Not As I Will, but As You Will
My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me, yet not as I will, but as You will.
Matthew 26:39b NASB
This passage is the clearest picture that mankind has of absolute surrender to the will of God. This is the turning point leading away from Adam’s rebellion: insisting on his will and not God’s.
Christ, whom Paul calls the Last Adam, fully fulfills God’s redemptive purpose for humanity. Jesus chose to lay aside His will for the will of God. Once and for all He made it possible for anyone who puts their faith in His redemptive work, to be able to do the same as He did. Our minds, emotions, and will be liberated to fully surrender to the will of God the Father.
Peter stood strong before the religious leaders that wanted to kill the disciples. Peter chose the will of God even in the face of death. As recorded in Acts 5, one of the Pharisees named Gamaliel gave sound counsel to the group of religious leaders when he said, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. . . I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God” (Acts 5:35–39 NASB).
Because of what Jesus accomplished for mankind, setting our will against God’s will becomes a much more serious matter. Gamaliel’s counsel is good counsel for us as well. We never want to find ourselves setting our will against the Lord’s. When we do, we are fighting against God. Later, the disciples found themselves in need of help in caring for the needs of the people. They decided to appoint seven men full of the Holy Spirit to serve the people and their needs. They willed to do the will of God and to devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word:
But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word. The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.
Acts 6:4–6 NASB
Here is another example of choosing God’s will over one’s own will and the will of friends. Paul declared, “‘I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’ And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, ‘The will of the Lord be done!’” (Acts 21:13–14 NASB). The elders of Ephesus tried to persuade Paul not to go to Jerusalem, but Paul felt that He had heard from God. They concluded that they should become silent concerning the matter and acknowledged that God’s will be accomplished.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
James 4:13–15 NASB
Our prayer should be, “Father, teach me and empower me each day to say, ‘If the Lord wills.’ Help me to learn how to listen to the Holy Spirit so that I might know Your direction in my life.”
As we understand what Christ accomplished for us in His agony and the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe, we can appreciate the full significance of Paul’s statement in Ephesians:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Ephesians 2:4-10 NASB