The Two Wills

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Without the aid of lamp or oil, He returned to the garden, retracing steps now familiar to His dusty feet. The inky, upward slope leveled briefly toward its ascent, where a gnarly olive grove rose out of the rock. Shaded even in the moon’s glow, the moist breath of darkness exhaled the fragrance of pressed oil onto every snarled branch.

Beyond Him, most of the world lay sleeping, tucked away in the warmth and comfort of down and straw. Below Him, his companions dozed too, against the twisted trunks of the trees. They disregarded His teaching on staying alert with thanksgiving. He alone could not sleep.

Withdrawing to the stone enclosure of the oil press, He knelt in deepest shadow, both of night and soul. With anguish of Spirit, He wept His prayer loudly as the decision weighed down densely upon ducts and glands. Like the first press of the olives, the intensity of His crushing dropped blood-red upon the ground. He didn’t want to do this. But, it was for this reason He had come.

Before the scourging of the soldiers and the piercing of the nails, Christ attained victory by a simple decision. “Not My will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42). Could it be that this triumph over humanity was more agonizing than the cross itself?

There are always two wills: God’s and the other one. As author S.D. Gordon says, “‘Thy kingdom come,’ of necessity includes this, ‘the other kingdom go.’ ‘Thy will be done’ includes by the same inference this:—the other will be undone.” For God’s will to be done, an unraveling of the other will must occur. The two cannot live in harmony. Christ knew the significance of this conflict.

“I have come to cast fire upon the earth,” our Lord said, “and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished” (Luke 12:49-50). He too desired to fast forward through the pain. Why then do we struggle when guilt of the same?

In his book, The Normal Christian Life, Watchman Nee tells an incident regarding a godly missionary to China. “I remember once she was having a controversy with the Lord over a certain matter. She knew what the Lord wanted, and in her heart, she wanted it too. But it was difficult, and I heard her pray like this: ‘Lord, I confess I don’t like it, but please do not give in to me. Just wait, Lord—and I will give in to Thee.’”

Two different wills. But “the other” ultimately subjected to God.

Our salvation is a once and done transaction, but our sanctification is not. The Apostle Paul spoke of his sanctification as dying daily, while the Apostle Peter likened it to habitually offering up “a spiritual sacrifice acceptable to God” (1 Corinthians 15:31; 1 Peter 2:5). Notice the repetitiveness of the action. Even Christ “kept entrusting” Himself to God’s ultimate decision (1 Peter 2:23). Rendered in the imperfect tense, this Greek verb (paradídōmi – “kept entrusting’) emphasizes the continuous action of repeatedly relinquishing His bodily will. 

In our humanity, the strife of the two wills continues. The wishing to do good is present, but the doing of it is not (Romans 7:18). Our battle is won and lost in the will. Will we decide our own path or yield to His? Our response in the garden determines our reaction to the cross. 

Our response in the garden determines our reaction to the cross.  Click To Tweet

We resolve tomorrow’s crisis with today’s decision. The self-same Spirit Who determined Christ’s victory urges us toward One will and against another.  There is no condemnation for those within whom the battle rages, but only for those who refuse to fight (Romans 8:1; Revelation 3:2-3). The choice remains ours.

We resolve tomorrow’s crisis with today's decision.  Click To Tweet