Friday, October 10, 2008

The Unlearning of the Will

Don’t you think we spend copious (ridiculous?) amounts of time debating the nature and extent of God’s sovereign will without hardly ever mentioning the sinful mess of our own wills? It appears to me that if the mind really is fallen and sin permeates every part of our wills (Rom. 7:21-25), it’s at very least rather handy and comforting to know that there is an exhaustively sovereign God who ‘works all things together for the good of those who love him’ (Rom. 8:28). I mean, doesn’t falleness necessitate sovereignty in a system of unconditional grace?

Rom. 12:2 tells us not to conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. THEN you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will, [emphasis mine]. Thus in the renewing of our minds to become more like the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) we are transformed to a place where we can truly understand God’s will. Further, becoming Christlike in our minds is shaping our minds like the eternal sovereign mind of God, making our pilgrimage of Christlike holiness an eternal, inexhaustible path… i.e. there’s always more way to go!

In fact, the way in which Paul qualifies the quote from Isaiah 40 in 1 Cor 2:16 seems to suggest that to know the mind of the Lord necessitates having the mind of Christ. This is strengthened by the parallel immediately preceding this. Paul there tells us that no-one can know the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God, then goes on to tell us that we have the Spirit of God within us, thus our words are God’s words flowing from His thoughts/will (vv.10-14).

So it’s possible that the reason we’re so stuck in debating the nature and extent of God’s sovereign will is because we’re not discussing, sharpening, and encouraging each other to submit our wills/minds to God for his sanctifying. This is of course a process of grace.

Grace is unconditional, and entirely unmerited. We cannot earn God’s favour, we in fact are totally blind (2 Cor. 4:4) and dead (Eph. 2:1-5) before we meet God, and then when we meet Him we are His far off enemies (Luke 15:11-31; Rom. 5:10). However, in contrast to blind we have sight, to death we have life, and to our blind, dead will we a have God’s completely seeing, alive will. If God’s will was not all sovereign, then the renewing, transforming of my own will through grace alone and not by any effort of mine, would be impossible.

If we believe in Grace, then let’s begin by submitting our minds to God, becoming holy and blameless through Him in our cognitive self. If we seek to understand the will of God, and be driven by God-glorifying motives, then let’s begin with our sinful state and the work of Christ and submit our minds to Him. God’s exhaustive sovereignty is a sweet taste when it’s not viewed in a test tube but instead experienced as a need, and a cure to our sinful selves. When we view God’s character in a test tube, we approach it with a false objectivity. Lets observe ourselves, and submit to God; not the other way around.

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