“Now the God of peace, make you perfect in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be the glory for ever and ever.” Heb. 13: 20, 21.
In Hebrews we have three passages on the will of God. The first, 10: 7-10, spoke of that will, and Christ’s doing of it, as the cause of our redemption — the deep root in which our life stands. The second, 10-36, spoke of that will as done patiently by us, amid the trials of this earth. The third, our present text, shows us the wondrous bond of union between the two former: the same God who wrought out His will in Christ for our redemption, is working out that will in us too. What God did in Christ is the pledge of what He will do in us too. That Christ did the will of God secures our doing that will too. Listen to the wondrous teaching.
Now, the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the Great Shepherd of the sheep in the blood of the everlasting covenant, even our Lord Jesus, make you perfect to do His will. All that is said about the Lord Jesus refers to the previous teaching of the Epistle. It has taught us what the covenant was, what the blood of the covenant, what the exaltation to the throne of Christ as the Priest King, the Great Shepherd of the sheep. And now it says that the God of peace, who did it all, who gave Christ to do His will and die on the Cross, and then raised Him from the dead, that the same God will perfect us to do His will. As much as it was God who sent and enabled Christ to do His will, and through that perfected Him and perfected our salvation, it is God too who will perfect us in every good thing to do His will. God’s will being done in us is to God of the same interest as His will done in Christ; He cares for the one as much as the other. The same Omnipotence which created for Christ a body through the Virgin Mary, and empowered Christ — who could do nothing of Himself — to do that will, even to the agony of Gethsemane, and the surrender of His Spirit into His Father’s hand on Calvary, and then raised Him from the grave to His own right hand, the same Omnipotent God is working in you that you may do His will. Oh, for grace to believe this — the God who worked all in Christ, even to raising Him from the very dead, is working all in us!
You do not catch it yet. It looks altogether too impossible. The difference is too great. The difficulties in our sinful nature are too insuperable. Come and listen once again. Now, the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ — what now — do pause, and take in every word — make you perfect — in every good thing — to do His will! What more could one wish? [Note: The word ‘perfect’ here means to repair, to equip, to fit; God fits us for every good thing, and so enables us to do His will.]
And yet, to remove all doubt, there is more. There follows: working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. The center words, to do His will, are welded fast between what precedes: God Himself make you perfect in every good thing, and what follows — working Himself in you that which is pleasing in His sight. How wonderful the connection between our doing and God’s working. He fits us in every good thing to do His will, so that the doing of it is really our work, and yet at the same time it is His own working in us. God fits us for the work, and then works it through us. And so all is of God!
The lessons for which we want to take these words into our heart, and which we want to ask God to teach us by the Holy Spirit, are three. The first is: The one object of the great redemption is to fit us to do God’s will here on earth. For that we were created; that was God’s image and likeness in us; that was our fitness for fellowship with God, and the participation in His rule of the world to which we were destined. To redeem and bring us back to this, God worked that stupendous miracle of power and of love; His Son becoming man, that as man He might show us how to do God’s will, and how by doing it sin could be atoned and conquered. For this Christ lives in heaven and in our hearts, that through Him God may work in us that which is well pleasing in His heart. What the sinner needs to know when he is called to repentance, what the believer needs to be continually reminded of and encouraged in, is this: to do God’s will is what I have been redeemed for. The entire failure of so much Christian life is simply owing to this, that the Church has not clearly and persistently preached the great message, that all God’s wondrous grace has this one object, to restore us to the original glory of our creation, and make it our life to do His will.
The second lesson is of no less importance — we can do God’s will because God Himself fits us for it, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight.
Alas! how little this is known or believed by believers. The call to do all God’s will is made of no effect by the terrible unbelief that says: It cannot be; I cannot do it. Men say that they believe that all the mysteries of redemption, up to Christ’s resurrection and exaltation to heaven were wrought “by the working of the strength of God’s might” (Eph. 1: 20). But they do not believe what Scripture affirms as distinctly (Eph. 1: 19), that the same exceeding greatness of His power works in them that believe. Let me implore every child of God who would live to do His will, to remember: the will of God is so holy and Divine no one can do it but God Himself. God has given you a renewed will, capable of knowing and desiring, and even delighting in, His will, but not of doing it in your own strength. The work of our will is to accept of His will as being indeed what He will work in you. This is indeed our highest glory, that God, who, according to His very nature, must work all in all, will work in us both to will and to do. He Himself fits us in every good thing to do His will, working Himself in us that which is pleasing in His sight.
The last lesson follows naturally: Our great need and our great duty, when we have accepted our calling to live only to do His will, is to bow before God in continual humility and dependence, asking to know fully our utter impotence, and seeking to trust confidently in His power working in us. And with this, to understand that His power cannot work freely and fully in us, except as He dwells in us. Jesus said: The Father abiding in Me does the works. It is “through Jesus Christ” that God works in us what is pleasing in His sight. That is, through Jesus Christ dwelling in the heart, by the power of the Holy Ghost, God by a continual secret, almighty operation, works out His will in us, by fitting us to do it. The one thing needful is: a simple, but unceasing and unlimited, faith in the indwelling Jesus. Lo, I come, He said. I delight to do Your will. That is not only for us, but in us. He is the Executor of the Father’s will, through whom it is all carried out. Oh! let us turn with a new consecration to do all God’s will, with a new faith to God who will work in us the fitness to do it, with a new devotion to Jesus Christ, through whom we the sinful, we the impotent, can indeed have grace to say also: I delight to do Your will, O my God.