God’s Permissive vs. His Perfect Will in Life

October 28, 2013 at 9:06 AM 1 comment

God's peace in exchange for your worry?

God’s peace in exchange for your worry?

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 (though I’ve been wrongly accused of teaching the latter).

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 (1 Corinthians 3). Those things that are done in our strength are as valuable as wood, hay, and stubble.

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.

One of the verses I’ve been focusing in on lately is Isaiah 41:10, which says,

“Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Surely, I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The word “dismayed” literally means to look anxiously about you. The picture is one of a person who is very nervous and keeps looking around and over their shoulder to determine what they are up against.

God says a number of things in this passage.

  1. He is with us and therefore we should not fear
  2. He is our God and so we should not be anxious
  3. He strengthens us
  4. He helps us
  5. He upholds us

In other words, nothing can defeat us unless we allow it (free will). We have to purposefully submit ourselves to Him so that we can learn to trust Him. Our free will can be used for that or it can be used to focus on the things that assail us. We are the ones who need to make that choice.

God’s perfect will is that we trust Him in all things and the result of that is His peace that passes all understanding. Isn’t that what Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6-7?

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

God says, submit your requests to Him. Be anxious about nothing. Praise me for the things that come into your life. The result? His peace that we cannot explain will be ours. Seems like a very good deal to me. That’s His perfect will for us in the midst of problems.

It all rests with us though, doesn’t it? Failing to do what Paul describes above, we will experience God’s permissive will. We will live in insecurity and doubt and even possibly develop ulcers because of it. He’ll allow it in the hopes that one day we’ll get tired of it and fall on His mercy and grace.

Entry filed under: Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation.

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1 Comment

  • 1. Lester  |  October 29, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    Father will have His way in the end! What’s a day, year or lifetime to Him? He knows our hearts He also knows what man will do corporately and individually.We may be a vessel of honor or dishonor but He will use us all for His glory. As for satan the accuser, we must be careful not to put ourselves into the satanic place of accusing. Vengeance is mine says the Lord. As for pharaoh, he put himself in the position of a vessel for dishonor and was used appropriately.
    The world thinks it has free will, not in the long run. Anyway that’s my nickels worth,LOL!


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