Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2


Chapter 76—Decision and the Will

Governing Power in Nature of Man—The will is the governing power in the nature of man, bringing all the other faculties under its sway. The will is not the taste or the inclination, but it is the deciding power which works in the children of men unto obedience to God or unto disobedience.—Testimonies for the Church 5:513 (1889). 2MCP 685.1

Everything Depends on Its Right Action—The tempted one needs to understand the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man—the power of decision, of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. Desires for goodness and purity are right, as far as they go; but if we stop here, they avail nothing. Many will go down to ruin while hoping and desiring to overcome their evil propensities. They do not yield the will to God. They do not choose to serve Him.—The Ministry of Healing, 176 (1905). 2MCP 685.2

The Spring of All Actions—Your will is the spring of all your actions. This will, that forms so important a factor in the character of man, was at the Fall given into the control of Satan; and he has ever since been working in man to will and to do of his own pleasure, but to the utter ruin and misery of man. 2MCP 685.3

But the infinite sacrifice of God in giving Jesus, His beloved Son, to become a sacrifice for sin, enables Him to 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; then I can work in you to will and to do of My good pleasure.” When He gives you the mind of Christ, your will becomes as His will, and your character is transformed to be like Christ's character.—Testimonies for the Church 5:515 (1889). 2MCP 686.1

Man's Will Is Aggressive—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 works good.—The Review and Herald, August 25, 1896. (Our High Calling, 153.) 2MCP 686.2

Impossibility Lies in Own Will—Our entire life is God's and must be used to His glory. His grace will consecrate and improve every faculty. Let no one say, I cannot remedy my defects of character; for if you come to this decision, you will certainly fail to obtain everlasting life. The impossibility lies in your own will. If you will not, then you can not overcome. The real difficulty arises from the corruption of unsanctified hearts, and an unwillingness to submit to the control of God.—The Youth's Instructor, January 28, 1897. 2MCP 686.3

A Grand Soother of Nerves—The mind and nerves gain tone and strength by the exercise of the will. The power of the will in many cases will prove a potent soother of the nerves.—Testimonies for the Church 1:387 (1863). 2MCP 686.4

Satan Uses the Will—When Satan is permitted to mold the will, he uses it to accomplish his ends 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.—The Review and Herald, August 25, 1896. (Our High Calling, 153.) 2MCP 686.5

Temptation Taxes Willpower to Uttermost—It is our privilege, as children of God, to hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering. At times the masterly power of temptation seems to tax our willpower to the uttermost, and to exercise faith seems utterly contrary to all the evidences of sense or emotion; but our will must be kept on God's side. We must believe that in Jesus Christ is everlasting strength and efficiency.... Hour by hour we must hold our position triumphantly in God, strong in His strength.—Letter 42, 1890. (Our High Calling, 124.) 2MCP 687.1

Education of Children Not Like Training Dumb Animals—The education of children at home or at school should not be like the training of dumb animals; for children have an intelligent will, which should be directed to control all their powers. Dumb animals need to be trained, for they have not reason and intellect. But the human mind must be taught self-control. It must be educated to rule the human being, while animals are controlled by a master and are trained to be submissive to him. The master is mind, judgment, and will for his beast.—Testimonies for the Church 3:132 (1872). 2MCP 687.2

The Will to Be Directed, Not Broken—A child may be so trained as to have, like the beast, no will of his own. Even his individuality may be merged in the one who superintends his training; his will, to all intents and purposes, is subject to the will of the teacher. Children who are thus educated will ever be deficient in moral energy and individual responsibility. They have not been taught to move from reason and principle; their wills have been controlled by another, and the mind has not been called out that it might expand and strengthen by exercise. They have not been directed and disciplined with respect to their peculiar constitutions and capabilities of mind to put forth their strongest powers when required. 2MCP 687.3

Teachers should not stop here but should give special attention to the cultivation of the weaker faculties, that all the powers may be brought into exercise and carried forward from one degree of strength to another, that the mind may attain due proportions.—Testimonies for the Church 3:132 (1872). 2MCP 688.1

Save All the Strength of the Will—The work of “breaking the will” is contrary to the principles of Christ. The will of the child must be directed and guided. Save all the strength of the will, for the human being needs it all; but give it proper direction. Treat it wisely and tenderly, as a sacred treasure. Do not hammer it in pieces; but by precept and true example fashion and mold it until the child comes to years of responsibility.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 116 (1913). 2MCP 688.2

Teacher Not to Be Dictatorial—Those who are selfish, peevish, dictatorial, coarse, and rough, who do not carefully regard the feelings of others, should never be employed as teachers. They will have a disastrous influence upon their students, molding them after their own character, thus perpetuating evil. Persons of this character will make an effort to break a boy's will, if he is unruly; but Christ has authorized no such manner of dealing with the erring. Through heavenly wisdom, through meekness and lowliness of heart, teachers may be able to direct the will and lead in the way of obedience; but let no one imagine that by threatening, the affection of the student may be gained. We must work as Christ has worked.—Testimonies on Sabbath-School Work, 80, 81 (1900). (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, 174, 175.) 2MCP 688.3

The Divided Will Is a Snare—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.—Manuscript 121, 1898. 2MCP 688.4

Two Elements of Character—Strength of character consists of two things—power of will and power of self-control. Many youth mistake strong, uncontrolled passion for strength of character, but the truth is that he who is mastered by his passions is a weak man. The real greatness and nobility of the man is measured by the power of the feelings that he subdues, not by the power of the feelings that subdue him. The strongest man is he who, while sensitive to abuse, will yet restrain passion and forgive his enemies. Such men are true heroes.—Testimonies for the Church 4:656 (1881). 2MCP 689.1

The Will United With Divine Strength—You may become men of responsibility and influence if, by the power of your will, united with divine strength, you earnestly engage in the work. Exercise the mental powers, and in no case neglect the physical. Let not intellectual slothfulness close up your path to greater knowledge. Learn to reflect as well as to study that your minds may expand, strengthen, and develop. Never think that you have learned enough and that you may now relax your efforts. The cultivated mind is the measure of the man. Your education should continue during your lifetime; every day you should be learning and putting to practical use the knowledge gained.—Testimonies for the Church 4:561 (1881). 2MCP 689.2

Right Exercise of Will Resists Disease—I have been shown that many who are apparently feeble and are ever complaining are not so badly off as they imagine themselves to be. Some of these have a powerful will, which, exercised in the right direction, would be a potent means of controlling the imagination and thus resisting disease. But it is too frequently the case that the will is exercised in a wrong direction and stubbornly refuses to yield to reason. That will has settled the matter; invalids they are, and the attention due to invalids they will have, irrespective of the judgment of others.—Testimonies for the Church 2:524 (1870). 2MCP 689.3

A Factor in Dealing With Disease—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 2MCP 690.1

By the exercise of the willpower in placing themselves in right relation to life, patients can do much to cooperate 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. 2MCP 690.2

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.—The Ministry of Healing, 246 (1905). 2MCP 690.3

Improved Health Promised—Evil habits and practices are bringing upon men disease of every kind. Let the understanding be convinced by education as to the sinfulness of abusing and degrading the powers that God has given. Let the mind become intelligent and the will be placed on the Lord's side, and there will be a wonderful improvement in the physical health. 2MCP 690.4

But this can never be accomplished in mere human strength. With strenuous efforts through the grace of Christ to renounce all evil practices and associations and to observe temperance in all things, there must be an abiding persuasion that repentance for the past, as well as forgiveness, is to be sought of God through the atoning sacrifice of Christ. These things must be brought into daily experience; there must be strict watchfulness and unwearied entreaty that Christ will bring every thought into captivity to Himself; His renovating power must be given to the soul, that as accountable beings we may present to God our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto Him, which is our reasonable service.—Medical Missionary, November-December, 1892. (Counsels on Health, 504, 504.) 2MCP 690.5

Narcotics and the Will—There are some who use narcotics, and by indulgence are encouraging wrong habits that are obtaining a controlling power over the will, the thoughts, and the entire man.—Letter 14, 1885. 2MCP 691.1

Teach the Power of the Will—The power of the will and the importance of self-control, both in the preservation and in the recovery of health, the depressing and even ruinous effect of anger, discontent, selfishness, or impurity and, on the other hand, the marvelous life-giving power to be found in cheerfulness, unselfishness, gratitude, should also be shown.—Education, 197 (1903). 2MCP 691.2

Holy Spirit Does Not Take Place of Will—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. Therefore it is not the abundance of light, and evidence piled upon evidence, that will convert the soul it is only the human agent accepting the light, arousing the energies of the will, realizing and acknowledging that which he knows is righteousness and truth, and thus cooperating with the heavenly ministrations appointed to God in the saving of the soul.—Letter 135, 1898. 2MCP 691.3

Safe Only When United With Divine—The will of man is safe only when united with the will of God.—Letter 22, 1896. (Our High Calling, 104.) 2MCP 692.1

Human Will to Be Blended With Divine Will—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.—The Review and Herald, August 25, 1896. (Our High Calling, 153.) 2MCP 692.2

Conversion Does Not Create New Faculties—The Spirit of God does not create new faculties in the converted man but works a decided change in the employment of those faculties. When mind and heart and soul are changed, man is not given a new conscience, but his will is submitted to a conscience renewed, a conscience whose dormant sensibilities are aroused by the working of the Holy Spirit.—Letter 44, 1899. (Our High Calling, 104.) 2MCP 692.3

Satan Rules the Will That's Not Under God's Control—Christ declared, “I came … not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me” (John 6:38). His will was put into active exercise to save the souls of men. His human will was nourished by the divine. His servants today would do well to ask themselves, “What kind of will am I individually cultivating? Have I been gratifying my own desires, confirming myself in selfishness and obstinacy?” If we are doing this, we are in great 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 holy obedience that was exemplified in the life of Christ will be seen in our lives.—Manuscript 48, 1899. (Our High Calling, 107.) 2MCP 692.4

The Will to Be Directed by a Pure Conscience—Inward peace and a conscience void of offense toward God will quicken and invigorate the intellect like dew distilled upon the tender plants. The will is then rightly directed and controlled, and is more decided, and yet free from perverseness.—Testimonies for the Church 2:327 (1869). 2MCP 693.1

The Will Determines Life or Death—Eternity alone can reveal the glorious destiny to which man, restored to God's image, may attain. In order for us to reach this high ideal, that which causes the soul to stumble must be sacrificed. It is through the will that sin retains its hold upon us. The surrender of the will is represented as plucking out the eye or cutting off the hand. Often it seems to us that to surrender the will to God is to consent to go through life maimed or crippled 2MCP 693.2

God is the fountain of life, and we can have life only as we are in communion with Him.... If you cling to self, refusing to yield your will to God, you are choosing death.... 2MCP 693.3

It will require a sacrifice to give yourself to God; but it is a sacrifice of the lower for the higher, the earthly for the spiritual, the perishable for the eternal. 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.—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 61, 62 (1896). 2MCP 693.4

To Understand True Force of Will (counsel to an unstable young man)—You will be in constant peril until you understand the true force of the will. You may believe and promise all things, but your promises or your faith are of no value until you put your will on the side of faith and action. If you fight the fight of faith with all your willpower, you will conquer. Your feelings, your impressions, your emotions, are not to be trusted, for they are not reliable.—Testimonies for the Church 5:513 (1889). 2MCP 693.5

You Can Control Will—But you need not despair.... It is for you to yield up your will to the will of Jesus Christ, and as you do this God will immediately take possession and work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. Your whole nature will then be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ, and even your thoughts will be subject to Him. 2MCP 694.1

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. By yielding up your will to Christ, your life will be hid with Christ in God and allied to the power which is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from God that will hold you fast to His strength; and a new light, even the light of living faith, will be possible to you. But your will must cooperate with God's will.—Testimonies for the Church 5:513, 514 (1889). 2MCP 694.2

The Link That Binds With Divine Energy—We are laborers together with God. This is the Lord's own wise arrangement. The cooperation of the human will and endeavor with divine energy is the link that binds men up with one another and with God. The apostle says, “We are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building” (1 Corinthians 3:9). Man is to work with the facilities God has given him. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” He says. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12, 13).—Manuscript 113, 1898. 2MCP 694.3

When the will is placed on the Lord's side, the Holy Spirit takes that will and makes it one with the divine will.—Letter 44, 1899. 2MCP 694.4