THE CONDITIONS FOR KNOWING GOD’S WILL
In knowing God’s will, the most important thing for us to do is to drop our opinions. Our prejudice often hinders God from revealing His will to us. When a man is prejudiced, God will not reveal His will to him. Our own experience indicates that our self-will keeps us from understanding God’s will. Sometimes, our self-will is hidden in the innermost part of our heart. If we do not remove our own will, we will encounter many difficulties in understanding His will. Once it is removed, God will reveal to us His will.
Concerning removing our self-will in order to understand His will, no matter how much we emphasize the matter, we cannot overdo it. This is the most crucial point and deserves the greatest attention.
Our hearts are very wicked. Sometimes even though we are outwardly seeking God’s will, we are inwardly full of self-will and self-opinions; our prime motive is to please ourselves. Sometimes when we kneel down to pray, our mouth may say, "Lord, show us Your will. We are willing to do Your will." But our heart is unwilling to do His will and disagrees with it. Sometimes we say with our mouth, "Father! Your will be done. We only seek after Your will." Our heart seems to agree with our mouth and may even act as if it is very willing to follow God’s will. Yet, at the same time, within the deepest part of the heart, there is a desire to walk according to our own will. If we do this, we will probably not be able to find His will. This is a false seeking and will not result in a genuine finding of His will. The promise of "seek and you shall find" is not for insincere ones. Unless we seek after God’s will in a sincere way, He will not reveal His will to us. Even if we comfort ourselves by saying, "I have known God’s will," it is probably a fabrication of our own mind and a counterfeit of His will!
If we have desires in our heart, and if we have already made up our mind on a matter, we are seeking the Lord’s will in vain. If we have our own will and our own desires, all our prayers will be in vain; even if we pray every day to seek for His will, it will be useless. Therefore, every time we seek His will, we have to trust in His strength to examine ourselves. We have to ask if self-will exists in the deepest part of our heart, if we have any inclinations or desires, and if we are seeking the Lord’s will out of a clean and undefiled heart. If we do not do this, our seeking will not be effective.
When two ways are set before you, if you would love to take one way and hate to take the other way, you should ask yourself, "If the Lord wants me to take the way I hate, will I take it?" If you are not willing to take the way you hate, what profit would it be to you even if you knew His will?
Every time we come to a crossroad, the best thing for us to do is to hold an unbiased heart. This means that our heart is balanced; we neither prefer nor hate any particular way. We consider all of the ways the same, and we take whatever way the Lord shows us. If we are not biased in our heart, it will be easy for the Lord to show us His will. Bigotry and unwillingness to obey are the greatest hindrances to knowing His will. Being unbiased does not mean being passive. It means being unbiased concerning the ways ahead of us. We have to exercise discernment with our will and choose His will. Being unbiased does not mean that there are no more likes and dislikes within us. It means that even though we are unclear about God’s will, we are not biased towards any way; but, at the same time, we have determined that we will do His will. As soon as we know His will, we will do it. Our own will should not dictate our likes and dislikes concerning the ways ahead of us. However, there should be a difference between what we want and what we do not want with respect to God’s will (even though it is not yet known) and our will. We must choose to "want" God’s will and choose to "not want" our own will. We should choose His will and remove our own will. Therefore, we are not without a will or choice. We do have a will and choice; our will and choice are to do His will. We are not void of desires. We do have desires; our desire is to want what the Lord wants.
Concerning this point, we can learn from the example of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord’s will and the Father’s will were not one will; they were two wills. When we read the words, "Not as I will, but as You will" (Matt. 26:39), we realize that the Lord Jesus’ will and the Father’s will were two different things. There is clearly a distinction between "My own will" and "the will of Him who sent Me" (John 5:30). Although the Lord Jesus’ desire and the Father’s desire were two different wills that issued from two different channels, we see that our dear Lord’s will and the Father’s will never contradicted each other. Although the Lord Jesus had His own will, He dropped His own will to do the Father’s will. He placed His will on God’s side. He subjected His preferred will to the Father’s will. He did not do God’s will in a passive way. Rather, He voluntarily laid down His own will to do the Father’s will. He chose to "not want" His self-will and to "want" the Father’s will. His only will was to do the Father’s will. Originally, His will was different from the Father’s will. Yet He resolved to do the Father’s will with a will that was different from the Father’s will. Thus, His own will was to do the Father’s will. This is why the Father was pleased with Him all His life.
Briefly, the first step in seeking God’s will is to have neither a love nor a fear for the ways ahead of us (when one is not clear about the Lord’s will). At the same time, our hearts should adopt the attitude that we are ready to do God’s will. If we are willing to subject our will to God’s will, we have accomplished more than half of the work necessary to understand the Lord’s will. Most of our failures in knowing God’s will come at this point. The Lord reveals His will to those who are willing to do His will. As for those who are not willing to do His will, their seeking is a false seeking. His will can never be found by those who are seeking after Him in a false way. Therefore, if we have inclinations in our hearts, we should not speak of the Lord’s will so quickly. Instead, we should first trust in the Lord’s strength to deal with the desires of our hearts in a clear way. Then we can expect the Lord to show us His will. Otherwise, it will be useless even if we know and exhaust all the methods.
After our will is made subject to God, there is no barrier on our side to prevent God from showing us His will.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 02: The Word of the Cross, Chapter 5, by Watchman Nee)