War On The Saints Home Page
by Jessie Penn-Lewis, with Evan Roberts
World Wide Web Edition (Based on Unabridged 1912 Edition)

Chapter 9

The Volition and Spirit of Man

It is now necessary to see from the Scriptures the true way in which God works in the believer, in contradistinction to the way of Satan and his wicked spirits; for the principle of co-operation with God,note 1 and not passive control by Him, must be fully understood, not only as the basis of deliverance from deception and possession, but also as the basis for the warfare which will be dealt with in our next chapter.

Briefly, it may be said that the Holy Spirit dwelling in the regenerate human spirit, energizes and works through the faculties of the soul and the members of the body, only in and with, the active co-operation of the WILL Of the believer, i.e., God in the spirit of man, does not use the man's hand apart from the "I will use my hand" of the man himself.note 2


When Paul said, "His working, which worketh in me mightily" (Col. 1: 29), he first said, "I labour according to" His working. The "I labour" did not mean that hands and feet and mind worked automatically in response to a Divine energizing, as the engine works in response to the steam, but at the back of the "I labour" was the full action of Paul's will, saying "I choose to labour," and "as I labour, God's power and energy energizes me in the acting," so that it is "I who live and move and work," and "yet not I, but Christ--the 'Spirit of Christ' in me." (See Gal. 2: 20; Phil. 1: 19).

It was so in the Greater than Paul, Who said, "I came not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me," "The Son can do nothing of Himself," and yet He said also, "My Father worketh hitherto and I work." "The works that I do shall ye do also!" He had a separate will, but He came not to do His own will, but the will of the Father, and He was doing the Father's will when He said to the one who sought His healing power, "I WILL, be thou clean!"

Thus it should be in the life of the believer. Granted the essential union of his will with the will of God, and the energizing power of the Holy Spirit, by his own deliberate choice of harmony with that Holy Will, the believer is actively to use his will in ruling himself in spirit, soul and body. God dwelling in his spirit co-working with him through his exercised volition.note 3


For deliverance from the power of sin and protection from deceiving spirits in their workings, it is important to have a clear apprehension of God's purpose in redemption. God created man, with dominion over himself. This dominion was exercised by his act of will, even as it was by his Creator. But man fell, and, in his fall, yielded his will to the rule of Satan, who from that time by the agency of his evil spirits has ruled the world, through the enslaved will of fallen man. Christ the Second Adam came, and taking the place of man, chose obedience to the Father's will, and never for one moment diverged from His perfect co-operation with that will. In the wilderness He refused to exercise the Divine power at the will of Satan, and in Gethsemane in suffering His will never wavered in the choice of the Father's will. As Man He willed the will of God right through, becoming obedient even unto death, thus regaining for regenerated man, not only reconciliation with God, but liberty from Satan's thraldom, and the restoration of man's renewed and sanctified will to its place of free action,note 4 deliberately and intelligently exercised in harmony with the will of God.

Christ wrought out for man upon Calvary's Cross salvation of spirit, soul, and body, from the dominion of sin and Satan; but that full salvation is wrought out in the believer through the central action of the will, as he deliberately chooses the will of God for each department of his tripartite nature.

The will of the man united to the will of God--and thus having the energizing power of God working with his volition--is to rule his (1) "own spirit" (see Prov. 25: 28; 1 Cor. 14: 32); (2) thoughts or mind (Col. 3: 2) inclusive of all the soul-powers; and (3) body (1 Cor. 9: 27), and when, by the appropriation of God's freeing power from slavery to sin and Satan, the believer regains free action of his will so that he gladly and spontaneously wills the will of God, and as a renewed man re-takes dominion over spirit, soul and body, he reigns in life "through . . Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5: 17).

But the natural man does not reach this stage of renewal and liberation of his will, without first knowing the regeneration of his own human spirit. God is not in fallen man until the moment of his new birth (Ephes. 2: 12; 3: 16; John 3: 5-8). He must be "begotten of God;" the very fact of such a begetting being necessary, declares the non-existence of Divine life in him previously. After such a begetting, it is also necessary to understand that the regenerated man does not, as a rule, immediately become a spiritual man, i.e., a man wholly dominated by, and walking after the spirit.


At first the regenerated man is but a "babe in Christ, manifesting many of the characteristics of the natural man in jealousy, strife,note 5 etc., until he apprehends the need of a fuller reception of the Holy Spirit to dwell in the regenerated spirit as His sanctuary.

The unregenerate man is wholly dominated by soul and body. The regenerate man has his spirit (I) quickened, and (2) indwelt by the Holy Spirit, yet may he governed

by soul and body because his spirit is compressed and bound. The spiritual man has his spirit liberated from bondage to the soul (Heb. 4: 12) to be the organ of the Holy Spirit in mind and body.

It is then that, by the Holy Spirit's power, his volition is brought into harmony with God in all His laws and purposes, and the whole outer man into self-control. Thus it is written "The fruit of the Spirit . . . is self-control" (Gal. 5: 23, m). It is not only love, joy, peace, long-

suffering, and gentleness, manifested through the channel of the soul--the personality--but in a true dominion over the world of himself, (1) every thought brought into

captivity, in the same obedience to the will of the Father as was manifested in Christ (2 Cor. 10: 5); (2) his spirit "ruled" also from the chamber of the will, so that he is

of a "cool spirit" and can "'keep back" or utter at his will what is in his spirit as well as what is in his mind (Prov. 17: 27, m.), and (3) his body so obedient to the helm of the will, that it is a disciplined and alert instrument for God to energize and empower; that body an instrument to be handled intelligently as a vehicle for service, and not any longer master of the man, or the mere tool of Satan and unruly desires.


All this is fully made clear in the New Testament Epistles. "Our old man was crucified with Him" is said of the work of Christ at Calvary, but on the part of the one who desires this potential fact made true in his life, he is called upon to declare his attitude of choice with decisive action, both in the negative and positive positions. The Apostle appeals again and again to the redeemed believer to act decisively with his will, as the following few passages show:--

Negative Positive
"Cast off the works of darkness." "Put on the armour of light."
Rom. 13: 12. Rom. 13: 12.
"Put away the old man." "Put on the new man."
Eph. 4: 22. Eph. 4: 24.
"Put off the old man with his doings." "Put on the new man."
Col. 3: 9. Col. 3: 10.
"Put to death your members." "Present your members unto God."
Col. 3: 5. Rom. 6: 13.
"Put off the body of the flesh." "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh."
Col. 2: 11. Rom. 13: 14.

See also Ephes. 6: 13, 16
"Take up the whole amour. . .
"Put on a heart of compassion."
Col. 3:12
"Put on the whole armour of God."
Eph. 6: 11

All these passages describe a decisive act of the will, not toward exterior things, but toward things in an unseen, immaterial sphere, incidentally showing the effect in the spiritual sphere of a man's volitional action.note 6 They also emphasize the effect of the decisive use of the will of man, when it acts in harmony with the liberating power of Christ. Christ has done the work on Calvary's Cross, but that work is applied in fact through the action of the believer's own will, acting as if he himself had power to "cast off" the invisible works of darkness, and finding with this action of his will, the co- working of the Spirit of God making the casting off effectual.

In saving the man, God calls him into co-action with Himself, to "work out his own salvation,"note 7 for it is God Who works with and in him, to enable him to will and to do His pleasure.


In the hour of his regeneration God gives to man the decisive liberty of will to rule over himself, as he walks in fellowship with God. And by this restoration of a will free to act in choosing for God, SATAN LOSES HIS POWER. Satan is the god of this world, and he rules the world through the will of men enslaved by him, enslaved not only directly, but indirectly, by his inciting men to enslave one another, and to covet the power of "influence," whereas they should work with God to restore to every man the freedom of his own personal volition, and the power of choice to do right because it is right, obtained for them at Calvary.

In this direction we can see the working of the world-rulers of darkness in the realm which they govern, directly in atmospheric influence, and indirectly through men, in (1) hypnotic suggestion,note 8 (2) thought reading, (3) will controlling, and other forms of invisible force, sometimes employed for the supposed good of others.

The danger of all forms of healing by "suggestion," and all kindred methods of seeking to benefit men in physical or mental ways, lies in their bringing about a passivity of the will,note 9 and mental powers, which lays them open to Satanic influences later on.


The liberation of the will from its passive condition, and control by the prince of this world, takes place when the believer sees his right of choice, and begins to deliberately place his will on God's side, and thus choose the will of God. Until the will is fully liberated for action, it is helpful for the believer to assert his decision frequently by saying, "I choose the will of God, and I refuse the will of Satan." The soul may not even be able to distinguish which is which,note 10 but the declaration is having effect in the unseen world, i.e., God works by His Spirit in the man as he chooses His will, energizing him through his volition to continually refuse the claims of sin and Satan; and Satan is thereby rendered more and more powerless, whilst the man is stepping out into the salvation obtained potentially for him at Calvary, and God is gaining once more a loyal subject in a rebellious world.

On the part of the believer the action of the will is governed by the understanding of the mind, i.e., the mind sees what to do, the will chooses to do it, and then from the spirit comes the power to fulfil the choice of the will, and the knowledge of the mind. For example, the man (1) sees that he should speak, (2) he chooses or wills to speak, (3) he draws upon the power in his spirit to carry out his decisions. This means knowledge of how to use the spirit, and the necessity of knowing the laws of the spirit, so as to fully co-operate with the Holy Ghost.


But the believer thus co-operating with God in the use of his volition, must understand that the choice of the will is not sufficient alone, as we see by Paul's words in Rom. 7: 18. "To will is present with me, but to do . . .is not." Through the spirit, and by the strengthening of the Holy Spirit in the "inward man" (the regenerate human spiritnote 11--Eph. 3: 16), is the liberated will desirous and determined to do God's will, empowered to carry out its choice. "It is God which worketh in you . . to will," i.e., to enable the believer to decide or choose. Then it is "God which worketh in you . . to do His pleasure" (Phil. 2: 13), i.e., energizes the believer with power to carry out the choice.

That is, God gives the power to do, from the spirit where He dwells, and by the believer understanding the using of his spirit, as clearly as he understands the use (1) of his will, (2) of is mind, or (3) of his body. He must know how to discern the sense of his spirit, so as to understand the will of God, before he can do it.


That the human spirit is a distinct organism,note 12 as separate from the soul and body, is very clearly recognized in the Scriptures, as these few verses show.

"The spirit of man." 1 Cor. 2: 11. "My spirit prayeth." 1 Cor. 14: 14.
"The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit." Rom. 8: 16. ". . .my spirit. . ." 1 Cor. 5:4.
"Relief in my spirit."note 13 2 Cor. 2: 13.

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