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A Battle of Wills

“My home, my rules!”

Having lived with my parents for the past 32 years of my life, there have been a few occasions when this saying felt so true. I cannot recall the first time it happened, but it was (probably) during my teenage years when I started making decisions based on what I wanted and what I thought was best for myself, despite what my parents would say. I often made assertions like, “I am old enough to make my own decisions” or “I want to be more independent”. And so, arguments would ensue over what I wanted to do and what my parents thought that I should do.

Does this sound or feel familiar in your life as a Christian? Even as we declare our submission to Christ as our king and live within His kingdom here on earth, too often, we choose to impose our own will in our lives and take pride in our independence. We want to obey God, but we struggle daily with the sinful desires within our hearts and the temptations that Satan devises. And so, instead of submitting to God’s will, we make decisions that suit us best, sometimes against our own conscience or the godly advice of our fellow brothers or sisters in Christ.

This is the reality of the spiritual battle that we face every day. When Jesus Christ came to earth, He came to bring about his kingdom and exercise his authority over all – nature, sickness, evil spirits, death, and people. He came to wrestle us from the grasp of Satan and to free us from the chains of sin and death. He came that we might find redemption and forgiveness in Him, and so be transferred from the kingdom of darkness into his kingdom of righteousness, and live under his perfect rule (Colossians 1:13).

But you may ask: What, then, is God’s will in my life? How do I know if the daily decisions that I make are truly God-honouring?

While God has hidden his sovereign will regarding all that may come to pass, He has revealed His Word to us in the Bible and in the person of Jesus Christ. And it is in God’s revealed word that we will (naturally) find God’s revealed will in our lives – His will for us to repent and turn to Him for forgiveness, to love and give glory to Him supremely, to love our neighbour, to show mercy and be humble, and to flee from the sins of sexual immorality and idolatry, just to name a few. In Ephesians 1:9-10, Paul shares that the mystery of God’s will has been made known to us, which is to unite all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth.

But this does not mean that we are given specific instructions for every choice we make in every situation. Do I accept that job offer? Do I buy that expensive car? Do I marry this person? Instead, our application of God’s Word has to be dependent on the Holy Spirit, who will transform us and renew our minds (Romans 12:1-2). And I believe that this biblical truth has tremendous implications in our daily lives.

It means diligently reading God’s word. It means learning to have the humility to listen as God speaks through His word and through others. It means daily prayer in dependence on the Holy Spirit. It means not expecting a divine revelation about what to do, but putting on the mind of Christ, that we may discern what is the will of God — that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Instead of asking God if you should take that new job or go out with this person, let us consider praying and petitioning God with this instead: “Allow your Holy Spirit to guide me in discerning the truth from your Word, that I may put on the mind of Christ and obey your perfect will for me!” This is the transformation that we need! The inward transformation of our hearts and minds that will shape the outward transformation of our words and deeds.

And as that transformation takes place slowly but surely by the Spirit, may we, in this daily battle of wills, kneel as our Lord Jesus Christ did at the Garden of Gethsemane, and repeat his words: “Father, not my will, but yours be done”. - Dn Tan Jiayi

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