THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Lesson #10
The Will of God†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Psalm 40:8
††††††††††† We know that the words of David in Psalm 40 find their ultimate and perfect fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ, because the Holy Spirit tells us so in Hebrews 10:7-9. How we rejoice to know that Christ, the God-man, our Substitute, has fulfilled all the will of God for us! By his obedience to God in our stead the Lord Jesus Christ obtained eternal redemption for us. His obedience to God is our righteousness. His blood is our atonement for sin. We are complete in Christ. And we are accepted in him, because he delighted to do the will of God as our Substitute.
††††††††††† But the words of our text were also Davidís words. They express the desire, ambition, and driving force of every believerís heart. ďI delight to do thy will, O God.Ē All who are born of God bear this distinct mark of grace in the likeness of Christ. Believers in their inmost souls delight to do the will of God. Our joy and happiness is not merely in receiving good from God, but in rendering active service to God. We desire to obey and serve our heavenly Father in all things and do his will at all times, not reluctantly, but cheerfully. Godís will is our joy and delight. And we delight to see Godís will done in and by others. Our heartís prayer is, ďOur Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heavenĒ (Matt. 6:9-10). God the Holy Spirit has taught every believer in the world to pray with Christ, ďThy will be done.Ē
††††††††††† Were it possible to gather all the desires, ambitions, aspirations, goals, and prayers of all Godís saints in heaven and earth into one expression, it would be this: ďThy will be done.Ē Every believer delights to do the will of God! When the believing heart cries, ďI delight to do thy will, O God,Ē The meaning is: My heavenly Father, my God, in my heart of hearts, from the depths of my inmost soul,...
∑ I delight to fulfill your will of purpose.
∑ I delight to satisfy your will of pleasure.
∑ And I delight to obey your will of precept.
Our heavenly Father, the God of the Bible, is a God ďwho worketh all things after the counsel of his own willĒ (Eph. 1:11). And all who know him delight to do his will in all things.
††††††††††† IT IS THE DUTY AND RESPONSIBILITY OF ALL MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN TO OBEY THE WILL OF GOD REVEALED IN HIS PRECEPTS. The Bible reveals Godís will to be made up of three parts, his precept, his pleasure, and his purpose. His precept is that which he requires and commands of his creatures. His pleasure is that in which he delights and that of which he approves. His purpose is that which he is determined to accomplish. These three things never contradict each other. They are never at odds. They are always in perfect harmony. They are, together, the will of God. Letís look at them one at a time, beginning with Godís will of precept. This is his revealed will, that which he requires of men, that which he commands us to do. When a person in authority expresses his will to those under his authority, his revealed will is to them a law, a command, a precept, which they are responsible to obey. And that which God has revealed to be his will and pleasure is to us a precept, a law, a command which we are responsible to obey. Godís will of command, or precept, made known to us, is our rule of duty (Eccles. 12:13; Ex. 20; Rom. 2:12-15, 18; Psa. 143:1). In the day of judgment God will judge every man by that which has been revealed to him. The moral requirements of Godís law are revealed to all men by the light of nature (Rom. 2:12-15). As the wisdom and power of God are stamped upon creation, so the law of God is stamped upon the conscience of man by nature. Even the most heathen, barbaric tribesmen of ancient cultures, know that God is and that he requires man to love him supremely and to love his neighbor as himself. God revealed his will upon Sinai in the giving of the law (Ex. 20:1-17; Rom. 13:8-9; Eph. 6:2). The decalogue, the moral law, reveals what God requires of all men in their relations of men to him and to one another. Though in Christ we are free from the yoke of the lawís rule and its curse, these requirements are never altered. The ceremonial law given to the nation of Israel was Godís revealed will concerning worship in the Old Testament. It began when God commanded Israel to observe the Passover (Ex. 12) and ended when Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us, when the hand writing of the ordinances was nailed to the cross (1 Cor. 5:7; Col. 2:14-16). Since Christ has come and fulfilled all the requirements and types of the moral and ceremonial law, the revealed will of God to all men is the gospel of Christ as it is written out in the whole Volume of Holy Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Because no man is capable of fulfilling the righteousness of God revealed in the law, Christ fulfilled the law in the place of sinful men. Godís elect, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, fulfill the righteousness of the law by faith in him (Rom. 8:2-4; 3:31). This is what God requires and commands of all men - ďBelieve on the Lord Jesus Christ (I John 3:23). Faith in Christ is the revealed will of God. This is Godís precept. And all men are responsible to obey it (John 3:36). In this sense, our renewed hearts say, ďI delight to do thy will, O God.Ē
††††††††††† IT IS THE DESIRE OF EVERY BELIEVER TO OBEY THE WILL OF GODíS HOLY PLEASURE. A loving child wants more than to avoid his fatherís disapproval. He seeks to know and do that which is his fatherís pleasure. A loving wife wants more than to do what her husband requires. She wants to please her husband in all things. And the believer wants something infinitely greater than to avoid the wrath of God. He wants to do the will of God. He wants to do that which gives pleasure, satisfaction, and delight to his heavenly Father. I know that we cannot add to Godís infinite pleasure; but his children earnestly seek to do that which we he declares to be his pleasure.
††††††††††† There are some things revealed in the Bible that please God (Mic. 6:6-8). God declares himself to be pleased with other men in justice (honesty), mercy, and love, and walk humbly before him. o walk humbly before God is to walk before him in faith, trusting Christ alone as our ground of acceptance with him. (Read 1 Cor. 4;7; Eph. 5:18-21; Phil. 2:1-4; and Heb. 11:5-6.) Just as there are some things that please him, there are some things revealed in the Scriptures that are displeasing and grievous to our Lord (Eph. 4:17-5:1). It ought to be our constant prayer that our God will give us grace that we may not dishonor his name or offend him in thought, word, or deed, that he will give us grace that we may not grieve your Holy Spirit. It has already been stated, but it needs to be emphasized that the only way sinful men and women can please God is by faith in Christ (Heb. 11:5-6). Enoch was not a suppersaint, but simply a sinner saved by grace, a man who pleased God because he trusted the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the only way we can please him. God is pleased with his Son (Matt. 3:17; 17:5). He is pleased with us in his Son (Eph. 1:6). And he is pleased with our feeble efforts to please him for his Sonís sake (1 Pet. 2:5). In this sense too, regarding the will of Godís holy pleasure, we say, ďI delight to do thy will, O God.Ē
††††††††††† WE ARE ASSURED IN THE BIBLE THAT ALL THINGS OBEY THE SECRET WILL OF GODíS ETERNAL PURPOSE (Deut. 29:29). God has purposed, or decreed, all things that ever have come to pass and all things that ever shall come to pass, without exception (Psa. 115:3; 135:6; Isa. 46:10; Dan. 4:35; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; 13:48; Rom. 8:28-30; 9:15-18; I Cor. 5:18; Eph. 1:11). In this sense everything that is, has been, or shall be is the will of God. God is absolutely sovereign in directing the affairs of the universe. His will of purpose includes all things, evil as well as good, sin as well as salvation, error as well as truth. And Godís will of purpose is always, perfectly accomplished in and by all things. With regard to Godís will of purpose we must understand that God wills whatever he does in providence (Job 23:13; Eph. 1:11). He acts voluntarily in all that he does. He is never compelled to do anything. God does in providence exactly he willed to do from eternity (Acts 15:18). If he could will, desire, or purpose to do anything that he failed to accomplish, he would not be omnipotent. Godís will of purpose includes all things (Psa. 76:10; Prov. 16:4). It is his eternal, immutable, sovereign, unconditional, and irresistibly effectual will, ever holy, wise, and good.
††††††††††† Because carnal men are ever bent upon perverting the things of God, I must give a word or two of caution regarding the will of Godís purpose. The sovereignty of Godís purpose does not destroy manís responsibility, or even his will. Manís sin has put his will in bondage to sin, not by Godís purpose.† The universality of Godís purpose does not make God the author of sin (Jas. 1:13).God is not the author of sin; but he is the author of the good which he accomplishes by overruling sin. Without question, Adamís fall was ordained of God; but God did not force Adam to do what he did. Yet, he used the fall to accomplish his good pleasure toward his elect for the glory of his own great name (1 Cor. 15:21-22). The Lord God certainly ordained the crucifixion of his Son in the place of his people (Acts 2:23). Yet, he did not compel men to crucify him. He simply overruled their wicked deeds to accomplish his purpose, which is the salvation of his elect for the everlasting praise of his name. ††††††††††† When we hear God say regarding all things, ďI will do all my pleasure,Ē we rejoice to bow before him and say, ďThy will be done,Ē ďI delight to do thy will, O God.Ē Yet, among Godís saints two questions are commonly asked in sincerity when thinking about or discussing Godís will.
††††††††††† IS IT POSSIBLE FOR A BELIEVER TO MISS, OR BE OUT OF, THE WILL OF GOD? Without question, insofar as Godís revealed will, his precept, and his pleasure is concerned, a believer can miss, disobey, and be out of the will of God. Any act of sin, unbelief, and disobedience to the revealed willed in Holy Scripture, or any act, movement, or decision contrary to the direction of the Holy Spirit is to miss and be out of the will of God. David was clearly out of the will of God when the Lord made a breach upon Israel in 1 Chronicles 13. However, let it be understood and emphatically clear that no one, and no action performed by anyone, is ever out of the will of Godís purpose! ďHe worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.Ē Though Elimelech disobeyed Godís revealed will when he went down to Moab, it was Godís eternal purpose to fetch Ruth from Moab to be a bride to Boaz, that he might bring his Son into the world through them (Ruth 4:13-17; Matt. 1:5). Without question, David was out of Godís will in the matter of Uriah. ďThe thing that David had done displeased the LORDĒ (2 Sam. 11:27). Yet, our God is so absolutely sovereign and gracious that he overruled and used even Davidís sin with Bathsheba to bring Davidís Redeemer and ours into this world (Matt. 1:6). Recognizing something of the greatness and goodness of his will, I am compelled and thankful to say, even when it is contrary to my will, my choice, and my actions, ďI delight to do thy will, O God.Ē
††††††††††† HOW CAN I KNOW THE WILL OF GOD? This is a question that I hear wherever I go. It is a question I have asked many times myself. It is a question we have to deal with day by day. With Moses, we ought to pray, ďShow me now thy wayĒ (Ex. 33:13). No one can determine what Godís will for you is, except you. In this matter, you must not consult with flesh and blood, but with God alone. He† God will reveal his will to you by his Word, by his Spirit, and by his providence. This is a matter of certainty - God will reveal his will to all who truly seek his will in faith (Prov. 3:5-6). Let this be our prayer - ďThy will be done!Ē Let this be our determination - ďI delight to do thy will, O God.Ē Let this be our attitude - ďIt is the Lord, let him do what he will.Ē