A Regulator of Church Purity: The Moral Law
Moral Degeneration: No Willful Sinners Allowed in Israel, The Church
“The Salvation of the Will”: I want to say, firstly, that we will not think much of the sin called, “sin wilfully” (Heb. 10:26), unless we understand salvation in terms of “the will”, biblically speaking.
“Sinning wilfully” IS a “continuous state of sinning”. In other words, “sinning wilfully” IS “habitually sinning”, and a man who is regenerate cannot easily, quickly, or suddenly fall into this spiritual condition. A regenerate man cannot “minute by minute” go in and out of a damnable spiritual condition. No! With every cognizant sin that the saint is committing he is not moving from justification to damnation, justification to damnation. No! This is because, specifically speaking, when every cognizant sin is being committed the saint is impulsively, reflexively, and habitually repenting of those sins (to some degree, though “imperfectly”) – this is a simultaneous and reactionary repentance which is habitually existing at the very same instant that sin is being committed.
“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” – Prov. 23:7
“The wicked, through the pride of his countenance,
will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” – Psalm 10:4
“I delight to do Thy will, O my God: yea, Thy Law is within my heart.” – Psalm 40:8
The heart is the seat of man’s entire desire, and if the heart (or the ruling desire of man) can be changed, the man himself is changed. The heart and ruling desire is, in other words, “the will” of man. The salvation of “the will” is the salvation of “the man”, “for as [man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). If a man is wicked, “the will” is wicked, therefore he, being imprisoned by his own will, “will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts” (Ps. 10:4). If a man is saved, “the will” is saved, therefore David, being saved, said to God: “My soul followeth hard after Thee: Thy right hand upholdeth me” (Ps. 63:8). David said, “my soul followeth hard”, or in other words this might be rendered, “my will follows hard after Thee”…but how? Salvation was not dependent upon David’s choice, nor could it be, for then there would have been some momentary freedom of his God-hating will, so that, David made a choice of free-will, and it happened to be that, when David’s choice was made, he chose to follow God instead of forsaking Him…No, this cannot be so. My reader, it was not that David chose God, but that God chose David. In another place David explained, “When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek” (Psalm 27:8). David cannot change his own God-hating heart. No! The text said of David, “my heart said unto Thee, Thy face Lord, will I seek”, but David cannot make his own heart thus speak. No! David can move his lips, yes, and make many vows…but only God can move the heart! All men in their best estate, left to themselves, are imprisoned thus: “This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matt. 15:8).
Now look again, my reader, on how David said, “my heart said.” It is a miracle! If it was David left to himself he would have said, “my lips said!” “God is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), and again, Jesus said, “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him” (John 6:44)! This means that David is seeking and following after God because: God spoke (Rom. 9:11, John 6:44). What did God speak? God spoke, “Seek ye My face”, and it boomed into the core of David’s lifeless soul! Hence David’s heart, standing in attention to God, obeyed! God sought David and then, because of this, David became a seeker after God (Rom. 9:16, 10:20). When God does thus speak men get saved (as it is written in Psalm 27:8)! “Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob; Which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters” (Ps. 114:7-8)! By interpretation this means, God speaks to men, my reader! – His voice thunders, yes, and it is enthroned upon the raging seas, sitting still; it breaks the towering forests down, at will; it divides the impenetrable flames of fire, quickly, as a blink of an eye is fast; it shakes the wilderness from its places of expanding desolation, and, it discovers every mountain’s unmovable foundation at last (Ps. 29) – yes, and how much more, the voice of the Lord turns the heart of stone into a standing fountain of water! If you ever heard God speak to you, oh man, you too would seek after, love, and live for God just like David did! Therefore let us understand how David said, “my soul followeth hard after Thee”, and not only so, but he freely confessed to God, “Thy right hand upholdeth me” (Ps. 63:8)! How happy are the saints who can say, “God is all my desire!?”
“Thy will be done” – Matthew 6:10
“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” – Aleister Crowley
In seeing this, Andrew Murray wrote a book which sought to prove, in essence, that God’s will is the dwelling place of true Christians. The title of the book was, “God’s Will: Our Dwelling Place”. This is to say: the burden of a man of God is to do God’s will, but the burden of a man of Satan decried this noble pursuit, saying on the contrary, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”. A saved man says, “Thy will be done” (Matt. 6:10), but Satan’s man says, “my will be done”. Is it any surprise that the salvation of the will is a work of saving grace in Christ?
“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross,
and follow Me” – Matthew 16:24
Think of it! At a lost man’s first step towards the Savior of the world, his human frame is engaged with an execution device – THE CROSS – whereupon he and all his desires must die! If self-will could save mankind, then after salvation self would remain alive, but if self-will is at enmity to God then self must die! Christ said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24)! Self and its will are both in bondage to the sin-loving, God-hating, and totally-depraved nature of Adam, but a saved man is dead to self, dead to his own will, and therefore crucified with Christ. There is no greater explanation of what saving grace is, by operation and experience, but when Paul said: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). “The will” of mankind (which is in other words, the heart) is the seat of a man’s entire desire, and when Jesus Christ is enthroned thereupon, hallelujah, this is salvation! When enthroned within the heart of mankind, Jesus Christ takes rule as personal King and Lord – this is salvation! At this time, at last, God’s will becomes our dwelling place. “Thy will be done” becomes our heartbeat, and “Come Lord Jesus, Come” our continual respiration! Salvation is thus, to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” and “walk in Him” (Rom. 13:14, Col. 2:6), and true Christians love to have it so!
How much of “the will”?
My Calvinistic brethren do all agree with what I have written thus far, I suspect. All true saints would agree that “the will” of man is turned toward God at salvation, but the question of controversy here is, how much of “the will”? I acknowledge this is the point of debate, but in general terms we agree. I think that we can also agree that the promises of God are given to those who love God, generally speaking, whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament (Ex. 20:6, James 1:12, 2:5, 1 Cor. 8:3, 1 John 5:3-4, Rom. 8:28, Rev. 2:4-5) …but what can be said of “this love”, specifically speaking? This is the very same question at hand. To ask, “How much of ‘the will’ is turned toward God at conversion?”, is the same to ask, “How much love does one love God with, at the experience of saving grace?” What saith the scripture? Can saving grace be limited to those who love God “with all their heart” (Deut. 6:5, Matt. 22:37)? Can it be limited to those who love God “with all their will”? And if so, by what certain fruits would this be identified by? Now some of you may be wondering if I am preaching sinless perfection. My reader, this is not the case. I know why you feel this way; you have an unbiblical understanding of what it means “to love God”, as scripture says, “with all thine heart” (Deut. 6:5, Matt. 22:37), and the following quotes by Paul Washer may be the reason for this unbiblical understanding:
“There has never been one moment when we have loved God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength – there has never been a moment that Jesus didn’t. There has never been a moment when my motives were entirely pure – there was never a moment when Jesus didn’t have entirely pure motives.” – Paul Washer
“The greatest command is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. You’ve never done that, and neither have I. But Christ always did that, think about that.” – Paul Washer
The point that Paul Washer is seeking to get across in the above quotations is admirable, but it is not perfectly biblical. Please listen carefully, for I must be very careful here. What Washer is emphasizing is admirable because, the idea he is seeking to stress is a biblical and scriptural idea, but the phraseology by which he is communicating it with is not biblical. Washer is equating the phrase, “to love with all our heart”, as an unattainable experience, and this is not biblical. I heartily agree that sinless perfection is unobtainable. Like Washer says, I agree: we should marvel at the sinless Lamb of God! In comparison to Him, we should react in humiliation and awe! I agree with Washer here, don’t mistake this! We must see the depths of depravity into which we have plummeted, and then, and only then, Christ will be properly exalted…but hear me, please! Even though I believe in the concept which Washer is defending, that it is biblical and scriptural, I do not believe the scriptural phrase, “to love” with “all our heart”, is used in reference to sinless perfection. This is a misuse of biblical phraseology. Paul Washer equates “to love” with “all our hearts” with sinless perfection, and therefore it is interpreted to be an unobtainable experience, but I believe that this phrase is used in scripture to describe the normal salvation experience; not something that is unobtainable but obtainable; not something that we can’t experience but must experience! If this is the case, that the biblical phraseology “to love with all our heart” does in fact reference the experience of saving grace, then this is an alarming error which can be severely misguiding. This can be misguiding because: when a doctrine is first stated within scripture, like, as at its first introduction, it is then (ordinarily) built upon and repeated in a plethora of ways century upon century and prophet upon prophet, and for us, now, we can see it written and expounded book upon book, but what is amazing is – to love God with “all our hearts” is such an enormous doctrine which has progressively developed within the canon of scripture, and, it is so intricately interconnected with the rest of scripture that, it is traceable back to the first and original statement in which it was introduced in scripture. This means that there are certain characteristics of that first statement which were built upon, increasingly elaborated upon, and abundantly explained, and thus the doctrine expands with clarity and amplification century upon century. Therefore let us look at the scripture:
“And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.”– Deut. 30:6
In the Old Testament, apparently, to love God “with all thine heart and with all thy soul” was a necessity, without which one would die. This was a matter of life and death, not only in the Old Testament (Deut. 30:6, 10:16, Jer. 4:4) but in the New Testament. Deuteronomy 30:6 equates the spiritual circumcision of the heart as an operation one and the same with, loving God with “all thine heart and with all thy soul”, and Romans 2:25-29, Colossians 2:11, and Philippians 3:3 identify spiritual circumcision as salvation in Christ – therefore all true Christians, upon regeneration, are made to love God “with all their heart and with all their soul”. Look up those scriptures, my reader, and see whether these things be so.
How can this happen? This kind of unintentional heresy is commonplace when we are too much guided by colloquial sayings and generic thoughts, our religious culture taking a life of its own, so to speak. Rather than this, we should immerse our entire thought-processes in the waters of inspired scripture! Yes! Is this your desire, my reader? As a Christian and a preacher, I want to think like, pray like, speak like, preach like, and write like inspired scripture exemplifies, and I know that if I do not naturally and effortlessly do this, it is evidence that I am not understanding the heart of the scriptural truth being communicated by God. What is the heart of what is being communicated by God when He said, like in Deut. 30:6, that men must love God with “all their heart and with all their soul”? Well, my reader, this phrase “to love” with “all thine heart” and “all thy soul” has many synonymous phrases (or twin-phrases) which are of great pertinence – all of which, shockingly, hold in view salvation and damnation!
Synonymous Expressions of Salvation
Loving God à “love…with all thine heart” – Deut. 6:5
“love…with all thine heart, and with all thy soul” – Deut. 30:6
Following God à “followed Me fully” – Num. 14:24
“wholly followed the LORD” – Deut. 1:36
Seeking/Searching/Turning/Returning to Godà “all thy heart” & “whole heart”, etc., see Jer. 3:10, 24:7, Jer. 29:13, Deut. 4:29-31, Deut. 30:6, 10, 1 Kings 8:47-50, 2 Chron. 6:37-39, 22:9, 31:21, Joel 2:12
Believing in God à “with all thine heart” – Acts 8:37
Note: Obedience is the life of saving faith (James 2:14-26).
Obedience/Walking with God à Deut. 30:2, 1 Kings 2:4, 2 Kings 23:3
The voice of God in the Law cries out this charge: “To seek God, love God, and follow God with all of the heart!” According to scripture, those who are rendered unable to do this are one of two people: once-born imposters or backslidden saints. See the table below as a helpful guide of biblical citations.
A Whole-Hearted Pursuit of God – DEFINED
When understanding salvation in its relation to “the will”, we must understand salvation in its relation to “the heart”, and if, by necessity, as an evidence of salvation, the entire or “whole heart” must be in hot pursuit after God, then SO MUST ALL “THE WILL” BE!
Salvation = an entire submission of the human will to God (though not “sinlessly perfect”, it is consciously perfect), a continual and ever-increasing or ever-renewing subjection to the will of God (as faith, revelation-knowledge, and understanding increases); the result being: a continual willingness and violent pursuit of God’s will at all times.
A Historical Example: “they have wholly followed the LORD” (Num. 32:12), “because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully” (Num. 14:24), “because he hath wholly followed the LORD” (Deut. 1:36).
A Whole-Hearted Man as Seen
in the Totality of His Faculties
Wholeness of Heart – Ps.119:2, 10, 58-60, 69, 111-112, 145-148
Soul/heart/love – Ps.119:20, 25, 28, 81, 36, 32, 47, 167, 174
Longing/panting – Ps.119:40, 131, Eyes – Ps.119:18, 82, 30, 37
Mouth/tongue/declaration–Ps.119:13, 171-172, 57, 26, 43, 27, 46
Determination/confidence/oath –Ps.119:44, 33, 34, 8, 30, 94, 106
Feet/running/ways – Ps.119:32, 3, 5, 123, 101, 105, 133, 168
Un-forgetting/meditation – Ps.119:16, 48, 93, 153
Fear – Ps.119:38, 120, Horror –Ps.119:53, Weeping –Ps.119:136
Zeal – Ps. 119:139, Anguish – Ps. 119:143, Grief – Ps. 119:158
Awe – Ps. 119:161, Peace – Ps. 119:165, Sweetness – Ps. 119:103
Rejoicing vs. Riches – Ps. 119:72, 111, 127-128, 162
Damnation = an un-entire submission of the human will to God, a discontinuing and ever-faltering subjection to the will of God, a continual unwillingness and a “looking-back-pursuit” of God’s will in your life.
A Historical Example: 600,000 Israelite soldiers were damned “because they have not wholly followed Me”, God said (Num. 32:11).
A Double-Minded Man
Double-Mindedness – James 1:6-8, 4:8
“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” – 1 Kings 18:21
“I do not believe a man’s a Christian who isn’t hotly seeking Christ RIGHT NOW!” – Rolfe Barnard
When understanding salvation in its relation to “the will”, we must understand salvation in its relation to “the heart”, and if the entire or whole heart must be surrendered, resigned unto, and in hot pursuit after God, then SO MUST ALL “THE WILL” BE! Is this not the wondrous secret of salvation, my reader (all by grace through faith, in the Lord Jesus Christ)? [Note: Just because God requires a man to love God with all his heart, this does not mean he will express that love in all his deeds.]
“I am crucified with Jesus,
And He lives and dwells with me;
I have ceased from all my struggling,
‘Tis no longer I, but He.
All my will is yielding to Him,
And His Spirit regins within;
And His precious blood each moment
Keeps me cleansed and free from sin.” – A.B. Simpson
If salvation is “all the heart” radically in love with God, you can be sure that salvation is, likewise, “all the will” radically in love with God! As you can see by the scripture references provided above, salvation is equivalent to a whole-hearted and radical love, stronger than death (Song 8:6, Rev. 12:11), and coexisting with this love is hatred also (Luke 14:26), therefore salvation is “all the will” loving God and hating sin! A whole-will pursuit after God is a whole-will pursuit away from sin! With this phraseology presented now in biblical exactitude, what could Hebrews 10:26 be meaning? Now do you understand why we are warned of certain destruction “if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth” (Heb. 10:26)?
Saving faith is to pursue God with “nothing wavering” in “all the will” of man, and if he wavers, alas, “let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8). A double-minded man is a double-willed man, a man of damnable unbelief. Abraham, the friend of God, the father of faith, “he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that what He had promised, He was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness” (Rom. 4:20-22). Yes, but backslidden saints are called, at present, spiritual adulterers, friends of the world, and enemies of God, they are addressed and charged with the crime of double-mindedness – James said, “purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8), and this is the same double-mindedness warned against in James 1:8. This double-mindedness is, in context, a profane willingness to commit sin, a willingness which, when a man has it, he continues to “sin wilfully” (Heb. 10:26), having a heart toward God and a heart toward sin (Gal. 5:16, Rom. 7:19). Therefore single-mindedness instead of double-mindedness is, a whole-hearted and “all the will” pursuit of God, which is, in other words, “a pure conscience pursuit of God", because this is the experience of saving grace! For this very same reason it was written, “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Tim. 1:5). Saving faith equals a whole-hearted believing in Christ, which is: a whole-hearted loving of God, a whole-hearted seeking after God, a whole-hearted walking before God, a whole-hearted obedience to God, and a whole-will pursuit after God! When such a lifestyle is lived there is a whole-goodness to the man’s conscience! Indeed, because it is continually bathed in the blood of Christ! By the power of the blood, the memory of sin is utterly vanquished out-of-mind!