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THY WILL BE DONE
By Andrew Murray

© Copyright: Public Domain












Preface

In the will of God Creation has its origin, its existence, its happiness, its power, its glory. In the will of God Redemption, too, has its origin, its maintenance, its blessedness, its power, its glory.

To the will of God even so the life of grace in the heart owes its origin, its maintenance, its blessedness, its power, and its glory.

In knowing and loving, in doing and bearing, in fulfilling all that will, the spiritual life finds its growth, its rest, its joy, its strength, its fruitfulness, its everlasting blessedness.

The one thing needful for a Christian is that he live in the will of God.

Whether it be God's will in His Providence in time, or His Purpose in eternity, God's will in His Precepts or His Promises, he that lives in the will of God will there find God Himself and all His salvation.

May God teach us that as His will is the one cause and the power of all that He does in the showing forth of His glory, and of all that His Son did and does for our redemption, so the one thing His child needs is to prove that his whole life is the manifestation of the power and glory of God's blessed will.

With the prayer that God, by His Holy Spirit, may reveal this to each reader of this little book -- Yours in Christ Jesus,

ANDREW MURRAY














Chapter 1

THE WILL OF GOD, THE GLORY OF HEAVEN

"Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth." Matt. 6: 10

The will of a man is the power by which he determines his actions, and decides what he is to do or not to do. In it is manifested his hidden, inward being, proving what his desires and dispositions are, foolish or wise, good or evil. The will is the revelation of character and life. What a man truly wills, he will infallibly seek to have done, either by himself or through others.

In the will of God we have the perfect expression of His Divine perfection. Because He is a fountain of all beauty and blessedness, His will is inconceivably beautiful and blessed. In it His Divine wisdom and goodness make themselves known. Through it alone the creature can know his God; in accepting and doing that will he finds the only and the sure way to fellowship and union with God.

The glory and the blessedness of heaven consist in nothing but this, that God's will is done there in and by all. There is nothing to hinder God's working freely and fully all His blessed will in its countless hosts. To all that He wills for them of goodness and blessedness and service their whole being is surrendered in submission and adoration. God lives in them and they in God. They are filled with the fulness of God.

In the Lord's Prayer our Blessed Master teaches us to come to the Father with the wonderful petition, that His will may be done on earth, even as in heaven! He calls us to open our hearts to think and lift them heavenwards in real desire and prayer. He bids us count upon an answer, and according to the power that works in us, expect the experience in such measure as we are fitted for; God's will done in us and by us, on earth, as it is in heaven. The God who works it in heaven -- is our Father, who delights to work it on earth. The blessedness of earth cannot possibly be other than that of heaven: let our hearts desire and delight to have the will of God done.

Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth! These chapters invite you to come and meditate on this petition, if so be the Father may, by His Holy Spirit, show you the Divine beauty of His will, and the altogether heavenly blessedness of living in it. Let us begin by considering what God's will includes, that we may know aright what our Lord means and what we are to expect when we pray: Your will be done!

There is, first, the will of God's holy Providence. Everything that happens on earth comes to the child of God as the will of His Father. In His infinite wisdom God so overrules all the evil of men and devils, that in permitting it, He can take it up into His will, and make it work out His purposes. Joseph says of the sin of his brethren: "Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good." Jesus said to Pilate: "Thou couldest have no power against Me, except it were given thee from above." In everything that came on Him, He saw God's will: it was all the cup the Father gave Him. It is when the Christian learns to see God's will in everything that comes to him, grievous or pleasing, great or small, that the prayer, Your will be done, will become the unceasing expression of adoring submission and praise. The whole world with its dark mysteries and life, with all its difficulties, will he illumined with the light of God's presence and rule. And the soul will taste the rest and the bliss of knowing that it is every moment encircled and watched over by God's will, that nothing can separate it from the Love of which the will is the expression. Happy the Christian who receives everything in Providence as the will of His Father.

There is, next, the will of God's righteous Precepts. Every command of our Father in heaven is a ray of the Divine will, radiant, to the eye that can see it, with all the perfection of the Divine nature. It comes as a proof of the Divine condescension, tenderly accommodating itself to our feebleness, as it puts the Divine will into human words, suited to our special capacity and circumstances. We all naturally connect the rays of light on earth with the sun from which they come. The more the Christian learns to link every precept with the Infinite Will of Love from which it comes, the more will he see the nobility and the joy of a life of entire obedience, the privilege and the honor of carrying out in human forms the perfect will of the Father in heaven. He then learns to say of God's precepts what first appeared too high: They are the rejoicing of my heart. And, Your will be done, as in heaven, becomes the secret inspiration of a glad fulfilment of all God's commands.

Then comes -- the will of God's precious Promises. We often fail in the power of grasping or holding some promise, of which we desire the comfort, because we deal with it as a fragment, and do not connect it with the great whole of God's blessed will for us. Let every believer seek earnestly to realize what God's will in His promises is. It is His determination to do a certain thing, His engagement to do it for or in me, if I will trust Him. Behind the promise there is the faithful Almighty God waiting to fulfil it. What a strength it would give in prayer, what a confidence in expectation, to be quiet, and trace the promise to the Living Will, the Loving Heart, that wills to make it true to everyone that yields himself in trust and dependence. As, Your will be done, in view of God's Providence, was the language of a glad submission, in view of His Precepts, the surrender to a full obedience, so here, in relation to the Promises, it becomes the song of an assured hope. Your will will be done, by Yourself in us, O our Father in heaven.

One thought more -- there is the will of God's Eternal Purpose. Our view of God's will in His Providence, His Precepts, His Promises, is often very much confined to ourselves. The believer, who through these longs to enter fully into all the will of God, will be led on into a wider and a deeper insight into the glory of its counsels. He will learn something of that Great Purpose which filled the heart of God from Eternity, which reveals nothing less than the triumph of God's Redeeming Love in a world of sin. As he is led by the Holy Spirit into the great counsels of redemption, into the meaning of the sacrifice by which God has sought to accomplish them, of the patience with which He is working out His plans, and the final triumph which is so sure and so glorious, he feels how little he has realized his position or the meaning of this prayer. Your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth! becomes the expression of his fellowship with God in His wondrous carrying out of His everlasting counsel of grace, of his intercession on behalf of a perishing world, of his joyful anticipation of all flesh seeing the glory of God. He feels himself as a mote floating in the sunlight of God's presence. He knows himself an instrument, a vessel, a member of the body of Christ, through which God's glory is working out His perfect will.

Believer, come and listen. This prayer needs your whole heart. It needs the teaching, yes, the indwelling of Jesus Christ in the heart, to be able to pray it aright. It calls for a heart, a will, a life, entirely given up to the Father in heaven, by His Spirit dwelling in us, to understand it aright. Let the glory of God doing His will in us and through us be met by nothing less than a will wholly given up to do His will on earth as it is done in heaven. Study how God's will is done in heaven. Yield yourself to do it even so on earth.















Chapter 2

DOING GOD'S WILL, THE WAY TO HEAVEN

"Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter unto the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven." Matt. 7: 21

We have seen that the will of God constitutes the glory of heaven. Heaven is nothing but the unhindered manifestation of the working of God's will, the outshining of His hidden glory in what He does. The inhabitants of heaven owe all their glory to God's working His will of love in them, and all their happiness to their working it out in His service. The petition in the Lord's Prayer teaches us to long and ask that earth may become like heaven, and that His will may be done here even as there. From this truth that of our text follows naturally. The only way to be fit to enter heaven must be, to do the will of God here on earth. Every thought of heaven that does not lead us to do the will of God is a vain imagination.

There are multitudes of Christians who have never seen this. They think that the way to heaven is found in pious desires and religious duties, in trusting Christ for mercy, and seeking to be kept from gross sin. But the thought that Christ puts here, that only those who love to do the will of God can enter heaven -- has never taken possession of their mind or heart. And yet our Lord makes the difference between the religion of prayer and profession, and the religion of obedience and performance, as plain as words can make it. Not everyone that says to Me, Lord, Lord -- that prays to Me and professes to acknowledge and honor Me as Savior; but he that does the will of My Father in heaven -- he alone will enter the kingdom of heaven. It is the Father's presence and the Father's will in heaven that makes heaven what it is: doing the Father's will on earth is the only conceivable way of entering heaven; nothing else can give the capacity for enjoying it. There must always be harmony between a life and its environment. To enter the heaven of God's will, without a nature that loves and does God's will, is an impossibility.

But how then comes the terrible mistake that so many make, who think that they are honestly longing and striving to get to heaven? Let us try and answer this question. In everything that exists there is an outward form or shape in which it manifests itself and an inward power or life which constitutes its true nature or being. It is thus with heaven and our thought of it. Men regard it as a place full of brightness and glory and happiness -- free from all sorrow or pain, full of all that can give rest and joy. And who would not wish to enter there? The most worldly hope to find a place in it when compelled to leave the present life. But they never think that what attracts them is only an external image they form of heaven. And they know not that what constitutes the actual, essential glory of heaven, what really gives heaven and its inhabitants their rest and joy and everlasting song, is -- the Presence of the Father who is in heaven, and the undisturbed supremacy of His Holy Will. Because in heaven God's will does everything, and is done by everyone, God's own blessedness fills all. Oh! the folly of thinking of entering heaven while they are utterly incapable of enjoying heaven. The Father in heaven, and His will on earth as in heaven, are not the desire or joy of their heart.

The same error, in mistaking the outward for the inward, is made in regard to religion. God's words calls us to seek and to strive, to listen to God's truth, to pray and believe, to forsake sin and follow after that which is good. And so men seek to put their trust in Christ, to confess Him, and do many things in His name, and think that this is religion. And all the while they forget that the inner spiritual reality of true religion is this -- the knowing, and loving, and doing of the Father's will as their one desire and delight. They know not that it is to work this that Jesus is a Savior from sin; that this is the only proof that our faith is true; that by this path alone can the entrance to heaven be found.

When this is preached, many a man comforts himself with the thought of God's mercy. Did not Christ just come for those who had sinned, and had not done God's Will? He did indeed, blessed be God! But not for those who continue in sin, and do not make the will of God the object of their life. Our sin and misery was that we had fallen out of the will of God into our own will and the will of Satan. Christ came with the one object of redeeming us from the power of our own will, and giving us a new nature and His Holy Spirit, to enable us here on earth to love and do God's will. Without this, our Lord assures us, there can be no thought of our entering heaven. The same righteous grace that in justification receives the ungodly into favor without works, through faith alone, for the sake of Christ and His work, will in the great day take the works and the life into account as the proof of the reality of faith and union to Christ, and of the fitness for entering heaven. As we are saved without works, we are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God before prepared that we should walk in them. Without these there can be no entrance into heaven; they are indispensable. The Master's words are plain and decisive: He that does the will of My Father in heaven, will enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Study carefully Matt. 16: 27, 25: 31-46; Rom. 2: 6-7; 2 Cor. 5: 10.)

Christ came from heaven to show us that doing the will of the Father is the one mark of a son of God, and to save us into doing that will. True conversion is turning away from our self-will and giving ourselves to the will of God as our duty and our only blessedness. I ask every believer who reads this to inquire, and say whether he thinks that the doing of the Father's will, as the one object of Christ's salvation, and the one preparation for entering heaven, has taken the place in his life and faith and conduct, that it had in the life and conduct and teaching of Jesus Christ. Read the question over again, and pause; it is worthwhile giving a careful answer.

All salvation on earth or in heaven is -- doing the will of God. If we find that this blessed truth has never shone with its full heavenly light into our souls, let us at once turn to our Lord Jesus and ask Him to teach us. Let us give ourselves up to it, to study, to believe, to practice, to rejoice in it. Let us each day choose the will of God, His whole will, and nothing but His will, to have rule over us and dwell within us. The living Father whose love can make it our blessedness, through the living Christ, who loves to teach it to us and work it in us, will enable us to do His will.















Chapter 3

DOING GOD'S WILL, OUR UNION WITH JESUS

"Whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother." Matt. 12: 50.

How many Christians there are who long greatly for a more intimate fellowship with the Lord Jesus. The thought of a fuller experience of His love, of His abiding presence, of His mighty power to save from sin and self, greatly attracts them. They often wonder that the longings and the prayers of years appear to avail so little. They are ready to turn to anyone who they think can help them to discover the secret of what they have sought in vain, the full manifestation in their heart of the love and the power of Christ. Come, my reader, turn today to our Blessed Lord Himself, and let Him tell you His open secret. The way into the most intimate union with Christ is very simple: doing the will of His Father. Of one who does this He says: the same is My brother, and sister, and mother.

What does this mean? A brother or a sister is one who is born of the same father, shares the same love, and home, and care; bears in some measure the same likeness in disposition and character; is bound to his other brothers and sisters by these ties in a common love and manner of life. When Christ calls one of us a brother or sister, it means nothing less. Like Him we are born of God; the Father's life, and love, and likeness are in us, as in Him. As the Elder Brother, He gives to us and shares with us all He has; He pours out on us all the love with which the Father loves Him. He is not ashamed to call us brethren. He delights in our relationship to Him, in our welfare, in our society. He only lives to find His happiness in us, and in what He can do for us. The one thing He longs for is that we should know and claim our relationship, should come to Him and be free with Him as no brother or sister ever was.

Let us pray for the quickening of the Holy Spirit to make all this a reality. Just think of what a joy would come into the believer's life if he truly realised this: Jesus loves me as a brother, yes me, just as I am, all unworthy and sinful. He loves me as a brother. No elder brother ever watched over a weak younger brother so tenderly as my Elder Brother watches over me. He wants me to know it. He gives the command: "Say to My brethren, I ascend to My Father and your Father." He wants me to know it; He longs that I should live with Him as a brother in the Father's presence; He is able and willing to make the possibility a reality. He invites us to come and say in tender reverence, O my Holy Elder Brother -- I dare scarce say, and yet I may and I will -- I am Your brother; You are my Brother. He can enable us to realize it, and abide in His presence all the day and every day.

And what is the disposition of heart that can claim the blessing and abide in it. Read again: "Whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother." The Lord opens here to us the deepest secret of His own life as Son of God on earth. He came as man to prove the blessedness and the glory of doing the will of the Father. In His human life this was the one disposition that lay at the root of His power to conquer sin, to satisfy God, and to save us. Doing the will of God is the only possible way, on earth or in heaven, of pleasing Him.

Thinking as God thinks, loving what God loves, willing as God wills, doing what God says -- how could we think that there is any way but this to the fellowship or the favor of God? Of Himself Jesus said: "I have kept the commandments of My Father and abide in His love." The law for the Elder Brother is the unchangeable law for all the children: doing the Father's will is the only true mark of being a child. And so it is the one condition of being admitted to the full experience of a walk in all the joy that the Brotherhood of Jesus can bring. Doing the will of the Father is the bond of union with Jesus.

The converse is also true. Union with Jesus gives the power to do the will of the Father. We begin with "willing to do His will," and do it as far as we know and can. When this is really done with the whole heart, we come and claim the promise of being admitted consciously into the love and society of the Elder Brother. In true relation with Him, studying His example, drinking in His Spirit, receiving His strength, we get larger insight and greater love of God's will, and begin to long to live in it wholly even as Jesus did. And so we go from strength to strength, the doing the will fitting for the brother-life, and the brother-life fitting for the doing of the will. In ever closer union with Him, the Elder Brother imparts to us, in ever deeper measure, the secret of His own blessed life in the will of God.

And what is that secret? It is found in the words our Lord so frequently uses -- "the will of My Father, which is in heaven." Christ was only able to do and suffer as He did, because it was all to Him each moment the will of a loving Father. The will of the Father was nothing but the experience of the love of the Father: therefore He delighted, therefore He was able, to do it. Many Christians never learn to understand the difference between the Law of God and the Will of God. The law is given by a Ruler, and when embodied in a statute book may be kept or broken, with very little thought of personal relationship to the Lawgiver. For this reason the Law has no power to secure obedience. Christ speaks of the Will as the Will of the Father -- the expression of a personal, living communication, in which the Father's voice and presence is ever known, and the Will never for a moment separated from Him whose it is. It was the ever-present Love of God showing His will, and the ever-blessed enjoyment of that Love, that enabled Christ to be obedient even unto death. It is this alone can enable us to do the Father's will. The grace once for all to yield ourselves to do only that will; the faith to believe that in the fellowship and by the power of Christ such a life is possible; the joyful devotion to Him to walk as led by His hand, and like Him to do the Father's will; these all come as a believer seeks to know the life of a brother of the First Begotten Son.

It is indeed a change in the life of a believer, when he fully grasps and experiences the difference between the Law of God and the Will of the Father. He sees how the only power to do the will is the unceasing experience of the Father's presence, His loving voice, His guiding eye, His inspiring love. He sees how that was the life Jesus lived, how nothing less is the life Christ lives in us. He learns to understand how doing the Father's will is the one blessing into which faith is to lead us, the one secret of abiding union with Christ Jesus. Go out, my soul, into your work this day, and let your life be transfigured by the one thought: Like Jesus, with Jesus, in Jesus I live to do the Father's will. And as you fail, or fear to fail, just whisper: "O my Lord, my Elder Brother, You and I, You and I, are















Chapter 4

DOING GOD'S WILL, OUR FOOD

"I have meat to eat that ye know not of. My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to accomplish His work." John 4: 32, 34.

When tempted in the wilderness by Satan to satisfy His hunger by a miracle Christ answered: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ The life is more than bread. God's word, received and obeyed, is the true nourishment of our life. In the Beatitudes Christ spoke: ‘Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, after the doing of what is right; they shall be satisfied.’ And so He says here of Himself that to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to accomplish His work, is the meat that He eats, the food by which He lives. The hidden manna is God's will; to do it is to eat and live. Let us think what this eating teaches us.

Eating means the maintenance of life. -- All created life must be supported by nourishment from without, if it is not to die. And the food must ever be in correspondence to the nature of the life it sustains, and the organs provided for receiving it. Our physical life is fed from the life of nature. Our spiritual life can only be maintained out of the eternal life that is in God. There is no way for our receiving that life day by day but by doing the will of God. The life of God reveals and communicates itself only in His will. In its first beginning life is always a gift. But its maintenance is always connected with action and growth. It is doing God's will, and accomplishing His work that will secure to the Christian the daily continuance in the Divine life.

Eating means appropriation. -- Our body receives from the outer world, of which it is a part, that by which it lives, the constituent elements by which its life is sustained. These can nourish us in no other way but by being taken up into our system, assimilated and made a very part of our own selves. Even so in the spiritual life. As we have said already, the life of God acts and manifests itself through the will of God. And it is only by truly and fully appropriating that will, taking it into our system, wholly assimilating it, and making it a part of our own being, by doing it, that the life can be maintained in us. The life is a hidden spiritual mystery; the will is its concrete expression, capable of being known, and accepted or rejected. And because the will is the Divine power in action, so there is no possible way of assimilating the Divine will but by action on our part, that is, by our doing it. It is not the knowledge, or the admiration, or the approval of the will of God, but the doing of it that alone feeds the heavenly life. It is only by doing that I really make it my own. "My meat is to do His will."

Eating means the renewal and increase of strength. -- We do not eat just enough to maintain a bare existence; we desire to have food, both in quantity and quality, sufficient to give us strength and vigor for our work. Doing God's will is the sure way to become strong. Many Christians seek their strength in prayer, in faith, in the promises, in fellowship. They complain of their feebleness. They have never learned that Christ made doing the will of the Father His meat; it was this that was rewarded with the Divine strength for all He had to do. He felt that He had but one thing to do in the world -- to accomplish the work for which God had sent Him; as He did it He received new strength for what He still had to do. It is this that His disciples need. The whole power of God works in His will. As I appropriate that will, and know I am doing the very thing God is willing for me, its powers work in me. Doing the will of God brings heavenly strength.

Eating means satisfaction. -- God has so created us that a sense of need, of hunger, impels us to seek food, and makes our partaking of it an enjoyment; and a source of satisfaction. "Bless the Lord, who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's." "He satisfieth the hungry soul." It is feeding on the will of God that gives this Divine satisfaction. The will of God is His glory and perfection; doing that will leads up into a wonderful fellowship and partnership with Himself. But that means more than just doing what is right or keeping the law. No, the right things may be done under the constraint of conscience or duty without bringing real satisfaction. I t is only when what we do is done as the will of the Father, in the sense of His presence, in fellowship with Himself, and the loving desire to please Him, that it will give nourishment and strength and satisfaction to the soul.

There are many Christians who mourn over their leanness and their feebleness. They study Christ's image and example, they seek in some things to be conformed to Him, and yet find so little either of the power or the joy of living as He lived. The cause is simple. They do not feed on the food on which Christ fed. Two children, or two men, may be equally healthy, but the difference of food may make all the difference between their strength and success in the work of life. The believer has the same eternal life that was in Christ Jesus. But it needs the same daily food if there is to be any measure of that conformity which God expects and has provided for. Our Lord tells us: ‘My meat is that I do the will of Him that sent Me.’ He that eats of this meat shall have the life more abundant, shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness.

And what can be the reason of so much failure in feeding on this heavenly food? It may be that the Church has not taught it as clearly as was needed. Or that we heard and heeded not. Or that when we did heed, we were deceived by the lie of Satan that this was too hard a path. And yet the Lord has said it so plainly: The will of God is the glory of heaven; the doing of God's will ought to be our great prayer on earth. The doing of God's will is the only pass to heaven, the only mark of the family likeness in the home of Jesus. The doing of God's will the only food on which a child of God can thrive and be able to accomplish the work the Father has given us to do. The doing of God's will is our daily food; we must go back upon our past life and see if this has been what we have been feeding on. And if not, we must believe that a change of diet, a return to the simple, heavenly fare on which the Son of God lived His life and did His work, will restore us to health and make the work of God our joy and our life.

Soul! pray for a great hunger for the will of God, as natural and as continual as for your daily bread. Beg, even if it were at first but for a crumb of this heavenly bread from the Father's table, God showing you His will for you, and enabling you to do it for Him. It may be the beginning of such a change in your life. The work you have done for God, at your choice and in your way, and the commandments you have tried to obey, may all become to you the loving will of the living Father, living fellowship with the living God. Instead of eating the bread you had to find yourself you will say: "I have meat to eat you know not of " -- the will of the Father made known and performed day by day.















Chapter 5

THE WILL OF GOD, THE SALVATION OF THE PERISHING

"Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." Matt. 18: 14.

Our Lord Jesus here uses the words, little ones, both of the children of whom He spoke in verses 2 and 3, and also of the feeble and simple ones among His people: "the little ones who believe in Me" (verse 6). He says that just as surely as a man rejoices over one lost sheep, that he has found again, so the Father does not will that anyone, even of the feeblest and most despised, should perish. When our Lord spoke elsewhere of His doing the Father's will, it was specially the will of God to save the lost that He meant: "I am come down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that of all that which He giveth Me I should lose nothing. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone that beholdeth the Son, and believeth on Him, should have eternal life." The will of the Father is the salvation of men. All the leadings of God's will, down to the minutest details of the life of every hour, have their root in this great fountain of redeeming love: that not even one of the little ones should perish. Christ's coming down from heaven, all His speaking and doing, His living and suffering and dying, it all had its unity in this -- it was the revelation of God's will to save, and of Christ's surrender of Himself to do that will in saving all the Father had given Him.

When we yield ourselves to do the Father's will, must the will of God for the salvation of men be to us, as it was to Christ, the main object of our life, the one thing we do? It must indeed. The life that was in Christ is the same life that is in us. The glory of the Father; the blessedness of being the channels of the Father's love; the entire surrender to the one work the Father wants done in the world; all these claim our devotion as much as they did that of Christ. There is an infinite difference in the part He took and the part we are to take in carrying out that will: but the will itself is to be as much the joy and the aim of our life as it was of His. The larger our apprehension of God's will. and the more complete our surrender to it in all its breadth, to be wholly possessed of it, the more surely will we grow to the stature of the perfect man in Christ Jesus, and reach our Christian maturity.

It is just here that so many Christians fail. They seek to know the will of God only in its minute details concerning themselves, and so they live practically under a law consisting in commandments and ordinances. Their own personal happiness is the first thing; obedience and sanctification are subordinate to these, as means to an end; the selfish element infects and enfeebles all their religion. They have no conception of the nobility, of the heavenly royalty of spirit, that comes to the man who forgets and loses himself, as he gives himself away to that will of God for the salvation of men. It was that will that sent Christ into the world. It was that will that animated Him during His whole life. It was for the breathing that will into our hearts and lives that the Holy Spirit came. It is in the being possessed by that will, even as Christ was possessed by it, yielding ourselves to the mastery of Divine Love, that the image of God is restored in us, so that we may live only to love and to bless, even as God does.

"It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." What inspiration these words have given to God's workers on behalf of orphans, of waifs and strays, of children in India perishing from famine, or in Africa from slavery. What courage to thousands of teachers for the little ones of whom they had charge. What patience and strength it has breathed into the hearts of those who have had to deal with the neglected and the outcast in every land. It was their joy and hope that they knew that they were doing the will of God. Yea, more, they knew that the mighty will of God was working itself out through them. These all have experienced how blessed it was at times to look away from their own little and limited interests and duties, and to cast themselves into that mighty stream of God's loving will, which is slowly but surely working out His blessed purpose. There they found themselves in fellowship with God's own son, and with the saints of all ages, whose one glory it had been that they had known and fulfilled the redeeming will of God.

What a change it would bring into the life of many a believer to know and love this will of the Father, to lose self, and sacrifice all in order to be mastered and consumed by its blessed fire. If you would thus know it, reader, and be possessed by it, you must make it a definite object of study and desire. Seek in meditation to get some right impression of its glory. Ask for the Holy Spirit's teaching to give you a spiritual vision of the infinite energy of the Divine Love, as it wills nothing but good to every one of its creatures. It needs time and thought and prayer; it needs the giving up of all our self-satisfaction with our limited views of God's will; it needs an opened, thirsty heart longing to be filled with the fulness of God and His will, if we are in our measure to have this will of love dwell in us and possess us. It needs above all, the indwelling of the Christ, in whom that will realized and manifested itself, to make us partakers of His own Spirit and disposition. We then can know something of that infinite will of love working itself out through us, filling the little vessel of our will out of its own living stream, and making the will of God indeed our will.

We have seen that it is doing the will of God that is the glory of heaven, the way to heaven, our likeness to the Elder Brother, and the food of our spiritual life. Let us begin doing the will of God in this aspect also, really giving ourselves to Him for this saving of the lost. It will awaken within us the capacity of apprehending better the glory of the Divine will that none of the little ones should perish, and the Divine privilege of our being made partakers of it. There is no other way for us to the fellowship of God but to have one will with Him. And there is no way to this but through Christ and the participation of His Spirit. As we apprehend intelligently who and what the Christ is, and His true life, the Son come and given up to work out the Father's will and love, and accept none other but this Christ as our Lord and our life, the hope will arise that this redeeming will can master us also as its vessels and channels, that we also can go through the world filled with a Divine life, the Divine will inspiring and energizing our will, and life passing out from us to those who are perishing.















Chapter 6

NOT MINE OWN WILL

"I can of Myself do nothing: as I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me." John 5: 30.

The will of God is the power by which the universe exists from moment to moment. It is by the unceasing active exercise of His will that the sun shines, and that every lily is clothed with beauty. There is no goodness, or strength, or beauty, but as He wills it. The glory and blessedness of heaven are nothing but the working of His will. The hosts of heaven live with their wills turned and opened to Him, and find their happiness in allowing His will to do its perfect work in them. When the Blessed Son became man to lead us in the way to God, He told us that the whole secret of His life was, not doing His own will, but yielding Himself so to do the will of the Father, that His will should receive and work out that which the will of the Father worked in Him. He said that He had been sent and that He had delighted to come, for the one purpose, with His human will and His human body, to do not His own will, but the will of the Father. He set us the example of a man, a true man, finding His blessedness and His way to God's glory in the absolute surrender to God's will. He thus showed us what the destiny was for which man was created, and what the new life He was to bring His people. in such entire dependence on God, as to do nothing of Himself, and to judge nothing but as He heard from the Father, He was able always to give a righteous judgment. He could count upon God to give Him all the wisdom and the strength He needed, to work out His own will perfectly in Him. All for the one simple reason: "Because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me."

"Not Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me!" But had our Lord Jesus an own will, a will different from the Father's, that He needed to say: Not My will? Had He a will that needed to be denied? Undoubtedly. But was not such a will sin? By no means. Just this was the glory of the creation of man that he had a self-hood, an own will, a power of self-determination, by which he was to decide what he should be. This was not sin, that man had his own desire and thought and will. Without this he could not be a free creature.

He had a will, with which to decide whether he should act according to the will of God or not. Sin only came when man held to his own will as creature in opposition to the will of God. As man, made like unto us in all things, "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin," Christ had a human will; for instance, to eat when He was hungry, or to shrink from suffering when He saw it coming. We know how in the temptation in the wilderness, He kept the former, in the prospect of His death, the latter, in perfect subjection to the Father's will. (Matt. 4: 4; Luke 12: 50; John 12: 27.) It is just this that gives its infinite worth to His sacrifice; it was the unceasing sacrifice of His human will to the Father. "I seek not Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me."

These words reveal to us the inmost meaning of Christ's redemption. They teach us what the life is for which we were created, and out of which we fell in Paradise. They show us wherein the sinfulness of that fallen state consists out of which Christ came to deliver us: He seeks to free us from our self-will. They reveal to us the true creature-life and the true Son-life, perfect oneness of will with God's will. They open to us the secret power of Christ's redeeming work -- atoning for our self-will by His loyalty at all costs to God's will; and the true nature of the salvation and the life He gives us -- the will and the power to say: I delight to do Your will, O God. Every spirit seeks a form in which to embody itself: these words give the highest revelation of the life in which the Spirit that was in Christ embodied itself in Him, and embodies itself in all who seek truly and fully to accept His salvation to the uttermost. I seek not my will, but the will of Him that sent me, is the keynote of the only life that is well-pleasing to the Father on earth, and fits for His fellowship in heaven.

How little God's children know the Christ He has given them. And how little the true nature of the salvation Christ came to bring. How many there are who have never been taught that salvation out of self-will into doing God's will is alone true blessedness. And how many who, if they think they know it as a truth, never set themselves to seek this first as the true entrance into the kingdom of God and His righteousness. And yet this is in very deed what Christ revealed, and promised, what He secured on Calvary, and bestowed from heaven in the Holy Ghost. How can we become possessed of this blessed life?

I have pointed out previously how great the difference is between the idea of the law of a State, as contained in a statute book, and the will of a King to whom one stands in a personal relationship. If we would truly, however distantly, follow in Christ's footsteps, we must stand with Him in the same close personal relationship to the Father. Without this the most earnest efforts to do the Father's will must prove a failure. When our Lord so often spoke of "The will of My Father, which is in heaven," He wanted us to understand that it was the living personality and love that was at once motive and power for the obedience. When He spoke "of the will of Him that sent Me," He showed that it was not only the consciousness of having a work, but the desire of pleasing the One who sent Him, that was the mainspring of all He did. We need the sense of the presence and nearness of the God whose will we are to do as much as our Lord did. Separate the thing you have to do from Him whose will it is, and it becomes a burden and an impossibility. Live in the faith that He has sent you, that it is His living loving will, over which He watches, which He Himself even works out, that you are doing -- instead of its being a burden you are to carry, it becomes a power that carries you. The will of the Father is such a beautiful, wise, gentle, loving will, that to know it as the breathing out of the heart of God, makes it an infinite attraction and delight.

And how can we enter into this experience of the Father's nearness, and thus be able to do everything as His will? There is only one way. Jesus Christ must work it in us. And that not as from without, strengthening our faculties or assisting our efforts. No, this blessed doing of the Father's will is the mark of His life as Son. He can work it in us, as we yield ourselves wholly and receive Him truly to dwell in us. It is right and needful that we should set ourselves with all earnestness and make the attempt. It is only by its failure that we really learn how entirely He must and will do all. So inseparably is this "seeking not Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me," connected with Jesus Christ, that it is only when He comes in and manifests Himself in the heart and dwells there, that He can work this full salvation in us. "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled."















Chapter 7

DOING THE WAY TO KNOWING

"If any man willeth to do His will he shall know of the teaching, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself." John 7: 57.

There was great division among the Jews as to who Christ really was, and the Divine authority of the truth He taught. They wanted some sign as a clear proof that He was really come from God. Christ's answer tells them that the proof depended upon the state of their heart.

A man who wants the Divine evidence of Christ's mission, while he is not ready to do God's will, seeks for it in vain. A man whose will is set upon doing God's will, as far as he knows it, is alone in the fit state for receiving further Divine illumination.

Our Lord says: "If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know of the teaching whether it be of God." He speaks of two things: the will of God we are to do, and the teaching about God we are to know. He tells us the second is entirely dependent upon the first. As we will to do, we shall be able to know. It is the contrast and the connection of precept and promise. Will, that is, be ready, be determined to do God's will, and you shall have Divine light and certainty as to all that Jesus has taught. The commands are simple and easy to be understood: he that seeks honestly to do them in the fear of God will learn to know the mystery of Christ. A will, a disposition set upon doing God's will, is the only organ for knowing God's truth.

There are many Christians who complain of their lack of spiritual discernment. The promises of Christ in this very Gospel of St. John appear beyond their reach. They are eager to know that "the teaching is of God"; they would like to experience and to feel that it is of Divine origin, and in Divine efficacy; that God Himself confirms and makes the words true as a living power. Take the promise of Christ in this chapter, of streams of living water flowing out of the believer. Or, later on, of the life more abundantly; of his followers not walking in darkness, but having the light of life; of our doing greater works than He had done; of His manifesting Himself to us; of His and the Father's dwelling in us; of our abiding in Him and He in us; of our asking what we will, and having it given to us. When a man really knows the teaching is from God, has the truth and power of God in it, it becomes easy to believe it, and receives its fulfilment. To all believers who really long to have these promises shine with Divine light in their hearts, Christ's message comes today: it all depends upon the one thing, that you really will to do the will of God. Let us try and take hold of the lessons we need.

Christ teaches us that in the growth of the Christian life faith depends upon character. Just as, at conversion, there can be no faith without repentance, so on through life faith cannot grow or inherit the promises without a life given up to the doing of God's will. "Some having thrust from them a good conscience, have made shipwreck of the faith." The great reason why so many pray for an increase of faith and never get it, is that "the will to do God's will" has never taken the place it must have. The will rules the life; the will is the index of the heart; the whole man is to be judged by the will; unless there be a fixed resolve, a seeking with the whole will to do the will of God, there can be no growth in faith or the knowledge of the Divine truth to which it gives access. It is only as God's will is truly and fully taken up into my willing and doing that God can reveal Himself to me.

God judges of our conduct by the will. Our Lord says: "If any man willeth to do His will." A believer may in his youth, through ignorance or feebleness, fail in doing the will; if He who searches the heart sees that he indeed wills, longs, and thirsts to do it, God will see in this the heart that is ready for spiritual light. "If there first be a ready mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not." A believer, as in Rom. 7, may be able to say before God that he delights in the law of God after the inward man, and yet have to mourn his terrible failure. If there be this will really to do, his failure will lead him on to see how Rom. 8: 2-4 is the deliverance from the law of sin in the members by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, so that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in them that walk after the Spirit. Christ's words are not meant for those who content themselves with the idea that they will to do the will while they do not press on to the life in the Spirit in which God works both to will and to do. It is the heart where the will is needed, with its whole strength, set upon God's will, that the Divine truth and power of Christ's teaching will be known. To do the will of God, the first step is thus to take it up into our will. The will of God is the heavenly treasure in the earthen vessel of our will that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us, and we so learn to trust God to work His own will in us and through us. I cannot repeat the message too frequently or too earnestly; the one object for which our will was given us, its true nobility and blessedness, is that with it we might take in and make our own the very will that God has. Before ever I see all which that will implies, or feel that I have the power to perform it, let me regard it as the one thing God asks from me, the one thing I can do to please Him and become a partaker of His blessedness -- day by day to accept, to worship, to will His blessed will, and to do it. He works in us both to will and to do.

"Willing to do the will" of God is the sure way to all growth in spiritual knowledge and experience. Actually doing all that is within the reach of my spiritual stature, and willing with the whole heart to do all that still appears beyond me, is the single eye which ensures the whole body being full of Divine light. The great reason why so much Bible study and prayer for Divine guidance is so fruitless is this -- the heart is not in the right state for receiving God's teaching. Peter writes: "Ye have purified your souls in obedience to the truth": it is the actual doing of God's will, with the entire surrender to God to do it wholly and unceasingly, in the greatest things and in the least, that purifies the soul and inherits the promise, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." There is in the will of God such a Divine vitality and energy that to the heart that wills and does it, not merely as a matter of duty or Christian training, but because God has willed it, and even as God wills it, it becomes life and strength. The spiritual knowledge of God, of His presence, His power, His indwelling is given to the obedient: "If a man love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him."

Here is the way to a strong and joyful spiritual life. Unite yourself to the will of God; it will unite you to Him, it will draw Him to you. Will, with all your will, what God wills; make this the chief exercise of your spiritual life; as much as you truly have of God's will you have of God. Our Lord said: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." He was this because He came not to do His own will, but the will of the Father. This is the one way in which He will lead you, the new and living way He opened up in His blood by doing God's will. This is the one truth He will be to you, that in the doing of the Father's will is the union with Him perfected. This is the one life He will give you, the life of God given in Christ, revealed and perfected by the will of God, as it is willed and done by us.















Chapter 8

EVEN UNTO THE DEATH

"Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done." Luke 22: 42.

Gethsemane! The inmost sanctuary of the life of our Lord and of His great redemption. In some respects more mysterious than even Calvary. Of the visible suffering and sacrifice on the Cross, the garden opens up the inner meaning and power. And of all the suffering of Gethsemane, "Not my will, but Thine be done," was the key. It shows us what the sin was that made the great sacrifice a necessity, our self-will; what the disposition was that gave the sacrifice its worth, the surrender of the will to receive God's will; what the redemption was that it effected, the conquest and atonement of our self-will; and what the salvation it actually brings, the impartation of a will given up to God. Come, my soul, be still, and worship in holy fear, as you see what it cost your Lord to speak the words you so easily say. Learn from Him what fulness of meaning and blessing there is to be found in them.

The sin Christ dies for. -- Why is the Son of God here on His way to the death of the Cross? What is it that costs Him all this agony and suffering? It is sin that needs this sacrifice; it is to take away sin that He is here. And the first part of His work in taking it away is that He Himself resist and conquer it. It is this death-struggle with sin that cost Him the agony. All through His life He had been "tempted in all things like as we are, yet without sin." In this last hour of the powers of darkness they make one great assault on the very citadel of His being, and seek to tempt Him with the sorest of all temptations -- following His own will as His nature shrank back from the awful curse-bearing that was set before Him. The scene reveals to us what is the deepest root of all sin -- the assertion of our self-will. It was this that was the sin and the fall of Adam. It is this that is the source of all evil on earth. It is this that is, in the believer, the hidden cause of all failure and disappointment. God's will is the living power through which His love communicates itself and its blessings to the creature. Man's will was meant to be the power by which he was intelligently to yield himself and cooperate with God in receiving and appropriating all the Divine nature had to impart. Self-will, a will not yielded to God, is, in the whole universe of things, the only thing that hinders God in revealing and communicating His blessedness to the creature. The cross is the proof of man's self-will in the refusal to bow to God's Son. Christ's agony in Gethsemane is the proof that it is this same sin that He came to conquer and cast out.

The victory Christ won. -- We often look upon the suffering of Christ, with the endurance of the curse and death of the Cross, as the cause of our salvation. Scripture teaches us to look to what gave that suffering and death its inner value -- Christ's obedience. It was not merely in what He did or suffered, but in the spirit in which He acted, that its infinite worth, its atoning merit, is to be found. During His whole life He had spoken of not doing His own will. Here He proves that He will do the will of the Father, even though it cost Him His life. Even unto death He says, ‘Not My will!’ And so through death, in dying to His own will, He teaches us what God claims as His right, and what alone can bring us to our true place of blessing -- the entire losing and giving up of our will and life to God's will as the way into the life and glory of God.

The atonement Christ accomplished. -- And, now the victory of Christ over man's self-will, how does it profit and save us? In two ways, as we regard Him in His substitution or His fellowship, as the Christ for us, as the Christ in us. In the former of these aspects, His victory over sin as self-will, His obedience unto death and His infinite acceptableness in the Father's sight, become ours the moment we believe in Him. As those who are united to Him by faith, His righteousness and merit, with all the Father's delight in Him on account of them, are made our very own: "We are made the righteousness of God in Him." The sin of our self-will is blotted out. We are dealt with by God as if we never had sinned, counted righteous, and allowed to look up to God in His Beloved Son as altogether well-pleasing to Him. Were there but any due sense of the awfulness of the sin of self-will, especially in God's redeemed children, with what joy would the assurance of its being blotted out be welcomed. And how fervent would be the longing to know to the full the fruit of the victory Christ has achieved for us in freeing us from its power as well as its guilt.

The salvation Christ bestows. -- This is the second aspect of Christ's victory -- He has freed us from the dominion of self-will. The very nature and essence of the salvation He imparts is, what was the very nature and essence of His own life, a delight and power to do God's will alone. Gethsemane teaches us the way to receive the full experience of the deliverance. Just as there was in Christ, in His holy sinless nature, a learning of obedience through what He suffered, until it culminated in the surrender of His will unto the death, so there may be in the believer, who seeks to follow his Lord in full conformity, such a growth, both in insight into the absolute necessity of a giving up of all self-will, even in the least things, and also in the Divine certainty of God's working in us, what Christ has won for us, that he is led to know experimentally what it is that he is crucified with Christ, and dead to self and its will. But there can be no thought of our understanding or attaining this, until the desire has come to give up all, even unto death to live in the will of God alone.

Believer! is this the very Christ you delight in and seek to be conformed to, and long to know more fully in His indwelling power? In Gethsemane He entered into the very deepest and nearest fellowship with you in surrendering His will to the death: enter you there into the deepest and nearest fellowship with Him in surrendering your will as He did. Pray for the Holy Spirit to show you how self-will is the root of all sin and temptation and darkness; how the will of God can come in and cast it out and live in you; how faith in Christ who died to conquer our self-will, and now waits to dwell in us, can make you partaker of His death and victory. Learn the lesson that death to self-will just means a quiet bowing before God in utter poverty and helplessness, and a simple trusting in the Blessed Lamb of God, who passed through death as the only way to the perfect surrender of His will to God's will, to breathe His own Spirit, and with it the very will of God, into us.

To a soul longing to live only and wholly in the will of God, death to all self-will is the one inevitable demand, but also, in the faith of Christ Jesus, the one sure and most blessed deliverance.















Chapter 9

LORD! WHAT WILT THOU?

"And Saul, trembling and astonished, said, Lord! what wilt Thou have me to do?” Acts 9: 6.

On the prayer, ‘Your will be done in heaven, so on earth,’ there needs to follow the more special one, ‘Lord! what will You have me do?’ Men have often asked what was the secret of the wonderful consecration and power which we see in the life of Paul. At his conversion, his first act, after he knew the Lord who had met him, was the surrender of his will. Lord! what will You have me do? [Note: The R. V. omits these words. We have their substance in Paul's account of his conversion (Acts 22: 10), "And I said, What shall I do, Lord!"] That word was the beginning, the root, the strength, the mark of his whole wonderful life. His work was so blessed and fruitful, because he remained faithful to the one thing: he only lived for the will of his Lord.

There are many lessons which these words suggest. . . . The Lord has a will, a life-plan for each of us, according to which He wishes us to live. . . . To each of us the Lord will unfold this will or life-plan. . . . He expects us to wait on Him for the discovery of His will both in that which is universal, for all His people, as in that which He wills for each one individually. . . . When this prayer is honest and true, it implies the whole-hearted willingness to yield ourselves and our life to the doing of that will. . . . We may count upon an answer to such prayer, because God does not ask of His child more than He makes known as His will.

These and other similar lessons give abundant occasion for meditation and prayer. In this chapter I desire to ask your attention to another lesson, apparently very simple, and yet of deep significance, including all the others. It is what was suggested in the opening paragraph: True conversion is nothing but a surrender to live only to do the will of God.

Do not say: But is not this a matter of course, that everyone admits? Far from it. Most Christians never have understood it. It may be that you have never yet fully grasped it. True conversion is the turning from my own will, so as never to seek or do it; the surrender of my will, with all its strength and at all times only to seek and do what God wills.

But am I then to have no will of my own? You are indeed to have a will, the stronger the better, and to use it with all your strength for the one great work for which God created and fitted it. That one thing was: to accept and to will what God wills. This is the image and likeness of God for which man was created, the glory and the blessedness of the life of a child of God, that He can say: the holy, heavenly, perfect will of God is my will. I have seen it and accepted it and made it my own. To will and to do with all my strength what God wills and does, this is the noblest work the will of a creature can be engaged in. In this is the very image and likeness of God: to will ever as He wills. We then learn to say: How wonderful, what an honor; I will always just what God wills. Or as an old saint expressed it: I am always happy, because I always have my own way; God's will and mine are always one.

This surrender to the will of God, the key of Paul's conversion and of his life, is the secret of all true conversion and true Christian living. And it is because so many have entered the Christian course without any apprehension of God's demand that they should now cease from all self-will, and only do His will, that they make so little progress, that it is with them as it is written: "They went backwards and not forwards." They have never understood what Scripture says of God's children: they are "born not of the will of man, but of God"; "it is not of him that willeth, but of God which showeth mercy "; "of His own will begat He us, by the word of truth." The whole will of man, as his own power, however good and religious it may be, is shut out of the kingdom of heaven; it has to be denied and crucified; how much more the sinful self-will. As God's will alone brought forth the Divine life in us, its whole growth and strength are to be found in this alone. "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me." The great hindrance in the life of God in the soul is this one thing: we have not given up our will. When once a child of God begins to see that here lies the defect of his Christian life, there is no deliverance until he go back upon his conversion and admit and confess the one cause of failure. He did not know how utterly evil his will was, and how entire the renunciation of it to which he was called. When the Lord Jesus said: "If any man will be My disciple let him deny himself, and take up his cross," it meant first of all, let him deny his own will, and crucify it.

The will of God is our salvation, not only as it is willed by Him, but as it is received into our inmost being, submitted to and wrought out in our life, truly willed by us. Because our salvation rests each moment in the saving will of God, we can have only as much of the salvation as we accept the will. Until this is grasped, the true reason of our failure is not understood. As the error and the sin are heartily acknowledged, the soul is prepared to make a new beginning, and in the redeeming power of the Glorified Lord Jesus to say to God, Lo, I come, as it is written in the volume of the book, not only for Christ, but for each of His disciples: ‘I delight to do Your will, O my God.’

If I am to turn to God in a new and full surrender to His will, it must be in a new and full trust in what Christ can do for me. Saul's question, Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? was preceded by another, out of which it was born: Who art Thou, Lord? It was the vision of the Son of God in His glory, it was the personal revelation "I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest," that wrought the mighty change, and made him yield himself so readily and so entirely to the will of his new-found Lord. We need something of the same kind. Nothing less than a new revelation of the Divine authority, and the tender love of Him whom we have grieved so long, but who now comes to claim and to make us the faithful servants of His will, can really enable us to say in confidence: Lord! what will You have me do? Speak Lord, Your servant will do it.

Who is ready to enter upon this path of entire devotion to the will of God, the only true Christ-life? The steps are simple.

Remember, the will of God is the revelation of His hidden Divine love and blessedness, and that the only way to know and enjoy God and His love is to do His will. Say therefore boldly: I may, I will do nothing but God's will.

Believe that in answer to the prayer, Lord! what is Your will? Jesus Christ will make known God's will day by day; and that where He teaches me to know it by His spirit, He gives me strength to do it.

And when I have said, Lord! here am I, ready to do all Your will, let me wait upon Him to reveal Himself as my Redeeming Lord, who with the command gives the power: His voice, His presence, His love compel a willing obedience. It is the answer to the first prayer, Who are You, Lord? that prepares for the answer to the second, Lord! what will You have me do? Paul had heard Stephen speak of "the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." It was when, in "a light from heaven above the brightness of the sun," he had for himself this vision of the Glorified One, that his eyes and heart were for ever darkened to earth, and his life was given up to do the will of his Lord alone. It is so even still. The faith of Christ Triumphant looking upon us and conquering us for Himself, compels and empowers us to do His will alone.

Lord! show Yourself to me; then I can do whatever You bid me. In living communion with You, I can do all things.















Chapter 10

THE MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART

"I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after Mine own heart, who shall do all My will." Acts 13: 22; 1 Sam. 13: 14.

OF the two expressions God uses here of David, we often hear the former: "a man after Mine own heart." The use of the latter: "who shall do all My will," is much less frequent. And yet it is no less important than the other. A man after Mine own heart: that speaks of the deep unseen mystery of the pleasure a man can give to God in heaven. Who shall do all My will: that deals with the life down here on earth which can be seen and judged by men. Let us seek and get full hold of the truth that it is the man who does all God's will who is the man after His own heart. Such men God seeks: when He finds them He rejoices over them with great joy: they are the very men He needs, men He can trust and use. His heart, with its hidden Divine perfections, reveals itself in His will; he that seeks and loves and does all His will is a man altogether after His own heart: the man of absolute surrender to God's will.

Such was David in striking contrast with Saul, the type of the half-hearted and self-pleasing Christian. We know what remarkable experiences Saul had at the outset of his life. The Spirit of God came upon him, and another heart was given him, and he prophesied. There was not lacking in him a sense of humility; when he was to be presented to the people, he hid himself. And speedily God began to work through him salvation in Israel. But it was not long before self-will began to show itself. When God sent him with the command to destroy Amalek utterly, he did God's work deceitfully, and under pretense of bringing sacrifices to offer to God, did his own will in the matter of Agag and the best of the spoil. His terrible failure was used of God, by the contrast, to bring out more strikingly the great truth, that the man whom God can use to rule His people and establish His kingdom, that the man after His own heart, who pleases Him, is he of whom He can say: he shall do all My will.

After what we have already learned of God's will, with the place it has in the Christian life, and in preparation for a spiritual apprehension of the further teaching of God's Word, it may be well to use these words for the simplest possible instruction to all who are asking the question: How can I become such a one? What must I do that God can say of me: a man after My own heart, who shall do all My will?

First of all, remember, you cannot attain to this by anything you can do. No resolution, no effort, no help you seek in prayer to strengthen your weakness, will effect what you desire. And why not? Because you have in you a nature wholly ruled by self-will, and wholly opposed to God's will. Nothing can delight in God's will and actually do it, but a new and Divine nature, born and daily renewed in you by a Divine power from above. "The carnal mind is enmity against God," and averse from His will. As entire as has been the perversion of the old nature from God and His will, must be the deliverance of the new nature from self and its will. Here is our first lesson. No desire, however honest, no purpose, however fixed, no surrender, however absolute, can make a man after God's own heart, who shall do all His will. Such a man must be born from above, and must do all he does in the power of that new Divine life. A regenerate man may indeed in some things do God's will, as the fruit of the first half-unconscious workings of the Holy Spirit within him. But this is only preparatory to what God really aims at -- that His child of his own free will, shall intelligently and heartily choose to do all His will. That little word ‘all’ is the secret of true consecration, of a life "worthy of the Lord unto all well-pleasing,"of being a man after God's own heart.

We all know what a great difference there is between a feeble child, or a sickly man, and one in full health. And so it is not enough that you just have a beginning or small measure of spiritual life; that will not enable you to do all God's will. The question is whether you are living only, and doing all, under the power of the Holy Spirit, as the strength of the new life. It is only the Spirit of God Himself that can do the will of God. And the great reason why God's children do not claim, do not yield themselves by the Spirit of God to work all His will in them, is that they do not know how foolish, how helpless it is, to expect even the regenerate man to do God's will, without the direct and unceasing operation of God's Spirit. And then again, because they do not know the subtle and altogether unconquerable power of our corrupt nature, except as God Himself through His Son and Spirit lives and works in the inmost recesses of our being, and inspires all its powers. If you learn the first lesson well -- the secret aversion of your nature to God's will, and your complete inability to overcome or to change it, you are prepared to go on to the second.

It is this. Believe that you have a new and Divine nature, expressly fitted and prepared to do all God's will, on the one condition, that you hold it in close and continual dependence upon the Holy Spirit, through whom God in Christ works in you. Jesus Christ could do nothing of Himself, though He was the Son, without the Father working in Him. Does it displease you to be as absolutely dependent upon God as He was? As part of your faith in Jesus Christ, believe that God works in you as in Him. Believe this, however dark and feeble you feel, just as you believe, in the darkness of midnight, that the sun is shining on the other half of the world, and will in the morning rise upon you. It is this faith, with the humble, patient, dependent surrender to God which it works, that will bring you to an entirely new position and power in the doing God's will.

In this faith, here is our third lesson, humbly but confidently give yourself up to God to do all His will. Give yourself to Him, as a loving Father, so that you do not take His commands as a mere law, but as a loving will -- the will of the Father, made known in the loving fellowship by Himself to yourself. Look at God's will as one great whole -- the revelation of His loving purpose with man and with you. Set yourself resolutely, now, in the faith of the Holy Spirit's working in you, to count it your one business every day to do all God's will. Then again, bow yourself in the deepest humility and impotence to wait on God to work in you. The humility that bows in deep grief at the enmity of the evil nature against God's will, in confession of the impotence of the regenerate nature of itself to do that will, in the dependence of a childlike waiting on God for Him to work His will in you, will be a new entrance into the kingdom of heaven. The Christian life will become something quite new to you under the power of these great truths: your utter and ever-abiding impotence to do God's will, even as a regenerate man, without the unceasing work of the Holy Spirit: your Divine and complete sufficiency in Christ for all that the Father asks of you when He calls you to be a man after His own heart, who shall do all His will.















Chapter 11

THE WILL OF THE LORD BE DONE

"And when Paul would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying: The will of the Lord be done." Acts 21: 14.

Paul was at Caesarea, on his way to Jerusalem. Agabus, a prophet, had said by the Holy Spirit that Paul would there be bound, and delivered into the hands of the Gentiles. Paul's friends besought him not to go. In his answer he spoke the noble words: I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. When they heard this, they said: The will of the Lord be done. It was no longer a question of Jews or Gentiles, not even of the life or death of Paul; if it was to be, they would accept it as the will of God. The story teaches us the wisdom, the duty, the blessing of accepting disappointment or trial that cannot be averted, as God's will, and so turning what naturally would cause sorrow or anger, into an occasion of holy resignation and humble worship of God in His sovereign wisdom and power.

There is a twofold will of God: the will of approval and the will of permission. In the former we see what He desires or ordains as right and good. The latter includes all that happens in the world either as the result of natural law and second causes, or as the work of ungodly men and evil spirits. To admit that what God's will directly appoints is good is comparatively easy. But to recognize His will in all the evil that comes to us or around us from evil men, is a truth many a believer never accepts. It is one of the most blessed lessons anyone can learn to see that no possible trouble can ever come to us, that is not for us in very deed the will of our Father. Though Judas, and Caiaphas, and Pilate sinned against God's holy and righteous will in the death of Jesus, the suffering and death they caused Him He accepted as the will of God, the cup the Father gave Him. The sin of those who persecute or hurt a child of God, is not His will, and yet the suffering caused, with all its consequences, is to him God's will. As this is seen the believer turns his eyes from the human cause to the heavenly Father's will, and finds that suffering becomes a blessing, and that no power on earth or in hell can rob the soul of the perfect rest there is in that blessed will. The place of trial becomes the place of blessing. Let us see what is needed to secure this.

1. In time of trial let me say at once: Here I am by the will of God, in the very place God has chosen for me. Whether the trial comes from the hatred of an enemy, or the wrong of a friend, through my own fault or in the course of God's more direct Providence, I may be sure, and ought therefore heartily to consent to it, that the difficulty or distress in which I am is the will of God concerning me. Whether it be some great trial or some petty annoyance, whether a temporary grief or some long-continued cause of weariness or irritation, be sure that the secret of peace and rest is to say: This trouble is what God wills for me. It is this that lifts me from man to God and His will. To that will I have yielded myself. In that will I rest. The will of the Lord be done.

2. This prepares the soul to say with confidence: God, who has brought me into this trouble, will assuredly give me the grace to bear it aright. The grace that is needed to bear suffering as God would have His child do it, so as to glorify Him in it, must come from Him. The quiet submission, the child-like trust, the living entrance into and union with His will, He will work in the soul that adoringly says: The will of the Lord be done. All the promises of the Holy Scripture, with all the comfort they afford in the assurance of God's presence and aid in trouble, depend for their fulfilment on this one condition, that the soul gives itself up to the will of God. Then can we prove that God's will is Love and Blessing. The more willingly I say, God brought me here, the more confidently I can say, He has charge and cares for me.

3. We shall then be led farther on to the assurance: God Himself will teach me the lessons for which He sent the trial. This is something more than the trust, and peace, and surrender we have just been speaking of. They keep us from grieving God or vexing ourselves in the school of affliction. But beyond these graces God has special lessons for every child whom He leads aside in His loving chastisement. He wants to cure us permanently of our self-will and of our worldliness, to awaken us into the true imitation of the humility and the self-sacrifice of His Son, to draw us into full fellowship with Him who made us for His Divine indwelling and operation within us, to fit us to live lives of blessing to others. These lessons are often sadly missed by those who suffer much; and those who try to learn them often feel how greatly they have failed. It is because we do not believe: the Father, who brought me into this place of trial, will Himself teach the lessons He would have me learn and work all the grace He desires to see in me. The will of the Lord be done, includes not only the trial itself, but all that God meant by it, and has undertaken Himself to work out in the willing, waiting soul.

4. When thus we have entered into living union with the Father through His will, we shall not fear to say: God's will, which brought me here, can, in His way and time, bring me out again. With many children of God the desire for deliverance from trouble is the first, if not even the only, thought. This should not be so. Suffering is not natural to us; we are at liberty to call upon God for deliverance in the day of trouble. But it is not for this alone the heart must turn to God. The first desire must be that God may be glorified in loving submission, and childlike teachableness; that His will in all it means and aims at with the trial may be done. It is when, in this its true and full meaning, the prayer: The will of the Lord be done, rises from the heart, that the burden may be taken away without our being the losers, and that the deliverance may bring as much glory to God in our holy devotion as the suffering could have done. The union with God's will then will teach us how to look to it in the right spirit for help.

What a privilege that the darkest trials, the bitterest sorrows, as well as the smaller disappointments or the passing fears of life, can all help to unite me more perfectly with the will of my God. By His grace I will seek to live every day, amid tears of sorrow and songs of joy, in quiet submission or in triumphant faith, as they do in heaven, with the one word in the heart: The will of the Lord be done. It is this that gives heaven on earth.

I worship Thee, sweet Will of God, And all Thy ways adore, And every day I live I seem To love Thee more and more.

I have no cares, O blessed Will! For all my cares are Thine; I live in triumph, Lord, for Thou Hast made Thy triumphs mine.

Man's weakness waiting upon God, Its ends can never miss; For man on earth no work can do, More angel like than this.

He always wins who sides with God, To him no chance is lost; God's will is sweetest to him when It triumphs at his cost.

Ill that He blesses is our good, And unblest good is ill, And all is right that seems most wrong If it be His sweet will.















Chapter 12

OF KNOWING GOD'S WILL

"And Ananias said, The God of our fathers hath appointed thee to know His will, and to see the Righteous One, for thou shalt be His witness to all men, of what thou hast seen and heard, and to hear a voice from His mouth." Acts 22: 14, 15.

When Saul said, Lord! what wilt Thou have me to do? the reference was to personal immediate duty. When Ananias, after three days, spoke of his call from God "to know His will," the thought was a much larger one. Saul had been prepared by God as His chosen vessel, to whom he could intrust "the mystery of His will," "the mystery of Christ," "which from the beginning of the world had been hid in God," "that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs and fellow-members of the body and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus, through the Gospel" (Eph. 1: 9, 10, 3: 3-9).

I have previously spoken of the need of not confining our knowledge of God's will to the commands and promises which have special reference to ourselves. All God's children are called to enlarge their hearts, to take a personal interest in the great work God is seeking to carry out in the world, and so to be ready to take their part in the fulfilment of His purpose -- the winning back of the world to Him, to be the kingdom of His Son.

In studying Paul's surrender to Christ's will in conversion, we saw how closely that was linked to his vision of the Lord in heaven. Here we find the same connection: "Appointed to know His will, and to see the Righteous One." The mystery of God's will is the mystery of Christ: to know the will is inseparable from knowing the Righteous One, who put away sin, and is to rule in righteousness on the earth. In the life and writings of Paul we see how firmly he holds the two truths together. It is ever "Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we received grace and apostleship, unto obedience of the faith among all nations, for His name's sake." As one who had seen and heard him, Paul's Gospel was ever a personal witness. He never preached the will of God as a doctrine, or a decree, or even as a revelation, apart from the living person of that Lord Jesus in whom that will had revealed all its riches and blessings, and in personal contact with whom alone its salvation could be realised. To know the will, and to see the Righteous One, let these ever be inseparable. The living Christ Himself can alone fit us to know and do the will of God. To know the will and not see the Righteous One would make it a new law of Moses, a burden heavy to be borne. To see Him is to know the will in the light of God's love, to know it in its Divine beauty and perfection, and to receive the power to do it.

All that God did in Paul was "for an example unto them which should hereafter believe." Like him, and through him, each of us is called, in our measure to know this larger will of God, His purpose for all men, that the Gospel should be preached to every creature. There is no sadder proof of how little it is understood or preached that, just as Christ, so His Church, is only in the world to carry out this Divine will, than the lack, in the great majority of Christians, of anything like enthusiastic devotion to the cause of Missions. Even among those who do give them a measure of support, there is so little sense of the overwhelming prominence which ought to be given to this will of God. It is not one command among others. It is the one thing in which the will of the Father includes everything: that all men should know and honor Christ. It is the one thing for which Christ died and lives. It is the one thing for which the Church exists, to be a light to them that are in darkness. It is the one thing by which a child of God can prove that he lives not unto himself but unto Him that died for him and rose again. It is the one truth that above all else needs to be restored to its place and which assuredly will bring the revival of every other truth of the spiritual life as its necessary condition. This is in very deed the very will of God, that the Church as the body of Christ, and every believer as its member, is to seek first, absolutely first, the kingdom of God, and to labor that His will be done throughout the earth, as in heaven.

And what can be the reason, if this be the will of God, that the Church has so little apprehended or fulfilled it? If Paul was divinely illuminated to know that will, and to make it known to the Church, how comes it that it has so little possessed the Church of Christ? The answer is not far to seek. Just as in Paul this will of God needed a very special spiritual revelation, so still. It is easy, when once a truth has been seen and pointed out by spiritual men, for other Christians to see and accept it too. And yet it may be an article of mental belief, that does not really, through living faith, master and possess the heart. The will of God is a living spiritual energy; we do not know that will truly until it has entered and filled our will. As love alone can meet love, and heart alone touch heart, so will alone can apprehend will. Anything less is but a mental image, a conception of the truth, not the thing itself in its reality and power. And so a great deal of the missionary interest of our day proves, by the feeble hold it has, and the little sacrifice there is made for it, and the need of continual appeal to minor motives, that the knowledge of this mystery of God's will is not held in the power of the Spirit.

Paul speaks of "the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." It is only as the mystery of Christ in us, the experience of an indwelling Christ is truly known, that the glory of the mystery will be seen to be this, that it is the will of God for all the Gentiles. The more truly I know by the Spirit what it is to have Christ in me, the more I shall long and labor that it may be Christ in all.

"God hath appointed thee to know His will, and to see the Righteous One, and to hear a voice from His mouth, and to be His witness of what thou hast seen and heard." God gave Paul as an example; in your measure this word is for you also, my reader. Do believe that in this mystery of God's will for the Gentiles the glory of God, of Christ, of the Church, of every believer is centered. All God's wisdom and power, His holiness and love and faithfulness meet in it. And you are appointed -- what a privilege -- to know His will, and have it possess you, and use you as its instrument and messenger and witness. Fear not to yield yourself utterly to it, a living sacrifice. "Appointed to know His will, and" (here is your strength) "to see the Righteous One," who Himself wrought that will and now works mightily in all who see Him, and receive Him as their Lord who dwells in them. Oh! cast yourself into this mighty stream of Divine love -- the will of God for the salvation of the ends of the earth. Look up and see and worship the Righteous One, the Lord our Righteousness, the King of Righteousness, whose rule is to bring peace and blessing to the world; to do all God's will for the establishment of the kingdom, will become your one ambition.















Chapter 13

KNOWING AND NOT DOING

"If thou bearest the name of a Jew, and gloriest in God, and knowest His will, and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind: thou therefore that teachest another, teachest thou not thyself! thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal." Rom. 2: 17-21.

In chapter 1 of this Epistle we have the terrible unrighteousness of the heathen, with its consequent darkness, portrayed. In chapter 2 the self-righteousness of the Jews, with the fatal delusion that rests in the knowing of God's will without doing it. Men gloried in God and made their boast of Israel's having had a Divine revelation, and being the depository of God's will, and yet never thought of the folly of not doing that will. It is the same evil against which Christ warned, when He said: "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven." Our subject today is the terrible possibility of glorying in God and delighting in the study and the knowledge of His will, and yet not doing it. Let us try and discover the cause of this sad phenomenon, as frequent in the Christian Church as in Israel. That will lead us to see what its cure must be. Let us bring our own life into the full light of Scripture teaching, and find out whether the doing of God's will has really that supreme place in our thought and conduct which it has in the mind of God and the teaching of Christ.

One would say that from the very nature of the thing every Christian would know that doing God's will is the very essence of true religion. Whether we regard Him as Creator or Lawgiver, as Father or Redeemer, we cannot but admit that we cannot honor or please, cannot fulfil our relationship to Him, without living to do His will. Whether we think of the escape from the power of sin, or the walk in His fellowship and love, or the participation in the happiness of His service, here or hereafter, everything points to the doing of God's will as the only possible way of really living in the enjoyment of salvation. What can be the reason that so many Christians have never known that doing God's will is the very first duty of the Christian's life, indispensable to its health and safety?

With many the cause is an entire misapprehension of the nature of salvation. They have misunderstood God's glorious Gospel. They heard that God justifies the ungodly by free grace without any works of righteousness he ever had done or needed to do to secure God's favor. They heard right. But they understood wrong. They were content to believe in the pardon of sin, and deliverance from punishment, and never saw that salvation means restoration to the love and fellowship of God, to the honor and blessedness of a walk in obedience to His will. Content with being saved from guilt, they never thought that being saved from the doing of sin is the real proof of the power of salvation, and the real entrance upon a life in the likeness and holiness of God. The entire reasonableness, the unspeakable blessedness, the indispensable necessity, the supreme obligation of seeking and loving to do God's will as it is done in heaven, has never dawned upon them. Entirely to give up their own will in order to follow and carry out God's will has never become an article of their creed. They are content with the traditional, conventional view of Christian duty, but never thought that all that is known of God's will, must at once be done.

With others the cause of failure in doing God's will is a misapprehension as to the power of salvation. They believe that God's law is unchangeable in its demands, and that it is their bounden duty to obey it perfectly. They have learned from Scripture and experience how utterly impotent they are to fulfil its claims. They have never understood how in the New Testament, the law of God with its inexorable demand and condemnation becomes transformed into the will of God, which does not mean mere demand but actual living power. They know not what it means: Ye are not under the law, with its impotence, but under grace, with its omnipotence, working in you all that it asks. They are held in bondage of the legal spirit, and do not believe that it is possible to live a life in the will of God. They admire and delight in a promise such as: My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect in weakness; or a testimony: I can do all things in Christ who strengthens Me, but dare not expect their fulfilment in their own experience. They do not think it possible always to be doing God's will.

There are still others who believe both in the obligation and the possibility, and yet complain of continual failure. The reason is with them very much misapprehension as to the knowledge of God's will. They study God's Word very earnestly to find out God's will, and yet fail of finding with that knowledge the strength to perform. They know not that it is only where the light of the Holy Spirit shows God's will, that His strength will work it in us. The will of God, discovered and accepted by our human wisdom, must be obeyed by our human strength. The humble, childlike spirit that believes that the Father will by His Spirit show us what He wants us to do, will receive grace also to believe that for what the Father wants and shows, He will give the needed strength. As we see that it is not enough for us to have the Word and out of that take what we think we ought to do, but wait on God for guidance, to know what He would have us to do, we shall learn that to be taught God's will by His Spirit, is half the secret of being strengthened by Him to do it.

Believer! Jesus Christ your Savior came to do the will of God, and to enable you to do it also. Do you know Him as your Owner who claims to have your whole being, with every power and every moment? Have you acknowledged His Ownership, and yielded yourself wholly to live only as He would have you? Have you, in the faith of His strength, made this surrender, and believed that by His Holy Spirit He seals and maintains it? Oh then, be not afraid to believe that He will show you all God's will for you, and fit you for doing it! Believe that, morning by morning, He will open your ear to hear His voice, and that, to the meek and lowly of heart, He will give God's light and God's strength for all God's will.















Chapter 14

THE RENEWED MIND PROVING GOD'S WILL

"Be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." Rom. 12: 2.

With the first verse of Rom. 12 the practical part of the Epistle begins by Paul's imploring believers to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. In verse 2 there follows the call to these God-devoted men, if their sacrifice is indeed to be acceptable to God, to prove, that is, to find out and show, what is the acceptable will of God. He who would live as an acceptable sacrifice must live in the acceptable will of God. The one acceptable sacrifice is the doing of the acceptable will. To live in the will of God is the one and only thing that can make us well-pleasing to Him. The one and only object and proof of true consecration is -- doing the will of God.

The three adjectives Paul uses, the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, indicate three stages in our proving and knowing the will of God. The first refers to our discerning between good and evil, and our accepting what we know of God's will as indeed good. The second points to our knowledge of God's will in special relation to ourselves. The will of God is not the same for all His children; as we find out what is especially the will of God for ourselves, we know that what we do is actually acceptable, well-pleasing to Him. The third word, perfect, tells us that we may not rest content with what we already know and do of God's will; this is only a beginning; we must press on to stand perfect in all the will of God. To know and accept the will of God as good, is the first step, is good. To know it in our personal relationship to Him as well-pleasing, is better. To know the perfect will of God is best of all, the true aim of the full Christian life. So we can prove and know for ourselves, so we can prove to men, what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. So we yield our bodies an acceptable sacrifice. On the first great call of the Epistle: Live wholly as sacrifices to God, follows at once the second as its complement: Live only to do the will of God.

Between these two commands there are inserted a warning and an exhortation. "Be not fashioned according to the world," is the warning that reveals our first and greatest danger. "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind," is the exhortation that reveals the path and the strength in which it becomes possible to overcome the danger and stand perfect in all the will of God.

Would you indeed know and do God's will, listen to the warning: "Be not conformed to this world." "The friendship of this world is enmity against God." Its root principle, that by which it became a "world that lieth in the evil one," was the rejection of the will of God. The world may acknowledge a God, but it cannot and will not do His will. It cannot by its very nature do anything but its own will. We are by nature of the world. We are still in it, and ever in danger of being under its influence. After our regeneration the secret, subtle atmosphere with which it surrounds us, and with which the flesh is in alliance, hinders thousands of Christians from seeking a life of true and full devotion to the will of God. Unless with our whole heart we reject its principles, its pleasures, its pursuits, we gradually lose the spiritual capacity of delighting in and performing God's will. Unless we come out from the world, where self-will and self-pleasing rules, we never can live the life in which the believer only seeks to be a sacrifice well-pleasing to God, and to prove the well-pleasing will of God. Do let us believe it -- the great cause of failure in doing the will of God is simply a worldly spirit. Therefore beware: "Be not fashioned according to this world."

The negative, not being fashioned according to the world, must be accompanied by the positive: "But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." The renewal in regeneration, once for all, must be followed up by the continual, the daily, renewing of the Holy Ghost. "That ye be renewed in the spirit of your minds." "He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost." This is the only power that can enable us to live as living, holy, acceptable sacrifices, that can fit us truly to delight in doing the will of God. The attempt to do the will of God with a heart that does not daily seek and find the renewing of the Holy Spirit in the spirit of the mind, must end in failure. It is only a healthy man who can do a healthy man's work. It is only a spiritual man who can walk in the spiritual path of obedience to all God's will.

I ask you, beloved believer, to pause and take in the lessons we have been taught. To prove what is the good and acceptable will of God is the calling and the privilege of every believer. It is impossible to fulfil this calling, except as we know that we have definitely yielded ourselves to live as holy sacrifices, well-pleasing to God in everything. The one great hindrance to this is a worldly spirit in conformity to the dispositions and habits of the men of the world. The only power that can overcome this danger is that of the Holy Spirit: to be daily transformed in the renewing of our mind gives the spiritual capacity to know, to love, to do all God's will.

If you find that you are not yet living this life, rest not till you know and possess it. If it is because you have never definitely and finally accepted God's will as your life, oh, do so now! If it be that you have never presented yourself a living sacrifice -- come at once, and yield to God's claim! By the mercies of God I beseech you: Give up yourself to the God who redeemed you. If you have done so but failed, because you never knew how much there was of the world in you -- begin at once to live the life of not being fashioned according to the world, but being transformed by the renewing of the Holy Ghost.

Take courage, my brother! The Eternal Spirit through whom Christ said, "I delight to do Thy will," and offered Himself a sacrifice unto God, dwells in you. Yield yourself as a sacrifice for Him to consume. Believe and receive His daily renewing; He will fit you for proving all the perfect will of God.















Chapter 15

ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD

"Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father." Gal. 1: 4.

Paul ever carried with him a very deep sense of the will of God as the source and the rule of all things. In five of the Epistles he speaks of himself as an apostle, "through the will of God." The thought of God's will dominated his whole ministry, inspiring at once devotion and obedience, dependence and perfect confidence. He loved to think of God's will working out its purpose through him. Of his intention to visit Rome he speaks more than once as coming to them "by the will of God." Of the Macedonians giving themselves first to the Lord and then to him, he says too that it was "by the will of God." And so here, in speaking of the work of God's Son in our redemption, he shows how its chief characteristic is that it was "according to the will of God." Whether in his own life, or in the grace manifested in his converts, or in the work of our Lord Jesus, salvation is to him the will of God manifesting itself and working out His purpose.

The expression he uses in regard to Christ's work is a somewhat unusual and remarkable one. "He gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father." It gives us a new aspect of the Father's will as revealed in Christ's death. In our last meditation (Rom. 12: 2) we saw how, in the spiritual life, being conformed to the world was the first great danger of the consecrated soul, and being transformed out of it into newness of life the only way to a life in the good and perfect will of God. Here we discover the deepest root of that teaching. The whole will of God in Christ's death had this one object -- to deliver us from this present evil world. The spirit of the world and the will of God are diametrically opposite; the will of God demands, and promises, and works entire deliverance from it. If we would know the will of God aright, and live in it and according to it, we must come out and be entirely separate from all that is of this present evil world. That alone is true and full salvation.

"This present evil world." And was not this world created by God? And is it all so entirely evil as to deserve the name "this evil world," and to need the Son of God to deliver us from it? Yes. Scripture teaches that with the entrance of sin into the world it came into the power of the prince of evil.

When, in Adam's fall, Satan obtained power over him, the world, over which he was to have been king, fell with him, and Satan became the god of this world, and all men born into it. The world is now an organized kingdom of evil, ruled by the god, animated by the spirit, of the world. "The whole world lieth in the evil one." The development of evil, now in its slow growth, then again in its sudden outbreaks, is no blind evolution, but the result of a deliberate systematic war of an intelligent power of evil against the rule of God. Whether in the grossest forms of heathenism, or amid the refinement of art and culture, or even under the guise of a nominal Christianity -- everywhere the world lies in darkness, and is in its principles and aims the very opposite of the kingdom of God and of heaven. The pursuit of the visible, the assertion of man's will against that of God, the pride of man's wisdom, are its distinguishing characteristics, in contrast with the will, and the love, and the service of the invisible God.

Jesus Christ came to deliver us out of this present evil world, by freeing us from its spirit, and making us partakers of the life and the powers of the heavenly world. In His relations with the rulers of this world, both among the Jews and before Pilate, He more than once gave expression to the truth: "Ye are of this world, I am from above; I am not of this world: My kingdom is not of this world." This other-worldliness He claimed for his disciples too: "Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Because ye are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you." He described His work as an overcoming of the world, and a casting out of the prince of the world. He encouraged His disciples to expect and, in the power of His victory, to endure the enmity of the world. The life He brought with Him from heaven, and came to impart to us, was one as different from that of the world, yes, more so, than heaven is higher than earth. The great object of His work was to deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God.

This is an aspect of truth that enters all too little into the preaching or the practice of our days. We sometimes hear of a worldly Christianity, and of a religious world, but there appears to be but little conception of the extent to which a worldly spirit pervades and enfeebles the Christian life. We are all of us so born and bred under the power of the spirit of the world, it is so difficult exactly to define or recognize its power and influence, we are so little warned of the need of our entire deliverance from that spirit by the Spirit of God dispelling it and taking its place, that one often sees an earnest and active religious life with but little of the truly unworldly and heavenly spirit. As a consequence of this, the power of Jesus Christ, and of faith in Him, overcoming the world, and proving that we are just as little of the world as He was, is little sought or known. Our Lord gave Himself that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God: is it any wonder that H