Inside the heart or mind of man there occurs tremendous conflicts. The greatest of these is over the issue of control. The eternal destiny of each one of us will be determined by the outcome of this battle.
The majority of Christians do not realize what, in fact, they ask for when they pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In heaven, God’s will is supreme. There was only one time that His will was challenged and subsequently violated. For the sake of peace and harmony, Lucifer, who became Satan, was cast out. An account of this war in heaven is recorded in Revelation 12:7–9, which tells us that the devil and his angels fought against Christ and his angels. The controversy that began when our first parents sinned in the Garden of Eden is still raging today between Satan and his followers and Christ and His followers. When we pray that God’s will be done on earth, we are asking that our obedience to the divine will should measure up to the obedience of heavenly beings and those who live in the unfallen universe.
At times we are inclined to excuse ourselves from perfect obedience because we live in the middle of a crooked and perverse generation (Philippians 2:15). Heaven recognizes the challenges we face, but our extremities are God’s opportunities, and He never asks of us to do anything according to His will without providing the power needed to accomplish it. The beings in heaven perform God’s will cheerfully, with constancy and perfection.
This world would be a different place if His will were done here. When the gospel has completed its mission and God’s eternal purpose has been fully carried out, the entire world will be in complete submission to His will. Then the earth will again be a part of heaven and God’s moral law will be perfectly obeyed in this world as it is in the heavenly universe.
Some astronomers have said that the earth, in making its yearly journey around the sun, takes a little over 365 days. In each revolution, one ten thousandths of a second of time is lost. The heavenly bodies fulfill the will of God with precision. The strictness of their obedience, however, is no greater than that of the celestial beings.
The Bible describes the measure of obedience by the unfallen beings in heaven:
“The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.
Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.”
(Psalm 103:19, 20).
To do God’s will is the greatest pleasure of the angelic host, as well as the highest service that can engage their powers. They do not render this service with a spirit of legality but because of the loving relationship they have with their Creator. Their allegiance to Him is a joy and this is the relationship for which Jesus told His disciples to pray.
Indeed, when you study obedience in the Bible, you will find that the only obedience that God accepts or even recognizes is that which is impelled or prompted by the motive of love. On the night of His betrayal, Jesus affirmed that when He said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15.
It is the love of Christ that constrains us to obey Him, to follow Him and to do His will. Love keeps us from doing evil. Obedience, therefore, is not just a test of discipleship or citizenship in the kingdom of heaven. It is also the evidence of whether we really love God. Jesus said, “ ‘He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and Manifest Myself to him.’ Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s Who sent Me.’ ” John 14:21–24.
It is not the greatness of the work that you do for God that counts but the motive behind the act that determines its value. It is the service of love that God highly esteems. When love is lacking, all you have is a form of godliness. All of the rites and ceremonies of religion may be performed, but it is an offense to Him when performed without the service of love.
The disciple spoken of in the gospels as the disciple that Jesus loved defines our love to God and man like this: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” I John 5:2, 3.
When motivated by love, the service is never drudgery, something that you have to do, or a list of do’s and don’ts. When you are in love with the Lord, His will is your delight. This is why Paul wrote at one time, “Love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10.
To love God with all my heart, soul, and mind is to refrain from following any other god. This is the first commandment. In respect for Him, no one will bow before or worship an image or an idol. That behavior is forbidden in the second commandment. I will not dream to take His name in vain. That is covered by the third commandment. And I will not work when he says to rest, which is the fourth commandment (Exodus 20:3–11).
When asked which of the commandments was the greatest, Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. The second commandment is, You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30, 31 literal translation). If I love my neighbor as myself, I will not dishonor my father and mother. I will not kill him or steal his wife. I will not steal his goods or possessions or lie to him. I will not covet what belongs to him. Instead, I will be glad for what he has that he can enjoy. God’s love abiding in the heart reflects in the way a man responds to his neighbors. It is called the Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Love for God is the fulfilling of the law. The principles within the Decalogue become a man’s motivation. Jesus’ life demonstrated the law of love. Concerning the Messiah, Psalm 40:8 says, “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.”
With the law of God written in His heart, it was Jesus’ delight to do the will of His Father. That delightful obedience to the law, which is written in the heart, is the very essence of what is called righteousness by faith, or being born again. Isaiah 51:7 says, “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is My law.”
This is the new covenant experience of Hebrews 8:10, which actually quotes from Jeremiah 31:33: “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
If you claim Him as your God, then His law must be written in your heart. Paul said the same thing in Hebrews 10:16–18: “ ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,’ then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’ Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.”
Is that your experience? Is the law of God being written in your heart and in your mind? The evidence that you have been born again is having received a new heart by the action of the Holy Spirit. He writes the law of God in your heart. As a result, you want to do what is right and pleasing to God.
Salvation by works is an attempt to meet the demands of the law written only on stone. But, in the new covenant, the law is written not on stone but in the fleshly tables of the heart (II Corinthians 3:3). The difference between the old and the new covenants is the difference between seeking justification by works of obedience to an external law written on tables of stone and seeking justification by faith when the law is kept due to a change in the heart.
It is never what you do that saves you; it is Whom you know (Jesus). Then, Whom you know changes what you do as Paul wrote in Romans 8:1–4: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
When we surrender our will to God, we commit our talents to Him to be used for His glory. Submission to His will includes willing obedience to the commission to do our part in spreading the final warning message to the world before Jesus returns. God has given to every man his work. The Bible does not teach that everyone will accept the truth and be saved, but it does say that the gospel is going to be preached to all nations as a witness so that they have an opportunity to make a decision.
The place of the greatest struggle in the Christian warfare is the surrender of the will. By nature, man is stubborn and self-willed. Man is described by the prophet Isaiah in the Bible as being obstinate, with a brow like brass and a neck like iron sinew (Isaiah 48:4). It seems almost impossible to change the mind of man or to turn him from his course, because he obstinately carries out his own will and does as he pleases, regardless of the consequences.
One person said, “The will of man is invariably opposed to his own salvation and to God.” But it is the human will that either shuts or opens the gate to the kingdom of God. The will might be called the hinge on which the gate of destiny swings.
Because we were created free moral agents with the power of choice, the Lord will never force our will. Jesus said, “If anyone wants [wills] to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” John 7:17.
Today, there are many professed Christians who hope that God will work things out without any cooperation or effort on their part. This is a futile hope. The doctrine of predestination, or foreordination, often becomes an excuse for human indifference and indolence. Our wills must be brought into harmony with God’s will and our lives must come into conformity with His character. In this work we have an important part to act.
Revelation 22:17 says, “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”
The benefits of the gospel and the issue of the conflict with sin depend completely upon the action of your will. God will not save you against your own will for that would be a violation of your choice. It was over the surrender of the will that Jesus had to fight that terrible battle in the Garden of Gethsemane. Would He yield Himself to be scourged, to be crucified, to die for the sins of the world, to go through that awful night and day of torture? Three times He prayed, “Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42.
Likewise, the greatest battle that is ever fought in our world, the greatest battle that can ever be fought by man, is the surrender of self to the will of God, the yielding of the heart to the sovereignty of love.
It is therefore our greatest need to understand the true force of the will. There are many people who will lose eternal life while they are hoping and desiring to be saved because they do not now choose to be Christians.
The Philippian jailor asked Paul and Silas, “ ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ’ ” (Acts 16:30, 31). Believe means to make a commitment. Choose Jesus as the Lord of your life and Saviour from sin. He never loses a case that is fully committed to Him.
The power of decision is the power that governs your life and in the end, your eternal destiny. Joshua said, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” Joshua 24:15 KJV.
Have you chosen to serve the Lord?
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.