By Mary Kroeger and Bev Lewis
In the scriptures we see that there are always two ways of doing things – our way and God’s way. Our way is directed by our will to do what looks best to us. God’s way is directed by His will to do what He knows is best for us! Our way always looks more appealing and more pleasurable to us than God’s way.
This was demonstrated in our first parents. Adam and Eve looked at the beauty of the forbidden fruit, listened to the serpent’s description of its merits and obeyed the serpent’s voice. This gave them a mindset that was against God’s way of obedience. It was a mindset that wanted to achieve godhood by self-effort. This way looked more attractive and better to them than God’s way. Their way of disobedience caused death to pass on them and onto all humanity!
Making decisions according to the way that looks best to us continues to be very important to us! Its attractiveness has not worn off! If we could only do our will our way all the time, we’d think we had heaven on earth! As we look at the history of Israel, we see the disasters they had to endure because they did things their way – the way that looked best to them!
When Jesus Christ was on earth, the Jewish hierarchy wanted to get rid of Him! They hated Him! Not because He was bad but because He was good! His goodness revealed their corruption. They were too proud to repent, so the only way out of their dilemma was to kill Him. When they finally got Him arrested, Jesus said, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness." (Luke 22:53)
What a deep truth lies in Christ’s words! This was their hour. An hour symbolizes a short period of time. For a short time they could do their will in their way. Doing their will would reveal the power of darkness! It would pass the death sentence on Him who was only good and only did what the Father showed Him to do!
Darkness conceals the reality and brings confusion. It has no inherent power of its own, for it lacks light. Light does away with darkness. The power of darkness consists of its ability to mask the truth and to make the lie seem more desirable than the truth!
In that hour of darkness, even Jesus found it difficult to accept God’s will for Him! In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus not only had to face the horrors and humility of crucifixion, He also had to face the pain and degradation of becoming the sin-offering for all humanity! To do away with the sins of the whole world, He, the Son of Man, would have to take sinful humanity with Him in His death to sin! It was the light that He was and always is, that enabled Him to triumph over the horrors He faced, and to receive the Father’s will as His will!
His prayer in Mark 14:36 reveals His knowledge of the trustworthiness of God! He was convinced of the fact that He could trust the Father’s will for Him! He addressed God as “Abba, Father.” What a beautiful and loving acknowledgement of His relationship with God! Then He said, “Everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” After recognizing God’s ability to take the cup of suffering from Him, and asking Him to do so, He closes His prayer by saying, “not what I will, but what you will.”
This prayer gives us a little glimpse of the self-nature that Jesus had to overcome!
"And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." (Luke 22:44) So often we think of Jesus as being distinct from us in that He would naturally do the right thing. We don’t think of Him as having to depend on the Father’s leading in everything He said and did! We forget that He was made in all points like we are. We forget that He overcame every trial and hardship because of His dependency on hearing and obeying the Father! We forget that we have the same Father He had, and that the only way we can overcome our self-interests, is by hearing and obeying the voice of the Holy Spirit!
Christ recognized that God’s will was better than His will! He believed God! He believed that God is love, and therefore God’s will for Him was birthed in love! All the sufferings Christ had to endure did not have the appearance of God’s love for Him! Christ had to believe that God’s plan for Him and for all humanity, was a good plan, and that beyond the sufferings lay a great reward! In Christ’s relationship with His Father God, He had always found His Father trustworthy! There could be no exception! He was convinced that His Father’s will was superior to His, and obedience to His will was best! It was worth the cost!What an example for us to follow!
Only God is trustworthy! We cannot believe the crafty serpent and partake of his smorgasbord of reasons why his ideas are better for us than God’s.
In the wilderness, Jesus was tempted to listen to Satan and do things the easy way, to take glory for Himself and to satisfy His needs apart from God's directives. (Matt. 4:1-11) We, too, cannot allow the attractive, enticing costumes of the enemy's lies to trap us into believing him! He wants us to believe that we have the power and ability to make right choices. Furthermore, he wants us to trust our own eyes, our understanding and our ability! This flatters our ego and promotes the glorification of self!
The serpent does not want us to believe God. So he tries to invalidate what God has said. He subtracts, adds and/or makes substitutions to disqualify God’s directives! He even tells us that God’s love for us is so great that He does not want us to suffer. He wants us to be prosperous and enjoy good health! When unbelievers see our prosperity, they too will want to receive Christ! That sounds great to the natural mind, but that has not come from the mouth of God! Another one of his successful lies, is to tell us to do something dramatic. Step down from the cross, make powerful prophecies about the future, and the world will believe in Christ! That sounds exciting! But it does not come from Him who is the truth! Jesus said, "Take up your cross and follow Me." He stayed on the cross when the adversary said, "Come down from the cross."
Christ faced all these temptations and more! He overcame each one because He only listened to God, and obedience to God’s will was His greatest desire! To walk in God’s way and to do His will we have to be led by the Holy Spirit! Mixtures of faith and self-effort are unacceptable. Abraham thought he had to help God keep His promise to give him a son, so he mixed some self-effort together with his faith. But this was unacceptable to God! It only produced an Ishmael, not an Isaac.
We, too, often need to have our own garden of Gethsemane where we obey Christ's directive to watch and pray that we do not fall into temptation. (Matt. 16:41)
In 2 Cor. 10:5 we read, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” In order to do the will of God, our thoughts have to be birthed by the Holy Spirit. Then they will be in agreement with the will of God. Our understanding of who God is also has to come from Him. If we worship a god who has been created by our imagination, instead of having been revealed to us by the Holy Spirit, we are worshiping a false god - an idol. All the imaginations of the carnal mind are against the true knowledge of God, and therefore have to be cast down!
How do we cast them down? This can only occur when we are ruled by the mind of Christ! Christ’s knowledge of God as evidenced in His relationship with Him, resulted in an implicit trust in Him! It also enabled Him to recognize every deceptive thought and every lie meant to conceal the true essence of God! His entire life was dedicated to obedience - to only doing what the Father showed Him to do. The Father’s will was His will!
We have to follow His example! Every thought that is against the knowledge of God, every thought that subtracts from what God has said, every thought of disobedience has to be put into captivity! If we dwell upon the thought, it will grow into an act of disobedience.
There are only two ways – God’s way or our way. God’s way looks difficult and void of pleasures. Our way looks easy and filled with fun. God’s way is His will! Our way is our will! Which way will fulfill our desire for a joyful and fruitful life?
Look at the promises of God for overcomers! Everlasting life – a life that has nothing perishable in it, nor can it receive anything perishable! We receive the very righteousness that Christ is, as well as peace and joy in the Holy Spirit! Obedience brings us into oneness with Christ in God! His way leads us to green pastures, living water, dining with Christ - eating the same food He eats! His resurrection power functions in us to overcome all that is in the death realm!
In contrast to the rewards of doing His will, what does our way, our will have in store for us? Fear of the future, unhappiness, unforgiveness, lack of true love, disappointments, pride in achievements, anguish over failures, greed, envy, guilt, etc. The desire for power over people tramples on the rights of others. The glory and honor that is so desperately desired, is short-lived! It lacks truth and life! It is the way that seems right to man, but the end of it is the way of death! (Prov. 14:12)
Which is the right way? The way that looks right or the way that is right? The way of obedience or disobedience? Only one way is right, and it is the way of truth! Christ is the way, the truth and the life! Truth will never lead us astray! Christ brings us into oneness with God!
To walk in God’s way requires faith in the invisible very essence of who God is, for He is not visible to the physical eyes! We cannot walk in God’s way and our way at the same time. To walk in His way, we have to receive His will as our will! This is a walk of faith, for our obedience to God’s directives is the evidence of faith!
Christ’s obedience was rewarded. He received a name that is higher than all other names! He has been given all power and authority! His reign will reconcile all to Himself! Every tongue in heaven, on earth and under the earth will proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God! (Phil. 2:10-11) In 1 Cor. 12:3 we read that no one can say Christ is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. So this is not a forced confession, but one that glorifies our wonderful Savior!
Our obedience will also be rewarded. We will sit with Him in heavenly places, reign with Him - first over all the "nations," in our carnal mind (the unruly desires and powers resident in our carnal thoughts), then over the nations of the world. We will enjoy His presence in the midst of difficulties! We will experience His righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit! The end result: we will be changed into His image! What a glorious way God’s way is!