Many years ago, I heard the human soul described as that part of a man’s being, intrinsically connected to the human heart (the spirit, not the blood pump), and being the place where ‘the mind, the will, and the emotions’ reside. That may be a very simplistic definition of the soul, but whether absolutely correct or not, it would be very difficult to disprove. In any case, those three parts: the mind, the will and the emotions, are important and integral parts of every human born on earth. It would also be very difficult to determine which of them is the most important, or of the highest priority to maintain and/or protect.
Proverbs 4:23 says “Keep [protect, maintain] thine heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (KJV).
So, we are encouraged, even commanded, to protect the heart in its entirety. Unless a sound decision is made by the exercising of “the will,” the mind cannot be protected and the emotions cannot be controlled. An unprotected mind and out of control emotions will spell disaster for any person, but especially for a Christian.
The Human Will and Willpower
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘the human will’ as “a person’s choice or desire in a particular situation.” This indicates that God, when he created man, took a huge risk by giving him a will, or the choice to determine his destiny in life – even though God very thoroughly explained His will to Adam and Eve: “Do not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” – and explicitly told them what the consequences of their decision-making would be.
Because of God’s righteousness, He had to follow through and allow the promised curse, the result of their disobedience, to be instituted in the earth. The risk God took in creating a being with “will” caused God to temporarily lose His creation to Satan. But, that is certainly not the end of the story.
We hear a lot of talk about willpower, especially when people discuss changing a human habit, usually a bad one. But, what exactly is ‘willpower’? Again, referring to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it is defined as “the ability to control yourself, a strong determination that allows you to do something difficult.”
This will power, with its inherent ability, is given to every human being born into this world, but the ability must be subject to training and experience in order to use it wisely. The ability is always at odds with the fallen human nature, the tendency of the flesh to give in to something, anything, that will bring sensual pleasure, even a very temporary pleasure.
Example: Being brand-new creatures with little experience, even though Adam and Eve had free will and the power to control that will, in the face of Satan’s lies and temptations, they made a bad decision and allowed Satan’s lies to separate them from God. They failed to use their will to shut him down and stay with the Creator. By failing to exercise the real power of their wills, they gave in to the temptation offered by Satan to “be like God,” knowing good and evil.
Willpower is activated by making decisions, what some would call “quality decisions,” decisions that bring beneficial results in life. I have heard it said that a ‘quality decision’ is “a decision about which there is no question and from which there is no retreat.” The person who can make such decisions and not waver from them will be greatly blessed by the Lord.
Psalm 15 states, “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbitteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.”
The entirety of the Bible, both the Old and the New Testament, contains expressions of God’s will. It was never God’s intention to keep His will hidden from His creation. Being responsible for all creation, He had to provide the rules that would determine how He expected man to live, as well as the consequences that would follow any failures to abide by them. After the Children of Israel were freed from Egyptian slavery and they were led into the wilderness of Sinai, God delivered His rules for life, the Ten Commandments, written on stone tablets.
Near the end of the 40 years spent wandering in the desert, God delivered yet again the choices available to the Israelites. In Deuteronomy 30, Moses spoke to them in verse 19: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore, choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deut. 30:19).
He made them aware that their future would depend on their decisions and their choices, whether to obey God and live, or disobey and die.
Man failed continuously to obey these commandments. As a result, the process of constant animal sacrifices was instituted by God to cover man’s sin until the perfect sacrifice, the one that would forever provide a Way back to fellowship with God, was ready.
God made it evident that He wants man to live (Deut. 30:19, John 3;16); and, despite man’s constant sin and failure to obey His word, and because God so loves man, He still sent many reminders of His will through His prophets.
God’s will is life and blessing. This being said, why isn’t every person on earth saved and blessed? Could it be that God’s will is limited? Yes, God has limited His will in that He will NOT force it upon any man; rather, He offers choices to every person, and how those choices are made will decide every person’s fate and future.
“Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
“Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee” (Ezekiel 28:12-15).
We are told that Satan “was perfect in all his ways” until iniquity was found in him. His sin? He exercised his will, and in his pride decided that he would become like the most high God. His decision caused him to fall from his place of authority in God’s kingdom.
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14).
Satan’s will is further explained by Jesus: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Satan has no other objective than destroying every person that God created and taking over all of creation. Satan is a powerful archangel but, he has limited power.
But, with all the deceptive power he has, why has he not been more successful in his quest? Why are there so many Christians left on earth who do not fall prey to the devil and end up destroyed by him? Could it be that his will is limited? Yes, even though he would love to be able to force his will, that being destruction and death on the entire human race, he must work hard to convince people to accept his lies and willingly follow him.
He is the leader of the “rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places.” According to the Apostle Paul, these are the enemies, fallen angels and demonic entities that we face every day, and Satan is their leader. They will attack you in the realm of the mind and attempt to get you to make bad decisions (2 Corinthians 10:5). But they can be defeated in the same way that Satan was defeated by Jesus in His wilderness temptation.
Jesus used the words “It is written” to stop Satan in his tracks. If we are to defeat him in his attacks, we must also use the written word as our weapon. Satan has no way to defeat The Word; yes, his power has limits.
Man’s Will Versus Satan’s Will
Imagine that you are approached by a person in the “investment arena,” who claims to be a legitimate investment broker with a proven record of success. In fact, he is a con man, a habitual liar and cheat who, unbeknownst to you, wants to separate you from your money for his own use. Of course, he is not going to announce to you that his plan is to cheat you out of your money; rather, he will be a very charismatic, smooth-talking and crafty trickster who hopes that you will fall for his lies and decide to give him your money willingly “to invest.”
If he is successful, it will be because he convinced you of his sincerity and conned you into making a very bad decision. He must work this way, because short of using a physical weapon to relieve you of your money, his only weapon is to get into your mind and influence your will in an attempt to get what he wants. However, the cheating charlatan can be easily stopped by using sound judgment and simply saying “NO.”
Satan also works the same way; his main weapon is deception, and he must convince you of his sincerity and get you to believe his lies because he cannot force his will on you. He CANNOT force his will on anyone.
Jesus must have taught His disciples the value of His wilderness temptation experience, where He defeated Satan with the Written Word of God. James, the brother of Jesus, told us, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
The requirement for success is that the believer first be submitted to God, meaning that His Will takes priority.
God knew that the human will would be a powerful decision-making tool for his creation, either to obey His will, or to disobey and follow Satan. He took that risk because He wants a family of children that obeys Him as a result of their free-will choice, because they believe in Him and accept His love for them.
God will NOT force His will on you. Satan CANNOT force his will on you. You, and you alone, have the power to decide your future, whether to choose blessing or cursing, life or death.
Choose wisely. Eternity is a very long time.