Whether a person is two or seventy-two, it is not uncommon to hear him or her say, when talking about receiving instructions, “I want to do it my way.” But there is a time when that is dangerous. In fact, it could be fatal.
The third petition of the Lord’s Prayer, as recorded in Matthew 6:10 KJV is, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” This petition is the climax of the first division of the Lord’s Prayer, the part that looks away from the earth, toward God and heaven, and has to do with things divine.
Each petition follows in a proper order. First of all there is a salutation. The God of heaven is recognized as “our Father” and then we ask that His name be hallowed in our lives. His name represents His character. When we ask that His character be hallowed in our own lives, it can only be accomplished when He is made the king of our lives.
The next petition is “Your kingdom come.” The evidence of God’s rulership over the dominion of our souls is complete submission to His will. The third petition is “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This petition is not separable from the one that immediately precedes it. To pray for the coming of the kingdom of God implies a willingness to submit to the will of the King. Before we can enter the kingdom of heaven in its final and glorious phase, the principles of the kingdom of heaven must have dominion over our souls.
The Gospel’s Provision
By the gospel every provision has been made available to fulfill the divine will. The evidence of citizenship in any kingdom is obedience to the will of the king and the laws that govern that kingdom. The coming of the kingdom of grace into our hearts transfers our citizenship to heaven. Since we are still living in a world that is in rebellion against the government of heaven, we are living in a world where God’s will is almost universally disregarded. Therefore, it is necessary to pray most earnestly for a complete submission to the sovereignty of the King of heaven as the evidence of our heavenly citizenship. Perhaps there is no petition that needs to be repeated more often than, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
In heaven, the will of God is absolutely supreme and is never violated. Those desiring citizenship of that kingdom must first learn the lesson of complete surrender to that will. This is severe discipline for human beings who live in a rebellious world. Therefore, this is one of the hardest lessons to learn.
The purpose of the gospel is to give victory over the spirit of rebellion that rules the human race today. Rebels cannot enter the kingdom of heaven nor can the kingdom of God enter them. The kingdom and the dominion of Paradise were lost through disobedience (see Genesis 3). It is only the obedient that will be permitted to enter Paradise restored. The person who insists that they will make their own decisions and live the way they choose will never enter the kingdom of heaven where the will of God is supreme.
Several thousand years ago Lucifer, the leading angel of heaven, violated God’s will. He chose to rebel against God’s government. He wanted to become like God and believed he would be a superior ruler. The record of his rebellion and how it started is recorded in Isaiah chapter 14, in Ezekiel 28, and in Revelation 12. “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:7–9.
The person who presumes on God’s mercy while knowingly transgressing His law is trifling with his or her eternal destiny. It matters not what profession he may have or how many good works he might do. He will never have a passport to heaven while living in disobedience to God’s will.
Jesus made this very plain when He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ” Matthew 7:21–23. His statement was then driven home in verses 24–27 by a parable of the two builders. He said that the one who heard His words and did not do them would be like a person who built his house on the sand. When the storm came with the flood, his house was demolished.
Many times Jesus emphasized that those who are not obedient to the will of His Father cannot be His disciples. What Jesus was in this rebellious world is what His disciples are to be. Jesus spent over 30 years in this world as a man. “[He] was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 KJV. He fulfilled the divine will on earth, just as He had in heaven before He came to earth. The change He experienced in environment did not alter His relationship at all to the law or to the government of God.
The character and conduct of Christ remained unchanged during His earthly pilgrimage. Speaking once about the purpose of His advent, Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me.” John 6:38.
His chief ambition, the first object He sought to accomplish, was to do His Father’s will. Again, He said, “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” John 5:30.
To do His Father’s will was Jesus’ reason for living, the reason He was born. This was His life. Coming to the end of His mission, just a few minutes before He entered the Garden of Gethsemane and went to His final trial and crucifixion, He prayed to His Father, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” John 17:4.
The Father gave His Son a mission to perform in this world and Jesus declared that He had performed that mission. In fact, His very last words before He died on the cross were, “It is finished” (John 9:30). My mission is finished; I have fulfilled Your will in the earth.
Jesus Our Example
Jesus came to this world to show us the way from death to life, from darkness to light and to show us the way out of the dominion of evil into the sovereignty of righteousness. Because of the completeness of the provision that Jesus Christ has made for every one, there is no earthly circumstance that can excuse us from the same kind of submission to the will of the heavenly Father as Jesus Himself performed. For such obedience Jesus taught us to pray.
Remember, Jesus never asks us to do that which is impossible. All of His commands we will find to be promises and enablings. He has made full provision and will enable us to do what we are commanded if we accept the command with faith and choose to follow.
The sovereignty of God, as does any earthly sovereignty, involves law and order. Today, many people cringe from that idea and it seems that they would rather have anarchy or some kind of disorder, failing to realize that there could never be happiness, joy, or peace in this world without it. Heaven is a place to be desired because it is a place of peace.
God’s Will Defined
The will of any king or government is established by law and is made known to the citizens of that country by the laws that have been enacted to govern the kingdom. Since there can be no kingdom without law, the kingdom of grace must also have a rule of law. God’s will is defined by His law—the Decalogue. The gospel does not in any way alter or abolish the Decalogue or lessen its authority.
Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle [the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, or even a part of a letter of the alphabet] will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17–19.
Jesus made a more emphatic statement about the law in the gospel of Luke. He said, “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.” Luke 16:17. Considering Who said this, the Creator Who made all things in heaven and earth and upholds all things by the word of His power (see John 1:1–4; Hebrews 1:1–3; Colossians 1:16), it would be difficult to use stronger language than He used.
Consider the starry heavens at night with the millions of heavenly bodies traveling through space at such tremendous speed and what keeps them on their course. Jesus Christ is the One that holds all things together by the word of His power. It was He, Who upholds all things Who made the statement that He would destroy the whole of creation and start again before He would change even part of a letter of His law. (See Luke 16:17.)
The modern teaching is that grace in some way supplants the law and we have no more need to be concerned about it. The idea that faith is a substitute for practice is a fallacy. Notice what the apostle Paul said about it: “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31.
This is a most emphatic denial of the idea that the exercise of faith makes void the demands and authority of the law of God. Furthermore, Paul affirms that it is through faith that the binding claims of the law are established. It is the purpose of the gospel to set up the kingdom of heaven in our hearts and with it the law of the kingdom expressing the will of the king.
Sin, according to the Bible, is the transgression or breaking of God’s law (1 John 3:4). The mission of the gospel is to take away sin so that we might be under His grace, the unmerited favor of God. But Paul again drives this question home with another question: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” Romans 6:1, 2.
Notice what Paul is saying here. He says, Shall we continue breaking God’s law so that grace may abound and we can just keep asking for forgiveness—sin more and more and get more and more forgiveness? Certainly not! He goes on to explain in the rest of Romans 6 how we should live. He concludes, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body.” Verse 12. In light of such clear Bible statements as these, how can anyone say that the gift of grace takes away the necessity of God’s law? Actually, the very work of grace in the heart is to establish therein the law of the kingdom of heaven and to reflect obedience to that law in the life so that God’s will may be done on earth as it is in heaven.
When we are born again, we are brought into a new covenant relationship with the heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit writes the precepts of the law, not on stone, as in the old covenant, but on the fleshly tables of the heart (see II Corinthians 3).
When the law is written in the heart we will do by nature the things in the law. One man once wrote, “The moral law, written on perishable tables of stone and confirmed by the thunders of Sinai is now written on the imperishable tables of the heart and confirmed by the thunders of Calvary. … Therefore, no subject of the government of Christ dare continue in sin that grace may abound. Grace thunders against sin as loudly, or even more loudly, than does law. … Let it never be forgotten that, while we can not be saved by law without grace, no more can we be saved by grace without law. While we cannot be saved by morality without Christianity, no more can we be saved by Christianity without morality.”
How is it then that grace thunders against sin even more loudly than it thunders from Sinai? This is because Christ died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). The reason that Jesus had to go to Calvary was because neither the law nor the penalty for breaking the law could be changed. Because of sin, the penalty had to be paid. You and I could pay it, but the penalty, if we pay it, is death (Romans 6:23). If we pay our own penalty we will die and never wake up.
But Jesus went to Calvary to pay the penalty for sin so that all who believe on Him could be forgiven of their sins and live, so that the sinner could receive grace and be forgiven. Even though we have sinned, Jesus died so that our hearts could be changed and be brought into harmony with God’s will again. The people that go to the kingdom of heaven will be people who keep God’s law, who do His will, just as it is done in heaven. They will have learned that to “do it my way” leads to death. They accept the gift of salvation paid for them on Calvary’s cross and willingly submit to the will of the Father, praying that His will be done on this earth as it is in heaven.
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.