(The following is an article by Jessie Penn-Lewis, “Walking in the Will of God.” It originally appeared in The Overcomer, Vol. 6, published by The “Overcomer” Office, Leicester, England, June 1914.)
It is most important for the Lord’s children to recognise that they have, and must use, their individual personal will. That the Lord Jesus had His own separate will is clearly set forth in John vi. 38. “I am come down from heaven not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.”
In John v. 30, the Lord Jesus said “I can of Mine own self do nothing”—this means that He never acted apart from His Father—”As I hear I judge: and My judgment is just, because I seek not Mine own will but the will of the Father which hath sent Me.” Although He had a separate will, the principle of His life was not independent action, but a co-action in harmony with the will of God. His was not a passive will, but an active one, deliberately set to do the will of His Father.
It is important to know that God does not desire us to have a passive will for the Father to impress His will upon it, and move us apart from our own volition. The words of the Lord Jesus show that He used His will in distinct action. He said: “I SEEK NOT Mine own will,” which shows that He was free to will and act in another direction to that which He deliberately sought and chose to follow.
Here we see the negative aspect of the Lord’s walk with God the Father—He did not seek to do His own will.
Christ’s meat the will of God.
In John iv. 34, we find described the positive aspect—that is how He did the Father’s will. “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.” Here is the active choice to do. There was the choice not to seek His own will, and the choice to do the will of God. There is no trace of passivity here. Moreover, He found Divine sustenance in doing God’s will; not in talking about it, but in doing it. “My meat is TO DO…” There must be the doing of God’s will as well as the seeking of it, and until you have done the will of God as you know it, you cannot expect to be taken a step further in God’s plan for you.
In the life of Christ you will see the exercise of His own separate will. But His will was set. We need to understand the setting of the will like the helm of a ship. As you set your will to do God’s will, God can work. Your part is continually to make God’s will the principle of your life. You say: “I choose God’s will in this.” You do not put your will aside, but on God’s side, asking God to reveal His will to you. Christ’s will was so set that it never lost co-operation with God’s will for a moment. He perfectly and entirely did the will of God. “Lo, I come to do Thy will…” Not only was there the setting of His will to God’s will, but the active use of it in that setting.
In Matt. viii. 3: “I will, be thou clean”—is an example of His vital co-operation in will with the Father’s will. When the man came to Christ the Lord knew God’s will, and said: “I WILL, be thou clean.” God bore witness, and the man was cleansed. It was God’s will manifested toward the man, through the exercise of Christ’s will saying “I will, be thou…”
When the will is brought into complete co-operation with God as the principle of life, every moment the one question concerning everything is: “What is God’s will?” You have no other question. Not “What do I like? What do I want?” but “God’s will.” Then there will come a time, when, in the enduement of the power of the Holy Spirit, you may turn to an evil spirit in another, and say, “In the Name of Jesus Christ, I command you to come out.” Under such circumstances, the Spirit of God will bear witness to what is done in faith, and it will be God’s will manifested through you. This shows what the devil has to gain by making you believe you are to have no “will of your own.” Understand that God works His works through you, by bringing your will into co-action with His, and enabling you to speak the word of authority over the enemy in His Name.