Perfect Will v Permissive Will
What happens when things do not go well? When bad things happen to good people? When what happens seems to contradict the will of God?
I. God has a “perfect will.”
A. The “perfect will” should not be mistaken for the “will of God.”
1. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” [Romans 8:29]
2. God’s plan [will] is for the believer to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus.
a. In other words, we are to imitate Jesus.
b. We are to live by Jesus’ words and example.
B. God has a “perfect will.”
1. Definition: this is the “best case” things happen the way God would ideally like them to happen.
a. Problem is that is not always the case.
b. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, NOT WANTING ANYONE TO PERISH, BUT EVERYONE TO COME TO REPENTANCE.” [2 Peter 3:9]
c. “This is good, and pleases God our Savior,  who WANTS ALL MEN TO BE SAVED AND TO COME TO A KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH.” [1 Timothy 2:3 – 4]
2. Jesus understood the “perfect will” of God is not always done.
a. Its why Jesus taught us to pray for it to be done: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” [Matthew 6:10]
b. Its why Jesus had to submit to the Father’s will: “Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."  Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” [Matthew 26:38 – 39]
1.) Jesus was agonizing, the physical/human side knew what was coming...
2.) Jesus prayed because it was possible for him to disobey.
Please notice the “perfect will” of God is not always comfortable and death is possible. Death is not the determination of being in God’s will or not... It is God’s judgement, not ours.
Jesus said, “and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” [Matthew 10:38]
The problem with the “perfect will” will of God is that it can be resisted.
II. Man has a “free will.”
A. Man was created in the image of God.
1. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” [Genesis 1:27]
a. An “image” is a reflection... (as a poem, you see the reflection in the text)
b. The image included self-awareness and self-determination.
c. We are not “will-less” robots or puppets. We are held responsible for loving or rejecting God.
d. God gave Adam and Eve a choice. They had the ability to choose good and reject evil. (That’s called free will, or else Adam and Eve were created with a sin nature.) They sinned. Sin is part of our twisted human nature.
2. Sin shattered the human ability to be a “free agent.”
a. Wesley [vol. 6] “Indeed, without liberty (freedom is the ability to choose, liberty is having the choices), man had been so far from being a free agent, that he could have been no agent at all... He that is not free is not an agent, but a patient.”
b. Sin involves knowledge (with or without understanding), will, and (volition) and liberty (choices available).
c. The will of man, by nature is “bent” [C. S. Lewis] and in bondage to sin.
3. It is so twisted that slavery is mandatory.
a. “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.  You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” [Romans 6:17 – 18]
b. You will be a “slave” to sin (who will naturally act sinfully, with the ability to do good) or a “slave” to God (who will naturally act righteously, with the ability to sin).
B. If the “free will” will of people seems to contradict the “perfect will” of God, how are we to understand God’s sovereignty?
III. People must then suffer God’s “permissive will.”
A. This is not “plan B” or “contradictory” to the will of God.
1. Our limited mind wants to see things happening in absolutes or polarities.
a. An “absolute” is when we think if it happens this way then it must be God’s “perfect will.”
1.) “When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” [James 1:13]
2.) God does not tempt, nor does God cause evil. That’s the horror of human “free will” not God’s sovereignty.
b. Polarity is when we put things on opposite poles.
1.) Some people think the “sovereignty” of God is contradicted by “free will.”
2.) The belief in “free will” (such as human responsibility for evil/sin, choosing or rejecting the offer of salvation in Jesus) does not contradict the concept of God’s sovereignty unless you misunderstand (“control”) sovereignty.
a. Paul’s thorn in the flesh, Paul’s arrest (despite being warned at least three times).
b. King Jehoshaphat’s alliance with King Ahab, which included marrying his son to Athaliah (Jezebel’s daughter).
c. Hezekiah prayed on his death bed for life, God gave him 15 more years. It was during this time Manasseh was born. Manasseh was considered the most evil of all kings. (Even worse than Ahab.)
Understand “sovereignty” as “control” makes God the CAUSE of sin and misery. Submitting to sin and misery is not a comfort, nor is it an answer to the questions that plague us.
B. Josiah’s story.
1. Josiah decides to exercise his ability to choose.
a. We do not read that he consults God.
b. We know he was promised that he would die in peace (not in battle).
c. Josiah must have known he was not invincible because he disguised himself.
d. The result of his choice(s) was that he died.
2. God has established certain laws (that are in place to maintain order).
a. The law of sin and the law of death are very real spiritual laws, like the law of gravity is a physical law.
b. When Lucy and Susan ask Aslan to break the law of the Emperor... Aslan’s response is that they even he (the Emperor’s son) can not break those laws because the purpose they were put in place would then be destroyed. What becomes clear is that there is a deeper law at work.
3. God’s plan was for Josiah to live a long prosperous life and to die in peace.
a. Josiah stepped outside that plan.
b. That exposed Josiah to any and all possibilities of natural spiritual laws (such as the law of sin and the law of death).
1. The only place we are “safe” is in the will of God.
2. The only way to be in the “perfect will” of God is by submitting our will to God.
3. The “un-submitted will” is really a slave to sin – it gives the appearance of “free will” but it is only an illusion. Only submitted to God can we exercise any kind of freedom.
(Ill.) The junk yard has a fence around it to keep people out (safe). Outside that fence people are free. Inside the confines of the junk yard fence there is limited movement and danger. So it is with sin. Inside sin we are limited and in danger. Outside is the freedom that comes from being in Jesus.
Blogged with Flock