The Will of God (Part 1)
It is written of the Lord Jesus in Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.” When He walked this earth the Lord Jesus clearly revealed that His one desire was to do His Father’s will and to complete the purpose for which He was sent from His Father in heaven. He affirmed this when He said “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). Even though the Lord Jesus delighted to do the will of His Father in heaven it was not easy for Him.
As we read in the book of Hebrews concerning Him “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:7-10).
While it delighted the Lord Jesus deep in His inner spirit man to do the will of His heavenly Father it was not an easy task by any means as He was tempted in every way as we are yet did not give into it, and so as our faithful High Priest He is able to empathize and strengthen and comfort us when we are sorely tempted by the world, by the flesh and by the devil, as He Himself was tempted being fully human as well as being fully God (Hebrews 4:15).
Even though the Lord Jesus was God the Son He was also totally human in every way and had to learn discipline and obedience as a son. We are told that He often offered up both prayers and constant pleas with loud crying and tears to His Father in heaven who was able to save Him from going to the cross and God always heard Him and responded accordingly yet did not stop His Son from embracing the cross which had been God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge from all of eternity. It was the will of God to crush Him with our sins (Acts 2:32) (Isaiah 53: 5-6, 10).
The Lord Jesus knew what He had to do and yet He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane to the point of sweating blood, an indication of His whole being under immense physical, emotional and mental strain facing the fact that for the first time in all of eternity He was going to be separated from fellowship with His Heavenly Father, a fellowship He had enjoyed for all of eternity.
Doing the will of God in this wicked and fallen world under the power of the wicked one is not an easy task for any New Covenant believer in Messiah our Lord Jesus. Obedience to the Will of God is something that God works in us through using His Word and the everyday circumstances of our lives to shape our desires and actions to align with His desires and actions (Psalm 119:105). After all we were foreknown to God from all eternity and predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29a) (1 John 4:17).
Whenever we speak about the will of God the key word is “the will.” We can have all kinds of emotionally uplifting spiritual experiences and they are not to be dismissed as God is merciful and gracious to us and remembering that “our frame is as dust” but the real criterion is whether our will has been submitted to the Lord’s will. While our emotions and intellect are part and parcel of our human make up and are not to be ignored in our spiritual lives and experiences, they are not the barometers by which we measure our spiritual growth in the Lord.
Feelings can be effected by our circumstances or through physical tiredness or sickness and at such times Satan will attack us spiritually when we are feeling weak and not even coping or seeking to deal with a situation that is causing us anxiety. Anxiety is a great adversary to faith and a disturber of our feelings and intellect but we are told in God’s Word to continuously be casting our anxieties on Him because He cares for us without wavering.
The apostle Peter wrote “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting (continuously) all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brothers and sisters who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:6-11).
Faith itself is belief accompanied by actions along the line of the faith we are confessing (James 2:17-24). The word “faith” in both Testaments can be translated as both “belief” and “faithfulness,” being faithful to what we confess to believe. (Romans 10:9-13). Saving faith will affect the emotions and the intellect but it also needs the action of the will. Saving faith results in obedience to the Word of God. It is “the faith of obedience” or “the faith that obeys” (Romans 1:5, 16:26).
Seeking to be obedient to the Word of God is obedience to the Lord Jesus because He Himself is the Living and eternal Word of God (John 1:1-2) (Revelation 19:13). Salvation consists in a faith that desires to obey the Lord Jesus, it is a faith that does effect the intellect and the emotions but primarily the will. The outworking of that faith is seen in outward actions that line up with the Word of God (John 3:36 NASB) (Psalm 119:11) (James 1:22).
It also needs to be said that obedience begins with the surrender of our wills to God but that our obedience isn’t perfect because we still have to contend with the appetites and desires of the sinful nature that fight against the Spirit of God living on the inside of us. It is only as we learn to walk by faith and in step with the Holy Spirit will we be empowered by Him to walk in obedience to the Word of God (Galatians 5:16-18). After all we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Having said this, in willing to be obedient children, allows the blessed Holy Spirit to reshape our wills to become increasingly in line with the will of God. God the Spirit knows what God’s will is all of the time and walks in unity with that will being Himself the third member of the Triune Godhead.
Because God searches the deepest desires and longings of our heart and knows what the Spirit is thinking all of the time, being Himself the third person of the Triune Godhead, the Holy Spirit continuously intercedes for us in accordance with the will of God (Romans 8:27). Added to this, the resurrected glorified Lord Jesus Himself has a permanent Priesthood and sits at the Father’s right hand and ever lives to continuously intercede for His betrothed bride He has redeemed, justified, and cleansed in His atoning blood, and sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise (Hebrews 7:24-25) (Hebrews 1:3) (Ephesians 1:7) (1 John 1:7) (Romans 5:9) (Ephesians 1:13).
Even though the Lord Jesus was without sin He still had to learn obedience to His Father in heaven. True, He did not have a sinful nature at all like we have because He was without sin, yet Satan still tempted Him to act independently from His Father’s will which would have caused the Lord Jesus to sin. Satan used the same tactics on the Lord Jesus when tempting Him in the wilderness that he used on Adam. These are the same tactics that Satan uses on us to get us out of the will of God, being the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life to which the first Adam succumbed, but the Lord Jesus, being the Second Adam, didn’t give into the temptation to sin (1 John 2:16) (1 Corinthians 15:45).
Learning to be obedient to the Triune Godhead takes time and effort. It does not happen overnight. There is no instant spiritual ‘fix’ in walking the path of obedience. It is the narrow path that leads to life and a path we must constantly ask God to keep our feet on. He has given us His Word and this is our street directory as it were to enable us to find our way around the Kingdom of God as we walk in this fallen world with its lures and temptations to sin.
If our Lord Jesus, even though He was without sin, still had to learn obedience through suffering how much more do we need to learn obedience through suffering? Now when we are speaking about suffering in this context we are primarily speaking about daily crucifying our fleshly nature with its passions, appetites and desires that are constantly at war with the Spirit of God on the inside of us and this involves the surrender of the will. If we are willing to submit our will to God’s will then once we have done this God can then do in us spiritually what we cannot do of ourselves because in our flesh dwells no good thing at all that can please God (Romans 7:18-19).
Because of our innate tendency to sin we must constantly yield our wills to the will of God and when we find our wills starting to bend in the opposite direction we need to cry out to the Lord to make us willing to be made willing and He will do this for us by the power of his indestructible life residing in us in the Holy Spirit. Walking in all the will of God has its daily challenges, but when we work at submitting our wills to His will we will discover that God’s will is good acceptable and perfect when we yield our bodies to Him. If He gets the body then He gets the contents as well (Romans 12:1-2). Doing God’s will is not easy and when we seek to obey it even when our flesh is crying out to go in the opposite direction in the end submitting to the will of God will be the best and most sweetest thing in all of the world!