What Is The "Will"


What Is "The Will"?

Quick Answer:

"The will is not the taste or the inclination, but it is the choice, the deciding power; the kingly power which works in the children of men unto obedience to God or to disobedience.” {Lt49-1887.12}

“What is the new heart? It is the new mind. What is the mind? It is the will." {1SAT 210.1}

"The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise." {SC 47.1}

"Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life." {SC 48.1}

The will is the sovereign gift of choice or decision that God has placed in our hands that can be exercised for good, and bring about new life and victory in our daily experience; or it can be exercised in making poor choices/decisions that enable Satan to maintain or regain control over our lives. Choosing victory is key to an overcoming life, for defeat comes to those who do not exercise their "will" in make good choices. Exercising the will also plays a prominent role in obtaining physical healing.—Dan

Directory On The Will

Bible Answers

Inspired Answers

Letters And Articles On The Will

Bible Answers:

Philippians 2:13 "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

2 Cor. 3:5 "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;"

Heb. 13:21 "Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

Ezekiel 36:25 "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."

Directory On The will

Inspired Answer:

A Key Excerpt On The Will

"Many are inquiring, “How am I to make the surrender of myself to God?” You desire to give yourself to Him, but you are weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits of your life of sin. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity, and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you; but you need not despair. What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him. {SC 47.1}  Desires for goodness and holiness are right as far as they go; but if you stop here, they will avail nothing. Many will be lost while hoping and desiring to be Christians. They do not come to the point of yielding the will to God. They do not now choose to be Christians. {SC 47.2}  Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast, and thus through constant surrender to God you will be enabled to live the new life, even the life of faith. {SC 48.1}

What Is The Will?

“Pure religion has to do with the will. The will is the governing power in the nature of man. If the will is set right, all the rest of the man will come under its sway. The will is not the taste or the inclination, but it is the choice, the deciding power; the kingly power which works in the children of men unto obedience to God or to disobedience.” {Lt49-1887.12}

“What is the new heart? It is the new mind. What is the mind? It is the will. Where is your will? It is either on Satan’s side or Christ’s side. Now it is up to you. Will you put your will today on Christ’s side of the question? That is the new heart. It is the new will, a new mind. “A new heart will I give thee.” Then let us begin right here.” {1SAT 210.1}

Is The Will—The Deciding Power—Different From "Will Power"?

"Remember that your willpower, the power of deciding, must be cultivated. {Lt66-1899.7}

[The phrase "deciding power" is used in LT49-1887.12 when defining "the will." In this quote, willpower is referred to in the same way, though worded slightly differently: "power of deciding." Willpower—sometimes split into two words: "will power," can also refer to a person exerting strong self-control, or having a strong resolute purpose. For example, she speaks of "men of determined purpose and strong willpower" in Ms24-1891.94.—Dan]

What Happened To The Will At The Time Of Adam's Fall? What Must We Do As A Result?

“This will of man that is of so great consequence was at the fall given into the control of Satan, and he has been working in man to will and to do of his own good pleasure, but to the utter ruin and misery of man. Now God made an infinite sacrifice in giving Jesus, His beloved Son, to become a sacrifice for sin, that God may now say, without violating one principle of His government, “Yield yourself up to Me, give Me that will, take it from the control of Satan, and I will take possession of it, I will work in you to will and to do My good pleasure.” Then He gives you the mind of Christ, the will becomes transformed and the character formed after Christ’s character. Does your will choose to do God’s will? Does your will choose to obey the Scriptures? “He that will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me; so shall he be My disciple.” [Matthew 16:24.] {Lt49-1887.15}

What Does Satan Try To Do With Our Will?

The will of man is aggressive, and is constantly striving to bend all things to its purposes. If it is enlisted on the side of God and right, the fruits of the Spirit will appear in the life; and God has appointed glory, honor, and peace to every man that worketh good. { RH August 25, 1896, par. 1 }  When Satan is permitted to mold the will, he uses it to accomplish his ends. ... It is Satan’s work to dethrone God from the heart, and to mold human nature into his own image of moral deformity. He stirs up the evil propensities, awakening unholy passions and ambitions. He says, “All this power, these honors, and riches, and sinful pleasures, will I give thee;” but his conditions are that integrity shall be yielded, conscience blunted. Thus he degrades the human faculties, and brings them into captivity to sin. { RH August 25, 1896, par. 3 }  ...  In this conflict of righteousness against unrighteousness, we can be successful only by divine aid. Our finite will must be brought into submission to the will of the Infinite; the human will must be blended with the divine. This will bring the Holy Spirit to our aid; and every conquest will tend to the recovery of God’s purchased possession, to the restoration of his image in the soul. { RH August 25, 1896, par. 5 }

"I saw that the will is either submitted to Jesus for Him to govern and lead, or the person retains or sets up his or her own will, not willing to submit to Jesus against his own peculiar desires or will. Then Satan steps in and he molds this will to his own pleasure. – {21MR 252.4}  Christ or Satan has the government of the will, and we are the subjects of one or the other. I was pointed to Christ. Although He was tempted of the devil forty days, yet His will was submitted to the will of His Father and He yielded not, although He was tempted stronger in every way by Satan than any of His disciples have ever been tempted. His will was not yielded to the will of the enemy for a moment." – {21MR 253.1}

How Do We Place Our Will In Christ's Hands?

“The living agent, by an act of faith of his own, places himself in the hands of the Lord for Him to work in him His good pleasure in His time. … This is a training process, a constant discipline of the mind and heart, that Christ shall work His great work in human hearts. Self, the old natural self, dies, and Christ’s will is our will, His way is our way, and the human agent becomes, with heart, mind, and intellect, an instrument in the hands of God to work no more wickedness, but the righteousness of Christ.” {1888 666.2} 

"Now God wants His converting power to come on this occasion. There are some that come to our meetings; they will sit all through the meetings; they have borne a few words of testimony now and then. They have gone home and done just exactly, if not worse, than before. Why? Because they had not the new heart. What is the new heart? It is the new mind. What is the mind? It is the will. Where is your will? It is either on Satan’s side or Christ’s side. Now it is [up to] you. Will you put your will today on Christ’s side of the question? That is the new heart. It is the new will, a new mind. “A new heart will I give thee.” [Ezekiel 36:26.] Then let us begin right here. {Ms36-1891.43} Conversion is simple, very simple. Let us commence right here to come into the kingdom of heaven. How? As a little child. Just as simple as simple can be. You may get all your mysteries of the new birth, and you cannot make anybody understand it, or understand it yourself. But the best way for you is to give your mind to Jesus Christ, and the mind is the will to put it on, and do just as Matthew did. {Ms36-1891.44} The Lord Jesus came to Matthew. He was in a very unpopular business, and all the Jews looked upon them to be despised, and Christ said to Matthew, “Matthew, follow Me.” [Matthew 9:9.] Did he say, “Oh Lord, when I get good enough I will follow you”? Did he say, “Oh Lord, when I have this agony, this awful agony [for] my sin, then I will come”? Well, that is what many of you are saying. [No,] he rose up and followed Him. He was walking in the light, because he could not follow Christ unless he was walking in the light. Well then, what are we to do? We are just to believe as simply as a little child. We are to take our position on the Lord’s side, and we are to be Christ’s children because He wants us to be, and because He died that we might be, and will we be?" {Ms36-1891.45}

Is It Easy To Surrender Our Will To God?

"The Christian life is a battle and a march. But the victory to be gained is not won by human power. The field of conflict is the domain of the heart. The battle which we have to fight—the greatest battle that was ever fought by man—is the surrender of self to the will of God, the yielding of the heart to the sovereignty of love. The old nature, born of blood and of the will of the flesh, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The hereditary tendencies, the former habits, must be given up.– {MB 141.2} ... The victory is not won without much earnest prayer, without the humbling of self at every step. Our will is not to be forced into co-operation with divine agencies, but it must be voluntarily submitted. Were it possible to force upon you with a hundredfold greater intensity the influence of the Spirit of God, it would not make you a Christian, a fit subject for heaven. The stronghold of Satan would not be broken. The will must be placed on the side of God’s will. You are not able, of yourself, to bring your purposes and desires and inclinations into submission to the will of God; but if you are “willing to be made willing,” God will accomplish the work for you, even “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5. Then you will “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." {MB 142.1}

What Level of Conformity To The Will Of God Is Required For Transformation?

"The only hope for us if we would overcome is to unite our will to God’s will and work in co-operation with Him, hour by hour and day by day. We cannot retain self and yet enter the kingdom of God. If we ever attain unto holiness, it will be through the renunciation of self and the reception of the mind of Christ. Pride and self-sufficiency must be crucified. Are we willing to pay the price required of us? Are we willing to have our will brought into perfect conformity to the will of God? Until we are willing, the transforming grace of God cannot be manifest upon us." {MB 143.2}

"True sanctification means perfect love, perfect obedience, perfect conformity to the will of God. We are to be sanctified to God through obedience to the truth. Our conscience must be purged from dead works to serve the living God. We are not yet perfect; but it is our privilege to cut away from the entanglements of self and sin, and advance to perfection. Great possibilities, high and holy attainments, are placed within the reach of all." {AA 565.1}

"We are to be brought into a sacred nearness with the world’s Redeemer. We are to be one with Christ, as he is one with the Father. What a wonderful change the people of God experience in coming into unity with the Son of God! We are to have our tastes, inclinations, ambitions, and passions all subdued, and brought into harmony with the mind and spirit of Christ. This is the very work that the Lord is willing to do for those who believe in him. Our life and deportment are to have a molding power in the world. The spirit of Christ is to have a controlling influence over the life of his followers, so that they will speak and act like Jesus. Christ says, 'The glory which thou gavest me I have given them.'" { RH July 2, 1889, par. 3 }

"Perfect conformity to the will of God is the high aim to be constantly before the Christian.” {CCh 345.5}

What Happens If Our Will Is Not Surrendered To God?

“Satan will always rule the will that is not under the control of the Spirit of God.” {ST December 20, 1899 Par. 2}

“The will of every human being should be under the discipline and control of God; for, uncontrolled, it is a dangerous element. Untold harm may be done if the enemy is allowed to take control of the human will.” {PUR February 16, 1905 Par. 1} 

"Let no one say, “I cannot overcome my defects of character”; for if this is your decision, then you cannot have eternal life. The impossibility is all in your will. If you will not, that constitutes the cannot. – {SD 115.2}  The real difficulty is the corruption of an unsanctified heart, and an unwillingness to submit to the will of God. When there is a determined purpose born in your heart to overcome, you will have a disposition to overcome, and will cultivate those traits of character that are desirable, and will engage in the conflict with steady, persevering effort. You will exercise a ceaseless watchfulness over your defects of character, and will cultivate right practices in little things. The difficulty of overcoming will be lessened in proportion as the heart is sanctified by the grace of Christ." – {SD 115.3} 

"Christ can do nothing for the recovery of man until, convinced of his own weakness and stripped of all self-sufficiency and pride, he puts himself under the control of God. Then and then only can he be a true subject of God. No confidence can be placed in human greatness, human intellect, or human plans. We must place ourselves under the guidance of an infinite mind, acknowledging that without Jesus we can do nothing. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” “Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” { RH August 18, 1896, par. 6 }

What Happens When Our Will Is Surrendered to God?

“When we place our will in unison with the will of God, the obedience that was exemplified in the life of Christ will be seen in our lives.” {ST December 20, 1899 Par.2}

“If the human agent consents, God can and will so identify His will with all our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His Word, that when obeying His will, we are only carrying out the impulses of our minds.” {OFC 268.5}

“As the will of man co-operates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His command, may be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enablings.” {COL 333.1}

“Man is safe only when he places himself under the control of God. When this is done, the will becomes firm and strong to do right; the heart is cleansed from all selfishness, and filled with a Christlike love and tenderness. The mind yields to the authority of the law of love, and “every thought is brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” The powers, hitherto “members of unrighteousness,” and “servants of sin,” are consecrated to the service of a God of love.” {ST November 19, 1896 Par. 9}

"The Master will take possession of, and use in fulfilling His will, every mind that is entirely surrendered to Him. This is the higher education which every Christian should most earnestly strive to obtain." { 18MR 103.3 }

"Christ will give strength to all who seek it. No man without his own consent can be overcome by Satan. The tempter has no power to control the will or force the soul to sin. He may distress, but he cannot contaminate. He can cause agony, but not defilement. The fact that Christ has conquered should inspire his followers with courage to fight manfully the battle against sin and Satan." – {RH December 17, 1908 Par. 6}

Does Surrendering Our Will Mean We Have No Will Of Our Own?

“God does not design that our will should be destroyed, for it is only through its exercise that we can accomplish what He would have us do. Our will is to be yielded to Him, that we may receive it again, purified and refined, and so linked in sympathy with the Divine that He can pour through us the tides of His love and power. However bitter and painful this surrender may appear to the willful, wayward heart, yet “it is profitable for thee.” {MB 62.2}

Can The Will—The Governing, Kingly Power—Be Damaged?

“The effort to “break the will” of a child is a terrible mistake. … Those who weaken or destroy individuality assume a responsibility that can result only in evil. While under authority, the children may appear like well-drilled soldiers; but when the control ceases, the character will be found to lack strength and steadfastness. Having never learned to govern himself, the youth recognizes no restraint except the requirement of parents or teacher. This removed, he knows not how to use his liberty, and often gives himself up to indulgence that proves his ruin. – {Ed 288.1}

[Ellen White wrote more on the will and raising children, some of which you will find in the Christian Family section of this website.]

Directory On The Will

What Does It Mean To Exercise The Will?

“The first step in the path of obedience is to surrender the will to God. This may seem a difficult thing to do; for Satan will present every possible objection, and will manufacture difficulties, and magnify perplexities before the mind; but take the first step, and the next step on the ladder of progress will be easier.” {RH October 9, 1894 Par. 6}

“The Spirit of God does not propose to do our part, either in the willing or the doing. This is the work of the human agent in cooperating with the divine agencies. As soon as we incline our will to harmonize with God’s will, the grace of Christ stands to cooperate with the human agent; but it will not be the substitute to do our work independent of our resolving and decidedly acting.” Lt 135, 1898

Does Abiding In Christ Have Anything To Do With Exercising Our Will?

"If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you,” are the words of Christ, which, abiding in the heart of the believer, transform his character. They are not a dead letter, but they are spirit and life. They are motive power to all action. ... Christ’s words are to a purpose, to lead men to will and to do. They are an impelling power, causing men to resolve and to act. But none are forced against their will. God’s grace will not supply the place of man’s co-operation. No amount of light, conviction, or grace can transform the character, only as man shall arouse to co-operate with God. The Holy Spirit puts forth its energies to break the power of Satan’s attractions and temptations upon the human mind; but the will must yield, human co-operation must be enlisted, for this is the indispensable condition of salvation. {ST December 28, 1891, par. 1}  “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” What! must man do this work of himself unaided?—No, no. This is his part in the action, but hear the conclusion: “For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good-pleasure.” Your will must blend with the divine will, and you must submit to the divine working. Your energies are required to co-operate with God. Without this, if it were possible to force upon you with a hundred-fold greater intensity the influences of the Spirit of God, it would not make you a Christian, a fit subject for heaven. The stronghold of Satan would not be broken. There must be the willing and the doing on the part of the receiver. There must be an action, represented as coming out from the world and being separate. There must be a doing of the words of Christ. The soul must be emptied of self, that Christ may pour his Spirit into the vacuum. Christ must be chosen as the heavenly guest. The will must be placed on the side of God’s will. Then there is a new heart, and new, holy resolves. It is Jesus enthroned in the soul that makes every action easy in his service. He is the fountain of all righteousness, the source of all happiness, the reservoir of all power. There must be a full trust in Christ’s words, and Christ must be all in all to the receiver. Grace, truth, and joy will fill the soul." {ST December 28, 1891, par. 2}

What Does It Mean To "Cultivate" The Will? Why Is The Will "Cultivated" When Binding It To The Will Of Christ?

"Remember that your willpower, the power of deciding, must be cultivated. If you would be what you might be but what you are not, you must bind up your will with the will of God. In short, you must yoke up with Christ. You must join yourself to the Lord. You then join your weak indecision to His firm strength of purpose, your ignorance to His wisdom, your unworthiness to His worthiness, your frailty to His enduring might. Then your words, your habits, your moral power, will be wholly on the Lord’s side. Spiritual poverty has passed away, because you have heeded the invitation, “Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich.” [Revelation 3:18.] {Lt66-1899.7}

"Every youth needs to cultivate decision. A divided state of the will is a snare, and will be the ruin of many youth. Be firm, else you will be left with your house, or character, built upon a sandy foundation. There are those who have the misfortune to be always on the wrong side, when the Lord would have them faithful men who can distinguish good from evil. {Ms121-1898.22}  In Pilgrim’s Progress there is a character called Pliable. Youth, shun this character. Those represented by it are very accommodating, but they are as a reed shaken by the wind. They possess no will power." {Ms121-1898.23}

What Is Our Part Versus God's Part In Exercising The Will?

"Man’s working, as brought out in the text [Php. 2:12,13], is not an independent work he performs without God. His whole dependence is upon the power and grace of the Divine Worker. Many miss the mark here, and claim that man must work his own individual self, free from Divine power. This is not in accordance with the text. Another argues that man is free from all obligation, because God does it all, both the willing and the doing. The text means that the salvation of the human soul requires the willpower to be subjective to the divine willpower, which will can’t be forced, but there must be co-operation of the human and divine agencies. {Lt135-1898.3}

"As soon as we incline our will to harmonize with God’s will, the grace of Christ stands to co-operate with the human agent; but it will not be the substitute to do our work independent of our resolving and decidedly acting." {Lt135-1898.9}

"It is man’s work to co-operate with the divine. And it is the very hardest, sternest conflict which comes with the purpose and hour of great resolve and decision of the human to incline the will and way to God’s will and God’s way, relying upon the gracious influences which accompanied him all his life long. The man must do the work of inclining, “For it is God which worketh in you (us) both to will and to do.” [Philippians 2:13.]" ... {Lt135-1898.13} 

"If man places his will on God’s side, fully surrendering self to God’s will, the high and holy endeavor of the human agent takes down the obstruction he himself has erected, the rubbish is cleared away from the door of the heart, the defiance and barricading of the soul is broken down. The door of the heart is opened and Jesus enters, to abide as a welcome guest. {Lt135-1898.14} 

"There is a great work to be done for many souls, but they don’t see it. They don’t realize it enough to go to work. Why, how, you say, can I be going to work to help myself? How can I do it? God works, and all you have to do is to cooperate with Him, and let Him work. Work in harmony with God. But He never works unless the human agent wills that He shall work, and works with Him. Then, with the human and the divine combined, we can make a glorious success. We will have the victory. Will you let Christ work on your human mind? Shall this glorious opportunity in 1891 pass over and work no decided change in our ideas and feelings? Go to work, brethren; go to work, sisters. I appeal to you to go to work." – {1SAT 211.4}

Directory On The Will

How Does Praise Affect Our Will Power [Power Of Deciding]

"As you confess before men and women your confidence in the Lord, additional strength is imparted to you. Determine to praise Him. With firm determination comes increased will power; and soon you will find that you cannot help praising Him. With David you will say: “I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. ... The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath He recompensed me.” [Psalm 18:3, 20.]" {Ms116-1902.46}

Is There Such A Thing As A Sanctified Will?

"The will of man is none too strong when it is sanctified and put on the side of Christ. The will is a power, ... it is necessary that the will should be sanctified. – {ST October 29, 1894 Par. 6} ... Those who have a sanctified will, that is in unison with the will of Christ, will day by day have their wills bound to the will of Christ, which will act in blessing others, and react upon themselves with divine power." – {ST October 29, 1894 Par. 7}

"Every day of our lives, we need a manifestation of the converting power of God. There must be a continual yielding of self to do the will of God. Our will is not a sanctified will unless it is in harmony with His will. And if it is in harmony with His will, our actions will bear testimony to that fact. God will not leave us in darkness, not knowing whether we are serving Him or not. We have the Word, and our actions will bear testimony as to whether or not we are obeying that Word." {Ms37-1908.28}

What Do We Learn From Christ About A Sanctified Will?

“Jesus Christ is our example in all things. He began life, passed through its experiences, and ended its record, with a sanctified human will. He was tempted in all points like as we are, and yet because he kept his will surrendered and sanctified, he never bent in the slightest degree toward the doing of evil, or toward manifesting rebellion against God.” {ST, October 29, 1894 par. 7}  

"The one absorbing aim of the life of Christ was to do the will of his heavenly Father. He did not become offended with God; for he lived not to please himself. The human will of Christ would not have led him to the wilderness of temptation, to fast, and to be tempted of the devil. It would not have led him to endure humiliation, scorn, reproach, suffering, and death. His human nature shrank from all these things as decidedly as ours shrinks from them. He endured the contradiction of sinners against himself. The contrast between the life and character of Christ and our life and character is painful to contemplate. What did Christ live to do? It was the will of his heavenly Father. Christ left us an example, that we should follow in his steps. Are we doing it?" – {ST October 29, 1894 Par. 9}

Directory On The Will

What Is The Outcome Of Exercising Our Will?

“When the power of Satan over souls is broken, we see men binding their will to the cross, and crucifying the flesh with the affections and lusts. It is indeed a crucifixion of self; for the will is surrendered to Christ. The will of man is none too strong when it is sanctified and put on the side of Christ. The will is a power, and as many triumphs are to be won in spiritual warfare, and many points of progress to be made in the spiritual journey, and many lessons to be learned from Christ, the great Teacher, it is necessary that the will should be sanctified. In surrendering the will, the root of the matter is reached. When the will is surrendered, the streams that flow from the fountain will not be bitter, but will be as pure as crystal.  {ST, October 29, 1894 par. 6}

"When you look at yourself, and think of the strength of temptation, you say, “I can not resist.” I tell you that you can resist. Tho you are weak and degraded, you may be a child of God. Tho self-indulgence has marked your path, it need not always be thus. You can resist temptation. Jesus is your Helper. In His strength you can overcome the power of appetite. Summon will-power to your aid; for unless your will is placed on the Lord’s side, you can never be successful in overcoming, in trying to elevate yourself. Do not think that you can not say, I can and I will. God has pledged Himself to help you in every determined effort you make to regain your manhood. If you accept His help, you will become a bright and shining light in the world, and will at last hear the benediction, “Well done.” – {ST January 30, 1901 Par. 6}

"The Lord Jesus, through sacrificing His life upon the cross, purposed by the agency of the Holy Spirit to bring man to see his position as a sinner and surrender his will to God’s will [Italics added]. He will sanctify every soul that will receive the gracious gift and give him power to become a son of God. He takes away the destructive tendencies of the sinful nature and brings the human agency into His service. Working through His Holy Spirit He sanctifies and cleanses the soul temple. Thus, though his whole powers had become deranged, man may be brought back, restored to his original relationship to God, and become an agent of good to every other man. In place of the diseased, soul-and-body-destroying principles of evil, he follows heavenly principles. Sanctified by the agency of the Holy Spirit, his influence upon his fellow man becomes aggressive to expel from the earth the evils produced through the satanic perversion of that which God designed should be only good. All these perverted powers the Lord Jesus will turn to His service, and man becomes the human channel to work the will of God to redeem and bring back a world that has broken away from [its] allegiance to God and to unite them to their proper center." {Ms176-1902}

Can Exercising Our Will Positively Affect Daily Activities?

"In preparing the meals, make your calculations, giving yourself all the time that you know by experience you will require in order to cook the food thoroughly and place it upon the table at the proper time. But it is better to be ready five minutes before the time than to be five minutes late. In washing dishes, also, the work may be done with dispatch, and yet with care and thoroughness. Slow, dilatory habits make much work out of very little. But if you will, you may overcome these fussy, lingering habits. The exercise of the will power will make the hands move deftly.—The Youth’s Instructor, January 28, 1897." { Ev 480.4}

Can Exercising Our Will Affect Our Health?

"Thousands are sick and dying around us who might get well and live if they would, but their imagination holds them. They fear that they will be made worse if they labor, when this is just the change they need to make them well. Without this, they can never improve. They should exercise the power of the will, rise above their aches and debility, engage in useful employment, and forget that they have aching backs, sides, lungs, and heads." – {11MR 196.2} 

"The power of the will is not valued as it should be. Let the will be kept awake and rightly directed, and it will impart energy to the whole being and will be a wonderful aid in the maintenance of health. It is a power also in dealing with disease. Exercised in the right direction, it would control the imagination and be a potent means of resisting and overcoming disease of both mind and body. By the exercise of the will power in placing themselves in right relation to life, patients can do much to co-operate with the physician’s efforts for their recovery. There are thousands who can recover health if they will. The Lord does not want them to be sick. He desires them to be well and happy, and they should make up their minds to be well. Often invalids can resist disease simply by refusing to yield to ailments and settle down in a state of inactivity. Rising above their aches and pains, let them engage in useful employment suited to their strength. By such employment and the free use of air and sunlight, many an emaciated invalid might recover health and strength." – {MH 246.1} 

"The Lord has shown me that many who are always complaining, and are apparently feeble, are not in so bad a condition as they think. Some of them have a powerful will, which, if exercised in the right direction, would control the imagination, and be a potent means of resisting disease; but it is too frequently the case that the will is on the wrong side, and stubbornly refuses to yield to reason. That will has settled the matter: invalids they are, and the attention given to invalids they will have, irrespective of the judgment of others." { CTBH 102.1 } 

What Is The Danger Of Inactivity And The Will?

"Those who have overtaxed their physical powers should not be advised to forgo labor entirely. To shut them away from all exercise would in many cases prevent their restoration to health. The will goes with the labor of the hands; and when the will power is dormant, the imagination becomes abnormal, so that it is impossible for the sufferer to resist disease. Inactivity is the greatest curse that could come upon one in such a condition. {CH 199.3} ... Nature’s fine and wonderful mechanism needs to be constantly exercised in order to be in a condition to accomplish the object for which it was designed. The do-nothing system is a dangerous one in any case. Physical exercise in the direction of useful labor has a happy influence upon the mind, strengthens the muscles, improves the circulation, and gives the invalid the satisfaction of knowing how much he can endure, and that he is not wholly useless in this busy world; whereas, if this is restricted, his attention is turned to himself and he is in constant danger of exaggerating his difficulties. If invalids would engage in some well-directed physical exercise, using their strength but not abusing it, they would find it an effective agent in their recovery. {CH 199.4}


Directory On The Will

What About Exercising The Will In The Area Of Appetite?

"The only safe course is to touch not, taste not, and handle not, tea, coffee, wines, tobacco, opium, and alcoholic drinks. There is double necessity for the men of this generation to call to their aid the power of the will, strengthened by the grace of God, in order to withstand the temptations of Satan, and resist the least indulgence of perverted appetite. The present generation have less power of self-control than those who have lived several generations back. Those who have indulged the appetite for these stimulants have transmitted their depraved appetites and passions to their children, and greater moral power is required to resist the indulgence of intemperance in all its forms. The only perfectly safe course to pursue is to stand firmly on the side of temperance and not venture in the path of danger." – {HR August 1, 1875 Par. 9} 

"Let me say to him who is struggling to overcome, God presents before you a strong hope, that you may lay hold on eternal life. Lose no opportunity of becoming a man. When you look at yourself, and realize the strength of temptation, you feel so weak in moral power that you say, “I cannot resist.” I tell you, you can resist, you must resist temptation. Although you may have been overcome, although moral debasement may have marked your course, it need not always be thus. Jesus is your helper. In his strength you can overcome the beguiling power of appetite. Summon will-power to your aid. { CTBH 147.2 }  The will is the governing power in the nature of man. If the will is set right, all the rest of the being will come under its sway. The will is not the taste or the inclination, but it is the choice, the deciding power, the kingly power, which works in the children of men unto obedience to God or to disobedience. { CTBH 147.3 }  If you will fight the fight of faith with your will-power, there is no doubt that you will conquer. { CTBH 148.1 } Your part is to put your will on the side of Christ. When you yield your will to his, he immediately takes possession of you, and works in you to will and to do of his good pleasure. Your nature is brought under the control of his Spirit. Even your thoughts are subject to him. If you cannot control your impulses, your emotions, as you may desire, you can control the will, and thus an entire change will be wrought in your life." { CTBH 148.2 }

What About The Will And Families?

"Fathers, mothers, I am to say to you that you are to be converted daily. I am charged to impress this fact by repeating it to fathers and mothers. I am charged to bear my testimony. God has given to every character His divine power to cultivate religiously. Improve your capability. Let every married party understand. God has planned that the Prince of peace shall abide in your house. Do not forget that there is to be a sanctified will power called into action. We have a grand work before us. The family claiming to be Christians, if they follow on to know the Lord, will overcome all their hasty speech. The husband and the wife will speak kindly and seek to be a blessing to each other, because Jesus came to our world to live as our example, that we may copy His character." {Ms65-1911.15}

How Often Should We Surrender Our Will to God?

“My will must be given to God every day. I must have a growing faith. I find it a constant warfare to fight the good fight of faith. Unseen foes are constantly on my track, to weaken and discourage me. There must be a constant decision of my will to believe that God means just what He says; and if I continue to put my trust in Jesus, the source of all power, He has assured me that He will keep that which I have committed to His trust, against that day. I want to know that I am triumphant in God every day, that every emotion, every thought, is brought into captivity to the mind and will of God. I want the assurance that He has taken possession of that will which I have placed in His hands.” {Lt42-1890.4}

Should The Surrender Of The Will Be Ongoing!

“This is the secret of their power. Much prayer, and a humbling of the heart, a constant surrender of the will to God, will bring the help pledged to every worker by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Angels of God will work for those who yield themselves to the leading of the Spirit.” {7MR 354.1}

“Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life.” {SC 48.1}

"God does nothing without the co-operation of man. He compels no man’s will. That must be given to the Lord completely.... The potter cannot mold and fashion unto honor that which has never been placed in his hands. The Christian life is one of daily surrender, submission and continual overcoming, gaining fresh victories every day. This is the growing up into Christ, fashioning the life into the divine model." – {1888 667.

What If We Feel Nothing Has Changed?

“You must choose to believe, although nothing seems true and real to you. … Your part is to put your will over on the side of Christ in the matter of faith. Just as you yield up your will to the will of Jesus Christ, God immediately takes possession of that will, and works in you to will and to do of His good pleasure; and all of your nature is brought under the control of the spirit of Christ, even your thoughts are subject to Him. You cannot control your impulses, your emotions, as you may desire, but you can control the will, and you can make an entire change in your life. Your life, by yielding up your will to Christ, is hid with Christ in God and allied to the power which is above all principalities and powers. You have a strength from God that holds you fast to His strength, and a new life, even the life of living faith, is possible to you. But your will must co-operate with God’s will….” Letter 49, 1887

"When Christ takes possession of the citadel of the soul, the human agent becomes one with him. And he who is one with Christ, maintaining his unity, enthroning him in the heart, and obeying his commands, is safe from the snares of the wicked one. United to Christ, he gathers to himself the graces of Christ, and consecrates strength and efficiency and power to the Lord in winning souls to him. By co-operation with the Saviour he becomes the instrument through which God works. Then when Satan comes, and strives to take possession of the soul, he finds that Christ has made him stronger than the strong man armed. { RH December 12, 1899, Art. A, par. 5 }  The moment you grasp God’s promises by faith, saying, I am the lost sheep Jesus came to save, a new life will take possession of you, and you will receive strength to resist the tempter. But faith to grasp the promises does not come by feeling. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” You must not look for some great change to take place; you must not expect to feel some wonderful emotion. The Spirit of God alone can make a lasting impression on the mind. { RH September 15, 1896, par. 11 }  Christ longs to see his people resist the adversary of souls; but only by looking away from self to Jesus can we do this. Cease to bemoan your helpless condition; for your Saviour is touched with the feeling of your infirmities, and today he says to you, Be not discouraged, but cast your burdens upon me. I will take them all, and will bring to pass that which is good for your soul. Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, we shall be inspired with hope and shall see the salvation of God; for he is able to keep us from falling. When we are tempted to mourn, let us force our lips to utter the praises of God; for he is worthy of praise. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” “Trust ye in the Lord forever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” { RH September 15, 1896, par. 12 }

Directory On The Will

What If We Are Still Struggling?

"Why is it so hard for many to walk uprightly before God? It is because they are trying to serve two masters, a thing which the Saviour declares no man can do. If they would give themselves to Jesus, he would take possession of the soul, and every wrong desire, every false ambition, every evil purpose, would be brought into subjection to the will of God. This is the sanctification that Christ meant when he said, “I sanctify myself.” This is the sanctification that he desired for his disciples when he prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth.” We profess to be sons and daughters of the Lord; the chosen ones of Christ, of whom he says, “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, ever as I am not of the world.” What right have we to let the things of the world take possession of the heart and engross our energies? What right have we to make the heart a highway for the world’s travel, or to imitate its customs and practices? We cannot serve God and mammon. We must come out from the world, and be separate. Its fashions are not to control us; its principles are not to be our principles." – {ST August 6, 1885 Par. 6}

"God cannot work for a man who cherishes a perverse will. A self-serving will has shut away thousands from the kingdom of heaven. But when we place ourselves in the hands of the Lord without the least reservation, to be molded and fashioned after His similitude, God will work, and make our will complete in His will." {Ms29-1896.15}

"Your will is unsanctified, not subject to God’s will. Fearful have been the responsibilities you have been willing to take upon yourself. Only let your will be gratified and you would risk the consequences. ... I saw that you were a slave, yes, a slave, to your own unsubdued will. You are in complete bondage. It holds control and cruel power over you. {21MR 254.1} I saw that your will, your set will, must die, or your hopes of eternal life; both cannot live at the same time. ... You must leave all to follow Jesus. Then, ... you will realize the blessing of God. Then can you say, “The yoke of Christ is easy, His burden light.” {21MR 254.2}

"You were the very one I was shown who was under the power of demons. “When this young man gives himself to Christ, the victory is gained.” Said the heavenly voice, “Break with the deceiver. He is deluding your soul to your ruin. He will not let you go; only the power of the Mighty Deliverer can save you.” Charge not my precious loving Saviour with your unhappiness and your ruin. The storm of temptation has swayed you like a reed in the wind, and through these bitter and almost overwhelming storms you have clung to your mantle of pride, hugging it closer about you. Prostrated in the dust, you are apparently devoid of willpower, without strength to rise. No earthly friend is powerful enough to raise you. You still cling to your pride; you utter the words of Satan abiding in your heart. Said Christ, “It is not he but a demon that speaks. I will save him if he will trust in me as a little child trusts in his father, his mother.”  {13MR 148.2}  Lay your pride at the feet of One who owns you, who loves with a love that is infinite. Stand in your God-given manhood, in the strength of Him who can save to the uttermost all who come unto Him. Then your purposes will not be like ropes of sand. In His presence, standing under the shadow of the cross, His mercy, His love, His forgiveness, cover the blackest stains of sin. The Holy Spirit helpeth your infirmities. The Master has work for you to do, to speak words of hope, of comfort, of love, of Christ’s forgiveness, pardon, to the helpless, the wandering, the lost. You have no will that leads you to Jesus, but a will that leads you away from Him. With open arms He will receive you. {13MR 149.1}

"The reason why the youth, and even those of mature years, are so easily led into temptation and sin, is that they do not study the word of God and meditate upon it as they should. The lack of firm, decided will power, which is manifest in life and character, results from neglect of the sacred instruction of God’s word. They do not by earnest effort direct the mind to that which would inspire pure, holy thought and divert it from that which is impure and untrue. There are few who choose the better part, who sit at the feet of Jesus, as did Mary, to learn of the divine Teacher. Few treasure His words in the heart and practice them in the life." {MH 458.2}

Should We Ever Complain That We Are Too Weak?

“Let us no longer gratify the enemy by complaining of the strength of our evil will; for in so doing we are feeding and encouraging our wills against God, and pleasing the evil one.” {ST October 29, 1894 Par. 8}

How Does Conversing About Jesus Affect Satan's Desire To Be Around Us?

“Train and educate the mind to think and to talk of Jesus, and Satan will lose his power over you. He cannot long bear to be in the company of those who meditate and converse upon the love of God. In this way the mind is strengthened.”{ST September 4, 1893 Par. 5}

What Will Be The Outcome Of Submitting To Christ?

"Everything that we of ourselves can do is defiled by sin. But the Son of God “was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin.” Sin is defined to be “the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:5, 4. But Christ was obedient to every requirement of the law. He said of Himself, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God; yea, Thy law is within My heart.” Psalm 40:8. When on earth, He said to His disciples, “I have kept My Father’s commandments.” John 15:10. By His perfect obedience He has made it possible for every human being to obey God’s commandments. When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness. Then as the Lord looks upon us He sees, not the fig-leaf garment, not the nakedness and deformity of sin, but His own robe of righteousness, which is perfect obedience to the law of Jehovah." {COL 311.4}

Directory On The Will


Letters And Articles From Ellen White On The Will

The Henri Frey Letter

This may be the most instructive letter on the will that I have found from the pen of Ellen White. Portions of the letter are quoted in various volumes of Ellen White and provide helpful information. The letter, however, provides detail that is not found elsewhere, and significantly contributes to the practical understanding of "the will."—Dan

"You are often discouraged at finding yourself weak in moral power, controlled by habits and customs of your old life in sin, to find yourself in slavery to doubt, and inefficient. You find your emotional nature untrue to your best resolutions, untrue to your most solemn pledges. Nothing seems real. Your own inefficiencies lead you to doubt the sincerity of those who would do you good. The more you struggle in doubt, the more unreal everything looks to you, until it seems that there is no solid ground for you anywhere. Your promises are nothing, they are like ropes of sand, and you regard the words and works of those whom you should trust in the same unreal light. You will be in constant peril until you understand the true force of the will. You may believe and promise all things, but I would not give a straw for your promises or your faith until you put your will over on the believing and doing side. If you will fight the fight of faith with your will power, in the work, I have not the least doubt that you will conquer." (Read all of the instructive letter to Henri Frey.)

To Abide In Christ The Will Must Be Surrendered

In this article, one learns about the sanctification of the will and how it must be surrendered to Christ. Note the following:

"Those who have a sanctified will, that is in unison with the will of Christ, will day by day have their wills bound to the will of Christ, which will act in blessing others, ankmd react upon themselves with divine power. Many cultivate those things which war against the soul; for their desires and their will are set against God, and employed in the service of Satan. – {ST October 29, 1894 Par. 7} (Read all of the article on the need to surrender the will.)

Lessons On The Will From The Life Of Christ

"What kind of a will am I cultivating? Have I been gratifying my own desires, confirming myself in selfishness and obstinacy? If we are doing this, we are in peril; for Satan will always rule the will that is not under the control of the Spirit of God. When we place our will in unison with the will of God, the obedience that was exemplified in the life of Christ will be seen in our lives." (Read three important paragraphs on how Christ exercised His will.)

"Willing And Doing" Man's Part Versus God's Part"

In this article Ellen White gives important understandings on what it means to do "our" part, and how it allows God to do His "part."

Additional Information

You will also find information about the will over in the section on raising children. 

Directory On The Will

Bible Answers

Inspired Answers

Letters And Articles On The Will

Directory On The Will

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