THE WILL OF MAN
Once more, we will give the definition of will – “That faculty or power of the mind by which we determine to do or not to do something which we conceive to be in our power.” John 1:12-13, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” THE WILL OF MAN – It seems to me that this is the expressive interplay of the trinity that man is; body, soul and spirit; on the will of man, the new birth being given as an example of being a part of that will; after the wheels of another will were set in motion. The will of man does enter into the new birth in this manner, that of believing God’s will of redemption. Let us explore a little some branches of this will of man.
At the outset, consider this part of man’s will, likely the most vital part, the spirit. The spirit is mentioned in the final departure, the crucial one, of the first civilization. The climax of this is in Rom. 1:28, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” This is the big twenty-three, one of my descriptions of the various sorties of the flesh that the Word of God gives. So this will finally takes its abode fully in the mind, and it, without God, can’t be good.
Ephesians gives the ultimate of this: Ch. 4:17, “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind.” And the picture gets worse as you read on…even “past feeling.” Here it refers to feeling in the mind or spirit. So this entrenchment of the will of man in the mind is a sad state.
Now I say that there is an individual will, or course, in each of us. Nevertheless in a big percentage of cases, it must conform to the composite mind, the joining of the wills of the mass of men in the different divisions of society such as government, religion, economy, customs, traditions. Few can counter the total will of man in which they were born; or the totality of human will which surrounds us. If this sounds kind of heavy, I have a reason. I want to remind us, that there is a danger in submitting docilely to this individual will with which we are born, or this totality of the human will which we have already touched on.
I remember another Scripture in Rom. 12 where it states not to conform your mind or spirit, or will to that of this world’s will. Again we have to use wisdom, for the mavericks, those nonconformists without God, who basically fall into four categories. If he contradicts the law, he is a criminal, that is not favorable to God’s will. If he deviates too much from common practice of thinking, he is crazy. If he withdraws from human contact, he is a hermit. If he resists the overall structure of society, he is a revolutionary, and of course there are more. So we are not advocating any of the above, but will put all our picture together, and perhaps it will make sense. Now here are a few examples of the general paths of the will of man en masse according to the Bible.
Gen. 4:3-7, “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”
So there is a primitive entering of the human will into the matter of religion, or the way toward God. This way which Cain used is human works. Cain was a worker. His name means “fabricator;” he even slew his brother because his works were evil – in whose sight? It was in God’s sight. So the will of man has always been to earn a place in earth and with God.
Paul tells us in Rom. 10:3, “For they (Israel) being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” So the ultimate test of religion was this people, and what a will they had! To this day, they are a champion of do-it-yourself in religion, and everything else. Lots of works, yes, and even the church went that way, and will continue, for in Rev. 2:19 Jesus prophesied that the works of the harlot system would be greater at the end of this Church Age than at the first. The great build-up of the human will in human works is displayed in that final system. They look good, but if they are against God’s way they are finally evil.
Gen. 10:2-5, “Now these are the sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.” So the will of man tended to expansion. That spirit ever prevails in history, and does now. Of course, Psalm 115 tells us that God owns the heavens, but has given the earth to man, and Isaiah says that it was meant to be inhabited. So I don’t say this is all bad, but simply giving examples of the exercise of the human will. The individual will must give in. We might not like it, but it is always so. But it does go that way – expand. Paul tells us in Acts 14:16, “God…who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways,” nationally, culturally, and religiously have they spread out.
Gen. 11:4, “…Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” So the human conglomerate will rose up in independence of God. As the second Psalm prophetically says, Vs. 2, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” This spirit or will, will prevail all down to the end of this age, for we read in II Thess. 2:4 of the great anti-christ…” Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God…” Such a vicious, foolish will flaunts itself.
Mt. 15:1-9, “Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” So there you have it; tradition and custom and habit are substitutes for the Word of God in the religious sphere, and related spheres. Paul, the traditionalist in the early part of his life, had a miraculous turnaround. He wrote the Galatians of the traditions of his fathers that he had followed faithfully. Amen, the human being goes that way, too.
So that’s that. Here is a cursory view of the human will in prominent fields. And from there, we will look at two great wills or forces that finally dominate this human will, as we lay it open the them. First, we will consider the evil will of an evil taskmaster. I don’t say that all man’s will is entirely dominated by him, there seems to be a bit of leeway for man, but in the crisis he can, and the words of God show that he has taken over the human will.
To be continued