SLttrtng to ttje Mill of ffioti.
"That ye no longer should live the rest of your time in the flesh to the lusts (desires) of men, but to the will of God."—1 Pet. iv. 2.
rTIHE believers to whom Peter writes needed to
J- be reminded that there is a twofold possibility in the Christian life. It is possible—alas, how often it is done!—even after conversion, still to live to the lasts of men, desiring and seeking what men in the world seek. It is possible, on the other hand, to turn entirely away from the living to the desires of men, and wholly live to the will of God, even as Christ had done. He had written: "Forasmuch then as Christ suffered in the flesh, arm ye yourselves also with the same mind; for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin," and then continues, as the fruit of being armed with the same mind as Christ, and having, through suffering in the flesh, been brought to cease from sin, "Live no longer to the desires of men, but to the will of God." Every Christian stands between the two contending forces. The unceasing influence of human nature and its desires, the example of the men of the world, the whole current of human society, draws him to live to the desires of men. Blessed the man who has yielded to the power of Christ and His Cross, who has armed himself with the same mind, at any cost rather to suffer than to sin, and now lives even as Christ, not to the will of man, but to the will of God. Blessed, thrice blessed, the life in which the purpose of Christ's coming is being realised, and which is now wholly yielded to, wholly inspired and controlled by the will of God.
We are approaching the close of our study of the will of God. We have had occasion to look at it from almost every possible side. The desire, the hope, the purpose to live only to the will of God may have been wakened or strengthened in many a heart. And yet there is the painful sense of failure, and a consciousness that there is some hidden trouble that hinders the possession of what appears so clearly promised in God's Word. Let me try to gather up all the teaching we have had, and to point out, in the simplest way possible, what appear to be the steps that lead up to the life Scripture teaches us to pray for and expect—perfect and complete in all the will of God.
1. I must mention first what often comes last in experience: To live to God's will is impossible except as we live in close and abiding fellowship iinth Jesus Christ. It is He who proclaimed: "Lo, I am come to do Thy will, 0 God." He not only had to do it alone on Calvary: the work He began there He carries on in heaven. To-day, still, it is "through Him " alone that God works His will in us (Heb. xiii. 21). It is impossible to bear or do God's will as Christ did, except as we have the same mind that was in Him. And we cannot have the same mind, except as we are wholly given up to Him, have Him living in us, and seek to live in His fellowship. It is the living presence and power of Christ in the heart that enables us to do God's will from the heart. You cannot demand of a sickly life that it shall do the work of a healthy man. It is where the sufficiency of Christ's grace is known, and our strength is made perfect in weakness, because His power rests upon us, that we can truly live to God.
2. To live to God's will demands that there be a clear and full surrender of every movement of our life to that will.—It is in the little things, in the natural, innocent things in which we do not see how God's will comes in, that failure takes its rise. We need to pray very earnestly for a spiritual insight into the blessed truth, that every power, and every moment, and every movement of our life must be in harmony with that will. We are so slow of apprehending what this means, that, unless there be patient, persevering prayer, and a very docile waiting for the Spirit's teaching, we may struggle on for years without grasping what ought to be an elementary truth—that God's will must rule our life, as it ruled the life of Christ Jesus—that it must all be according to the will of God.
3. To live to God's will it is essential that whatever we know to be according to that will must be done at once.—Very often there comes to us a subtle temptation that, until we have power to do all God's will, a small failure, additional to those which appear a necessity, is not of such consequence. Or that, as long as we have not received some special endowment of power, it is needless and vain to attempt a perfect obedience. Let us beware of giving way to such thoughts. All increase of grace and strength in the Christian life stands under the law of faithfulness in little things. Whatever you know to be the will of God, little or great, do it at once. If you are not sure, do the nearest to what you know to be right. It is in doing what we know that we give proof of our integrity, and are prepared to receive more grace.
4. Learn also to do all your ordinary work as the will of God.—There is such a vast range of ordinary everyday duty or drudgery that appears to have little direct connection with the will of God, and unconsciously separated from it. Beware of giving way to this. Study Paul and Peter's wonderful teaching to the ill-used slaves of their day (see chaps. 19 and 27). They call upon them to perform all their service, and bear all their sufferings from hard masters, as God's will! And this to be done from the heart as unto the Lord! When once all the work of our daily calling is seen to be God's will, and is done heartily for His sake, it need no longer be a hindrance; it will become a great help in enabling us to live wholly to the will of God.
5. Let no secret misapprehension in regard to the doctrine of our entire impotence, and the impossibility of a life truly well pleasing to God, hinder you.— Jesus Christ has said: "My grace is sufficient for you, for all I ask of you, for all you have to do." Our nature is utterly corrupt and impotent in our flesh dwelleth no good thing. Living to God's will is only possible, is truly possible, by the power of Jesus Christ resting on us and working in us through the Holy Spirit. Do get firm hold of the truth that God's Spirit dwells in you as the power for you to do God's will. The grace of the Spirit is only known as you act it out, that is, as in faith you try and do what appears too great to your weakness. Only believe, is the law too for living to the will of God.
6. To live to God's will you need to wait daily for the Divine guidance of the Holy Spirit to make that will known to you.—Many pray for Divine strength to do God's will, but do not think of a Divine light first to know God's wilL God's will as taught by men or books has not the power to influence. A supernatural teaching wakens the need, and gives the promise, of a supernatural power. The will of God is not a number of laws and rules. It is a living light and power, revealed in fellowship with Him. The believer who would truly live to the will of God in all things, will deeply feel the need of a Divine guidance, leading him day by day in the path and the steps of our Lord Jesus. Oh, let ua no longer live to the will of man, but to. the will of God!