The Will of Man and the Will of God
By Curt Wildy
Introduction To Part Three
In the previous parts, we covered the definition of the human will, the place from whence it derives (the heart), the wicked nature of the heart, the wicked and sinfully enslaved nature of man’s will, and God’ sovereign control over the will and deeds of men. We saw that man cannot possibly have a free will because free means unencumbered, not under external control, free of external restraint. Since our natural will is controlled by our own bellies (our own natural lusts and desires) it is free only to willingly follow after our wicked nature and the wicked material, carnal, and spiritual forces that influence it. Moreover, even our obedience to our own fallen will is subject to the will of God. It is God who ordains our thoughts, ordains our will, ordains our intent (even the ones that He ordains to override). He ordains our every step and ordains every aspect of everything that ever has or ever will exist. The sovereignty of God is utterly complete, unalterable, and finally decisive.
Nonetheless, I aim to explore the nature of the will of regenerated and converted souls. What is the nature of our will when God quickens us and leads us to repentance?
New Heart, New Will, But Still of God
God gives His people a new heart upon regeneration and conversion, one that can be moved and pricked (Psalm 73:21; Acts 2:37; Acts 16:14). From this new heart comes a new will as well, a will that desires to love God and to live according to His precepts and commandments. I say commandments because we, as Christians, have commandments to obey. In grammar, an imperative verb (a verb that is in the imperative mood) pertains to a command. Take the example of 1 John 4:1; when God states “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world;” He uses the present tense, active voice, and imperative mood form of dokimazo [δοκιμαζω G1381; (dok-im-ad’-zo); to test, examine, prove, discern, scrutinise (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), to recognise as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy). God is not giving us an option, He is commanding us to discern the message of those who come in the name of Christ. He then gives us the will and ability to obey as He works in us to so do. This takes us back to:
Philippians 2:12 …work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will [thelo; G2309; will, purpose, intend, desire] and to do of [his] good pleasure.
The giving of a new heart, and thus a new will, can be clearly seen in:
Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
Deuteronomy 30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
Ezekiel 36:24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do.
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Jeremiah 32:39 And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them:
Many liken the above to being programmed like robots; they say this makes Christians puppets. I say thank God! I would rather be a programmed robot made righteous in Him and dwelling with Him for all eternity, than to be a “free agent” with “free will” burning in Hell for all eternity. God does program us; we are his living “robots.” Ephesians 2:10 declares “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.“
God created us (we are His workmanship, His making) and He ordains everything that we do; we are simply carrying out the programming He has designed for us. When we read in 2 Corinthians 3:2 “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3 [Forasmuch as ye are] manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart;” that epistle written on our hearts IS programming. Yet it is not a resisted programming; the Bible declares “Thy people [shall be] willing in the day of thy power…(Psalm 110:3).”
Seeing that God declares the end from the beginning, from ancient times the things that are not yet done, and says “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: 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),” how can anyone resist the truth of God’s all-encompassing sovereignty over all things (including our thoughts, words, deeds, and inactions)? They cannot resist righteously; their resistance is rebellion and all who deny the sovereignty of God will perish. No one in Hell believes in their free will, but everyone who dies believing in free will will go there. Anyone putting their trust in their free-will religion, puts it in a false refuge, and it will come crashing down around them to their eternal peril.
What If God Did Not Work In Us?
What would regenerate and converted Christians be like without God making them willing and working in them to will and to do of His good pleasure? If He did not order our every step, decreeing our entire walk from all eternity, what would we be like? We would be like the heathen and apostates; we would in no way differ from them in our character and conduct. We would riot and run after our own carnal lusts to the same extent that they would. Consider:
Isaiah 6:5 Then said I, Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
Job 4:18 Behold, He put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly: 19 How much less [in] them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation [is] in the dust, [which] are crushed before the moth? 20 They are destroyed from morning to evening: they perish for ever without any regarding [it]. 21 Doth not their excellency [which is] in them go away? they die, even without wisdom.
Job 15:14 “What [is] man, that he should be clean? and [he which is] born of a woman, that he should be righteous? 15 Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight. 16 How much more abominable and filthy [is] man, which drinketh iniquity like water?”
Job 25:4 How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean [that is] born of a woman? 5 Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight. 6 How much less man, [that is] a worm? and the son of man, [which is] a worm?
Every Christian remains undone; full of woe; and of unclean lips in their subjective experience (objectively they are perfect in Christ). Because God must work in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure, we have all the evidence that we need that we cannot will or do anything righteous in and of ourselves. That is why the Lord Jesus affirms “I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing (John 15:5).” When a Christian sins, it is his sin, it is all of him. When a Christian does that which is good in God’s sight, it is one-hundred percent of God; the Christian can by no means take any credit.
God contrasts reprobate man with Christians (His saints, servants, stars, and collectively as the moon) to emphasise the wicked nature of man. He declares that if we are not (naturally) pure in His sight, even with Christ in us, how much more filthy and polluted are those without Christ. The comparison, however, drives home the point that we, as Christians, are not to think too highly of ourselves (Romans 12:3). We should labour to esteem other Christians better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3), knowing that we are wretched after the outer man (Romans 7:24) and completely helpless against the onslaught of sin in self, satan, and the world, were it not for our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
In Part Four, Lord willing, I aim to address the verses that men use to support the false notion of free will.
To God be the glory.
Continue to Part Four