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Willpower!!
Good News Magazine
September 1966
Volume: Vol XV, No. 9
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Willpower!!
Raymond F McNair   
Church of God

Born: 1930
Died: October 11, 2008
Member Since: 1948
Ambassador College: 1953
Office: Evangelist

Here is a revealing article showing how to overcome "the pulls of the flesh" how to gain victory over human nature! Here is how you can eradicate SIN from your character and develop Godly WILLPOWER!

   WHY ARE some neglecting prayer? Why do some let down in their Bible study, become lax in reading The PLAIN TRUTH and The GOOD NEWS, and neglect studying the Correspondence Course? Why aren't many of you more moderate in eating and drinking? Why are some succumbing to laziness? And why do many in God's Church still have financial difficulties? Why do these brethren spend beyond their means way beyond their budget?
   Yes, why do so many find themselves giving in to the pulls of human nature instead of resisting sin?
   Many of you brethren are not exercising the willpower which God expects of you! The development of a firm will is a most important key to overcoming. In fact, the final reward of the Christian will depend, in great measure, upon how much he has rightly developed his willpower.
   A staunch Christian will always have a strong will!
   Can you truthfully say you are developing through fervent prayer and Bible study an iron will?

Man Alone Possesses Will

   Of all creatures on this earth, man alone possesses a will the power to choose or decide for himself. Man alone is a free moral agent. Animals are not. They can't choose! They are slaves to instinct. They just do what comes naturally!
   Human beings, however, must overcome, through power of will, the pulls of the human flesh. Human will must be EXERCISED!
   Willpower, like muscle-power, must be developed through right exercise. When you take physical exercise, your muscles become stronger, Likewise when you exercise willpower, your will becomes stronger.
   Every time you make yourself do what you know is right instead of what you'd like to do you strengthen your will.
   But, every time you weaken and do what you know is wrong, you erode your power of will.
   Mr. Armstrong has repeatedly said that everybody likes to be right, but few like to do right!
   This is true not only of people in the world, but unfortunately, this is all too true of many in God's Church! Many of you brethren are suffering from this infirmity of the will! You have lots of wishpower, but little or no real willpower! You have a wishbone, but very little backbone! The spirit is willing, but the flesh is abysmally weak!
   God Almighty made all human beings free moral agents. We have the power to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, obedience and disobedience, life and death!
   The gift of volition this choice, this power to decide for ourselves whether we will go God's way or man's way (under the sway of Satan) is a precious gift!
   Almighty God could have made human beings as mere fleshly automatons like mere robots! He could have made it impossible for us to sin so we could not have gone wrong. Indeed, He could have made us in such a way that we would never even once desire to go the wrong way.
   But, man is the very pinnacle of God's physical creation. God is molding and shaping human beings into Gods into Sons for His own family. This God-like character which God is developing in man is the supreme masterpiece of all His creation! This can only be done through the instrumentality of free moral agency. There is no other way!
   Man has his part in this spiritual creation through a God-man partnership. He must voluntarily choose or decide whether or not he will accept and follow God's way. This can only be done through man's free choice.

Every Man Must Choose

   When the Creator put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He gave them a choice as to whether or not they would obey Him (Gen. 2:15-17, 3:1-24). It is now a record of history. Adam and Eve, and all human beings since that day, chose the wrong way the way of disobedience, suffering and death!
   Just before Moses died, he set before the people of Israel the way of "life and death," the way of "blessings and cursing." Israel was given the choice as to whether they would obey God or not (Deut. 30:19, 20). They chose to disobey. They promised obedience lip-service (Ex. 19:8, 24:3, 7) but they never really set their wills steadfastly to obey God. They soon chose disobedience.
   Then, under their next leader, Israel was again told they must choose whether or not they would obey God. Joshua said: "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve" (Josh. 24:15-18). They chose the way of least resistance the way of sin!
   In the time of the prophet Elijah, Israel was again told to choose. "And Elijah came unto all the people, and said: 'How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him, but if Baal, then follow him"' (I Kings 18:21). The vast majority of Israel has continued to follow Baal ever since.
   The truth is that all of us, before conversion, chose the way of sin and death. We willed to go the wrong way (Rom. 3:10-12). "All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way..." (Isa. 53:6).

Strong-willed Men of God

   All of the great men of the Bible were, without exception, men of strong purpose, of iron will! They set their mind to go in a certain direction to obey God and in that direction they went!
   Noah had to be strong-willed in order to resist the taunts, jeers, criticism and outright blasphemy of the skeptics and atheists of his day. Why, who had ever seen a rain that could threaten the life of all human existence on the earth? How ridiculous of "Old Noah" to contemplate building such a gigantic ship!
   Abraham's iron will, mixed with his faith, enabled him to promptly obey God, leaving his own country and his own kith and kin behind. He was commanded to go into a completely strange land a land about which he knew little or nothing (Heb. 11:8). And, in spite of innumerable obstacles, he obeyed. His will remained firm! He was determined to obey God at all costs even to the point of being willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Gen. 22:1-18).
   Isaac, too, was a determined man. So was Jacob! Jacob's strong determination was shown by his bulldog tenacity. He wrestled all night with God and only let the Lord go after first receiving a blessing. Yes, Jacob literally wrestled with the one who became Christ, straining and struggling in the dirt all night. (Gen. 32:24-32.)
   Joseph was also a man who exercised tremendous willpower. It took a resolute mind to resist the sexual advances of a voluptuous Egyptian temptress (Gen. 39:7-20). He had set his mind to obey God, regardless of the consequences, which in this instance meant humiliation and imprisonment (verse 20).
   There can be no question concerning Moses' resolve to obey God. It took a very strong-willed person to lead over two million unconverted, grumbling, rebellious Israelites from Egypt through the desert for forty long years.'
   Certainly, King David's turbulent life revealed a man of extraordinary willpower. From his youth until the day of his death, he was in constant turmoil and struggle. He chose to obey God and through the greater part of his life was very firm, diligently following God in the face of much persecution, opposition and temptation. He said, "I am Purposed that my mouth shall not transgress" (Ps. 17:3). David set his will to obey God!
   Elijah, Daniel and many other Old Testament prophets were men of strong wills.
   Above all else, Jesus Christ so set His will to obey His Heavenly Father, that He never once veered from that course which He had chosen. He is the only man who never violated His own conscience, who never weakened who never let sin triumph over Him even momentarily no, not so much as once! We are told to follow His example (I Pet. 2:21).
   Many of the "great" men of this world have been men of strong wills men of bulldog determination: Sir Winston Churchill was such a man. His success was determined more by his strong will than by any other quality of character.
   The great failures of recorded history resulted more from weak wills than from anything else.
   The weaklings mentioned in the Bible were all men of little or no willpower.

Bible Weaklings

   Esau didn't have enough willpower to control his appetite. He was willing to sell his tremendous birthright for a mere bowl of soup! He was rough and ready, hardy and masculine strong of body, but weak of will! As a result this great blessing passed from him and his descendants to the children of Israel as a result of his lark of self-restrain this not having the will to patiently wait until food could be prepared for him.
   Jacob's firstborn son, Reuben, was a weak-willed person! He was the rightful heir to a double blessing which should have passed to the firstborn son. But he lost out because of his weak will. He knew what was right, but didn't have a strong enough will to do the right thing. He succumbed to sexual temptation and lost his birthright. His weak-willed, "unstable-as-water" character disqualified him and his descendants from receiving the chief birthright blessings (Gen. 49:3, 4).

The Source of Paul's Iron Will

   The apostle Pad was certainly one of the strongest-willed men of God. Before his conversion, he was "breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord," and was zealously persecuting the saints binding them over into prison (Acts 9:1).
   Paul spoke of his great (but woefully misdirected) zeal toward God (Acts 22:3). He said. "And I persecuted THIS [the Christian] WAY unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women" (verse 4). Paul confessed, "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.... and many of the saints did I shut up in prison... and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities" (Acts 26911).
   The apostle Paul was a very strong-willed person. He sincerely and with all his might persecuted the Church of God before his conversion. But, after Jesus Christ struck him down, and revealed to him that he was misdirecting his zeal was actually fighting against God and His Church then the apostle Paul quickly changed his wayward course. He set his mind resolutely to follow Jesus Christ. The fourteen New Testament epistles which he wrote are towering monuments, revealing his resoluteness, his firm will and determination to follow, obey and diligently serve Jesus Christ at all costs!
   After Paul's conversion, however, he realized just how weak he really was. He explained about his weak human nature in the 7th chapter of Romans, verses 6-25. He said: "For to will [to choose to do that which is right or good] is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not [in my human flesh)" (Rom. 7:18)!
   The apostle Paul showed that he had the power to will, to choose or decide, but he didn't have the power or the means inherently within him by which he could always make himself do the right thing.
   Realizing his weak human nature, he exclaimed: "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Verses 24, 25). His answer God would!
   Yes, Paul knew that his human will, strong though it was, was not sufficient in itself to enable him to be an overcomer.
   He made this clear to the saints at Philippi. "For it is God which works in you BOTH to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). This setting of the will to obey God can only take place after God opens our minds and after He draws LS to Him by His Spirit (see John 6:37, 44, 65).
   But this does not mean that God will do it all for you. No, we must do our part! God's Holy Spirit will, however, strengthen the human will if we are willing!

Weak-willed Characters

   We're commanded, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might!" (Eccl. 9:10.) It takes a great deal of willpower to be zealous in every endeavour, activity or enterprise which you undertake. God Almighty wants us to exercise our wills continuously. He wants us to develop strong willpower.
   It takes mastery of the will (not just empty words) to enable one to enter God's Kingdom!
   Christ made this very clear. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Mat. 7:21). He further warned, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able" (Luke 13:24).
   The parable of the sower clearly spotlights the weak wills of certain individuals who fall by the wayside.
   There are many people who would like to enter into the Kingdom. They wish they could be in God's Kingdom, but very few are willing to pay the price. Very few during this age will to obey God at all costs!
   Many people desire health, happiness, prosperity, or eternal life, but few are willing to put forth the necessary energy to achieve their goal! It has been said, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions!" And every New Year's Thy millions resolve to do better, but very few really change. A true Christian, however, must change must overcome!

Human Will is Limited

   And remember, brethren, the human will is quite limited! It must be strengthened by the Spirit of God.
   Before the apostle Peter received supernatural power from the indwelling presence of God's Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, he was not as strong-willed as he thought he was. He solemnly assured Christ that he would never deny Him (Mat. 26:33-35). Later the same night, however, he denied Him three times! He even denied knowing Jesus Christ (verses 69-75). But on the Day of Pentecost, the Spirit of God entered into the apostle Peter. He then became a truly changed man. Now he was able to stand up and boldly tell the Jews that they had betrayed and crucified the very Son of God, their Saviour (Acts 2:23, 36).
   Many people, even before conversion, develop strong wills. This is right and good. But, like the apostle Paul, before their conversion their willpower, their talents, abilities, and energies are often MISdirected. Most people have been deceived by Satan (Rev. 12:9) and spend their entire lifetime misdirecting their zeal and efforts! Even so, if these carnal-minded people develop strong wills, they are going to be much better off than people with impotent wills!
   Children, especially, should be diligently taught to develop willpower while they're young. They ought to be made to do what is right, rather than what they would like to do. If a child is made to study his lessons rather than just play all of the time, he thereby develops character. If he is made to practise his music instead of just whiling away his time, he builds willpower. If he helps with the chores, instead of frittering away his time doing what he pleases, he will strengthen his character still further.
   Remember, every time you make yourself do what you know to be right, your will is strengthened. But every time you do what you know to be wrong every time you defile your conscience you weaken your willpower and you stand self-condemned!
   Each time a person drinks more than he ought, he tears down both his health and his will. If you knowingly eat more food than you should, you destroy your character as well as your health!
   Every time a person sleeps too much, he is self-condemned and thereby weakens his power of will. It takes willpower to get out of bed on time!
   Each time a person gives in to human weakness by over-indulgence or by postponing or neglecting his duties, he destroys character!

Stubbornness is Misdirected Will

   Some people deliberately, knowingly, will to go the wrong way. When a person knows a certain course of action is wrong, yet persists in going in that direction, he instantly develops a wrong attitude of mind an attitude of rebellion and stubbornness!
   This was true of Israel's first king, Saul.
   When Samuel rebuked Saul for his rebellious attitude, Saul tried to whitewash himself and blame the people. Repeatedly he shifted the blame from himself to "the people" (I Sam. 15:13-21).
   But Samuel knew Saul was lying. He said: "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For REBELLION is as the sin of witchcraft, and STUBBORNNESS is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king" (verses 22, 23).
   God Almighty wants us to develop strong wills. But He does not want us to be strong-willed in the wrong direction. He does not want us to be self-willed! A strong will plus a rebellious attitude equals stubbornness! God knows that the way that appears right to us will only end in death (Prov. 14:12).

Christ's Submission to His Father

   The true Christian follows Christ. He has Christ's mind and attitude. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5).
   What was Christ's attitude? Just before the crucifixion and agonizing death of Jesus Christ, He prayed a very heartfelt prayer: "And He went a little farther, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O, my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but AS THOU WILT" (Mat. 26:39). Again, He prayed the same prayer shortly after this, adding, "Thy will be done" (verse 42).
   Jesus Christ submitted Himself perfectly to the will of the Father. He had a mind and a will of His own, and could have chosen to go the wrong way! Yes, He was tempted in all points yet not once did He ever will or choose to disobey "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15).
   Every true believer, every real Christian, should continually seek to do the Father's will. But how can the Christian know what God's will is? We're commanded, "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. 5:17).
   The apostle Paul told the saints at Rome that they should always be able to "prove what is that good, and acceptable, and PERFECT WILL OF GOD" (Rom. 12:2).
   Remember, brethren! God wants us to develop STRONG wills! But because of the weakness of human nature, because of the pull of the world and the temptations of Satan, the strongest human will that ever existed was weak in comparison with Christ! In fact, all human wills are weak in some respects. Every person has his strong points and his weaknesses whether it be food, drink, sex, laziness, pleasure, etc. Many carnal people give in to the temptations of the flesh and demolish their wills. Other carnal people develop strong willpower, and are blessed accordingly.
   But with the added impetus of God's Holy Spirit, the saints receive additional strength of will, and can become real overcomers.

Ways Willpower Is Destroyed

   We should all pray that God will help us to have a strong will. There are a number of ways in which our wills can be destroyed.
   If we do not stay close to God, we can be deceived by the deceitfulness of sin. We can be "brainwashed" until we think wrong is right, thereby willingly give ourselves over to go a wrong way.
   Another way which has led to the utter destruction of the human will is the use of drugs, or the immoderate use of alcohol! These agents can affect the human mind, including the will, to such an extent that we become very weak-willed.
   Operations on the human brain can alter or even totally destroy the human will. People who have lobotomy operations become virtual zombies. Thereafter, they seem to have little or no willpower of their own.
   Hypnotism in God's sight is very evil. Don't ever let any man or angel any creature of any description force its will upon your will. Even God Almighty does not force His will upon you. He makes you choose.
   But the most common way by which the willpower is destroyed and perhaps this is the deadliest of all, and the one YOU may be guilty of is through lack of exercise! If you do not exercise a muscle, it will get weak and flabby; but with continued use it is strengthened. Likewise, the human will, if exercised, will grow stronger and stronger. But, if instead of exercising the will, you let it deteriorate by giving in to sin, then you thereby destroy your willpower.
   Remember, every time you defile your conscience every time you do what you know you shouldn't do, you further tear down your will.

"If We Sin Wilfully"

   Once we are converted, from that very moment forward God holds us strictly accountable for maintaining a right attitude at all times! This is why we are warned repeatedly not to ever deliberately set our wills against God an3 His way, thereby cutting ourselves off from the only source of life!
   For this reason we are admonished: "Let us hold fast {having our jaws set, as it were) the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised;)... For IF WE SIN WILFULLY after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries" (Heb. 10:23-27).
   Those who wilfully sin, those who knowingly and DELIBERATELY set their minds their wills in rebellion against God and His perfect will will be annihilated! Their awful doom is described in II Peter 5:7-14, and in Malachi 4:1-3!

Only Overcomers to be Saved

   Whatever you do, develop a strong will! But make sure that your will is channeled in the right direction. Be certain that you do not misdirect your will directing it in a rebellious way. Such misdirected human will becomes stubbornness, which is exceedingly loathsome in God's sight!
   It is only those who firmly SET THEIR WILLS those who "endure to the end" (Mat. 24:13), those who truly "OVERCOME" (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26 and Rev. 3:5, 12, 21) that will inherit the Kingdom of God!
   Daily you must strengthen your willpower by doing what you know to be right, rather than by following the course of least resistance the pull of human nature.
   You will have to set your mind, set your jaw, to choose, to DETERMINE, to WILL with all your might to obey God if you wish to make it into God's Kingdom!
   We, like the apostle Paul, will have to determine in our minds that we are not going to let anything keep us from serving Christ and from receiving our reward (II John 8, Rev. 3:11).
   "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:35, 38, 39).
   Paul had firmly set his WILL to obey God to make it into the Kingdom of God.
   If we, too, set our wills to obey God come what may! the time will come when we also, like Paul, can say: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing" (II Tim. 4:7, 8).

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Good News MagazineSeptember 1966Vol XV, No. 9
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