William MacDonald, Believer's Bible Commentary: "It is worth noticing that grace comes first, then peace. This is always the order. Only after grace has dealt with the sin question can peace be known. And only through the undeserved strength which God gives from day to day can the believer experience peace, perfect peace, in all the changing moods of life."
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (Romans 7:15-20)
Loving the Father's will was the subject of a previous article. As God's child, we have placed in us, the desire to do His will. He has given us a new heart, a new will, and desires to please Him through His Spirit coming into our hearts, if we are born of His Spirit. Yet we find within us a conflict. There is the enemy accusing us, twisting our motives and God's will, our weakness and inability with God's demands, our condemning ourselves, or satan condemning us, putting our eyes on ourselves rather than God, causing us to have irresolvable conflict in our soul, that only God Himself can sort out. There are times I've cried out, "God! I do want Your will, but I can't discern what it is! The conflict inside of me brings confusion, and I can't understand what's coming from my flesh, the enemy twisting in my head Your Word, Your will, Your command, my own desires, my own weaknesses and inability and how to resolve it!" I find myself in hopeless despair ever to live up to His will! As I struggle through, trying desperately to come to peace with this conflict in my soul, trying to honestly discern what is of God, what is of the devil, what is of me, I realize I cannot. His Word comes to me, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil." (Proverbs 3:5-7)
I realize it is only God Himself, through His Word, by His Spirit that can discern the thoughts, the intentions of the heart, and divide between soul and spirit. "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
I must not wrestle with it, or try to discern it by my knowledge or understanding, or my feelings, or anything else, and especially not by another's opinion. I must do as the Word says. I must go to Him, acknowledging Him. Even if I should seek wiser counsel, I need first to acknowledge and seek Him. And then if I do seek another's counsel that too must be brought before Him. I must not lean on another's understanding anymore than I lean on my own.
Webster's 1828 dictionary: Acknowledge: 1. To own, avow or admit to be true, by a declaration of assent; as to acknowledge the being of a God. 2. To own or notice with particular regard.
I must own, avow, declare God as my God, my Father, to regard Him alone as the One Who knows all, Who understands perfectly His will, the schemes of the enemy and the ways he is able to deceive, twist, and condemn falsely. He alone is the One Who understands all the intricacies in my heart, the motives, the feelings, the desires, and divide between His own work in me, His own Spirit, and what is coming from my own flesh, which is very deceptive, always holding onto what it desires. He alone is able to conquer all those places in my heart, to help my will conform to His will. He alone is able to resolve the conflict. It is He Who works in me to will to do His will and then enables me to carry it out. I cannot do that by my own understanding and efforts. When I try, I fail, I fall, I stumble in the dark, and the enemy then comes in for the kill with condemnation, until I feel buried under it and hopeless to ever find peace.
God is our peace. His grace is sufficient for us in the conflict to enable us. His power is sufficient for us to do all. We can't understand, we can't trust, we can't rest, we can't do until He comes into the situation, into the conflict. We can easily deceive ourselves and others. As we look to Him, then we are able to look away from the conflict itself, to stop the struggle, and to look to Him. Then we are able to say, "It is Yours Lord. I will trust You with all my heart, not lean on my own understanding, and I know You will direct my path, You will discern, You will make Your will clear and understood in me, and bring my will to conform to Yours." We find rest in our souls though perhaps the conflict is not yet resolved to our understanding. It is now cast on Him. We stand in His grace, in His peace, and determine that we will submit ourselves to His Spirit in our hearts as He resolves and brings discernment and light - as we wait on Him. We stand in His salvation against the attacks of the enemy's condemnation. We stand in His righteousness, knowing we have none in ourselves, and His will be ultimately fulfilled in us.
We must submit or present ourselves to the working of His will in us, by placing ourselves before Him in His Word, letting it speak to us, letting it divide soul and spirit, letting it bring light, truth, and counsel to our hearts. Most of all we need to let Him reveal Himself, His heart, His mind, His will to us through that Word. As we do that we grow in love to Him, we grow in our awe of Him. We desire His will above our own. We find we don't have to strive but as His Word becomes our delight, we want it more than anything else. We find almost without realizing it that there has been a work in our hearts to make us conform to that will even in our feelings and desires and the will of our flesh no longer has a hold on us.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:16-17)
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. (Psalms 37:4-6)
There is two ways to think on Ps. 37:4. If we delight ourselves in the Lord He will give us our heart's desire, or if we delight ourselves in the Lord He will put the right desires in our heart. I have found both to be true in my own experience. As I delight in Him, my desires become what He desires for me and others. Then, those very desires that I am asking of Him, He gives. What a wonderful God we have! Our wonderful Father does not want a slave relationship with us. He wants us to discover Him, His heart, His will. He tells us life eternal is in order that we may know Him! (John 17:3) He wants us to know Him, not just to come to Him as a slave master. He does not force submission. He reveals Himself to us, which makes us unable to do anything other than to adore and worship Him, to delight in Him, and to desire His perfect will, even when it is a sacrifice to us. When we are "in the Spirit" we are being filled with the Spirit and with the will of the Spirit.
Under the law there was more of the slave/master type of relationship. "As to man, the law and the ordinances were only bondage. They aimed at bridling the will without its being changed."--J.N. Darby
Grace and peace is what Paul greeted the church in Ephesus with. Grace gives us the enablement to know Him, love Him, love His will, and to do it. Peace is the outcome. As we stand in all God has done for us, in us, and trust His work, His power, His provision alone, submitting ourselves to Him as we abide in Him, by that grace, we find the Father's will more and more the pure will of our hearts. And only in submission to that will do we find peace from the conflict of the soul. It is our hope and promise that one day the conflict will be over forever. We will have the most perfect peace at that time than we can now comprehend, in His presence, in His likeness, where nothing can ever again be in His presence that is not conformed to that blessed will.
For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. (Galatians 5:5)
Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)
Knowing this, it stands to reason, we should do all we can to as much as we can, embrace, love, and cherish the Father's will, to seek it, know it, and submit to it. This is what ultimately, we will live in perfectly. It is in His will alone we are made complete, whole, and have His peace. Amen, even so Father, work Your will in our hearts! Deliver us from all that hinders it in us and around us. In Jesus name amen.