Will of God: Perfect and Permissive?
What is the difference in God permitting some things and God allowing some things if there is a difference?
There is no difference. Allowing and permitting are exactly the same thing. The problem is this: they both are meaningless due to the way we use them in English. Thus, I must be more specific: what Yehovah allows is not wrong.
I will show you how those words are meaningless in English by this made-up story:
A mother has a young child who wants to play with a ball in the yard. The yard is fenced. The mother says to her son, “You may go outside and play on one condition: if the ball goes over the fence, you will not go after it. You will come and tell me. Do you hear me?” He answers, “Yes, ma’am.” He goes to play. She watches him, looking every few minutes. He is doing fine. Then she sees the ball go over the fence. It doesn’t go far; it is right by the gate. She decides to watch to see what he will do. He looks around to see if she is watching, but she is hidden from his view. He looks at the ball, then back again. Then he goes for the gate. She doesn’t move. She desires to see if he will obey. He opens the gate, runs out just a few steps, gets the ball, runs in, and closes the gate.
Now, here is the question: Did she allow him to get the ball? Did she permit him to get the ball? If you answer, “Yes, she did, because she didn’t stop him,” that is true. If you answer, “No, she did not! She told him not to get the ball if it went outside the fence,” that is true. Thus, allow and permit both have no real meaning in these ways. Just because she didn’t stop him doesn’t mean that she gave her permission; the terms have no meaning.
If God commands against something, He does not allow it or permit it. Yet, He usually doesn’t stop the person from doing it; He keeps an account. This has confused many.
I have often heard that God has a perfect will and a permissive will leading one to conclude that if you don’t do the perfect will, then God permits you to go your way and ‘do your own thing,’ so to speak, which is less than His perfect will is for you. (This is where His permissive will comes into play). Does God have two wills—one that is perfect and one that is permissive?
I am also familiar with this teaching. It is common, and it is the cornerstone of some denominations.
Yehovah does not have two wills. If He did, He would be schizophrenic! He never wills anyone to do wrong, and thus no form of His will exists for a person to disobey.
The real problem with this theology is with the person, not with the True and Living God. The person is under the allusion that there is a perfect will that God employs for everyday decisions. Thus, if a woman chooses the right dress—the dress that is in the perfect will of God, events that day will fit perfectly with God’s plans, and things will go right. If she isn’t sensitive, and thus doesn’t discern His will, thereby choosing the wrong dress, decisions that day will not be the best, and she will miss the perfect will of God. Therefore, she must be constantly on the alert to sense His perfect will for all things. That includes praying at all times in order to get God to reveal to her His perfect will. This is living in mysticism (in the view that God takes a personal interest in and gives directions for every decision that a person makes in life), and this is living in an occult dream. Biblical Saints never viewed things this way, and they certainly didn’t consult God for His will all the time. Living by faith is the opposite of living by mysticism. Faith always includes a certainty; mysticism always includes the unknown.
The Saints knew very well that Yehovah easily had the power to inform them by some direct means if some decision that they were about to make needed to be made in a certain way. When it came to other decisions, they knew that they were doing right as long as they didn’t sin. Thus, if a woman put on a certain dress, she would already know that Yehovah will do what He wants regardless of her dress choice, since He isn’t strapped by her decision. If He really desires her to put on a certain dress, He will tell her. Therefore, she can relax. The life of faith is not a life of tyranny, fear and dread of accidentally not hearing God’s voice. That will drive sensitive persons to total insanity.
When Esther’s turn came to spend the night with the king, she didn’t concern herself with what to wear or not wear; she hearkened to the eunuch, and left it at that.
Those who cling to a god who has two wills cling to a very cruel god. That god makes all of life a constant gamble; the likelihood of failure is far greater than the likelihood of success. If their lives turn out to be bitter, they just know that it was because they missed the perfect will of God. (They don’t consider that they live in a world tainted by sin.)
Jacob was in the will of God (I say will, because there is only one). Yet, he told Pharaoh that his days were few and bad. Still, Pharaoh was pleased to receive Jacob’s blessing!
The Perfect Will of God
Romans 12:1 I therefore beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living, holy sacrifice, acceptable unto God, your reasonable service. 2And don’t be ye conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind so that ye will prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
This text directly refers to the perfect will of God. It also refers to the good will of God and the acceptable will of God. It doesn’t refer to wills, but to one will. There is only one will. This entire group (the brethren in Rome) will prove the good, acceptable and perfect will of God if they, as a group, are transformed by their common mind being made new.
Permissive Will Example?
2 Kings 13:14 Now, Elisha was fallen sick from his sickness from which he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him. And he wept over his face. And he said, “My father! My father! The chariot of Israel and his horsemen!” 15And Elisha said unto him, “Take bow and arrows.” And he took bow and arrows unto him. 16And he said to the king of Israel, “Put thine hand upon the bow.” And he put his hand upon it. And Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands. 17And he said, “Open the window eastward.” And he opened it. And Elisha said, “Shoot!” And he shot. And he said, “The arrow is deliverance to Yehovah, and the arrow is deliverance via Syria. And thou shalt smite Syria in Aphek, unto thy consuming them.” 18And he said, “Take the arrows.” And he took. And he said unto the king of Israel, “Smite upon the ground.” And he smote thrice, and stood. 19And the man of God was furious with him. And he said, “To smite five or six times! Then thou would have smitten Syria unto a finish! And now, thou shalt smite Syria thrice!”
Did Joash perform in God’s permissive will? He obviously did not do what was the best. Would he have obtained a much better promise, had he performed in God’s perfect will? Joash didn’t listen and didn’t hearken to the words of a prophet.
Elisha told him, “Take bow and arrows.” Joash hearkened (listened and obeyed).
Elisha commanded him, “Put thine hand upon the bow.” Joash hearkened. Elisha then put his hands upon the king’s hands.
Elisha commanded him, “Open the window eastward.” Joash hearkened.
Elisha commanded him, “Shoot!” Joash hearkened. Elisha then interpreted the actions: “The arrow is deliverance to Yehovah, and the arrow is deliverance via Syria. And thou shalt smite Syria in Aphek, unto thy consuming them.”
Elisha commanded him, “Take the arrows.” That command assumed taking all the arrows, and Joash hearkened.
Elisha commanded him, “Smite upon the ground.” Joash smote three times, and then he just stopped. The meaning of his action of smiting was now clearly established. Why did Joash stop? He had no good reason to stop until all the arrows were used up! Elisha was furious with him for obvious reasons. In other words, Joash disobeyed. When Elisha commanded, “Smite upon the ground,” that command referred to all the arrows that he took. Joash disobeyed; that isn’t part of God’s will at all!
Another Permissive Will Example?
2 Kings 20:1 Hezekiah was sick unto death in those days. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him. And he said unto him, “So says Yehovah, Set thy house in order. For thou shalt die and not live.” 2And he turned his face to the wall. And he prayed unto Yehovah saying, 3 “I beseech thee, Yehovah, remember now how I have walked before Thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done what is good in Thy sight.” And Hezekiah wept sore. 4And he was before Isaiah was gone out into the middle court. And the word of Yehovah came to him, saying, 5 “Turn again. And tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, ‘So says Yehovah the God of David thy father, “I have heard thy prayer. I have seen thy tears. Behold, I will heal thee. On the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of Yehovah. 6And I will add unto thy days fifteen years. And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria. And I will defend this city for my sake and for my servant David’s sake.”’” 7And Isaiah said, “Take a lump of figs.” And they took and laid it on the boil. And he recovered. 8And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, “What shall be the sign that Yehovah will heal me and that I shall go up into the House of Yehovah the third day?” 9And Isaiah said, “Thou shalt have this sign from Yehovah, and Yehovah will do the thing that He has spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees?” 10And Hezekiah answered, “It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees. No, but the shadow shall return backward ten degrees!” 11And Isaiah the prophet shouted unto Yehovah. And He brought the shadow ten degrees backward in which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz. 12At that time Berodachbaladan son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah. For he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick. 13And Hezekiah hearkened unto them. And he showed them all the house of his precious things—the silver and the gold and the spices and the precious ointment and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah didn’t show them. 14And Isaiah the prophet came unto King Hezekiah. And he said unto him, “What did these men say, and from where did they come unto thee?” And Hezekiah said, “They are come from a far country, from Babylon.” 15And he said, “What have they seen in thine house?” And Hezekiah answered, “They saw all the things that are in my house. There is nothing among my treasures that I didn’t show them.” 16And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, “Hearken to the word of Yehovah! 17Behold, the days are coming, and all that is in thine house and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day shall be carried into Babylon! Nothing shall be left,” says Yehovah. 18And they shall take away from thy sons that shall issue from thee, whom thou shalt beget. And they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon!” 19And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, “The word of Yehovah that thou hast spoken is good!” And he said, “Is it not good if peace and truth are in my days?”
Was Hezekiah’s original death time Yehovah’s perfect will, and Hezekiah’s extended life Yehovah’s permissive will? After all, had Hezekiah not lived, he would not have done the unintelligent action that he did, showing messengers of Berodachbaladan all his stuff, and Isaiah would not have prophesied that all that stuff would be carried into Babylon. Can we conclude, therefore, that Yehovah’s permissive will was activated instead of His perfect will? We can conclude this if we also conclude that Yehovah changed His mind. Other cases where it appears that Yehovah changed His mind include refraining from destroying Nineveh after 40 days, as He had Jonah prophesy, and refraining from destroying Israel and raising seed to Moshe, and He said He would do (in the following text):
Exodus 32:7 And Yehovah said unto Moses, “Walk! Get thee down! For thy people that thou broughtest from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves! 8They have turned aside quickly from the way that I commanded them! They made them a molten calf, and they worshipped it, and have sacrificed unto it. And they said, ‘These are thy gods, Israel, who exited thee from the land of Egypt!’” 9And Yehovah said unto Moses, I have seen this people. And, behold, it is a hard-necked people! 10Now, therefore, let me alone, and my wrath will heat against them! And I will consume them! And I will make of thee a great race.” 11And Moshe stroked the faces of Yehovah his God. And he said, “Yehovah, why does Thy wrath heat against Thy people that Thou exited from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12Why should the Egyptians speak and say, ‘He exited them for mischief to slay them in the mountains and to consume them from the faces of the land’? Turn from Thy fierce wrath! And grieve of this bad against Thy people! 13Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israel, Thy servants, to whom Thou swore by Thyself. And Thou said unto them, ‘I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens! And I will give unto your seed all this land of which I have spoken! And they shall inherit her to Hider!’” 14And Yehovah grieved of the bad that He thought to do unto His people.
If Yehovah can change His mind, that means that He doesn’t know the future. If He knows the future, He already knows what He will do. He can most certainly declare what would happen if certain things were true and certain other things were not true, but that isn’t changing His mind.
In Hezekiah’s case, the man would have died had Yehovah not intervened. Yehovah did intervene, however, answering Hezekiah’s prayer. That was Yehovah’s will (call it perfect if you desire). Hezekiah’s showing off ‘his’ possessions wasn’t Yehovah’s will. Just because Hezekiah lived doesn’t mean that this caused Hezekiah to be foolish. Yehovah did his will (His only will) by healing the man, and the man did not do Yehovah’s will in response. There was nothing permissive about Yehovah’s will.
The Sword against Israel
Do enemy attacks against Israel after Israel has continued in sin demonstrate Yehovah’s permissive will? The following texts will demonstrate what is occurring:
Leviticus 26:21 “And if ye walk contrary unto me and will not hearken unto me, I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.”
Leviticus 26:25 “And I will bring a sword upon you that shall avenge the fight of my covenant! And when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you! And ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.”
Leviticus 26:32 “And I will bring the land into desolation. And your enemies that dwell in her shall be astonished at it!”
No group can touch Israel without going through Yehovah. It is as simple and as complex as this.
But is it Yehovah’s ‘perfect’ will to bring slaughtering and murderous enemies against Israel? It is Yehovah’s will (of any kind, since there is only one will) that Israel will walk righteously. If Israel will not, it is Yehovah’s will to dramatize to Israel and the word that He will not tolerate Israel’s sinning forever. He will judge after a long time and after many warnings in His Scriptures, by truthful teachers, and in other ways (by causing Israel to be weak, as Israel was under the rulers that brought pogroms against villages). If Israel continues to not heed the warnings, Yehovah will finally make Israel’s slaughters so disgusting, that other races will see and will fear. Yet, Yehovah will preserve the race of Israel and the People of Israel, and will remarkably destroy many of Israel’s enemies.
The Word Better
While the word better is used 119 times in the King James Version, it isn’t in the Hebrew text. Since better is comparative in English, a reader might think it belongs there. The Hebrew expression, good than seems to mean better, but it differs. The word good is absolute in Hebrew. The expression good than indicates that something truly is good, and what follows than is not good, but is truly inferior or bad. That isn’t comparative. One text shows this:
Exodus 14:12 “Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone, and we will serve the Egyptians’? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.”
The flavour of the text is more like this:
Exodus 14:12 “Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone, and we will serve the Egyptians’? For it had been good for us to serve the Egyptians, from (akin to and not) that we should die in the wilderness.”
Yehovah has a view of what is good and what is not good, and therefore bad. His thinking is not like ours, since He sees all things perfectly. Just as He sees what is good, He declares what is good. If He had two wills, one would be good, and the other would be less than good. What is less than good? Is it merely good with some good parts missing? The entirety of Scriptures does not declare Truth in this manner. Truth is what is absolute from Yehovah’s perspective. Whatever is not absolute is not Truth. If it isn’t Truth, it is not merely inferior to Truth; it is error or a lie. In the same manner, what is not good is not merely inferior to good; it is either bad (harmful, destructive, injurious, etc.) or it is evil (morally and/or ethically sinful).
Children tend to see things as good or bad; they have to be taught to reckon shades of gray. Once they do this, they become easy prey to sin, since they learn to not see things as right or wrong. The Bible is designed for children. Its premises always include right and wrong (as absolutes). This is one reason why so many reject the Bible.
I haven’t found any indication in the Bible that Yehovah has or maintains two wills, or that He is double-minded. I instead find that He knows what is good (implying that it is perfect), and what is bad (indicating that it is destructive or harmful). Those who believe in two wills usually (perhaps always) do not know which of the two to follow, since they cannot easily discern God’s voice in every choice they must make in a given day. They have a much greater likelihood of following the inferior will, since they would have to have the very same view as God to know what choice is the best. This is a very mystical (and therefore occult) approach to Godliness, and is akin to a guessing game. Saints in the Bible never had this difficulty; thus, they never had this view.