Sanctification: God’s Will to Align Your Will to God’s Will
Man is a creature, and God is his Maker. People who do not like this arrangement have created theories that dismiss God. Evolution is a case example. So who created the theory of evolution? Was it rebellious creature man? Or was it the Creator of man, who has authored history, including the fall of man, which made creature man rebellious?
In the Bible, this tension between the will of God and the will of man is in view with the Egyptian Pharaoh of Moses’ day. When the Israelites departed slavery in the 1446 B.C. Exodus, Pharaoh, weary from the ten plagues, paused (giving the Hebrews a head start), and then he hardened his heart against them, and went out to destroy them (Ex 14:4, 8).
Exodus 4:21 informs us that it was God who hardened Pharaoh’s heart, previously. He told Moses what was going to happen, even as a prediction. God later reminded Moses that it was the Almighty who was doing the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart (Ex 7:3, 33). With each plague, the hardening was attributed to Pharaoh and then again to God. The purpose in all of this was for God to perform signs and wonders and to be honored through Pharaoh and all his army (Ex 14:17).
Was Pharaoh exercising his free will when he hardened his heart? No, he was exercising his will. The free will of man is a myth. The will of man is a reality. Men are not autonomous creatures. If they were, they would be like gods (Gen 3:5). Rather, men are influenced by spiritual forces far greater in power and intellect. When the serpent tempted Adam and Eve, they enjoyed the prospect of the devil’s promise for a moment, before they started their own clothing line.
The person who buys the lottery ticket and enjoys a day of fantasy, before returning to his poverty, he is enslaved to the pleasure of the fantasy. He is an addict who assures himself, tomorrow, will be the last day he ever buys a lottery ticket. Tomorrow, the day of liberation, never comes.
Men deny they are slaves to sin (Rom 6:6, 16–20). The motive behind this denial is pride. Pride is a sin. In fact, some have called it, “the mother of all other sins.” Sin is insidious, as it leads men to their death (Rom 6:23). It is the will of man, never to die. Death prevention, which is really only death postponement, is big business in our fallen world. The promise of God to Adam, Eve, and their progeny was, “You shall surely die.”
For the Hebrews in Egypt, it was their will to be freed from slavery. It was God’s will to deliver them in the way that He did and in the time that He did. It was all according to God’s good pleasure. It was the will of the Egyptians to destroy the Hebrews, but it was the will of God to destroy the Egyptians. God’s will was done, not Pharaoh’s will.
Our wisdom lesson is: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord (Prv 16:33).” God performs all His holy will (Eph 1:11), and in doing so, He accomplishes what concerns us (Ps 57:2; 138:8). Isaiah knew that when he wrote, “Lord, You will establish peace for us, since You have also performed for us all our works (Is 26:12).”
Paul knew it when he wrote to the church at Philippi, about their obedience and the working out of salvation with fear and trembling, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil 2:12–13).” The great apostle was not just giving wise advice, he was living it, “…Christ lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Gal 2:20).”
The Christian’s life of faith produces good works, which is the will of God, who prepared the good works beforehand for the saint to perform (Eph 2:10). Believers are not certain about which works are actually “good.” Mother Theresa may have fed the poor and comforted the dying, but only she and God knew her heart, which may have been bursting with pride. Man looks at the outward appearance, “Bob was a good man.” God looks at the heart, “There is no one good (Jer 17:9; Rom 3:12).”
God is willing and working from within the converted heart of each child of God (Rom 8:9, 11; 1 Jn 3:1, 10). He never fails to accomplish his purposes (Eph 3:11), especially for those he has purposefully placed “in Christ” (1 Cor 1:30). These are blessed to know that God is working it all together for good to them (Rom 8:28). This is enough. Pharaoh’s misalignment with the will of God was the will of God. Jesus’ perfect alignment with the will of God was the will of God, too. Jesus said it best, when he prayed in anticipatory anguish at the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”
God’s will…will be done. This is because God is sovereign, so we call God’s will, “His sovereign will.” The wicked, like Pharaoh, do their duty on the day of evil (Prv 16:4). God made them for this, as prepared vessels of wrath, whose end is destruction (Rom 9:22). Pharaoh made his choices and God made His choices. Pharaoh’s will was done and God’s will was done. What was meant for evil by this man’s will, God in His sovereign will, meant it for good. This was true for Joseph and his brothers, too. It is always true.
Christian, God has given everyone a will, by which each person makes his or her choices. With God’s Spirit living in you, willing and working, you can be assured that by the renewing of the Spirit, your will is being conformed to God’s will (Rom 8:29), by His presence and power (Heb 13:5).
It is wise for you to pray for alignment, which is sure to be an answered prayer because God’s will, revealed by God’s Word, tells us that God is at work in you, conforming you to the image of Christ, who lived in perfect alignment with God the Father. Therefore, read your Bible, to know the will of God; pray that God’s will be done, in your life (knowing by faith in God’s Word that it will be!); and then, go live your life, walking by the Spirit and walking in faith.
Spokane Valley, Washington
October 31, 2022