The War of the Wills
By Gerald Flurry • June 17, 2022
Almost everyone today is confused by the subject of the human will in relation to God’s will. What does the human will do for us? What can God’s will do to help?
The Apostle Paul was badly shaken by a serious problem: His human will was at war with God’s will! Before conversion, Paul persecuted God’s own Church and caused many true Christians to be killed. Even after conversion, he still struggled against his human will.
Many people falsely assume that they possess God’s Holy Spirit. In the first part of his life, Paul was the same. But notice how he behaved: “And I persecuted this way unto the death …” (Acts 22:4). “[M]any of the saints did I shut up in prison, … and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them” (Acts 26:10). He was “exceedingly mad against them” (verse 11).
God was not using Paul at that time! Jesus Christ had to strike him down first. Paul went on to write 14 books of the Bible.
Once Paul received God’s Holy Spirit, he started to live a different way. But it was still a vicious struggle. “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. … For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:15, 18).
Paul learned that there is no godly goodness in the human flesh! He didn’t have the will to overcome sin because he was relying too much on his human spirit, which cannot overcome. He needed true education. He had been a worldly scholar for so long that he had to unlearn a lot of self-reliance.
We must use God’s will to do godly things.
“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me” (verses 19-21). Paul knew he needed to build godly character, as all God’s people must. He had to direct his human will to be led by the Holy Spirit. God’s will comes from heaven, not from Earth.
“For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (verses 22-24). We must go to war against the human will—defeat it so it will submit to God’s will. Let the Holy Spirit prevail over the human spirit.
A Work of God’s Hands
Many years ago, a Worldwide Church of God minister made a confusing statement: “Paul knew that his human will, strong though it was, was not sufficient in itself to enable him to be an overcomer” (Good News, September 1966).
In other words, he said the human will and human spirit can help us overcome. Is that right? The human will cannot build godly character! It is impossible! The human will must voluntarily submit to God’s will and God’s Spirit—that is the truth.
The human will must use the Holy Spirit to overcome. That is the only role of the human will. The human will is human. Godly character is of God. God wants us to choose to be a part of His Work. That way, He can build His character in us. He cannot do this by forcing us to obey.
The statement quoted above was published 20 years before wcg founder Herbert W. Armstrong died. His successors wrecked the Church, and 95 percent of the brethren turned away from God. And much of this rebellion was caused by the kind of human reasoning in that statement. Such reasoning is deadly wrong.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). The human will must follow the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit empowers character development. Without it, there is no character.
That minister was saying, The human spirit can partly help create the very character and love of God. It can’t do it alone, though—it needs help from the Holy Spirit. No, no—the Holy Spirit does it all! God in us does it all, leading us by the Holy Spirit to become His sons. Once this vital understanding was lost, about 140,000 Church members left, and the work of that church collapsed to virtually nothing.
That minister’s misleading statement clashes with Mr. Armstrong’s own teaching: “Now you and I have a part in our creation as we ultimately are to become, brethren. We have a great part in it! But don’t forget that we are a work of God’s hands. His creation is going on in us, but we have our part in it; and yet the character that is to come into us comes from God” (sermon, Sept. 24, 1983).
Creating More Gods
The war of the wills shows how desperately we need the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit doesn’t overcome by itself. It is our responsibility to rally the human will behind God’s Spirit—to use the Spirit to build God’s character. God must inspire us to use the Spirit properly as we strive for God-level perfection (Matthew 5:48). All the character built in us comes from God.
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). It is not enough “to will”—to desire to do good. We must do! But we can’t, unless we have the Holy Spirit.
God is re-creating Himself in man! This can only happen by His will and power. His Spirit empowers us to conquer the devil like Christ did (Revelation 3:21). As Christians, we are required to do this.
We must remember that God is creating more Gods out of human beings. That is His doing, through His power, Spirit and love. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son …” (John 3:16). It was the Father’s will and the Son’s will to sacrifice for the sake of all mankind. That’s how much they love us! They are building the God Family!
The Son’s will is identical to the Father’s will. “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30). Christ submits perfectly to His Father and commands us to learn to do the same (Matthew 7:21).
Even as Christ was about to be crucified, He forced His own will to align with His Father’s will. “[N]evertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). What a mighty sacrifice! He sweated blood in prayer so He wouldn’t sin a single time. That’s why we have the opportunity to enter the Family of God!
“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34). The focus of Christ’s entire life was to do His Father’s will. We serve in God’s Work. It is not our work—except in the sense that we can think of it that way if our hearts are really in it.
Try the Spirits
Jesus Christ chooses to live in human beings. Think about that!
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come [coming] in the flesh is of God” (1 John 4:1-2). Christ is coming in the flesh by living in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. We should be empowered by the Holy Spirit, not the human will.
“And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (verses 3-4). Satan has his own spirits, man and power. But God’s side is much stronger!
Adolf Hitler worshiped the human will and was possessed by the devil. He declared, “A new age of magic interpretation of the world is coming, of interpretation in terms of the will and not of intelligence.” The war he caused led to the deaths of 60 million people! That’s the power of Satan! Examples like this are exactly why we need God’s power so badly.
We have the power to win the war of the wills. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). If we have faith in God’s Word—in the Bible—then Christ gives us the power to overcome. The power does not come from within ourselves.
Another evil man like Hitler is about to come on the scene and kill God’s lukewarm saints if they don’t repent (Daniel 8:24). Thankfully, God’s power will prevail: “[H]e shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand” (verse 25). Christ Himself will destroy this tyrant!
We all need to be working hard to prepare for this future. Christ will bring peace and happiness to all mankind. He is coming soon.Read More