“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭26:39

What is the will of a man? And does man’s will have a role in his walk with God?

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    That is a Pandora's box of troubles and controversies!! This debate has raged for over 500 years, over 1500 years (since Augustine at least) and will not be resolved here. Its most recent manifestation is Calvinism vs Arminianism. And there is a big variety of stuff in between. – Dottard May 28 at 23:28
  • @Dottard seeing that Arminius was a Calvinist himself, those two factions are a false dichotomy. I personal don’t subscribe to either, not even to traditionalism which also has the same starting point. I would say I align to free grace theology. – Nihil Sine Deo Jun 3 at 3:44
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    @NihilSineDeo - I do not believe anyone subscribes to pure Calvinism nor pure Arminianism as originally promulgated. Calvin taught some hideous doctrines and practiced some hideous crimes on those he branded heretics. The modern forms are much more nuanced. Depending on what you mean by "free grace theology", I probably agree with you. – Dottard Jun 3 at 3:49
  • @Dottard have you heard the likes of Douglas Wilson? Also MacArthur is a big Calvin (and cessation) promotor. I’m not going to start a long list but modern Calvinism is in full bloom As best as I can tell and I have to deal with it more than I ought. What really annoys me is when people are made to think by Calvinists that there are only two options Calvinism and Arminianism (both are faces of the same coin), so they reason, I’m not a Calvinist, therefore I must be an Arminian and they fall for it. – Nihil Sine Deo Jun 3 at 4:02
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    @NihilSineDeo - I have not heard of these people. – Dottard Jun 3 at 4:18

There are two related questions:

1. What is the will of a man?

The word 'will' here means a person's freedom to make choices in life. To use the example of the text from the OP, when Jesus prays 'Not as I will but as you will', he is asking God to strengthen him for the choice he has to make - going to the cross. It's a recognition that his personal preference differs from God's plan for his life. But he wants to set aside his preference and follow God's plan. He wants to align his will with God's will; he wants his choice to align with God's plan.

2. Does man’s will have a role in his walk with God?

Yes. This very example is an illustration of the role that our will plays. Jesus was exercising his will at the point where he chose to be obedient to God. We are all called to obey God's good purposes for our lives. But the act of obedience is not a denial of the will. We can choose to obey, or not to obey. That is the freedom we have in life.

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    I disagree with you on, 'Jesus was exercising his will', in fact he said, 'Not my will, but Yours' so it isn't Jesus' will but God's that Jesus is submitting to. Jesus' will differed to the Father's so his will was not helping, He asked that his will be 'supressed', 'overridden' through the spirit of God in him enabling his obedience unto death. – user48152 Jun 13 at 8:33
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    I don't think it's one or the other. Both are true. To use your wording, we agree that Jesus is submitting to the will of God. But my point is that this submission is itself a free will choice. In choosing to follow God's will, Jesus is also exercising his own will. Obeying God is what Jesus wants. He's not throwing away his will. He's directing it to conform to God's will for his life. – Peter Kirkpatrick Jun 15 at 10:38
  • ok, I can see yr point, however the Q is not about J. Our will is naturally self-centred, even evil oriented, ie. away from God. Our will must be 'sacrificed' to allow God's will precedence. I don't think we are 'choosing' we are 'surrendering'. Before God draws us, we know of nothing except self. He alone makes new choices possible Phil 2:13 (so did we choose, or did He choose?) – user48152 Jun 15 at 11:15
  • I assumed it was about Jesus because of the quote you started the question with. As far as human will generally is concerned, I still maintain the general view that it's both, rather than one or the other. For example, it's true that sinful nature makes it hard to obey God, and so we need God's strength. But when we get it right, it's still the same analogy as with Jesus. With God's strength, we are choosing to obey. (Words matter, and words influence our thinking. What if we talked about our will being 'healed' rather than 'sacrificed'?) – Peter Kirkpatrick Jun 17 at 22:10

Q: "What is the will of a man? And does man’s will have a role in his walk with God?"

Let's hear what the Scripture has to say "the final say!"

1. From the Book of Genesis to Revelation, it is evident that God-given free will is one of the factors that affected the destiny of individuals and the course of human history. And, despite the ongoing polemical over the issue of "human free will" for more than half a millennium, there is ample textual support that still support the "free will. Followings are a few good texts speak how still our conscious volition plays a vital role in the "walk" with God" with significant eternal implications:

God said to Cain:

"it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it." (Gen. 4:7)

This is the first recorded incident after the fall that God spoke about our responsibility to utilize God-given free will to do what is right and subdue the temptations.

Peter speaks: "To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion.

"Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set you hopefully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you am holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written,

“You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, (1 Pet. 1:1, 13 -17 ESV).

Paul speaks:

"Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.(Rom. 13:13)

"So then, let us not sleep as the others do, but let us remain awake and sober.(1 Thes. 5:6)

" ...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12-13)

The writer of "Hebrew speaks" :

"Let us, therefore, "make every effort" to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following the same pattern of disobedience." (Heb. 4:11)

"For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Heb. 6:10-12)

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, "let us throw off" every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and "let us run" with endurance the race set out for us." (Heb. 12:1)

Jesus says:

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock." (Matt. 7:24)

"And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive" to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. (Luke 13"23-24)

"Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe (πιστεύητε) in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:28-29)

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.(John 10:27-28)

To answer your question: "man’s will have a role in his walk with God?
Above scripture verses are in effect saying Believers has a part to "hearing His voice and following Him.

Jesus. He does not drive us, but He wants the sheep to follow Him.

Revelation 22:14, John says:

"Blessed are those who wash their robes so they can have access to the tree of life and can enter into the city by the gates."

The "wash" πλύνοντες is in the "present, participle, active" -meaning "those" -Believers - keep on washing on their own volition their rob "in the blood of Lamb" (Rev. 7:14). And their rob refers to the"fine and bright" line- righteous acts of the saints (Rev. 19:8).


The syntax and semantics of the verses not only refer to the role of our will in walking with God, but speak it is a mandate of God for "man" to use it in his (our) daily walk. And therefore, we do well if we heed to what the Scripture says, for Jesus said: "the scripture cannot be broken." (John 10:35).**

God is truth and His word is truth, and the truth is unity. His word divides truth and untruth but not the truth itself nor contradicts itself. Therefore, the division and the ongoing polemics among the Body of Christ cannot be of the Holy Spirit but is of the adversary.

How relevant are Paul's words throughout two millennia church history and even today as when he first said it:

"I appeal to you, brothers, a by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment... there is quarreling among you... one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided?" (1 Cor. 1:10-13a)

2. Biblical examples of the various implications of our "Walk with God":

a). We can be on the spectrum of Least & great in the Kingdom

  • "Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:19)

b). Our entrance into Kingdom can be assured:

  • "Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1: 10-11)

c). We can "Scarcely" be saved:

  • "For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?" (1 Peter 4:17-18)
  • "If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire ."(1 Cor. 3:15)

d). We can be Not far from the Kingdom of God but not in the Kingdom.

Our having knowledge of the truth and skillful debating the Word, nor the rich and fame receives admiration from others, having the charitable intentions will not get us into the Kingdom of Heaven,

e). We can become lower than the least in the Kingdom like John the Baptist.

He was, " none is greater," but Jesus pronounced he is "lower" than the least** in the Kingdom of Heaven. Why?

It was all because John on his volition took offense by Jesus and acted it out. In John's mind, Jesus' ministry, His works, and teachings were not what he thought and expected the Messiah would/should be doing. He was succumbed to the doubt!

John, the baptist was **offended (σκανδαλίζω), and implicated himself when he sent his disciples to Jesus with his question: “Are You the One who is coming, or do we look for someone else?” (Mt. 11:2-11; Lk. 7:19, 20).John’s “question” was NOT a mere question, but a public challenge. It was clearly of his own volition.

We too can take offense by the Word of God , but it is NOT of the renewed mind but the old flesh insinuated by the adversary who did the same to Eve in the Eden, and she too acted it out. However, God will forgive us if we confess (1 John 1:9). Like a timely fixing of the small leaks prevent a dam from catastrophic failure, so is with a little dart of doubt. Paul warned us about devil's scheme of attack, and his lists of arms for body parts to protect from **arrows (darts)**are related to the Word: the truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, the faith, salvation, and the God's word (ῥῆμα)(Eph. 6:14-17).

James says (James 4:7), WE have to resist when a an arrow of doubt :

"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Here, "the submit yourself" (Ὑποτάγητε) is in imperative literally - " you submit!", and is same for "resist" (ἀντίστητε). And then the devil WILL flee from you.

f). "I never knew you" -(Mt. 7:21-23; 25:41-46; Lk. 13:22-30)

These are undoubtly "controversial" verses depends one's theological affiliation.

However, Scripture will make it clear if we read with humble and opene mind earnestly seeking to hear the Word of God. And for that,

  • We need to take off our 'color filters"(metaphor), for it does what the camera color filter does - a filter change how the camera sees the light, i.e. blue filters will enhance reds and oranges while lessening other colors, a playing up the contrast.
  • We need to take heed what Jesus said, lesst will end up with "color filltered picture", lest we will fail to hear what the Word says. The "presumption of innocence" is not in the Scripture, and will NOT work for us on that Day! All the presumptions and polemics will be meaningless, and all the debaters will be speechless.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.(John 13:16)

g). **Kings Saul lost the forever dynasty of Israel.

"And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever." (1 Sam. 13:13)

h). Losing one's salvation ("Apostasy"): Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26; 2 Pet. 2:20-22.

Greek apostasía "defection, revolt, (Septuagint) rebellion against God" (Late Greek, "defection, apostasy.) -means deliverate turning away from the known truth, God on his own volition, Those who never known the truth cannot turn away. Judas was an apostle, but he turned agains Jesus. One modernday apostasy is:

"Charles Templeton" (1915 –2001), author of "Farewell To God." He became a "born again Christian" in 1936, had a conversion experience of "a radiant, overwhelming, all-pervasive happiness." He became a pastor, and in 1945 joined Billy Graham and his "Youth for Christ" movement. He preached for decades across the U.S. and Canada. He became the Director of Evangelism for the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. He trained ministers, lectured in theological seminaires and wrote two books. But, in 1957 he left the ministry and became an atheist. A belief that he held to his death in 2001.(for further reading) (here)

i). Our Rewards is depend on:

  • "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works(Matt. 16:27) (More on rewards: Matt. 5:12; 6:4; 25:12, 21; Lk. 12:33-34, more)
  • "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward [is] with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.(Rev. 22:12):

In Conclusion:

  • The journey of salvation has a begining and life long journey of "walking with God." It begins with the Words and faith and shall live by them (John 6:6-8; Matt. 4:4; Habakkuk 2:4; Rom 1:17;

  • The justification is by the grace of God through the "faith alone, but it is not by "the faith stands alone.

  • The "walk with God" -a "life-long journey"- is a joint work of God's grace and our own volition, the "Holy Spirit + The Word" & our humble, yielding obedience.

It is like a fish swimming upstream against the current, alone yet not alone. The "Comforter" (παράκλητος) & "Word" (ῥῆμα), work mysteriously for and in us enabling us to win the battle against the ever acting up old-self and never quitting devil, the tempter, the liar. But, the fact remains still is that we are the player, the runner, and the soldier to go forward to finish the journey of from faith to faith which "He began a good work in us-" Philp. 1:6., and God works in us (2:13).

1). Believer's "walk with God" is a journey of varying length of time on earth, i.e. "dawn to 5 pm" (Mt. ch. 20:1-16) and takes many modes as well:

2). Our "walk with God" is a life long journey marred with "many failures + confessions = forgiven (1 John 1:9), and washed by the blood of Jesus", that must go on until we stand in His presence!

Scripture says:

  • "but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”(Heb. 10:38)
  • The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Ps. 51:17)

3). People will be "debating endlessly," but our life journey is fast moving to "the Day", and none of them will stand for us, but "we" alone will stand at the door!

Paul exhort us saying, "Do not be deceived: “Bad "company" (ὁμιλία) ruins good morals.” (1 Cor.15:33-34). English word- homily comes from ὁμιλία.

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My main touch point for this is what I believe to be the theme of the fourth gospel (John). The theme is stated in John 1:12-13 right at the front.

John 1:12-13, But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh [self] or of the will of man [others], but of God.

There is literally nothing you can do to get right with God. No good deeds or evil deeds. You, the murderer, the Hitler, the Ghandi, or the slave, are all perfect and complete in Gods eyes. It is the knowledge of good and bad from the tree in Eden that is our delusion. That is the knowledge of individuals with free will. If someone doesn't have free will, then they are caused and not moral agents. That is what science says that we are and it is the bible's diagnosis.

It is exactly our condition to think that we can do it "by our own hand" (Hebrew word here is Hosea) but it is ONLY that Yahweh can do it (Hebrew word here is Joshua). And In numbers 13, Moses changes Hosea's name to Joshua who leads us into the promised land (read: Paradise/Eden).

You can't do it. You think you have free will, but you don't, and that's the delusion that keeps us out of the promised land. John 1:12-13 says that you are the son of God also when you realize there is no you in there capable of free agency.

John 5 repeats this solution. The man at bethesda is asked if he wants to be healed. He says "I can't do it and no one else can do it" echoing the thesis in John 1:13. When Jesus sees he has realized this he invites him to rise up and enter. He had been ill for 38 years. Jesus said "rise up and walk"

In Deuteronomy, the ones that knew good and bad (Deut 1:39) had to die (hope had to die), so they wandered the wilderness for 38 years (Deut 2:14). When all hope had died and they "did not want" (see Psalm 23), then paradise opened up. God said (Deut 2:13), "Rise up and enter paradise."

The word Shalom means peace and completeness and it's probably what Jesus said on the cross. Among other things, to be complete, to not want, is to be without hope. Hope is the feeling of wanting. They are synonymous.

You are an empty vessel that thinks it is full of ego, but that's a lie. That's why the "will of man" and the "will of self" can't get us there. They are our condition in the first place.

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  • No. This answer doesn't even touch the core question – Faith Mendel May 30 at 15:05
  • If we think we can do it, we are deceived. If we are deceived, we don't have free-will - just pretend free-will. – user48152 Jun 13 at 7:21
  • Yes. We do not have free will. Sin is the delusion that we can have merit that we own. Free will means that there are good or bad agents that are moral ends in themselves. In Eden, God said don’t eat the fruit of the idea of good and bad. We got deluded that we have any merit at all. We thought we could reach out and eat on our own against God’s will. That is a lie we keep telling ourselves. The world is empty of agency. That is the terrifying good news of The Gospel. – Gus L. Jun 27 at 1:38

The will of man is the volition of man as opposed to the volition of God. It is our God-given independent power to choose our decisions in our daily walk.

Its role is to glorify the volition of God by choosing His will in our walk with God. The end goal is to be one with the Father. That's the process. The question is this: Do we have enough faith to choose God's will be done in His kingdom and under His kingship?

Luke 22:42 "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

The role of man's volition is to choose do God's will.

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What is the Will of a man? Good Q.

Let's not confuse intellect and apparent autonomy with free-will.

We can choose whatever we like, but we can only choose from within the confines of our present condition - except for Jesus (and Adam) who was born without sin, we do NOT have freewill in the ultimate sense of choosing our destiny - for good or bad.

Our 'present condition' is corrupted - to the very core. We don't see clearly enough to make a pure decision based on merits or otherwise as we might choose... we cannot grasp the limits of good or bad that would affect our decision or choice. Therefore, the choice we do make is limited by our carnal humanity.

1 Cor 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

By example; a totally uncivilised native is offered a food choice - by sight alone between a fake plastic banana and a real one. They look very similar and he has never seen either before.

He can freely choose either. But without total understanding/knowledge, he has no idea what he is exercising his will/choice over.

Because of ever-present deception, we too have had our will power limited as we do not understand the implications of what our choice will do or accomplish for good or bad.

The will of man is a shadow of what Adam had for a 'few brief weeks' until the 'fall'. It is a crude form of making decisions based on very limited understanding and power.

Jesus, without the sin of Adam, saw perfectly clearly. He was still without power as he often said, he could do nothing except for the Father giving what he needed. He had his own will, which at times differed from the Father's, but was ALWAYS brought into subjection. He wasn't exercising his will, he was allowing the Father to draw him into the Father's perfect will, just as he does to us - granting the gift of repentance.

Rom 2:4 or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

And what is its role in our walk with God?

To experience sin and it's consequences. To know the joy of walking with God on the few occasions we do, and begin to know that our will is of little use except we give it to God as Jesus did.

It is the core of being a living sacrifice.

Rom 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

So that His will might be done - not ours!

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