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.