In John 5, the Lord, having miraculously healed a lame man, comes under intense attack by the Pharisees. They seek to slay Him, first, because He performed the miracle healing on the Sabbath (vs 16) and, second, because in response to their carnal attacks on His holy work He plainly declares that He is the Son of God (vs 17). In response, the Lord begins a long dissertation in which He confirms His divine heritage, declares His faithful subservience to God and the Divine will, and “turns the tables” on His detractors by discrediting their own claims of wisdom and authority as the representatives of God.
In the middle of this interchange, the Lord states the truth of the resurrection of the dead and the associated judgment of their works that will follow. In this portion of His teaching He makes plain the fact that it is He who will judge the dead, and that His judgment will be perfectly just, i.e., right. He explains why:
“I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (vs 30)
My purpose today is not to expound on any of the great truths found in this chapter regarding false, man-centered religion, the saving power of the true Word of God, or the indisputable witnesses to Jesus Christ’s divinity. Rather, I will focus on this one statement of the Lord as a principle applicable to the Believer’s own experiences. I will give you three simple points upon which to meditate as led by the Spirit.
“I can of mine own self do nothing.” There has been much made of the question “What would Jesus Do?” (WWJD) in recent years. It is a catchy phrase; fits well on bumper stickers; hangs well on bracelets, necklaces, etc. Yet, the answer is obvious and plainly taught both directly and by example by the Lord Himself throughout His life, and it’s not the answer that seems so popular in today’s Christian culture. Further, the error which can spring from unthinking commitment to this seemingly harmless approach to Christian living is equally obvious.
First the answer. Jesus would always seek the will of His Father in every substantive matter in His life. He did not live for Self; He did not lean on His own understanding; He did not trust His own will. Being both very God and very man He fully understood and reverenced the truth of Proverbs 28:26a: “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.” He sought and then obediently performed the will of the Father always.
Now the error. To “blindly” submit to the self-direction implied in this seemingly innocent question can lead to blatant, though usually unconscious, disobedience to the Word of God! That’s right. Without understanding that only God is wise, only He knows the end from the beginning, only He knows what is best for His children, this approach to Christian living can lead even the most sincere of Believers to trust in their own judgment and, in that, to disregard the plain warning of God’s holy Word to “lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). In other words, utilizing self-confident, self-directed judgment is NOT something “Jesus would do.”
Great portions of Christian bookstores are filled with vain works exalting the god of Self. We should not be surprised because it was clearly prophesied that this would be a characteristic of the last days before the return of Christ:
“For men shall be lovers of their own selves…lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;” 2 Timothy 3:2, 4
Jesus never served this god, nor did He ever encourage His disciples to do so. Christ’s life was a life of simple, whole-hearted subservience to the will of His Father, so much so that He, in essence, didn’t have a personal will! Christ’s life was a sacrificial life. He was “dead” to Self, but “alive” to God, just as we are to be.
“My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”
“I do always those things that please him.” John 8:29
“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” Romans 6:11, 12
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
What would Jesus do? He would do nothing of His own self.
“As I hear, I judge.” Continuing, the Lord makes plain that He didn’t simply apply all of His personal knowledge (i.e., His brain) and experience (i.e., His circumstance and senses) to determine what He “felt” the Father desired, then “faithfully” (in His eyes) charge ahead in His walk on earth. No, Jesus made plain the fact that the Father’s will was specific and specifically expressed to Him in “words” that guided His actions, teachings, etc. God’s will is still expressed just as specifically today to the Believer who truly desires to know and do it. He speaks through His Word, the Bible, through the work of the Holy Spirit.
There is implied in all of this a sincere seeking and a patient waiting for this specific direction. If our Lord Jesus Christ ordered His life accordingly, will God accept less dependence from us Believers?
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1
“…my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will,….” Here is the secret of living a blessed life in the Lord. What was strongly implied is now made perfectly clear. If we are to please God and enjoy His peace, support, joy, and blessing, our will must be slain. So long as we seek our will, our judgment will to some degree be “unjust,” imperfect, flawed, and the ultimate results less than blessed. To be completely confident that your choices are God-honoring and, in that, sure to be fully and eternally blessed, God’s will must truly become our will, not in “principle” (lip service), but in fact (heart service).
God is not a heavenly “Santa Claus,” whose desire is to sit passively on His throne as He watches His children work their way through life according to their own natural, though God-given, wisdom and strength, and respond "graciously" to their requests for "gifts" and blessings of their own design. God is the sovereign Lord who has both the right and the expectation of ruling the lives of those He has created for His glory, especially those He has purchased for Himself with the precious blood of His own Son on the cross of Calvary.
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:20
Salvation is not about God’s restoring man to the garden where he is allowed to freely exercise his will. Were it so, the garden is as far as our religion would take us. We could never hope to enter heaven, for man’s will now is just as corrupt and self-centered as was Adam’s and Eve’s then. We could never please God.
Salvation is about the glory of God. It is about God calling, saving, and predestinating holy children to conform to the image of His obedient, ever-loving, wholly dependent and subservient Son who glorified Him in EVERY THING.
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
Is this “image” of Christ being formed in you? Are you living up to this high calling? Do you see the glory of knowing and doing God’s holy will in ALL areas of your life, and the folly of seeking your own? Is God’s glory the driving force in your life? Is Christ truly your “all in all?” May it be so.
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