from Norman Grubb’s God Unlimited up for discussion:
“There is no need to force a person’s will. All the other person need do is attract and captivate our ‘want,’ and then we will love to act in harmony with him….People often ask, How can we conceive of God changing a person’s will if he is free? The answer is that God changes our ‘want,’ and the will follows spontaneously. Once God has captured our wills by drawing us back to Himself through Christ, then it is He in us who ‘wills and does of His good pleasure’ and it is we who naturally, gladly, freely work it out.”
I started to reply in a comment on his post and then realized my comment was going to be longer than his post. Thinking that bad form I decided to just post it here and trackback to him.
In response to this quote, I would agree and disagree.
“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.”–John 6:44
Charles Spurgeon, possibly my favorite preacher, writes the following regarding our will.
Christ never compelled any man to come to him against his will. If a man be unwilling to be saved, Christ does not save him against his will. How, then, does the Holy Spirit draw him? Why, by making him willing. It is true he does not use “moral suasion;” he knows a nearer method of reaching the heart. He goes to the secret fountain of the heart, and he knows how, by some mysterious operation, to turn the will in an opposite direction, so that, as Ralph Erskine paradoxically puts it, the man is saved “with full consent against his will;” that is, against his old will he is saved. But he is saved with full consent, for he is made willing in the day of God’s power.
Speaking of our want, he says this.
…the affections, which constitute a very great part of man, are depraved. Man, as he is, before he receives the grace of God, loves anything and everything above spiritual things…It is but human nature, fallen human nature, that man should love this present life better than the life to come. It is but the effect of the fall, that man should love sin better than righteousness, and the ways of this world better than the ways of God. And again, we repeat it, until these affections be renewed, and turned into a fresh channel by the gracious drawings of the Father, it is not possible for any man to love the Lord Jesus Christ.
So far this tends to agree with Grubb. The disagreement comes in regards to the last sentence of the Grubb quote. The idea that God merely captures our will by changing our want and then we “work it out” because we want to.
…if all that God the Spirit does for me is to make me willing to do these things for myself, am I not in a great measure a sharer with the Holy Spirit in the glory? and may I not boldly stand up and say, “It is true the Spirit gave me the will to do it, but still I did it myself, and therein will I glory; for if I did these things myself without assistance from on high, I will not cast my crown at his feet; it is my own crown, I earned it, and I will keep it.” Inasmuch as the Holy Spirit is evermore in Scripture set forth as the person who worketh in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure, we hold it to be a legitimate inference that he must do something more for us than the mere making of us willing, and that therefore there must be another thing besides want of will in a sinner–there must be absolute and actual want of power.
Not only does God change our will and want, he also gives us the power to act on the new affections he has given us.