No One Can Will the Will to Will What it Will Not Will!

photo: iStock

“Most assuredly, I say to you,” Jesus said, “whoever commits sins is a slave of sin” (John 8:34).

Does this really need to be underlined? Jesus thought it did, and perhaps someone reading these pages may need a little help to understand what Jesus was saying here:

  • We do not become sinners by committing specific acts.
  • We commit specific acts of sin because we are sinners.

In short, my problem is not the isolated actions that I see as aberrations from what I really am. I am deceiving myself if I think that way. These actions are not aberrations but revelations of what is in my heart. They show that I commit sin because I am in bondage to it…

As Jesus hinted, this sinfulness affects every dimension of our lives:

  • Our minds. We do not think clearly. We may be well educated and have high IQs. But that is no guarantee that we think clearly about spiritual things.
  • Our desires. When we are on our own and at our most honest, we recognize that we are not masters of our desires. We try to master them. We have a moral consciousness that says, “You must get these things under control.” But inwardly we are out of control. There is a world within us over which we have no mastery.
  • Our wills. They are in bondage to sin. “Oh yes,” we say, “this message about being right with God—I will come to it another day. That is my decision and I can make it whenever I want.”

The truth, however, is that we cannot think clearly about or desire Christ by our own unaided decision. Why not? We cannot respond to the good news of the gospel until we want Christ, and we cannot want Christ simply by a decision we can take at any moment we choose. We cannot say to our will, “Will, will to belong to the Lord!” It is beyond our powers to do that. No one can will the will to will what it will not will! Only God’s grace can set us free to come to trust in Him.

Sinclair Ferguson, By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me, pp 4-5

  • Tony Reynolds

    Most Christian’s salute the sovereignty of God but believe in the sovereignty of man.
    -R.C. Sproul

    From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
    …-why?…
    “no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” (John 6)

    “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
    It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
    (Romans 9)