'This is the will of God
, even your sanctification
.' -- 1 Thess. iv.3.
'Lo, I am come to do Thy will. By which will we have been sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.' -- Heb. x.9, 10.
In the will of God we have the union of His Wisdom and Power. The Wisdom decides and declares what is to be: the Power secures the performance. The declarative will is only one side; its complement, the executive will, is the living energy in which everything good has its origin and existence. So long as we only look at the will of God in the former light, as law, we feel it a burden, because we have not the power to perform -- it is too high for us. When faith looks to the Power that works in God's will, and carries it out, it has the courage to accept it and fulfil it, because it knows God Himself is working it out. The surrender in faith to the Divine will as Wisdom thus becomes the pathway to the experience of it as a Power. 'He doeth according to His will,' is then the language not only of forced submission, but of joyful expectation.
'This is the will of God, your sanctification.' In the ordinary acceptation of these words, they simply mean that among many other things that God has willed, sanctification is one; it is something in accordance with His will. This thought contains teaching of great value. God very distinctly and definitely has willed your sanctification: your sanctification has its source and certainty in its being God's will. We are 'elect in sanctification of the Spirit,' 'chosen to be holy;' the purpose of God's will from eternity, and His will now, is our sanctification. We have only to think of what we said of God's will being a Divine power that works out what His wisdom has chosen, to see what strength this truth will give to our faith that we shall be holy: God wills it, and will work it out for all and in all who do not resist it, but yield themselves to its power. Seek your sanctification, not only in the will of God, as a declaration of what He wants you to be, but as a revelation of what He Himself will work out in you.
There is, however, another most precious thought suggested. If our sanctification be God's will, its central thought and its contents, every part of that will must bear upon it, and the sure entrance to sanctification will be the hearty acceptance of the will of God in all things. To be one with God's will is to be holy. Let him who would be holy take his place here and 'stand in all the will of God.' He will there meet God Himself, and be made partaker of His Holiness, because His will works out its purpose in power to each one who yields himself to it. Everything in a life of holiness depends upon our being in the right relation to the will of God.
There are many Christians to whom it appears impossible to think of their accepting all the will of God, or of their being one with it. They look upon the will of God in its thousand commands, and its numberless providential orderings. They have sometimes found it so hard to obey one single command, or to give up willingly to some light disappointment. They imagine that they would need to be a thousandfold holier and stronger in grace, before venturing to say that they do accept all God's will, whether to do or to bear. They cannot understand that all the difficulty comes from their not occupying the right standpoint. They are looking at God's will as at variance with their natural will, and they feel that that natural will will never delight in all God's will. They forget that the new man has a renewed will. This new will delights in the will of God, because it is born of it. This new will sees the beauty and the glory of God's will, and is in harmony with it. If they are indeed God's children, the very first impulse of the spirit of a child is surely to do the will of the Father in heaven. And they have but to yield themselves heartily and wholly to this spirit of sonship, and they need not fear to accept God's will as theirs.
The mistake they make is a very serious one. Instead of living by faith they judge by feeling, in which the old nature speaks and rules. It tells them that God's will is often a burden too hard to be borne, and that they never can have the strength to do it. Faith speaks differently. It reminds us that God is Love, and that His will is nothing but Love revealed. It asks if we do not know that there is nothing more perfect or beautiful in heaven or earth than the will of God. It shows us how in our conversion we have already professed to accept God as Father and Lord. It assures us, above all, that if we will but definitely and trustingly give ourselves to that will which is Love, it will as Love fill our hearts and make us delight in it, and so become the power that enables us joyfully to do and to bear. Faith reveals to us that the will of God is the power of His love, working out its plan in Divine beauty in each one who wholly yields to it.
And which shall we now choose? And where shall we take our place? Shall we attempt to accept Christ as a Saviour without accepting His will? Shall we profess to be the Father's children, and yet spend our life in debating how much of His will we shall perform? Shall we be content to go on from day to day with the painful consciousness that our will is not in harmony with God's will? Or shall we not at once and for ever give up our will as sinful to His, -- to that Will which He has already written on our heart? This is a thing that is possible. It can be done. In a simple, definite transaction with God, we can say that we do accept His holy will to be ours. Faith knows that God will not pass such a surrender unnoticed, but accept it. In the trust that He now takes us up into His will, and undertakes to breathe it into us, with the love and the power to perform it -- in this faith let us enter into God's will, and begin a new life; standing in, abiding in the very centre of this most holy will.
Such an acceptance of God's will prepares the believer, through the Holy Spirit, to recognise and know that will in whatever form it comes. The great difference between the carnal and the spiritual Christian is that the latter acknowledges God, under whatever low and poor and human appearances He manifests Himself. When God comes in trials which can be traced to no hand but His, he says, 'Thy will be done.' When trials come through the weakness of men or his own folly, when circumstances appear unfavourable to his religious progress, and temptations threaten to be too much for him and to overcome him, he learns first of all to see God in everything, and still to say, 'Thy will be done.' He knows that a child of God cannot possibly be in any situation without the will of His Heavenly Father, even when that will has been to leave him to his own wilfulness for a time, or to suffer the consequences of his own or others' sin. He sees this, and in accepting his circumstances as the will of God to try and prove him, he is in the right position for now knowing and doing what is right. Seeing and honouring God's will thus in everything, he learns always to abide in that will.
He does so also by doing that will. As his spiritual discernment grows to say of whatever happens, 'All things are of God,' so he grows too in wisdom and spiritual understanding to know the will of God as it is to be done. In the indications of conscience and of Providence, in the teaching of the word and the Spirit, he learns to see how God's will has reference to every part and duty of life, and it becomes his joy, in all things, to live, 'doing the will of God from the heart, as unto the Lord and not unto men.' 'Labouring fervently in prayer to stand complete and fully assured in all the will of God,' he finds how blessedly the Father has accepted his surrender, and supplies all the light and strength that is needed that His will may be done by him on earth as it is in heaven.
Let me ask every reader to say to a Holy God, whether he has indeed given himself to Him to be made holy? Whether he has accepted, and entered into, and is living in, the good and perfect will of God? The question is not, whether, when affliction comes, he accepts the inevitable and submits to a will he cannot resist. But whether he has chosen the will of God as his chief good, and has taken the life-principle of Christ to be his: 'I delight to do Thy will, O God.' This was the holiness of Christ, in which He sanctified Himself and us, the doing God's will. 'In which will we have been sanctified.' It is this will of God which is our sanctification.
Brother! are you in earnest to be holy? wholly possessed of God? Here is the path. I plead with you not to be afraid or to hold back. You have taken God to be your God; have you really taken His will to be your will? Oh, think of the privilege, the blessedness, of having one will with God! and fear not to surrender yourself to it most unreservedly. The will of God is, in every part of it, and in all its Divine power, your sanctification.
BE YE HOLY, AS I AM HOLY.
Blessed Father! I come to say that I see that Thy will is my sanctification, and there alone I would seek it. Graciously grant that, by Thy Holy Spirit which dwelleth in me, the glory of that will, and the blessedness of abiding in it, may be fully revealed to me.
Teach me to know it as the Will of Love, purposing always what is the very best and most blest for Thy child. Teach me to know it as the Will of Omnipotence, able to work out its every counsel in me. Teach me to know it in Christ, fulfilled perfectly on my behalf. Teach me to know it as what the Spirit wills and works in each one who yields to Him.
O my Father! I acknowledge Thy claim to have Thy will alone done, and am here for it to do with me as Thou pleasest. With my whole heart I enter into it, to be one with it for ever. Thy Holy Spirit can maintain this oneness without interruption. I trust Thee, my Father, step by step, to let the light of Thy will shine in my heart and on my path, through that Spirit.
May this be the holiness in which I live, that I forget and lose self in pleasing and honouring Thee. Amen.
1. Make it a study, in meditation and prayer and worship, to get a full impression of the Majesty, the Perfection, the Glory of the Will of God, with the privilege and possibility of living in it.
2. Study it, too, as the expression of an infinite Love and Fatherliness; its every manifestation full of loving-kindness. Every providence is God's will; whatever happens, meet God in it in humble worship. Every precept is God's will; meet God in it with loving obedience. Every promise is God's will; meet God in it with full trust. A life in the will of God is rest and strength and blessing.
3. And forget not, above all, to believe in its Omnipotent Power. He worketh all things after the counsel of His will. In nature and those who resist Him, without their consent. In His children, according to their faith, and as far as they will it. Do believe that the will of God will work out its counsel in you, as you trust it to do so.
4. This will is Infinite Benevolence and Beneficence revealed in the self-sacrifice of Jesus. Live for others: so can you become an instrument for the Divine will to use (Matt. xviii.14; John vi.39, 40). Yield yourselves to this redeeming will of God, that it may get full possession, and work out through you too its saving purpose.
5. Christ is just the embodiment of God's will: He is, God's will done. Abide in Him, by abiding in, by doing heartily and always, the will of God. A Christian is, like Christ, a man given up to the Will of God.