Chapter 12 – Like Christ: In Doing God’s Will

“For I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me.”—John 6:38; 5:30.

In the will of God we have the highest expression of His divine perfection, and at the same time the highest energy of His divine power. Creation owes its being and its beauty to it; it is the manifestation of God’s will. In all nature the will of God is done. In heaven the angels find their highest blessedness in doing God’s will. For this man was created with a free will, in order that he might have the power to choose, and of his own accord do God’s will. And, lo! deceived by the devil, man committed the great sin of rather doing his own than God’s will. Yes, rather his own than God’s will! in this is the root and the wretchedness of sin.

Jesus Christ became man to bring us back to the blessedness of doing God’s will. The great object of redemption was to make us and our will free from the power of sin, and to lead us again to live and do the will of God. In His life on earth He showed us what it is to live only for the will of God; in His death and resurrection He won for us the power to live and do the will of God as He had done.

“Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God.” These words, uttered through the Holy Spirit by the mouth of one of His prophets long ages before Christ’s birth, are the key to His life on earth. At Nazareth in the carpenter’s shop, at the Jordan with John the Baptist, in the wilderness with Satan, in public with the multitude, in living and dying, it was this that inspired and guided and gladdened Him; the glorious will of the Father was to be accomplished in Him and by Him.

Let us not think that this cost Him nothing. He says repeatedly, “Not my will, but the will of the Father,” to let us understand that there was in very deed a denial of His own will. In Gethsemane the sacrifice of His own will reached its height, but what took place there was only the perfect expression of what had rendered His whole life acceptable to the Father. Not herein is sin, that man has a creature-will different from the Creator’s, but in this, that he clings to his own will when it is seen to be contrary to the will of the Creator. As man, Jesus had a human will, the natural, though not sinful desires which belong to human nature. As man, His did not always know beforehand what the will of God was. He had to wait, and be taught of God, and learn from time to time what that will was. But when the will of His Father was once known to Him, then He was always ready to give up His own human will, and do the will of the Father. It was this that constituted the perfection and the value of His self-sacrifice. He had once for all surrendered Himself as a man, to live only in and for the will of God, and was always ready, even to the sacrifice of Gethsemane and Calvary, to do that will alone.

It is this life of obedience, wrought out by the Lord Jesus in the flesh, that is not only imputed to us, but imparted through the Holy Spirit. Through His death our, Lord Jesus has atoned for our self-will and disobedience. It was by conquering it in His own perfect obedience that He atoned for it. He has thus not only blotted out the guilt of our self-will before God, but broken its power in us. In His resurrection He brought from the dead a life that had conquered and destroyed all selfwill. And the believer who knows the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection, has the power to consecrate himself entirely to God’s will. He knows that the call to follow Christ means nothing less than to take and speak the words of the Master as his own solemn vow, “I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father.”

To attain this we must begin by taking the same stand that our Lord did. Take God’s will as one great whole, as the only thing for which you live on earth. Look at the sun and moon, the grass and flowers, what glory each of them has, only because it is just doing God’s will. But they do it without knowing it. Thou canst do it still more gloriously, because knowing and willing to do it. Let thine heart be filled with the thought of the glory of God’s will concerning His children, and concerning thee, and say that it is thy one purpose that that will should be done in thee. Yield thyself to the Father frequently and distinctly, with the declaration that with thee, as with Jesus, it is a settled thing that His beautiful and blessed will must and shall be done. Say it frequently in thy quiet meditations, with a joyful and trusting heart: PRAISE GOD! I MAY LIVE ONLY TO DO THE WILL OF GOD.

Let no fear keep us back from this. Think not that this will be too hard for us to do; God’s will only seems hard as long as we look at it from a distance, and are unwilling to submit to it. Just look again how beautiful the will of God makes everything in nature. Ask yourself, now that He loves and blesses you as a child, if it is right to distrust Him. The will of God is the will of His love, how can you fear to surrender yourself to it?

Nor let the fear that you will not be able to obey that will, keep you back. The Son of God came on earth to show what the life of man must and may become. His resurrection life gives us power to live as He lived. Jesus Christ enables us, through His Spirit, to walk not after the flesh, but according to the will of God.

“I come to do Thy will, O God”: before ever the Lord Jesus was come down to earth, a believer in the Old Testament was able, through the Spirit, to speak that word of himself as well as for Christ. Christ took it up and filled it with new life-power. And now He expects of His redeemed ones that, since He has been on earth, they will even more heartily and entirely make it their choice. Let us do so. We must not first try and see whether, in single instances, we succeed in doing God’s will, in the hope of afterwards attaining to the entire consecration that can say: “I come to do Thy will.” No, this is not the right way. Let us first recognise God’s will as a whole, and the claims it has upon us, as well as its blessedness and glory. Let us surrender ourselves to it as to God Himself, and consider it as one of the first articles of our creed: I am in the world, like Christ, only to do the Father’s will. This surrender will teach us with joy to accept every command and every providence as part of the will we have already yielded ourselves to. This surrender will give us courage to wait for God’s sure guidance and strength, because the man who lives only for God’s will may depend upon it that God takes him for his reckoning. This surrender will lead us deeper into the consciousness of our utter impotence, but also deeper into the fellowship and the likeness of the beloved Son, and make us partakers of all the blessedness and love that the Son has prepared for us. There is nothing that will bring us closer to God in union to Christian loving and keeping and doing the will of God.

Child of God! one of the first marks of conformity to Christ is obedience, simple and implicit obedience to all the will of God. Let it be the most marked thing in thy life. Begin by a willing and wholehearted keeping of every one of the commands of God’s holy Word. Go on to a very tender yielding to everything that conscience tells thee to be right, even when the Word does not directly command it. So shalt thou rise higher: a hearty obedience to the commandments, as far as thou knowest them, and a ready obedience to conscience wherever it speaks, are the preparation for that divine teaching of the Spirit which will lead thee deeper into the meaning and application of the Word, and into a more direct and spiritual insight into God’s will with regard to thyself personally. It is to those who obey Him God gives the Holy Spirit, through whom the blessed will of God becomes the light that shines ever more brightly on our path. “If any man will do His will, he shall know.” Blessed will of God! blessed obedience to God’s will! oh that we knew to count and keep these as our most precious treasures!

And if ever it appear too hard to live only for God’s will, let us remember wherein Christ found His strength: it was because it was the Father’s will that the Son rejoiced to do it. “This commandment have I received of my Father.” This made even the laying down of His life possible. Our union to Jesus, and our calling to live like Him, ever point us to His Sonship as the secret of His life and strength. Let it be our chief desire to say each day: I am the Father’s beloved child, and to think of each commandment as the Father’s will; a Christ-like sense of sonship will lead to a Christ-like obedience.

O my God, I thank Thee for this wondrous gift, Thy Son become man, to teach us how man may do the will of his God. I thank Thee for the glorious calling to be like Him in this too, with Him to taste the blessedness of a life in perfect harmony with Thy glorious and perfect will. I thank Thee for the power given in Christ to do and to bear all that will. I thank Thee that in this too I may be like the first-begotten Son.

I come now, O my Father, afresh to take up this my calling in childlike joyous trust and love. Lord, I would live wholly and only to do Thy will. I would abide in the Word and wait upon the Spirit. I would, like Thy Son, live in fellowship with Thee in prayer, in the firm confidence that Thou wilt day by day make me to know Thy will more clearly. O my Father, let this my desire be acceptable in Thy sight. Keep it in the thoughts of my heart for ever. Give me grace with true joy continually to say: Not my will, but the will of my Father must be done: I am here on the earth only to do the will of my God. Amen.