Man’s will versus God’s will
Dear BPCWA worshipper, Last week, we saw how we cannot blame circumstances or others for our sinful actions. We must take responsibility for our choices and actions. This week we want to address the fact that whether or not we admit fault, we will suffer the consequences of our wilful choices. We must not be deceived to think that we will always be protected because God cannot afford to let our sinful choices affect His plans or that His patience and power means that He’ll indulgently ignore our sins and dismiss all the evil consequences of sin in our lives. We need to realise that God’s will and His purposes will always be fulfilled, whatever sinful choices we make. It is to our own detriment that we foolishly believe that for God’s will to be done, He has to prevent things from going wrong in our lives, even when we will to make disobedient choices.
Man’s will, God’s will, and impacts. We often counsel our friends, relatives, or children to think very carefully about what course of study they wish to pursue as a career because there are long-term implications. However, we often fail to realise that we too make choices every day that can have long-term impacts that we need to bear. While not every choice will have the same long-term effects, we should not be frivolous. We must be conscious that our choices can affect our lives in ways that we may not even consider or envision. Just like a popular saying “we are what we eat”, our choice of food can change and affect our health. Our choice of what to say or what not to say affects what our testimony will be. Our choice of friends affects our values and affections. Our choice of what to do or what not to do can affect our obedience over time. Adam and Eve by the will of their minds chose to disobey God. It then resulted in their act of taking the forbidden fruit, hence eventually openly sinning by disobeying God’s commands (Ja 1:14-15). A choice to disobey God, even if that choice does not result immediately in visible chaos, is still sin, because “sin is the transgression of the law” (1Jn 3:4).
No more excuses after salvation. As we learnt in last week’s Teens QnA, while the believer cannot be sinlessly perfect on earth, he also cannot say that the fall has made him unable to obey God. As a believer, God has given us a new heart and mind to please Him, and choose to obey and do that which is spiritually good and profitable. Our hearts are no longer under bondage to sin and foolishness, and we can desire and choose to be godly, and do things that are pleasing to God, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2Pe 1:3-4)
God’s Absolute Sovereignty despite man’s evil choices. Unlike parents who shrug at their inability to control situations once their children grow up and make their own choices, this is not so with God. As Christians, we can take all comfort in the fact that our Supreme God, despite every man having the liberty to will, never loses control of the affairs of the world and of the individual. God’s plans and purposes will always reign supreme (Is 46:9-11). “God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass” (WCF Ch 3:1). It is because God is Sovereign that we can have full confidence that “all things work for good” (Rom 8:28). Everything has been decreed by Him and happens according to His precise plan as He “uphold[s], direct[s], dispose[s], and govern[s] all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least” (WCF Ch5:1) without taking away the liberty of our wills.
We are held responsible for our choices. Back to Genesis . . . did God give Eve to Adam? Yes. Did the serpent beguile Eve? Yes again. But despite that, both Adam and Eve were fully – and fairly – held accountable for their sin. God had given them a will that could choose to obey and do His will. They were able to use that will to make choices that were pleasing and not disobedient to God. Instead, they chose evil and disobedience and were cursed for it (Gen 3:16, 17). Did God want man to be sinners? No, and neither does God want to have man through mankind’s history make choices that are against His precepts, commandments, and ways. God in His infinite wisdom works all things just like a giant jigsaw puzzle (figuratively speaking) so that even the ugly pieces will never be misfits but will always fit perfectly in His plan. Yet, even if the outcomes work towards God’s purposes, man is always held accountable for every choice that he makes against God’s revealed will. Judas, the apostatizing disciple was repeatedly warned that “one of you which eateth with me shall betray me.” (Mk 14:18). Though “the Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him”, yet the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation does not absolve Judas of his treachery because Judas himself chose to betray Christ, not because God made him do it. Hence, Christ warns Judas that “woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born.” (Mr 14:21). Christ warned the Apostle Peter that he would deny Him thrice. Despite this, Peter chose to deny Christ in His greatest hour of need. Even though God restored Peter, Peter will always remember the painful grief that his sinful choice brought.
Do God’s will instead of being self-willed. God’s will will always be done. So, be wise and be part of it instead of refusing to submit to it. When we refuse to submit to God’s good will, we choose to walk into His chastitive will instead. You are the loser, always. We must remember that choices are not just about choosing the options at the crossroads of life, such as which company to work in, and which course of studies to take. We make choices about what we will do and what we will not do, every day of our lives. We choose what to say or not to say. We choose whether to live our lives by following our own desires or to crucify our fleshly passions and yield to God’s Word. We choose whether to go or to stay put. We choose whether to listen to good or evil counsel and conversation. There were many men and women in the Bible who had dark sinful histories. In times past they were unprofitable, but after salvation, they renewed their minds and chose to will to make the right choices and became profitable to God’s work and servants (Philem 1:11). God in Christ gives His children new hearts and new desires to always be able to live a victorious Christian life. There is no sin that we cannot overcome through the help of the Holy Spirit. Even the list of grievous sins “fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers . . . thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards” can be overcome after regeneration, for God declares “such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified” (1 Cor 6:9-11). Sin has its effects but it doesn’t mean that we must continue to live under the bondage of a besetting sin. We can choose to continue in our “old ways” or put on Christ. The only reason we continue to succumb to sin is because we will to live in disobedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is no more “I cannot help it” but “I will not do it”. We can choose to continue to hold on to our pride or to humble ourselves to accept God’s way and get back onto the right way. Let us not take this lightly, because one day we shall be called to give an account of every choice that we make when we stand before the Judge of the earth.
1 Cor 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
Yours in our Lord’s service,