GOD’S WILL TOWARD MAN

 Chapter 6


God’s will toward mankind is definitely revealed in the Bible so that all may know it. To understand it, we need not have a college education, nor be above the average person in intelligence. Most persons are average. We should naturally expect, therefore, that the revelation of God’s will would be made in a manner capable of being understood by the average man. A desire to know his will and a careful inquiry as to what it may be, together with the use of common sense, are all that is necessary in order for the spiritual soul to know the will of God sufficiently for practical purposes. To be sure, there are many mysteries in the Bible, but these mysteries, as a rule, relate to things other than to the will of God. That, which people need to know most, namely, those things which have to do with their lives and their relations with God, stand out clear and unmistakable.

The Bible is a book of the common people. It is often obscured and made mysterious, but only when attempts are made to read into it something that is not its plain intent. It is only when a strained or far-fetched interpretation is forced upon it that human duty becomes clouded, and the plain will of God hidden. However, if we approach the Scriptures as we do any other book, and read them with an openmindedness and simplicity of heart, we do not go far astray. We should interpret the Bible by using the same method which we use when interpreting ordinary conversation. Its direct, obvious meaning is almost always the true one. Accepting this principle, we proceed now to a consideration of the practical side of God’s will toward mankind.

God’s Will Toward the World

God is not man’s antagonist, making war upon him. His attitude is not one of hostility. He is not looking for an opportunity to do evil to man. He has no vindictive feelings toward the race. He is not man’s enemy. God does hate wickedness because he is righteous. He hates impurity because he is holy. He hates all manner of injustice and evil; his nature makes him abhor it. He hates sin wherever it is found in mankind, but while he hates the sin, he loves the sinner. There is one respect in which he hates the sinner. He hates that disposition in him to do wickedly---that disposition which causes him to prostitute his powers, debase his energies, and take the course which ruins his own soul, and brings him into a state of unhappiness. God hates every tendency of this sort in man. He hates the wrong use that man makes of his will. For all these things he will punish man if man does no repent. He hates these things because he cannot but hate them, for they are contrary to his nature, and to man’s own best interests.

Though God hates man’s evil-doing and evil disposition, he, at the same time, loves him, and longs for the opportunity to help him. God is not a severe judge. Men, because of their sins, fear God. They have reason to fear him, because he will not pass over their sins. This fear arises from their sense of ill desert. They are guilty, and they know it. Therefore, they fear him as a judge, one to whom they must sometime give account. But God has no desire to take vengeance. He does so only when circumstances compel him. He is man’s judge, and as such he must sometimes be severe. He must sternly hold fast to standards of right, but back of his stern justice there is always mercy. We are told that “mercy rejoiceth against judgment,” and so God is far better pleased to show mercy than to execute judgment. It is only when he cannot (dare not), show mercy, that he executes judgment.

He is not only a judge, but at the same time he is a father, a loving, compassionate father who has abundantly proved the tenderness of his love toward us. Here is how John states it: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) We read again that he is “not willing that any should perish.” (2 Pet. 3:9) His desire is that all men should be saved. It is said of him, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). God so loved the world that he gave his only Son to save us. He made him a ransom for us all, and through him gave an example of his mercy to the race. He further shows his love in having the gospel preached, in sending his Spirit to strive with the souls of men, and in the many providential acts through which he seeks to turn men from evil.

Why All Men Are not Saved

If God wills that all men be saved, and has made provision that all may be saved, as the Bible definitely declares, why, then are not all who hear the gospel saved? We have not far to seek for the solution. The tests quoted express God’s attitude exactly. But God created man a moral and an intelligent being. For man to be morally responsible and to be happy as a moral creature, his will, must be free. Therefore, man’s salvation is not, and, in its individual application, cannot be an operation of God’s sovereign will, as some have mistakenly supposed. If God wills that all men be saved to the extent that he will override the will of man, and subject man’s will wholly to his will, then all mankind will be saved. But men are not saved in this way. They are not saved by degrees. They are not saved by an overwhelming act of grace. The Bible makes it plain that God’s will and man’s will, must act in conjunction if man is to be saved. Only by taking this view of the subject can we explain those tests of Scripture that make it plain…man has a very important part in his own salvation.

Man has the power to thwart God’s will in those things that pertain to his salvation. Therefore, if man will not cooperate with God, God cannot save him. Jesus said, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” (John 5:40) He also made it plain that he would have gathered the Jewish nation to himself and blessed them, but they “would not.” They erected a barrier of their own will, which prevented the carrying out of God’s will. Men generally do this through indifference; they do not value what God has offered to them. Some are to intent upon their own way, too much occupied with other things, and too set in their determination to do as they please. They will not submit to God in order to be saved. There are others who cannot be saved because they will not repent. God cannot safely pardon the impenitent as long as his heart remains hardened, hostile, or indifferent toward him. As long as he will not surrender himself to God and become his servant, God cannot safely forgive him. Even though God did forgive, it would not change the attitude of the impenitent’s heart or his course of life. So God has said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” and that, of course, would be through no fault of God’s.

There are others who are misled. They trust in good works, or acts of penance, or are led astray by false doctrines, so that they do not come to God. There are also those who seek amiss and do not find, because they distrust God. They do not accept his promises. They falter in faith. They are filled with unbelief; so, cannot appropriate his promises to themselves. Then there is the multitude who is satisfied with less than a real salvation. They are content with a reformation, or with breaking off some of the grossest of their sins, or they are satisfied with a formal, lifeless profession, or with doing religious duties, or with something else that, in a measure, satisfies them, but does not change their moral state. It is God’s will that we pass from death unto life, and that we know we are children of God. It is God’s will that we have a present realization that we are saved, to the same extent that we have a realization of any other fact. We may know that we are saved now. We may have a positive, definite assurance of that fact in our inner consciousness, which assurance will satisfy us, and satisfy God. Anything less than this definite knowledge possessed by us is less than God wills for us. But we can have this perfect salvation only by submitting to God, obeying him, and confidently relying upon his promises, in full submission to his will. It is God’s will for all mankind that they come into this condition and be saved.

God’s Will Toward His People

God’s will as it relates to his people covers a wide scope and reaches into all the relations of life. It is not possible to note more than its outlines within the limits of this chapter. We shall note certain phases of God’s will toward his people in their relations with himself. First, their relations with him naturally affect their characters. They cannot be his people unless they possess certain characteristics. To be sure, all are his people by creation, but there is a higher and a deeper sense in which we become his people through redemption, when we are regenerated, adopted, reconciled, forgiven, cleansed, and “brought nigh by the blood of Christ.” This experience changes our character, our outlook upon life, our desires, and affections. We are no more the old sinful creatures that we were, but have become “new creatures in Christ Jesus.” We have received new characters, so far as their moral aspect is concerned.

When this work has been wrought in us, it is God’s will that this new character be maintained. Therefore, his will for his people is that they be holy, as he has said, “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” To be a Christian means to have a Christian character, especially in those underlying principles which differentiate one morally as belonging to the kingdom of God rather than to the kingdom of Satan. We are told that “this is the will of God, even your sanctification”. (1 Thess.4:3) Having, then, been washed from our sins, we are to live a sinless life from thenceforth. We do so as long as we abide in him, for it is written, “Whosoever is born of God sinneth not.” (1 John 5: 18) And again, “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not”. (1 John 3:6) The manner in which God wills for us to live in this present world is stated thus, “That, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.” (Titus 2:12) We are also taught that we should “serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life”. (Luke 1:74, 75) “Space” forbids the multiplication of texts bearing upon this point, but enough have been quoted to show us definitely God’s will in regard to our living holy lives.

God wills for us to be earnest, not being occupied with foolish and frivolous things, but holding an attitude consistent with the greatness and significance of all pretense, a faithfulness that will not deviate from right, a conscientiousness that makes our actions valuable. This conscientiousness, however, should not be allowed to become bondage. It should have its issue in loving service, not in tormenting fear. He would have us unselfish, thinking of others, willing to sacrifice when there is need therefore.

He desires us to be gentle, yet strong; amiable, but without softness; reasonable, but stedfast for truth; to have a due self-esteem, without haughtiness or pride; to possess an unassuming modesty, coupled with proper confidence and energy. We should be broad-minded in our thoughts toward others, and toward truth, trying to see things from different points of view.

In other words, God desires us, in our character, to be the reflection of him, to be in his moral image. John, speaking of the true Christian standard, said, “As he is, so are we in this world”. (1John 4:17) To be sure, it is not possible for us to rise to the height or reach to the breath of God’s greatness and perfection. The Apostle means nothing of that sort. He means that, in manifesting a true Christian character, we shall show to the world those characteristics which are godly and noble, which are manifestations of truth and of that true-hearted love which is the foundation of all righteousness. God’s revealed standard and requirement of Christian character is not something that is out of our reach. When we let his Spirit come into our hearts to abide and to work God’s pleasure, we bear the fruits of the Spirit, not through great effort and struggle, not through hard self-repression nor severe self-denial, but as naturally as the fruit-trees blossom, bear fruit, and bring that fruit to perfection under the blessing of the rain and the kiss of the sunshine.

Again, God has revealed his will with regard to our fellowship with himself. Our fellowship is to be a companionship with him in the spirit. This is a harmonious blending of our purposes, desire, hopes, expectations, and affections with his. This spiritual companionship with God, the realization of his presence with us, is the richest and sweetest of life’s privileges. God has said, “I will walk with them.” The blessed consciousness of his presence and of our communion with him, of his understanding sympathy, his helpful strength, and his guiding wisdom, enriches and blesses our lives. That eternal relation with him which will be ours in that future world of bliss has begun here and now. It is not something for which we need to look to the future. It is not something from which we are now shut out. Even now we have our citizenship in heaven. We are raised up together with Christ, and made to sit in heavenly places. The very blessedness of heaven has begun in the soul who is trusting, obeying God, and walking in the holy pathway where one is raised above the contaminating influences of sin. We may shut ourselves out from the sweetness of this heavenly experience with our doubts or fears, in drawing back from God’s will with an unwillingness fully to submit to his will, or in letting the attractions of the world divide our interests and draw us away from our sacred walk with him. However, none of these things need be found in us. He makes it possible for us, even under existing conditions to walk with him in white robes, with hearts attuned to his, and with a blessed realization that he is walking beside us on life’s way.

Christ’s walk with us is not confined to those times when the sun shines and the soft breezes blow and our hearts are light with joy. He has told us plainly that in this world we shall have tribulation, but that his presence will illumine our darkness, and his strength will be our strength. That some shadows should fall upon our lives, even God can not help. Many difficulties arise in the affairs of human life, difficulties incident to our state and situation, from which there is no escape. God cannot wisely prevent our having trials. Sometimes these trials test the very fiber of our souls, and cause us not a little suffering. The world has its sorrows, and we must share the common lot of humanity. A thousand perplexities beset us, and the way is often obscured before us. How much easier it would be if God were always to make our way light! If he were to soothe our sorrows as soon as they came upon us, if he were to lift us out of our trials and troubles immediately, how many things we should be spared! God could deliver us from all these things, but he makes it plain that it is not his will to do so. It is not a condition of ease, comfort, and freedom from annoyances or suffering that makes “manly” men: that develops noble character: that creates lofty ideals: that strengthens good purposes. It is the stress and the strain of life, the overcoming of obstacles, the conquering of difficulties, the enduring of hardness, that creates moral fiber and worthy character.

Happiness cannot exist without a basis. The true basis of real happiness is holiness. God’s purpose is to have us holy in order that we may be happy, not only here, but hereafter. Therefore, we must suffer those things that develop a holy character, that refine and strengthen the will and the affections, draw us nearer to God, and give us a clear comprehension of moral values. God cannot wisely make of his people a class separate and distinct from others of the race in natural things. To do so, would require a constant succession of physical miracles, which would not be conducive to holiness and humility. Such action would also excite the envy of others; so it would be a barrier to their salvation.

God wills, therefore, for us to suffer the things that others suffer. But while this is true, and while the heart is often torn with anguish, and the tears of sorrow flow, and while we must endure many things in this world and fight hard battles, there is also a present compensation. God gives to his people spiritual blessings that far exceed in true value any mere freedom from natural or seeming evils. We can know the sweetness of his comfort only after we have felt the anguish of sorrow. We can feel the almighty help of his strength only when we realize our own weakness. We cannot fully appreciate the joy of his presence until we have felt that we are alone and forsaken. We cannot feel the full value of his love until we sorely feel the need of love. Thus, all the hard things that it is his will for us to endure, or that we must endure because these things belong to life, only make possible those spiritual blessings, which are the rich heritage of those who walk with the Lord.

Since God cannot wisely prevent the difficulties of his people, he offers to and does, share with them in these things. “In all their affliction he was afflicted” (Isa. 53:9). And again, “The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me” (Rom 15:3). He shares the bitter cup with us if we permit him. We find it blessed to have his presence with us, and to share his sympathetic, comforting help in the midst of our tribulations. It is more blessed to endure the tribulations, and have his comfort, help, and sympathy, then realize that we have them, than to be free from tribulations. Tens of thousands of his people prove this every day. Many of them say in their hearts, I willingly suffer the tribulation, so that thou mayest be with me, and that thy consoling balm may be my heart’s portion.”

No matter how many tribulations we may have, a consequence of the unfolding panorama of life, one thing stands out clearly---we need have no difficulties with God, any more than a child needs to have difficulties with a loving, compassionate parent. Jesus assured us that “the Father himself loveth you.” He is all-wise; so he will never misunderstand us. He is infinitely good; so he will never wrongly blame us. He is infinitely compassionate; so he will always show mercy. He is perfectly just; so he never asks us to do what we cannot do, nor what we ought not to do. He asks us to do only what is best and wisest for our own interests. So if we hold an attitude which is just and proper toward him, we need never fret that any difficulties will arise between God and ourselves.

God’s Attitude Toward Our Shortcomings

There are two extremes of teaching in regard to what constitutes a true Christian. There is often a want of good judgment displayed concerning the Christian and the Christian’s life. One man may place his standard so high, theoretically, that he can hardly find any one who fits his definition of a Christian. The Christian life that he pictures, is impossible of practical attainment, for he teaches that the Christian must be, in himself and in his life, absolutely perfect and faultless. He finds no place for defect or weakness. He has an ideal that is extremely high. On the other hand, there are those who place the standard so low that it is not a true Christian standard. Those whose lives conform only to such a standard are not true Christians, for they generally teach: sinfulness, and a constant coming short, to a degree that places the Christian on a practical level with the non-professing sinner. We should avoid both of these extremes, not only in our teachings, but in our thoughts, and face the facts as they exist in human life and as they are stated in the Bible.

The Bible does, indeed, teach that the Christians should be perfect. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48) But no man of clear perception, with an understanding of human nature, supposes such a thing to be possible in the absolute sense. There is some sense, however, in which it is true, or Christ would never have commanded it. This brings us face to face with the fact that the Christian may be perfect, and yet imperfect; faultless, and yet faulty. How can this possible be? Well, it is so. Every Christian has an idea. That ideal represents his highest conception of truth and right. But while he has such an ideal, and while his purpose is to live up fully to that ideal, he has often within himself a consciousness that he comes short of reaching it. He realizes that to purpose is one thing; and to perform is another. He is conscious of his imperfections, of his faults, mistakes, weaknesses, and the failure of many of his purposes. However, if he is striving to attain his ideal, if he is, to the best of his ability, making his ideal the law of his life, he is not coming short of God’s will for him in that relative sense of God’s will, which we have to take into consideration.

God’s absolute will for us all is: “a perfection” like his own. Since he knows this is not attainable, because we are finite, he requires only a relative perfection, a perfection that is consistent with the necessary imperfections, or those imperfections which are unavoidable in human life and endeavor. To be a perfect Christian means only to be perfect in the heart’s attitude of living devotion. It does not mean to be perfect in wisdom, or strength, or self-control, for try as we may, our wisdom will always be partial, and our strength often inadequate. We may never be perfect masters of ourselves, or be able entirely to control our emotions. We may never reach a place where we shall not be influenced by the opinions and acts of others. These influences may cause us to deviate in some degree from our purposes and our devotion, just as the steel hull of the ship causes a variation of the needles of the compass. We may sometimes shrink from duty through weakness or fear, or through love of ease. We may miss opportunities for doing good or accomplishing God’s purpose and feel grieved afterward. We may do or say things thoughtlessly, or weakly, or carelessly that we afterward regret. We often intend better than we do, and are disappointed in ourselves. Many times our strength does not prove equal to our purposes, and we fail to carry them out. We resolve, but our resolutions do not become realities. Sometimes the opposition to us is greater than we expected, and our strength less; so we fail. God knows that all these things will come to pass. Therefore, his practical requirements for us are not such that they do not take these facts into account. He knows the intents of the heart, and the inner springs of action. If the heart purposes to do his will and makes a conscientious effort to do it, even though these are a partial failure in carrying out the purpose, God understands. He does not chide us for our weakness, or our lack of understanding. He will not excuse sin. Iniquity is hateful to him; he can not overlook it. But he does pass over those faults and weaknesses, those shortcomings that are natural to humanity, and that are not sinful, because they do not involve a wrong use of the will. He looks at the heart’s purpose, and judges us accordingly.

Sometimes the Christian heart is momentarily drawn away from the will of God, or for the time being, made to lose sight of that will, but God knows immediately when it regains its former attitude of submission and obedience. His loving heart is patient, kind, and just. He deals in a forbearing way. Sometimes he must chide, but if he must chide, it is in order that he may bless. Sometimes he must scourge, but if he must scourge, he is ready to apply love’s balm to heal. He knows whether our shortcoming is a failure or rebellion. He does not treat a failure as he treats rebellion. But even should there be momentary rebellion, or should that momentary rebellion lead to a long-continued rebellion, it is quickly forgiven when there is true penitence---when the heart turns from its rebellion to submission, when it gives up its own will and again chooses his will.

Our Relations with Each Other

God’s will for us in our relations with one another is expressed in the Golden Rule. Simple and whole-hearted obedience to God’s will, by all mankind, would at once turn this world into a blooming paradise. Hatred, malice, resentment, bitterness, anger, jealousy, fear, injustice, tyranny, and the whole brood of evils that are so prevalent, would disappear over night, and their places would be taken by those things that make for human happiness and the glory of God. There would be no need of any treaties to maintain the peace of the world, nor of any of those laws which are intended to bring justice and equity among men.

The saddest feature of the present situation is: that even those who profess to be Christians often do not show a Christian attitude toward each other, nor treat each other as brethren. Division and strife among Christians are things that shame the name of our Redeemer; wherever found, they are a blot upon Christian character. God’s will concerning this point is thus expressed, “Be at peace among yourselves,” and again, “Follow after the things which make for peace.” It is God’s will that Christians love each other. “Love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.” Love is kind, gently, easy to be entreated, and full of mercy. True Christian love, if allowed to manifest itself in a normal way, will rise above all sectarian distinctions, above all natural differences of nationality, race, color, or condition, and embrace alike all the people of God.

The cure for the divisions that exist among Christians today is divine love shed abroad in hearts, until they are so charged with love that love overleaps the barriers and brings the loving hearts together into the fellowship of love. The love that God wills every Christian to possess will enable all to live in peace and really be brethren. Strife and envy wound God’s heart---division puts him to an open shame. It is God’s will that we show kindness, mercy, and long-suffering toward each other, that we be tender-hearted, forgiving, faithful to each other, that we esteem others better than ourselves. If these things are seen in us, it is not hard to convince people that we are Christians. But if the opposites of these things appear in our lives and conduct, then we are living contrary to God’s will. The “Golden-Rule life” is the life of peace, that life in which our brethren and sisters in the Lord are exceedingly dear to us. When their prosperity is our joy, and their happiness our rejoicing, when to be with them is to be in the elements of heaven, how blessed are the ties of Christian fellowship! But this fellowship is possible only where the will of God is done.

God’s will for his people in relation to the people of the world is that his people set before the world a worthy example of Christian character. It is that his people will so live that they can say to others, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” A blameless character is the loudest sermon. It is God’s will that we hold an attitude toward sinners that is helpful and winning. We should never act superior nor have a “holier than thou” attitude. Our religion should be so real that it is just like any of the other real things in our lives. We should hold an attitude toward it like that which we hold toward any other phase of life. This simple, natural attitude is the consistent Christian attitude. We should never be patronizing or coldly indifferent. It is God’s will: that we show interested in others and manifest that interest in sympathy, kindliness, and helpfulness toward all, no matter what their rank, station, or character. By patterning after our Lord, and following in the way that he trod, we shall “do good” to all men. Then, our lives will be a benediction wherever we go.

In our lives we should be examples of holiness, consistency, moderation. We should be free from worldliness, from ostentation, and the vanities that are ruining the world. It is God’s will that we be not of the world in the tenor of our lives, in the motives that move us, in the purposes that actuate us. In all our relations with mankind, we should show a sweet temper, kindness, meekness, gentleness, forbearance, patience, reasonableness, cheerfulness, magnanimity, and all the other things that go to make up Christian character. These characteristics manifested in our relations with worldly people, show the will of God working in us. If our attitude and manners manifest the opposite, God is grieved, and we can hope to win no one to Christ, for we (ourselves) are not displaying the elements of true Christianity.

Even though the world admires Christian character in the abstract, it is, nevertheless, actively hostile toward those who manifest the spirit of Christ, because it is permeated with the spirit of evil, and the righteous lives of God’s people are a rebuke to the sins of the world. Therefore, as sinners do not like to be rebuked, they often oppose and persecute Christians. The will of God for the Christian at such a time is that he bear persecution patiently, that he show kindness and pity, that he do as did his Lord who prayed for his murderers, “Father forgive them, for they know no what they do,” and as did that first Christian martyr, who prayed, “Lay not this sin to their charge.” The more ignominy is heaped upon us, the more we are evil-spoken of, the more we are shamefully treated, the more we should love and the more kindly we should act toward our persecutors. God does not will that we should try to avenge ourselves, nor that we should hate those who oppose us, but that we should manifest the spirit of our Lord with all Christian fortitude and kindliness.

God’s will for us regarding the vanities of this world, the desires that have their root in worldliness, and the questionable customs of the world, is that we do not imbibe them. Jesus said of his own, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” He had chosen them out of the world. The same apostle who tells us this, said later, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him: for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world”. (1 John 2:15, 16)

Un-worldliness is a characteristic of true Christianity, and is found in all those who do the will of God. The multitude of worldly professors who call themselves by Christ’s name, but who, in their lives, and in the worldliness of their hearts, deny him and put him to an open shame, are not Christians at heart, nor Christians in anything but name. Their religion is only a veneer that covers a heart of sin. They dare not say that they are not of the world, for they are actuated by the spirit of the world, and they love the things of the world. To be at heart a Christian means to be severed in spirit from the vanities of the world, from the pride, fashion, display, and pretense of the world, from its love of pomp and power, its hypocritical pretensions, its characteristics that sometimes look fair outwardly, but which do not reach to the heart. To be abiding in God’s will means to be separated from the spirit, desires, aspirations, and hopes of this world, as really and as truly as Jesus was. It means, not only to be so, but to act the part, to live out in the life those things that definitely mark one as having his hopes set on something higher, his aspirations on something nobler, and his interest in something greater and more lasting than the things of the world, than the fashions and frivolities, the pleasures and amusement that war against the soul and against Christ.

The will of God is that his children have victory over the world, but not that they be in bondage to the world, to public opinion, to unwise customs, and the thousands of things that would bind one down so that he could not live his own natural Christian life. It is God’s will that we have regard for public moral sentiment and show due consideration for ordinary conventionalities insofar as they are proper. A Christian will do this naturally, because of the innate spirit of delicacy that he feels, but, at the same time, he will rise above those opinions that have an unworthy source---he fears not those elements that would try to hold him back from Christian service. It is God’s will to give us so much grace that we can triumph over the world; that we can live by Christian principles, not by the principles of the world; and that whatever comes upon us for so living, we can meet victoriously and our souls remain calm in the sincere love of Christ. Public opinion is all too often on the side of evil. Public sentiment is not a safe guide. He who will do the will of God must rise above these things, judge righteously, and do righteously, regardless of popular clamor or popular sentiment.

God’s People and Satan

Satan and his demons are at war with the kingdom of Christ; so they are at war with the Christian. We must meet their opposition, and this is often not a small matter. God permits the opposition of Satan and his hosts because he cannot change their hearts, and he does not yet see fit to use his authority in order to separate their influence from man. Hence, they are allowed to use their powers against us. But God limits the use of those powers It is his will to protect us against them. Therefore, we need not fear them. They can work against us by tempting us, alluring us, afflicting us, or harming us, just only so far as God permits. God allows only what will work out for our good, or the good of others, or to his glory. Whenever he sees that things have gone far enough, he steps in, overturns the power of Satan, and scatters his legions.

What matters it if there be a devil and his legions of demons? It is God’s will that we shall be able to stand, for none is able to pluck us out of his hand. God is not willing that any soul perish. Therefore, he wills to use his power so that all of his people may be saved and brought to eternal peace in heaven above. To encourage us, he has said, “Greater is he that is in you that he that is in the world.” Assured of this fact, we have no reason to fear Satan, for God working in us, will always work triumphantly. Man was made for heaven. God means that all who are willing shall be brought to safety to that place. Therefore, all who will permit him to work his good pleasure in them, all who will submit to him, and who with their whole hearts will say, “Thy will be done,” will find that his will is always goodwill, and that it is always his will to help them. So the Christian rests calmly content in his God. He sees himself victorious. He sees himself the child of a loving Father, whose help is freely given him in his hour of need, and whose good-will toward him is greater than all else.