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
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
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).
"Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and
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
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
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)
“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
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
eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my
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
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,
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):
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!
- "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.