The nature of the human will is an intriguing dynamic in scripture. It was the free will of man that allowed Adam to choose obedience to God or rebellion and sin. Our free will is part of the risky proposition God implanted in His design of creation. When and if man partnered his own will to God’s will, then an extraordinary destiny of discovery and design lay before him. That was the reality God called man to when He commissioned mankind to be fruitful, multiply, subdue and have dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28).
On the other hand, if man used his will to rebel against God, destruction, darkness, and death awaited him. That was the dark reality of the curse that Adam and Eve walked into, along with all their descendants, in Genesis 3:16-24.
That same risk versus reward proposition exists in every individual life today. It is the free will of man that sits at the crux of the question, “Why does God allow such awful things to occur in the earth.” He has given us free will, and we are left to the rewards or consequences of what we do with that free will. The cumulative effects of millions of human beings over countless generations choosing, again and again, to rebel against God have produced the dark world we live in today.
The solution for each individual life to escape this present darkness is to join our will to the will of God. It is not an easy decision, nor is it an easy life. If it were easy, then everyone would do it.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV)
The denial of personal and selfish desires distinguishes the difficulty of this pathway for the sake of following God into the desires of His eternal will.
Many a believer has decided to adhere to the will of God only to stumble and find themselves caught in selfishness, disobedience, and rebellion – again. The life of faith is not simply a life of surrendered obedience to the will of God. If that were the case, then there would be no need for grace and the Holy Spirit. The law of God would have been enough. We hear, and we obey. But we need more than just knowledge of the truth. We need a change in the core of our being to follow after God.
We must undergo a radical redesign of our life and heart’s desires to be in line with the will of God.
Rebuilding the Heart
It is interesting that throughout the New Testament, we never see an example of the Holy Spirit forcing Himself upon believers. The Holy Spirit does not possess the people of God. The Holy Spirit partners with the people of God. It is in this partnership that God leads us step by step into His will. It is also here that he changes and adjusts the nature of our own will to be like His will. We surrender one step, one day at a time.
We know that the Old Testament is full of types and shadows, pictures that inform us of the spiritual truths of the Word of God. One of the places where I always find a treasure trove of these images is in the building of the house of God – the tabernacle or the temple where God arrived, dwelled, and spoke to the people, imparting His will. We know that we, believers, have replaced that manmade structure under the will of God in the new covenant.
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NKJV)
But lessons for how our life should be shaped and built are still learned by looking into the images of the house of God in the Old Testament.
It is instructional that when God called for the people to build the house of God, He wanted it to be born from their hearts.
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart, you shall take My offering. Exodus 25:1-2 (NKJV)
(NKJV) ‘Take from among you an offering to the LORD. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the LORD: Exodus 35:5 (NKJV)
God wanted their will and their hearts engaged in the process of building His house. He demonstrated His preferences, and as their hearts were provoked, He invited them to join in the process He was unfolding before their eyes. By touching their heart, He invited their will to shift towards His.
The nature of our own human will finds its definition and origin in the human heart. Therefore, to change our will to be more in line with the will of God, we must change the heart. Priorities must shift. The inputs we allow into our hearts must change.
Once again, we find the heart is central to building a life where the will and Word of God can be glorified.
The Model of Christ
When Jesus prayed to God during His darkest hours in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was a man divided only hours before the passion of the crucifixion began.
Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” Matthew 26:38 (NKJV)
His heart wanted what God wanted in the moment. His human will, aware of what lay ahead, wanted self-preservation and survival.
He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39 (NKJV)
The individual will is an incredible gift God gave to human beings, but it cannot be trusted. We must submit the will to the will of God if we want to live the life of victory and truth that Christ modeled for us.
That pathway comes by renewing our hearts to a love of God above all else. When we can find the difference between our will and the will of God, as Jesus did, then we have found the voice of God prompting our hearts to the right course of action. That is the pathway of life and truth.