the human nature.  God has given us the privilege and responsibility to make choices and decisions. 

The child of God whose nature has been purged of carnality will delight himself in doing the will of God.  He will, by the grace of God, effectively crucify his flesh and submit his will to the perfect will of God.  It will be his purpose, choice and delight to keep the commandments of God.  The unsanctified person, whose human reason supplants Holy Ghost inspiration, will struggle with submission to God’s counsel and commandments.  The “babes in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3) will actually want to “not do” the will of God and yet he will struggle to overcome his carnal will and obey the commandment of God.  He will obey after the spiritual struggle with his own will.  This is not what Jesus Christ experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane.  The will and desire of Jesus Christ was always to do the perfect will of His Father.  He never wanted anything differently; although, His human nature (He never had a carnal nature as He was conceived of the Holy Ghost) had feelings which suggested an alternative course.  Jesus was tempted, but His will never determined to do anything contrary to God’s will. 

It has always been the will of God for men and women to voluntarily choose to serve Him and worship Him.  When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He gave them a commandment and allowed them the liberty to choose to obey or disobey.  At first, Eve wanted to obey God.  Her will was to be obedient; but then through the temptation, her desire changed and her will changed.  She wanted to taste of this pleasant food which was purported to make her wise.  The father of all lies tempted Eve to change what she wanted most of all and she submitted her will to do what Satan wanted her to do.  Eve could have chosen not to change her will, but she didn’t.  Adam could have chosen not to follow Eve in her sin, but he didn’t.  We can refuse to change our will and determination to obey the commandments of God.  What will we do?

Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Your desire and treasure will be what you have given your will and determination to possess.  If your will is to possess the love of God, then your will must hold fast to the love of God and do those things which He commands.  You cannot serve two masters.  You cannot walk after the spirit and walk after the flesh at the same time. 

Your desire must be to do the will of God.  Jesus said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” His work was to bring salvation, deliverance from the bondage of sin, to all those who would believe on Him.  John 1:12,13, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” We are not saved by our will, but by God’s will.  We are not saved by our works or desires.  It is the will of God that we be saved.  He loved us first.  He chose us first.  We must reciprocate His love; but it is God who has initiated this wonderful relationship. 

We must follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ; for He came not to do His own will but the will of His Father.  John 5:30, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” This is the witness of Jesus Christ.  Then listen to what He tells us, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 12:50, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” John 6:39, “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”

We know that the will of God was done by Jesus Christ in bringing salvation to us who were lost in sin and separated from God.  We know also that the will of God is done when we submit ourselves entirely to His will.  It is His will that we humble ourselves under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.  It is His will that we confess our sins and repent, asking for God’s forgiveness.  It is His will that after we have been born again, we should be baptized in a watery burial signifying our death to sin and self and our resurrection to our newness of life in Christ.  It is also His will that we be sanctified by the infilling of the Holy Spirit which is also called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…”.  Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

We know that the Word of God, the Holy Bible, contains the expressions of God’s will.  By reading and studying God’s Word, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit who will teach us all things, we can know what God’s will is for our life.  If we love God, we will seek Him with a wholehearted desire to submit to His perfect will.  If we love God, we will desire to be in fellowship with the body of Christ, which is the church of God and the family of God.  We will desire to hear the preaching of truth that we may learn and grow in knowledge, wisdom and grace.  God’s ministers will also earnestly seek and do the perfect will of God.  1 Peter 5:1-3, “The elders which are among you I exhort… feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.”

The ministers of God are not constrained by their own will, but rather by their love for the will of God to be done.  They do not rule the flock of God by their own rule, but as useful instruments of the rule of God. 

Sadly, there are ministers and teachers and congregants who are determined to do things their own way.  They have known what the will of God was to be in their life, but they have chosen their own way.  They may have forgotten what God did say to their mind in days past.  2 Peter 3:3-5, “ Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lust,… For this they willingly are ignorant of, …” Yes, some people are willingly ignorant of the will of God because they have chosen to follow their own will instead of the will of God. 

Those who are willingly ignorant of the word and will of God will not be excused at the day of final judgment.  We have not received the Holy Bible just because some men decided to write what they thought God would say to the world.  No, we have been given the Holy Bible because it is God’s will that we have a copy of His doctrine, counsel and commandments.  2 Peter 1:20-21, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spark as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”  

In conclusion, we may ask this question: Where does the will of man fit into the plan of salvation? 

Our answer must be this: Neither the will of man nor the will of the flesh has anything to do with the plan of salvation.  The child of God does not struggle with his will to do the will of God.  The will of the sanctified Christian is to do the will of the Father just as Jesus our Lord did when He was here in this world.  My will has been surrendered and His will is my will.  What a wonderful life. 

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee;

let the water and the blood, from thy wounded side which flowed,

be of sin the double cure; save from wrath and make me pure.

Yes, there is a double cure for the curse of sin.  The first cure is a divine dose of godly sorrow which brings repentance, forgiveness and justification.  The second cure is the cleansing power of the baptism of the Holy Ghost which purges the soul of the carnal nature which is that inward foe that wants you to choose your will instead of the will of God.

ARE YOU INNOCENT?

Matthew 18:1-7  Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 

“Little children’’ are innocent.  It is very important that you understand this truth and why it is true.
The word innocent means free from guilt and therefore free from sin.  Where there is no knowledge of the law and no violation of the known law of God, there is no sin.   In the Garden of Eden God gave Adam and Eve one law.  He commanded them not to eat of the Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil.  God told them the penalty for eating of the fruit if this tree was death.  Adam and Eve were as little children, newly created, innocent, free from the guilt of sinful disobedience.  Adam and Eve disobeyed this commandment, they did eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The shame which came upon them caused them to run and hide from God.  Whereas they did have innocence and a loving relationship with God, now their sin separated them from God.  They died spiritually.  Their conscience was defiled by the shame of their disobedience.  Guiltiness and death had come into the world by reason of sin.   Sin is a willful disobedience to a known law of God. 

Romans 4:15. Because the law worketh wrath; for where no law is, there is no transgression.
When the conscience is aware of sin and its associated guilt, there is condemnation and a loss of innocence.  When willful sin is committed, there is a consciousness of sin and guilt which defiles the conscience.  God, who knows the very thoughts and intents of the heart, will make known His wrath against sin and the sinner.  Sin separates the sinner from God.  The penalty for sin is spiritual death.
Romans 5:12-13. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.  (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed where there is no law…)

Innocence is the beginning of greatness with God.   It is the absence of sin and guilt which allows the soul to enjoy an intimate and innocent relationship with God, our Creator.  This is what Jesus was speaking of when He spoke what is recorded in: Matthew 19:14 Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

If you are to be part of the Kingdom of God, the family of God, the Church of God, you must be as innocent as a ‘little child’.  If your conscience is defiled by sin and guilt, you are also living under the wrath of God.

Psalms 8:2 ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength.’
The power and glory of God is found in the innocent, trusting little child who is too young to be weaned from the breast.  Are you innocent and trusting toward God, as a little child?

The Word of God frequently makes reference to this innocent, child-like condition.  It is the will of God to restore you to this innocent condition.  Because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, it is necessary that every person repent or perish.  

Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Sin came into the world by the sin of Adam.  Righteousness came into the world by the obedience of Jesus.

1 John 2:12  I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.
When a person repents of his sins and receives the forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ, he becomes innocent as a new born babe.  He is born again.  His spiritual life is regenerated.

1 John 3:7  Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

The Christian is free from sin and its associated guilt.  There is no further need of repentance, because the Christian has been made free from the bondage of sin.  Grace is given to the Christian to resist the devil and all his temptations.  By saying no to temptation we say no to sin.  The Christian is holy, pure and undefiled by sin.  He has become as a little child.

1 John 4:4  Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
Do you have an experience where Jesus Christ who is in you is greater than Satan who is in the world?  I believe it is this child-like innocence which Jesus saw in Nathaniel when He said “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”  (John 1:47)

If you want to be a child of God, you must be innocent.  When Jesus looks into your heart, there must be no grudges, no bitterness, no envy, no guile.  All of God’s children are holy.

The ministry of the church of God must be an example of this innocent child-like condition.  The prophet Isaiah tells us that ‘’a little child shall lead them’’. 

Isaiah 11:6. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.
A true church of God pastor will be a constant example of humility, innocence, love, kindness, gentleness, longsuffering and all the holy characteristics which spring forth from the sanctified soul of a Spirit-filled minister.

If a child of God remains in a carnal/un-sanctified condition too long, he will be caught in a snare which will compromise the innocence of his soul.  To avoid this spiritual condition which the Apostle Paul describes in: 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.  I have fed you with milk, and jot with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and division, are ye not carnal, and walk as men. 

It is imperative that every child of God become partakers of God’s divine nature so that they can be holy as He is holy.

2 Peter 1:3-4 According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue; whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakes of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

It is our desire to help you to see that you must be born again and become innocent as a little child.  And that after you have believed unto salvation, you must be filled with the Holy Spirit, so that you can be preserved blameless for the remainder of your life.  This is the plan of salvation.  Without that vital second work of grace, you are in great danger of losing your Innocence.

Are you innocent?  If you will make heaven your eternal home, you must be innocent.