Wednesday, October 20, 2010

God's Will and Our Wills: Mutually Exclusive?

"Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none else like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure...yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it." (Isaiah 46:9-11)

If, as Doris Day sang, "Que Sera Sera" (Whatever will be will be) is right, maybe the whole idea of seeking the will of God is just an exercise in futility. And the fact is, in one sense of the word, that's true. But like many words, and many things, there is another side of the coin.

When we read verses like the ones above in Isaiah, and others like them, it is patently obvious that God has set in motion events that will culminate in His will being accomplished; and nothing anyone does, or does not do, will frustrate His purpose. On the other hand, God still calls upon us to make choices (Heb.11:25; Josh.24:15), and holds us accountable for them. He ordained the death of His Son before the foundation of the world yet held those who carried out the sentence to be responsible. To deny either one of these truths—sovereignty and accountability—is to deny the Bible. As C.S. Lewis puts it, "Till (if ever) we can see the consistency, it is better to hold two inconsistent views than to ignore one side of the evidence."

Rest assured, God will not be forced to recalculate His plans if you make a foolish decision; because, when all is said and done, what God has said will be done. He not only rules, He overrules.

Having said that, it should be pointed out that God has given us some specifics that are His will for all His children, collectively and individually. Kevin DeYoung differentiates in his book, Just Do Something[1], between what God has ordained ("God's will of decree") and what He has commanded ("God's will of desire"). The former is how things are; the latter is how things ought to be. Here are a few of these God-pleasing attributes:

· Non-conformity to a sinful world (Rom.12:1; Gal.1:4)

· Whole-hearted service to God (Eph.6:6)

· Abstinence from sexual impurity (1Thess.4:3)

· Gratitude in all circumstances (1Thess.5:18)

· A life that shuts the mouths of critics (1Pet.2:15)

· Willingness to suffer (1Pet.3:17; 4:19)

· Patience to wait for the rewards of doing the will of God (Heb.10:36)

The truth is, when you and I speak of the will of God, we're usually not talking about these things. Yet, these are the things God considered important enough to comment on. Evidently, God thinks our conduct during courtship is more important than which Christian man or woman we choose to marry; and how we serve Him is more important than where we serve Him. Does this mean He doesn't have a specific plan for our lives, and doesn't care about our futures? No, not at all. He does indeed have a plan for our lives and a way to guide us in the right direction, which we'll talk about later. But to quote DeYoung again:

"Trusting in God's will of decree is good. Following His will of desire is obedient. Waiting for God's will of direction is a mess. It is bad for your life, harmful to your sanctification, and allows too many Christians to be passive tinkerers who strangely feel more spiritual the less they actually do (p.26).

God's will and our wills are not mutually exclusive. One does not negate the other. God's will is overarching and irrefutable; but our wills are alive and well. The fact that we cannot thwart the will of God does not mean we cannot disregard it, especially when it comes to those things He has enumerated for all His children.

Next time, we will get into the will of God that is usually uppermost in our minds when we use the term—God's will of direction. But in the meantime, maybe we should zero in on what we know for sure, and for which we will surely be held accountable. In this case, God has told us most definitely how to please Him. The question is, do we will to do it?

FYI: I've added a new page to my website that I think will be a blessing to you. It's my way of sharing some of my favorite women writers, past and present. Check it out:

[1] DeYoung, Kevin. Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009. Print.

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