Intertwining Divine Will and Human Will

The two could not be more diverse! Yet life’s ultimate purpose is to make both one – in favor of the divine.

How is this possible?

Isaiah 55:8-9 declares to mankind: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD, ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’”

From the start of human history God observed “…that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of man was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). As a result, God had to wipe out the entire human race through a worldwide flood and spared only righteous Noah and his family. [Read the rest of the story in Genesis 6 through 8.]

Mankind has since increased again upon the earth, but so have their evil thoughts and ways – more so in these our days! The apostle Paul described our times as “perilous: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times shall come: For men shall be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, despisers of good, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

That is why Jesus teaches us to pray to our heavenly Father: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). God’s will is just not being done by the broad majority of mankind!

The human dilemma

Paul famously explains how difficult it is for God’s will to be done on earth by man. He wrote about his and all of humanity’s condition: “For we know that the law [of God] is spiritual, but I am carnal [made of flesh], sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If then I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law [of God] that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do I do not do, but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Romans 7:14-20).

Paul explains this “law” as “another law in my [bodily] members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin” (Verses 21-23).

Paul called this “the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2), for as he wrote earlier, “the wages [reward] of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

The prophet Jeremiah was earlier inspired by God to write about the human condition: “The heart [of man] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Earlier he wrote: “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).

Knowing this too well as his own dilemma, Paul felt “wretched” and helpless (Romans 7:24). But he knew the only solution – Jesus Christ our Lord!

God’s Will Shown Through His Word and law

If we want to know what God’s will is, we can find it well contained the “books of the law” [Genesis through Deuteronomy – also known as the “Pentateuch” or the “Torah”] and throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. As someone described it, God’s law is a “facsimile” [or Xerox copy] of God’s mind, purpose, will, pleasure or displeasure. God’s law basically tells us what God wants or does not want us to do – what pleases or displeases Him: the “thou shalts” and the “thou shalt nots.”

The problem, however, is that the natural man is unable to understand the “things of God,” such as His law. It takes the Spirit of God to do this. Paul wrote:

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory [Christ].

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”[Isaiah 64:9]

But God has revealed them to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit [of God] searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of man which is in him? Even so, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who [or that] is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

These things we also speak, not as words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the th0ings of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them, becau0se they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet is himself is rightly judged by no one, For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” [Isaiah 40:13] But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:7-16).

In a word, we cannot understand the things [or mind] of God unless we have God’s Spirit guiding and teaching us.

Paul tells us again how humanly impossible it is for the natural [“carnal” or fleshly] mind of man to be subject to God’s law, and thus to please God (Romans 8:7). The only solution is for man to have the spirit of Christ in him. “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the [sinful] deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God these are sons [or children] of God” (Verses 13-14).

Those, then, who are led by the Spirit of God are able to surrender or subject their human will to God’s will. They will be like the human Christ who, during His agony about His impending death by Roman crucifixion to pay or atone for all of mankind’s sin, prayed that He would be spared by the Father from the suffering.

But knowing how vital His death was for the salvation of man, He prayed, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). Luke 24: 41 renders this same prayer as: “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup [of suffering] from Me; nevertheless not My will but Yours be done.”

When we are truly Christ’s because we have His Spirit (Romans 8:9), we will have the same mind as His (Philippians 2:5), our human will also attuned to and intertwined with God’s will!

For more on this topic, see “What Is This Thing Called ‘Will’?” “God’s Spirit and Obedience” and “The Higher Law of the Spirit.”


Pedro R, Meléndez, Jr.