“If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 1 John 2: 15, 17.
Here we have once again the contrast between the two great powers that contend for mastery over man. We saw, in Romans 12: 2, how the great danger that threatens the consecrated man, and makes a life in God’s will impossible, comes from the side of worldly conformity. And, in Galatians 1: 4, how the one great aim of God’s will in the death of Christ was to deliver us from this present evil world. The irreconcilable hostility of the two principles is brought out here with equal force. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Freedom from the love of the world, by the love of the Father utterly expelling it, is the law of the normal Christian life. And the exercise and discipline by which the true position is to be maintained, with the love of the Father and not the love of the world filling the heart and life, is the doing the will of God: “He that doeth the will of God abideth for ever ” — abides unchangeably in God and an unchangeable love.
What sacred associations there are connected with that word ‘abiding’! Abiding in Christ and in His love (John 15); abiding in the Son and in the Father (1 John 2: 24, 28); God and Christ, the truth and the anointing abiding in us (1 John 2: 14, 27; 3: 24). The chief thought is permanent, steadfast, immovable continuance in the place and the blessing secured to us in Christ and God. The great secret of the world is its transitoriness — it passes away with all its glory. And all who are of it partake of its vanity and uncertainty. And just as far as the Christian breathes its spirit, and allows its love a place in his heart, he loses the power of abiding. All failure in abiding, all lack of permanence and perseverance in the Christian life, can have no other cause than that the spirit and life of the world are robbing the soul of its real and only strength. The Word and Will of God are unchangeable and eternal: he that does the will of God abides forever. As a man does the will of God, and in doing appropriates it, feeds upon and assimilates it, its very essence enters into his being, and he becomes partaker of its Divine strength and unchangeableness. As the life of God is, so is His will, without variableness and shadow of turning. And as the will of God is taken up into the life of the believer, it also is changed into the likeness of theDivine life, and becomes freed from all the variableness and every shadow of turning which is the mark of this world. “This world passes away; he that does the will of God abides forever.”
“He that does the will of God.” It is by doing that the will of God enters into us, and communicates its own Divine unchangeableness. The revelation by the Spirit, the knowledge and contemplation of the love and adoration of the will of God — all these have their place and value. But it is not until we have really done, and are continually doing, the will of God, that it has really mastered us, conquered every enemy, and transformed us into the perfect likeness to itself. It is as the doing of the Father’s will becomes our meat, that is, the satisfaction of our soul’s hunger, and our nourishment, that God Himself becomes the strength of our life. It is only then that man is brought back to his original glory. He was created with a will, that into it he might receive the will of God, that God might work His will into him, and so man, in working that will out again, might become the partner and fellow-worker with God in all His works. Jesus Christ, as man, restored human nature to its ideal destiny, and proved what blessedness and glory it is to live only to do the will of God. And redeemed men receive the Spirit of Jesus Christ that they, even as He, might find their life in accepting and living and doing nothing but the will of God. As God’s will is the only power that upholds and secures the existence of the universe, so that will, done by the believer, is the one security that he never shall be moved. The whole of redemption, all that it reveals of pardoning and sanctifying and preserving grace, has this as its aim and its crown — that man should find his blessedness and his fellowship with God, his likeness to Him, in doing His will. “He that does the will of God abides forever.”
Blessed abiding! How often believers have mourned and wondered that there was so little abiding peace and joy in their life — that the abiding in Christ and His love was so fluctuating and uncertain. They knew not how near the answer lay as to the cause: “He that does the will of God abides forever.” They never noticed how distinctly our Lord had laid down this as the one condition of abiding in Him: “If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love, even as I kept the commandments of My Father, and abide in His love.” Could words make it plainer that obedience, doing His will, is the secret of abiding? And that if, instead of occupying ourselves with the abiding as the object of direct desire and faith and prayer, and effort, we were to give up ourselves wholly to keep the commandments and do the will, the abiding would come of itself, because it would be given us by a secret power from on High. He that does the will of God abides forever,” and will always and unceasingly abide.
It is to be feared that in the teaching of the Church of Christ, and in the life of the great majority of believers, the doing of the will of the Father has not that overwhelming prominence which it had in the life and teaching of Christ, as in the purpose of the Father. Any revival that is really to affect the spiritual life and elevate the standard of Christian living, must be a revival of holy living, with the vindication of God’s claim that every child of His should give Himself to do God’s will on earth as it is done in heaven. When once God’s claim is fully admitted, and, without any reservation, unconditionally accepted, light will be given as to the Divine guidance that will lead us to it, the Divine power which makes it possible, the Divine certainty that it shall be done. Everything depends upon the simple and whole-hearted acceptance of the great truth, that to be brought back to do the will of God is the one thing we have been redeemed for, and that doing that will is, on earth as in heaven, with us, as with our Lord Jesus, the one secret of abiding in the love of God.