Wednesday, July 15, 2015

God’s Permissive vs. His Perfect Will in Life

"All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, 'What have You done?'  Daniel 4:35 NASB

I think most rational people would agree that in all ways, God rules. This is either done through His permissive will, in that He will permit things to occur for His glory. It is also done via His perfect will, in those individuals who have dedicated themselves to serving Him in this life. They have become open vessels for His good pleasure so that He will work in and through them.
By way of example, we need look no further than Satan himself. It is very clear from the book of Job alone that Satan is kept on a leash. He is allowed to do things, not given free rein to do anything he wants to do. When Satan wanted to destroy Job, God said essentially that he could do whatever he wanted but he could not touch Job at all (cf. Job 1:12). In other words, Satan was permitted to use all of his power to thwart Job without harming Job himself. This Satan did with relish, I’m sure. This is God’s permissive will in action. Satan could no more go beyond the limits of God’s intentions than we could lift a heavy mountain.
The permissive will of God is in use all the time, mainly with non-saved people. However, it is – unfortunately – also in use within the lives of Christians as well. While we become new creations in Christ, it is still a process of learning to give up our wants and desires for His. We often fail, giving into the temptation to serve self. God allows this because of “free will.”
However, we must never assume on one hand that this so-called free will gives us the ability to do anything at all and that by using it, we will somehow overcome God’s purposes. On the other hand, we also dare not believe that God decides what every human being will do before he does it, whether they are saved or not. These types of extremism are not – in my opinion – taught in Scripture.
In all things, God is Victor. In every way, God’s purposes are being accomplished, whether through His permissive will or His perfect will. We also see this in the lives of numerous individuals in the Hebrew Bible (OT). At times, Pharaoh hardened his own heart. On other occasions, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. How can we justify that in terms of “free will”? It is difficult, but the truth appears to be that God will use the unsaved person to glorify Himself. Pharaoh already had an entrenched disposition that led him to harden his heart against God.
As Christians, we must endeavor on a daily (even moment-by-moment) basis to submit ourselves to Him, not only for His safekeeping, but in order that His purposes will be accomplished in and through us on a voluntary basis. As we do that, we wind up using His strength to achieve His goals and all of it done that He would be glorified.  Things done in this way are the very things that result in gold, silver, and precious stones; those things that are done in our strength are as valuable as wood, hay, and stubble. (1 Corinthians 3)
Lately, I’ve been learning that things come into our life because God has a purpose. Our reaction to them determines the level of faith we have in Him. It’s really that simple, but it is a difficult road to travel because of our sin nature and the resultant problems that stem from it.
So our battle is ourselves.  When we are saved we are given a new power to combat our weaknesses.  Our personalities are not thrown aside nor are all our temptations removed.  We now have the privilege of bringing our lives into the plan and purpose of God.  Free will means personal responsibility.  God does not make us puppets but servants and ministers.  The battle is on for our victory.
Scripture to Claim:

God, you always do what is right. You look deep down inside the hearts and minds of people. Bring to an end the terrible things sinful people do. Make godly people safe.  Psalms 7:9 NIV

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