“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” Psalms 27: 4.
The subject of human free will is apt to be either understated or overstated. No man has the power to act and act of pure, unadulterated, free will. God is the only Being Who can act with absolute free will. The Bible reveals that man is free to choose, but it nowhere teaches that man is fundamentally free. The freedom man has is not that of power but of choice, consequently he is accountable for choosing the course he takes. For instance, we can choose whether or not we will accept the suggestion of salvation which God puts before us; or whether or not we will let God rule our lives.
Man is free to choose in so far as no human force can constrain him against his will. “Convince a man against his will, he is of the same opinion still,” or “compel a man against his will, he is of the same opinion still” God has so constituted man that it is not possible to convince him against his will; you can compel him and crush him but you cannot convince him against his will. Only God could exercise constraint over a man which would compel him to do what in the moment of doing it is not his own will; but God steadily refuses to do. The reason man is free is that within his personality there is a disposition of sin. Man’s destiny is determined by his disposition; he cannot alter his disposition, but he can choose to let God alter it, Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” John 8:34; but He also said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8: 36. i.e. free in essence. We are only free when the Son set us free; but we are free to choose whether or not we will be made free. In the experience of regeneration, a man takes the step of choosing to let God alter his disposition. When the Holy Spirit comes into a man, He brings His own generating Will power and makes a man free in will. Will simply means the whole nature active, and when the Holy Spirit comes in and energizes a man’s will is able to do what he never could do before, viz., he is able to do God’s will. “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13.
The Universe of the Will
Some suggestions are alive to us and we want to work at them; other suggestions are dead; they do not appeal to us at all. We have to be brought out of one universe of the will into another universe where suggestions which were dead become alive. You can never tell when a suggestion which up to a certain stage has been dead may suddenly become of living interest.
a)-The Live Quest of the Will
“One thing I have desired of the Lord … that I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life…”
The depths of personality are hidden from our sight; we don’t know anything beyond the threshold of consciousness, God is the only One Who knows. When we try to go beyond our conscious life into the depths of our personality, we do not know where we are, our only refuge is the Psalm 139: 23, “Search me, God, and know my heart.” Whatever rouses your will, is an indication of the bias of your personality. The Bible reveals that in a man’s personality there is a bias that makes him choose not the suggestion of Godliness, but the suggestion of ungodliness. This bias is not a matter of man’s deliberate choice; it is in his personality when he is born. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man...” Romans 5:12. The ideas that appeal to a healthy once-born man is that of self-realization – “I want to develop myself.” If you bring to him the idea that he should be saved and give up his right to himself to Jesus Christ, it will be a dead idea, without meaning for him; but let conviction of sin, or disaster, or bereavement, or any other great surprises of God touch him, and instantly the idea takes on a totally new aspect and he will want to act on it. Jesus Christ always puts the emphasis on the effort of obedience, there must be a live quest of the will. “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on My own.” John 7:17. The truth of God is only revealed to us by obedience.
b)-The Lure of the Voluntary Quest
“To behold the Beauty of the Lord…”
When once the will is roused it always has a definite end in view, an end in the nature of unity. Always distinguish between will and impulse. An impulse has no end in view and must be curbed, not obey. Will is the whole effort of a man consciously awake with the definite end of unity in view, which means that body and soul are in absolute harmony. This end of satisfaction offers a great fascination. The characteristic of a moral hell is satisfaction, no end in view, perfectly satisfied. Moral sickness is a perilous time, it is the condition to which sin brings us, and it accounts for the unutterable disappointments in life, there is no lure, no aim, no quest, no end in view. The characteristic of the spiritual life is the delight of discerning more and more clearly the end God has in view for us. Jesus did not say that eternal life was satisfaction, but something infinitely grander. “And this is eternal life, that they may know You,” John 17: 3. The demand for satisfaction is God-Given. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6. But it must be satisfaction in the highest.
c)- The liberty to Question
“… and to inquire in His temple.”
When a man has been awakened from sin to salvation, the only ideas that are alive to his will are the ideas from God. There is an insatiable inquire after God’s commands, and to every command, there is a desire to act in obedience. Recall your own experience and see how true that is. The things that used to be ends in view have not only ceased to be ends, they have ceased to have any interest for you at all; they have become tasteless. This is the way God enables us to be fundamentally dead to the things of the world while we live amongst them. Jesus Christ was in the world yet He was disconnected from it; the one irresistible purpose of His life was to do the will of His Father. If I am in right relationship to God, there comes this delightful liberty of inquiring in His temple. It is not the Sabbath day spent in a temple, but the whole of the life, every domain of body and soul to be lived there. The dead set of the will is towards one end only, viz., to do the Will of God. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:27. When Jesus has not spoken there is an unutterable dullness all through, our spirit does not witness to what is being said. When that fine balance of discernment is tampered with we give an opportunity to Satan; but if is kept in perfect accord with God’s Word, He will guard. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would bring His word to our remembrance, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26. The Holy Spirit does not bring text after text until we are utterly confused; He simply brings back with the greatest of ease the words which we need in the particular circumstances we are in. Then comes in the use of the will, will I obey the Word which has been brought back to our remembrance? The battle comes when we begin to debate instead of obeying. We have to obey and leave all consequences with God.