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Living In the Will of God

I was thinking of the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-10. Jesus taught the disciples how to pray. He said to them, “In this manner, therefore pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’” We know that Jesus faced His agony for the coming suffering He would endure on the cross by praying His Father’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane. Instead of letting fear overwhelm him, He knelt down on His knees and prayed, Father not My will, but Yours be done. Surely trembling of being forsaken by the Father as He was about to take sin and death for us. “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani’” that is ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’” Jesus was willfully and habitually living in the will of God with His Father’s strength.

It is the Father’s will that His saints take up the same mantle as the Son took upon Himself. “Not my will, but thy will be done.”  The French Protestant Edmond de Pressense wrote a telling truth. “My will, and not thy will be done, turned paradise into a desert. Not my will, but thy will be done, turned the desert into paradise, and made Gethsemane the gate of heaven.”

Looking at the body of Christ, the faithful are living in the will of God. By praying God’s will to be done, we are petitioning for any obstacles to be abandoned. Dr. C. L. Culpepper, a Southern Baptist Missionary to China during the Shantung Revival in the 1920-30s, wrote the book, Total Abandonment to the Will of God: The Essence of Christian Living. Cathi and I had the privilege of meeting this dear man of God when he preached revival at Sandy Hill Baptist Church while I was stationed at Ft. Polk, LA in 1979-80.

It is the faithful’s delight to live in the will of God. It is “The Essence of Christian Living.”  Having been called by God to repentance, we are sanctified in Christ Jesus. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold all things have become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17) From this entrance into the kingdom of God we are urged by the apostle Paul to pursue sanctification. To the church at Thessalonica, he urges them to pursue righteousness. “Finally, my brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God: for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God your sanctification: — For God did not call us to uncleanness, but to holiness.” (I Thessalonians 4:1-4,7) “Sanctification may be defined as that gracious and continuous operation of the Holy Spirit, by which He delivers the justified sinner from the pollution of sin, renews his whole nature in the image of God, and enables him to perform good works.” Systematic Theology by L. Berkhof.

Toward the end of the letter to the Thessalonian Christians, Paul prays for God to sanctify them. “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely: and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (I Thessalonians 5:23-24)

Oswald Chambers writes on the latter text about sanctification in the February 8th selection in his devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. It is titled, Instantaneous and Insistent Sanctification and is revelatory. “When we pray to be sanctified, are we prepared to face the standard of these verses? We take the term sanctification too lightly. Are we prepared for what sanctification will cost? It will cost an intense narrowing of our interests on earth, an immense broadening of our interest in God. Sanctification means intense concentration on God’s point of view. It means every power of body, soul, and spirit chained and kept for God’s purpose only. — Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the disposition that ruled Him will rule us. Are we prepared for what that will cost? It will cost everything that is not of God in us?” This is living in total abandonment to the will of God. As Dr. C. L. Culpepper calls it, the essence of Christian living.

Where the grace blows,