Two wills in God?

“[God’s] will of decree is not his will in the same sense as his will of command is. Therefore it is not difficult at all to suppose that the one may be otherwise than the other: his will in both senses is his inclination. But when we say he wills virtue, or loves virtue or the happiness of his creature; thereby is intended that virtue or the creature’s happiness, absolutely and simply considered, is agreeable to the inclination of his nature. His will of decree is his inclination to a thing not as to that thing absolutely and simply, but with reference to the universality of things. So God, though he hates a things as it is simply, may incline to it with reference to the universality of things.” (Jonathan Edwards)

Some do hold that there is a “will of precept” and a “will of decree”, when considering the will of God, the “preceptive will” would be God’s commands, his desires for us, and his “decretive will” would be his actual decisions that this or this shall actually happen. Yet in discussions of this, it seems to come down to God’s desires being different from his decisions, or God’s desires differing with his will, where “will” means Gods choices in acting.

“There is a genuine inclination in God’s heart to spare those who have committed treason against his kingdom. But his motivation is complex, and not every true element in it rises to the level of effective choice. In his great and mysterious heart there are kinds of longings and desires that are real— they tell us something true about his character. Yet not all of these longings govern God’s actions. He is governed by the depth of his wisdom expressed through a plan that no ordinary human deliberation would ever conceive (Romans 11:33-36; 1 Corinthians 2:9). There are holy and just reasons for why the affections of God’s heart have the nature and intensity and proportion that they do.” (John Piper, “Are There Two Wills in God?”)

So this presents some problems, for an unfufilled desire is the definition of experiencing frustration, and making a decision between alternatives, when you would rather have other alternatives to choose from, is the definition of having to compromise (though certainly the sense of compromising with evil is not meant).

“Frustration: 1) The condition that results when an impulse or an action is thwarted by an external or an internal force. 2) The blocking or thwarting of an impulse, purpose, or action.” (American Heritage Dictionary)

“Compromise: Make a compromise; arrive at a compromise; ‘nobody will get everything he wants; we all must compromise.'” (Webster’s Dictionary)

So can God be said to experience some measure of frustration? Must he be said to have to compromise? This seems not to be scriptural:

Isaiah 46:10  I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.

“All I please” would imply no need to choose between two bad alternatives. And this also would mean no desire of God’s is ever frustrated, “all I please”:

Psalm 135:6 Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.

Or “he has done” (Darby, KJV, Rotherham, Young’s). So no, this is not scriptural, God does all his will, he has no unfulfilled desires, he is never frustrated, and never has to compromise.

Isaiah 46:10 Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’ (NAU)

Isaiah 46:10 … who says, ‘My plan will be realized, I will accomplish what I desire.’ (NET)

MK 3:35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.

LK 7:30 But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves.

JN 7:17 If anyone chooses to do God’s will…

1TH 4:3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality.

1TH 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

All of these verses speak of God’s will, with a real possibility that it may not be, or even was not, fulfilled (see also Acts 20:27, Rom. 12:2, Eph. 6:6, Col. 4:12, 1 Pt. 2:15; 4:2, 1 Jn. 2:17). But here is Augustine:

“The will of God is the necessity of all things” (De Genes. ad Liter., lib. 6, cap. 15)

“Therefore the great works of the Lord are contrived according to his desire, so that in a wonderful and ineffable way what is done against his will is yet not done beyond his will; for it would not be done did he not allow, and allow it not unwillingly, but willingly” (Enchir. ad Laur., cap. 100)

And Calvin:

“It comes to this, that though men wanton like untamed animals bound by no ties, yet they are ruled by a secret rein so that they cannot move a finger without performing God’s rather than their own work.”

And if God’s will expressed in his commands is indeed eventually done, then the will of God is done in all senses, if these rebellious Pharisees can repent, even after judgment–if we may hope for all to be saved, and if believers will indeed be holy in conduct, the will of God will be done as it is in heaven, that is, willingly, and not unwillingly.

Yet is it still the will of God when believers sin? Well, would it be better if God stopped all sinful thoughts right now, and punished them immediately and completely? Would it be better for God to make each person holy completely upon conversion?

If not, then God does have a purpose, even for sin, and if he is in control, then even a believer sinning accomplishes his purpose, and is within his will:

Daniel 11:35 Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.

1 Thessalonians 4:3 For this is God’s will: that you become holy, that you keep away from sexual immorality…

Yet is God’s will crossed when people commit acts of immorality? Certainly it is not God’s will that people sin, per se, yet with the end in view, as in the wise stumbling to refine them, even this could be in God’s plan, and in his will, his will is that we “become holy,” his will is for this to be a process.

A question also can be asked here, why did Jesus not pray for Peter to be faithful, and not deny him, if Peter not sinning was actually God’s perfect will?

Luke 22:32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back…

Jesus saw the outcome, and then we may say this denial also was in his plan.

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