TO WILL AND TO DO
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
There is no saving feature in our finding survival and security in the wicked world system. Trust in the world must be removed from our personality. There is no saving feature in the sinful nature that dwells in us. The lusts and passions of the flesh must be removed from us.
Our will is another matter. Our will is to be preserved and strengthened in God. But it must be dealt with until it is in total harmony with God’s will.
TO WILL AND TO DO
For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13—NIV)
Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. (Hebrews 4:3—NIV)
The verses above are the key to the rest of God.
God created the heavens and the earth, and the animal and vegetable kingdoms, in six days. He rested on the seventh day. There was no evening and morning of the seventh day because the seventh day extends throughout eternity. Everything was finished from the beginning right on through to the new heaven and earth rule of Jesus Christ. Then God rested.
The whole duty of man is to enter the rest of God; to cease from his own works and do God’s will.
God gave us a brain, but not to use to plan our way. The purpose of our brain is to comprehend God and His Word, not to decide to build our own heaven and earth.
Perhaps the most difficult transition any person makes is to pass from governing his own destiny to acknowledging God in all his ways. And he must surrender all to God without lapsing into passivity. He must keep on pressing forward toward his desires while at the same time looking to God for every decision great and small.
God knows all about each one of us.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalms 139:15,16—NIV)
“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Think of it!
Since this is so, since our days were written in God’s book, since “His work has been finished from the creation of the world,” the main goal of our life on earth is to discover God’s will and perform it each day. This is how we enter the rest of God: we cease from our own works and do God’s work.
To be able to live so as to know God’s will, God’s work, in every decision we make is the result of a lifetime of seeking God. There are many traps along the way. When we find we have been deceived along some line, we are not to faint but to ask God to help us extricate ourselves and continue pressing forward in the Lord.
There is only one legitimate will in the universe, and that is the will of the Father. Even our Lord Jesus cried out that the Father’s will be done instead of His own.
A great part of the Christian life consists of becoming willing to do what God desires instead of what we desire.
Our desires come from our entire personality but our will is funneled through our mind. We take stock of what we think we ought to do based on what we believe to be the proper action, and then we consider the desires of our personality. On these two bases we choose our course. We exercise our will in making a choice. Our standard of right and wrong either justifies our action or condemns it. From this we understand our mind plays an extremely important role in our salvation.
The Apostle Paul recognizes the crucial role of the mind, as follows:
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (Romans 8:5—NIV)
To succeed as a Christian we must choose at all times to look to the Spirit of God for what we should be doing. It is difficult in America to serve the Lord because there are so many things that occupy our mind. Many of the things and issues that occupy our mind are necessary. However, many are not necessary and these keep us from serving the Lord as we should.
The mind focused on the flesh dwells on our eating, sleeping, working, playing, and reproducing. The mind focused on the Spirit of God is occupied with serving the Lord. Time is spent in prayer, meditating in God’s Word, gathering with fervent saints, seeking opportunities to serve the household of God, and in similar Christian activities. The hopes and joys of the individual are found in things above, not just in things on the earth.
The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; (Romans 8:6—NIV)
When our mind is occupied overmuch with the things of the world, we are living in spiritual death. When we keep seeking the mind of the Spirit of God we enjoy eternal life and lasting peace.
The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. (Romans 8:7—NIV)
The mind of the adamic nature is an enemy of God. It does not submit to God because it is unable to do so.
Paul tells us we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Paul speaks of having the mind of Christ. Our mind is renewed as we choose to present our body a living sacrifice to God. This is the way we worship God and the way we prove His will.
So we see that the mind is a key player as we work out our salvation. But behind the mind is our will, which chooses whether our mind will dwell on the things of our sinful flesh and soul, or whether our mind will be focused on Christ and the things of God.
There are three major areas of disfigurement in our personality.
The first area of disfigurement is our love of the things of the world and our dependence on the world for survival and security. When we speak of the world we do not mean the earth and its peoples. We mean the satanic influence on the spirit of the world, the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life.
The earth and its peoples are our inheritance. But the spirit that pervades the world system is from Satan.
The true Christian chooses to turn away from the wicked world system and to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. He makes this choice with his will. He sets himself to find his joy, his peace, his love, his survival, and his security in God and the things of Christ.
When we are baptized in water we are announcing that we have left the spirit of the world and are entering the Kingdom of God. Our adamic nature has been placed on the cross with Christ and we have been resurrected with Christ and have ascended with Him to the right hand of the Father.
Every day, day after day, year after year, we affirm our death with Christ and our resurrection with Christ. We seize this dual position by faith and God makes it a reality in our life. Our body is subjected to various chastenings, and our inward nature grows strong in the Lord.
Deliverance from worldliness is an important aspect of the Christian salvation.
Such deliverance is put into effect as God helps us. But God helps us only as our will directs us to choose to seek the Kingdom of God rather than the things of the world.
Then we come to the lusts of sin that dwell in us, particularly in our flesh as Paul says. These appetites and passions were not created in us. They originate in the spirit realm, just as is true of the spirit of worldliness. They exist in the world of demons and find expression in the flesh of humans, including Christians.
Again, our will must direct us to choose to put these actions to death through the Spirit of God. As we denounce and renounce these sinful behaviors, God forgives us and the Spirit of God defeats their power over us. The bondages of sin are not removed all at once but little by little as we choose to turn away from sin and live in iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.
So we see that the key is our will. Our will determines the choices we make. If we choose to turn away from the spirit of the world and from the sins of our flesh, the mighty Spirit of God assists us, the blood of Jesus Christ keeping us without condemnation while we are being transformed.
If we choose to neglect God’s salvation, even as a Christian, if we do not turn away from the spirit of the world and the sins of our flesh, then Satan maintains his control over us. We do not become a new creation. The Divine salvation no longer is operating in us.
Now let us consider the major factor in our salvation, which is our will.
For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13—NIV)
How do we find the place where God is free to work His will in us with a minimum of confusion?
As we mentioned previously, our normal love for the earth and the peoples of it has been perverted as the nature of Satan has pervaded the world spirit and made it an abomination to God and God’s saints.
Our normal bodily appetites and soulish talents have been perverted by the satanic law of sin that dwells in our members, producing inflamed and nearly uncontrollable appetites and passions.
The same is true of our will. Our will is a gift of God. Apart from our will, we would be puppets. But the spirit of Satan has infected our will from the days of the Garden of Eden, where Eve and Adam were taught to disobey God.
The human child is born with a self-seeking will and has to be taught obedience.
The nature of Antichrist is that of self-rule. We become our own god. This is what Satan desires above all else, for when he can remove us from the will of God he has no problem persuading us to do his (Satan’s) will.
When the spirit of worldliness has been removed from us our natural love for the earth and its peoples is released into wholesome joy and peace.
When the law of sin has been removed from the members of our body we are free to enjoy all that God has placed in the physical realm—which, by the way, is superior to the spirit realm.
When we have accepted God’s dealings with us, our will is released from the bondage of self-will. We cease from our own works and enter that supreme state of being where God’s will and our will are one and the same. There is no other treasure as great as this.
Every saint who returns with the Lord Jesus to install the Kingdom of God on the earth will have been released from worldliness, from the law of sin in his members, and from self-seeking and self-will. Such release is one-half of the total objective of the Christian redemption. The other half is the birth and growth of Christ, of the Divine Nature, in us and the filling of our entire personality—body, soul, and spirit—with the Spirit of God. The redemption of our body includes raising it from the dead and clothing it with the body from Heaven.
All of this marvelous redemption depends on the choices we make. Since our choices are made by our will, it is of the greatest importance that our will becomes one with the will of God.
Having our will become one with the will of God does not mean we have no will of our own. Quite the contrary! Our will must remain razor sharp if we are to grasp that for which we have been grasped by the Lord.
Rather, we are to look constantly to the Lord to find out what His will is, what He is doing in a given situation. When we think we have the mind of the Lord, we then choose, by the force of our will, to do that which we have seen with the Lord. When we have been set free from worldliness, the law of sin in our members, and the poison of self-will in our will, it is an easy, joyous matter to choose to do what we are seeing with the Lord.
This is how Jesus lives and moves and has His being.
Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19—NIV)
Our release from worldliness will not take place until our will commands the choices that will bring release from worldliness.
Our release from the bondages of sin in our body will not take place until our will commands the choices that will bring release from these bondages.
We cannot enter the rest of God, but are in a state of rebellion and disobedience, until our will commands us to choose to obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles as well as what we believe the Lord would have us do as an individual.
Christ will not be born in us or come to maturity in us until our will commands us to choose the actions and way of life that will receive and nurture the formation and dwelling of Christ in us.
Our resurrected body will not be clothed with a white robe from Heaven unless our will commands us to choose the life of crucifixion and resurrection that creates the body in Heaven.
Our whole personality will not be filled with the Spirit of Life from God unless our will commands us to obey God at every point, because God gives the Spirit to those who obey Him.
We understand, therefore, that our will causes us to choose to work out, or not to work out, our salvation.
The original sin occurred in Heaven as Satan decided to exercise his will before hearing from the Father. It is not impossible that God already had decided to exalt Satan above the other stars of God.
You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.” (Isaiah 14:13—NIV)
Sometimes sin is the grasping of something that God was prepared to give us at a later date. The legitimate became illegitimate because we moved before God’s time.
Satan entered the Garden of Eden and persuaded Eve and Adam to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is the eternal moral law of God. They were not ready to eat of this tree because they had not eaten first of the Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ.
After we receive Christ and have eaten from Him, so to speak, we are ready to grow in the knowledge of good and evil, for we now have the wisdom, strength, and desire that are necessary if we are to be able to choose the good and renounce the evil.
Adam and Eve and their descendants are destined to be the judges and rulers of all the creation of God. So their sin was not in eating from that very necessary Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil but of doing so before the proper time.
Their penalty was twofold: first, they lost a loving relationship with the Father by disobeying Him; second, the inevitable took place—the Life of God withdrew from them, as the Life of God will always withdraw where there is disobedient, willful behavior. Corruption and death resulted.
From Satan’s willingness to act apart from the Father have sprung the evil spirit of worldliness, which is the attempt to live apart from the will of God, and the lusts that dwell in our flesh, which are cravings for love and joy apart from the will of God.
Because there is no Life of God in the spirit of the world, it is a source of separation from God which results in a desire to live, move, and have our being without depending on God. Money is the god of the world. People use money to keep from having to depend on God. This is why they desire to be rich.
Because there is no Life of God in the cravings of our flesh and soul, they are inflamed and unmanageable. When their cravings are fulfilled they do not bring love, joy, or peace but every kind of undesirable result, from remorse to sickness and death.
The demonic powers dwelling in our personality strive frantically to fulfill their own craving—cravings that require more and more excesses, for they never can be satisfied.
This is why one of the main thoughts of the American culture is the cultivation of the right of the person to control his own destiny. It is the spirit of Antichrist. The spirit of Antichrist abounds in us until we are willing to die to our own will and live in the will of God, the rest of God.
The personal cross of the believer is God’s answer to the problem of the corrupted will.
Our baptism in water signifies we have died to the world spirit and now have been raised from the dead with Jesus Christ and have ascended to the right hand of God in Christ, waiting for the return of Christ to the earth.
Now God furnishes us with a personal cross, a personal imprisonment. God tells us to take up our own cross and follow Jesus everywhere He leads us.
Our whole life is to be one of imprisonment in God’s will. The righteous rejoice in this but it is an abomination to the believer who wants to be saved and yet pursue his or her own way.
I have been saying for many years that the Charismatic move will be split over the issue of suffering. It is suffering that teaches us obedience, just as it taught our Lord obedience to the Father.
The false doctrine of the pre-tribulation “rapture” of the believers is based on the idea that Christians are not to suffer tribulation.
The false doctrines of the so-called “faith” and “prosperity” teachings are based on the idea that Christians are not to suffer in the present world but by “faith” are to receive every benefit, including material wealth and perfect health.
The false doctrine that we are saved by “grace” apart from righteous behavior is based on the idea that Christians are not to suffer.
Satan will always come up with doctrines that counsel Christians to save their life rather than lose it in God. This philosophy appeals particularly to American Christians because most of us live in relative comfort compared with many of the poorer nations of the earth.
Today we have tremendous movements that attempt to utilize the blessing of the Spirit of God to improve the lot of Christians and to minister all kinds of good things to a “lost and dying world.” It is true that we should be concerned with a world that truly is lost and dying, but how about the lost and dying Christians who are living in the spiritual death of fleshly, sinful pursuits?
But there is something infinitely more important than ministering to the lost and dying of the world, something ultimately more important: that we wait before the Lord until we understand His will.
When we go forth blindly, not hearing from the Lord, our intentions may be among the best, but we may be bringing death.
Some years ago a famous American newspaper reporter had brought the wrath of the underworld against himself because of his investigative reporting. He was eating in a restaurant. He was called to the door of the restaurant by someone. When he opened the door the individual threw acid in his face and fled.
He was blinded. A person in the restaurant grabbed a bottle of soda and began to pour it into his eyes to dilute the acid. The manager of the restaurant, I think it was, said, “You better not do that until you get advice from a doctor. You might be doing more harm than good.”
So no more soda was poured in his eyes while they called for the doctor.
As it turned out, if they had continued to pour the soda into his eyes it would have saved his eyesight. But he was permanently blinded.
This is what happens when we, with the best of intentions, give advice or act without knowledge. No one present knew the correct action to take. They were guessing. They had to wait for a doctor.
Our Doctor is always present and available when an immediate decision must be made. We do not have to guess when making important decisions concerning His Kingdom, or concerning anything else for that matter.
Sometimes we just have to press forward doing as well as we can with whatever task is before us. If we keep praying fervently, looking to Jesus for every detail, He will close and open doors so as to keep us in the right way. God never scolds us when we ask for wisdom but gives to us liberally.
How many destructive acts have taken place in the world because people thought what they were doing was the right thing?
Of course, many times we have to do what we think is best.
But when it comes to the work of the Kingdom of God, before we launch out on some program we need to hear from God. Sometimes we are to go. Sometimes we are to stay. Sometimes we are to speak. Sometimes we are to remain silent. Sometimes we are to reap. Sometimes we are to sow.
When we are not hearing from the Lord on a regular basis we do not know what we are doing. In this case we should pray much and do what is set before us until the Lord Jesus advises us to change; and this He is well able to do.
Sometimes we have to wait many years before the Lord moves. Meanwhile we are being urged to come down from the cross; come down from the wall; if you are a son of God, do something, prove it to us.
Our flesh jumps. Our soul is excited. The voices cry. The rocks fly and the mountain shakes. But the quiet Voice still has not spoken.
This, I believe, is where the Charismatic move is today. There are a million voices, it seems, counseling us to get busy and save the world. But in many instances the Lord still has not spoken.
The issue is one of our will.
Sometimes we have to plow ahead, doing what we think is best. But we must always be looking to the Lord. It is easy to be in the Lord one moment and out of the Lord the next. Peter said, “You are the Christ.” Jesus answered, “My Father revealed this to you.”
The next moment, “Lord, do not go up to Jerusalem.” Jesus responded to Peter:
… “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23—NIV)
One moment Peter was hearing from God. The next moment he was hearing from Satan.
We need to be very careful at all times. We are never, never, never to take anything for granted; we are to pray carefully about each decision. Such extreme diligence in prayer will become increasingly important in the days to come.
Every true saint is dealt with severely in the area of obedience. Sometimes many years go by while we are denied what we desire fervently, or we are required to do that which is displeasing to us. Many years!
What we are hearing today is that Christians should take their gifts and go forth and try to save the world. The assumption is made that this is what Christ has commanded us to do in the Bible.
This is not how to serve the Lord. The way to serve the Lord is to meditate in the Scriptures constantly, and then wait on the Lord. It is so easy for our desires to masquerade as God’s will. The experienced saints know this. They have learned to wait, and wait again, and wait again.
In order to thus submit our will to God we have to believe God is more interested in saving the world than we are. We have to trust that God knows what He is doing and has the power to put His own plans into action.
We can charge forth in our own strength and wisdom to do God’s work, as we understand it. Or we can pray one step at a time, in all our ways acknowledging Him.
It is my opinion that there is not enough waiting on the Lord in our day. There is too much emphasis on large numbers of people, exciting meetings, and grand pronouncements. This is not always the way of the Lord. When God makes witnesses or fishermen He often deals with them for many years before bringing them into an area of fruitfulness—not always, but often.
We overcome the accuser by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of our testimony that God is truthful, faithful, and compassionate, and by loving not our life to the death.
It is this third area that is in focus today, I believe. I think Jesus is looking for those who will remain in the prison where they are placed until the Lord delivers them. They trust God’s promises and are waiting patiently for them to be fulfilled, particularly those promises that have been made real to them as an individual.
We need to hear from Jesus today. But we are not going to hear until there are those who keep looking to Jesus to see what He is doing; who refuse to follow their own motives and ambitions no matter how powerful these urges are—including motives and ambitions that have to do with Gospel work.
We need Elijahs and Elishas and Pauls who, like Jesus, spend so much time alone with God that they know what God is doing at any given point. Such people are not lazy; neither are they passive, although sometimes they are accused of being one or the other. They are not impractical although there may be years in which it seems they are accomplishing nothing in the Kingdom of God.
I think there are some today who are hidden away in God spiritually although they may be excellent workers in their local assemblies.
If I am correct in this, the day will come when God speaks to them. They will know what the seven thunders of power are saying. They will bear a witness in power and glory without precedent. I think such a witness is coming and I do not believe this is an idle dream or fantasy.
In any case, God wants people who are learning to wait on Him until His will and their will are one and the same. Such individuals must pass through many fires and waters before they are dwelling in untroubled rest in the flowings of the Godhead. They must cease from their own works that they may enter the rest of God.
The fullness of power and glory are reserved for those who always say, “Not my will but Yours be done in every part of my life without exception.”
The Lord Jesus said this under incomprehensible pressure. The result was that He has been given all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth.
Jesus is looking for some mature brothers with whom He can share the fullness of the power and the glory of God.
But Christ will share such rule over the creation only with those who, like Himself, can be trusted to look always to God to see what God is doing, that they may faithfully perform the same works on earth.
We understand, therefore, that our will is central to our salvation from sin; that if we would enter the rest of God, the center of God’s will, we must cease from our own works. The purpose of our tests and trials in the present world is to teach us to obey God.
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:2,3—NIV)
(“To Will and to Do”, 3446-1)