How do we overcome the pulls of the flesh, how do we gain victory over our human nature? Why are some neglecting prayer? Why are some people succumbing to laziness? Why are so many people in God’s Church having financial problems? Why do brethren spend beyond their means, way beyond their budget?
Why are so many giving in to the pulls of the flesh, our human nature, instead of resisiting sin? How many of us in God’s Church are exercising the willpower which God expects of us?
In order for us to overcome, we must develop a strong will; in fact the final reward of Christians will depend in great measure upon how much we have developed our willpower.
A staunch Christian will always have a strong will! How many of us can say that we are truthfully developing through fervent prayer and Bible study an iron will?
Of all the living creatures on this earth, only man possesses a will, the power to choose or decide for ourselves. Animals are not, they can’t choose, they are slaves to instinct.
We humans, in God’s True Church, must overcome, through the power of will, the pulls of the human flesh, our human will must be exercised. Willpower, like muscle-power, must be developed through right exercise. Every time we make ourselves do what we know is right, instead of what we would like to do, we strengthen our willpower.
And of course, just the opposite is true when we give in to temptations, we weaken our will. How many in God’s Church are full of wish-power, but have very little will power? The spirit is willing, but the flesh is very weak!
God has given us free moral agency; we have the power to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, obedience and disobedience, life and death. How many of us realize that this gift, this choice, this power to decide for ourselves, whether we will go God’s way or man’s way, is a precious gift?
God could have made us robots, impossible to sin, to go the right way and that we would never desire to go the wrong way. We are the very pinnacle of God’s physical creation. He is molding and shaping us into Gods, into Sons for His very own Family.
This God-like character which God is developing in us is the supreme master-piece of all His creation. And this can only be done by giving us free moral agency. There simply is no other way. Our part in this spiritual creation is that we must choose or decide whether or not we will accept and follow God’s way.
God gave Adam and Eve this same choice: “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying of every tree of the garden you may freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it; for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:15-17).
Genesis 3:14 tells us they made the wrong choice, and all of mankind since that day, chose the wrong way, the way of disobedience and suffering and death!
Just before the death of Moses, he set before the people of Israel the way of life and death: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life that both thou and thy seed may live. That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for it is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord swear unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, to give them” (Deut. 30:19-20).
Under the next leader, Joshua, they were told they must choose whether or not they would obey God (Josh. 24:15-18). They chose the way of least resistance, the way of sin!
Again in the time of Elijah, Israel was told to choose: “How long halt you between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal then follow him” (I Kings 18:21).
The truth is that all of us, before conversion, chose the way of sin and death. We all willed to go the wrong way. “As it is written, there is none righteous no, not one: there is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10-12).
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way” (Isa. 53:6).
All the great men of the Bible were, without exception, men of strong purpose (do we have the same purpose?) of iron will. These men set their mind (or will) to go in a certain direction, to obey God, and that was the direction they went.
Noah had to be strong-willed in order to resist the taunts, jeers, criticism and outright blasphemy of the skeptics and atheists of his day. Abraham’s iron will, mixed with his faith, enabled him to promptly obey God. “By faith, Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed: and he went out, not knowing whither he went” (Heb. 11:8). Abraham’s willpower was so great in obeying God that he was willing to sacrifice his only son (Gen. 22:1-18).
Isaac, too, was a determined man. So was Jacob! Jacob’s strong determination was shown by his bulldog tenacity; he wrestled all night with God and only let the Lord go after receiving a blessing.
Joseph was also a man who exercised tremendous willpower. He had to resist sexual advances from Potiphar’s wife (she tried several times to get Joseph to commit adultery). He was going to obey God no matter what the consequences. In this instance, it meant humiliation and imprisonment.
Moses’ resolve to obey God took a very strong-willed person to lead over two million unconverted grumbling rebellious Israelites from Egypt through the desert for 40 long years.
David’s turbulent life revealed a man of great willpower. From his youth until the day he died, he was in constant turmoil and struggle. David chose to obey God and through the greater part of his life was very firm, diligently following God, in the face of much persecution, opposition and temptation.
David said in Psalm 17:3 “I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.” David set his will to obey God!
Elijah, Daniel and many other Old Testament prophets were men with strong wills. The greatest person of all, Jesus Christ so set His will to obey His Father, that he never once veered from the course He had chosen. Christ is the only man never to violate His own conscience, who never weakened, who never let sin triumph over Him even momentarily. And you and I are told to follow His example (I Peter 2:21).
The weaklings mentioned in the Bible were all men of little or no willpower. Esau didn’t have enough willpower to control his appetite; he sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. He was rough and hardy, he was very masculine, possessed a strong body, but was weak of will. The birthright went to the children of Israel as a result of his lack of self-restraint.
Jacob’s firstborn, Reuben was a weak-willed person. He was the rightful heir to a double blessing which should have passed to the firstborn son. Reuben knew right from wrong, but he didn’t’ have strong enough will to do the right thing. He succumbed to sexual temptations and lost his birthright.
The Apostle Paul was certainly one of the strongest willed men of God. But before his conversion he was a different person. Paul persecuted and even murdered the disciples of the Lord. (Acts 9:1-2).
“I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9-11). (v. 11) “I shut the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them and I punished them often in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.”
Paul was a strong willed person. He, with all his might, persecuted the Church of God before his conversion. Then Jesus Christ struck him down and revealed to him that his zeal was misguided or misdirected against God and His Church.
The 14 New Testament epistles testify to his will and determination to follow, and obey and diligently serve Jesus Christ, at all costs. After his conversion, Paul realized just how weak he really was:
Romans 7:6-25 (v. 18) “For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) dwells no good thing; for to will is present with me: but how to perform that which is good I find not.” Realizing his weak human nature, he said: “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death” (v. 24).
Then in verse 25 Paul gives us the answer, God would. As strong as Paul’s human will was Paul knew it was not sufficient in itself to enable him to be an overcomer. He made this very clear to the saints at Philippi. “For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).
This setting of the will to obey God can only take place after God opens our minds and after He draws us to Him by His Spirit. But this doesn’t mean that God will do it all for us. We have to do our part. The Holy Spirit will strengthen the human will if we are willing.
It takes a great deal of willpower to be zealous in every endeavor, every activity which we undertake. It takes mastery of the will not just empty words to enable one to enter God’s kingdom.
“Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven but he that does the will of my Father, which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).
In Luke 13:24 we are told “to strive to enter in at the strait gate: many I say unto you will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”
The parable of the sower clearly shows the weak wills of certain individuals who fall by the wayside. There are lots of people, who would like to enter God’s kingdom. They wish they could be in God’s Family, but very few are willing to pay the price. Very few during this space age “will” to obey God at all costs.
But a true Christian must change, must overcome to be in God’s Family. The human will is limited, and it must be strengthened by God’s Spirit. Every time you make yourself do what is right you strengthen your will, but every time you do what you know to be wrong, every time you defile your conscience, you weaken your willpower and you stand self-condemned.
Some people deliberately, knowingly, will to go the wrong way. This was true of Israel’s first king Saul. When Samuel rebuked Saul for his rebellious attitude, Saul tried to white-wash himself and blame the people.
Samuel knew that Saul was lying, he told Saul: “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king” (I Sam. 15:22-23).
God wants us to develop strong wills, but not strong willed in the wrong direction. A strong will plus a rebellious attitude equals stubbornness. A true Christian follows Jesus Christ. That person has the mind of Christ and Christ’s attitude. What was that attitude? “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39).
Jesus Christ submitted His will perfectly to the will of His Father. Jesus had a will and mind of his own, he could have chosen to go the wrong way. He was tempted in all points, yet not once did He ever will or choose to disobey, he was without sin.
Every one of us who claims to be a true Christian, a true believer should continually seek to do the Father’s will. It we do not stay close to God, we can be deceived by the deceitfulness of sin. And what is sin? “Sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4).
First of all sin is a trinity!
Lust of the flesh.
Pride of life.
Lust of the eyes.
All three are illegal desires. The Bible uses various words for sin showing various shades of meaning.
Chattah – Means to miss the mark, this doesn’t mean we are in the habit of sinning, but because our carnal mind cannot keep God’s law. If we miss the mark it is because we don’t want to hit it badly enough.
Asham – Means negligence in conduct or failure of duty.
Aven – Means nothingness, vanity, emptiness and most often connected with idolatry. Now an idol is anything we put higher than God.
Avon – Means crazy, weird, outlandish, far-out, offbeat, perverse.
Gamal – Means labor, toil, a wearisome, painful effort. It takes pain and toil to get around God’s law, and man’s laws. Some people work very hard at breaking the law.
Ma’al – Means treacherously, fraudulently. This word is usually used with adultery which involves disloyalty and dishonesty, hypocritical.
Are you willing to suffer in order to keep your word? Are you loyal to God’s work, or just when it is convenient for you? If you are loyal God will reward you, if not you are a sinner.
Zimmah – Means a meditated wickedness, a plan for evil and especially with incest and rape, lewdness.
Shagag – Means going astray through ignorance, wander in mind. Drunkenness, carried away by plain
Bagad – Means perverseness, slippery dealing.
Ra’ – Means rot, filth, dung, manure and sewage
Pasha’ – Means revolt, rebellion, to break away from, to change allegiance, to fall away, apostatize, and rebel.
Every time we defile our conscience, every time we do what we know we shouldn’t do, we further tear down our will. It is only those who firmly set their will, those who endure to the end, those who truly overcome, that will inherit the Kingdom of God. Do you have this willpower?