The “I Wills” of God

At the foot of Mt Sinai the Israelites boasted “We will do everything the Lord commands” (Ex 19:8). Perhaps you have said something similar, but this is a fatal boast, and a recipe for disaster. Make an impossible promise and you will invariably break it.

What the Lord demands you cannot provide. This is the lesson of the old covenant, yet many have not learned it. They’re stuck on the vicious cycle of making and breaking promises, repenting, then promising to do better next time. Oh, how we need a revelation of the new covenant that is based on his unbreakable promises to us.

I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. (Jer 32:40)

The difference between the old and the new is we will versus he will. In the old, we broke our word again and again, but in the new he keeps his word forever. It’s a huge difference. We no longer wobble on the shaky ground of our resolve, but we stand secure on the Rock of Ages.

List all the promises you have ever made to the Lord and you will find it is a worthless list. Every promise is either a launch pad to disappointment (“Sorry I let you down”) or pride (“Look how good I am”). Your carnal promises ain’t worth spit.

How much better to list the promises the Lord has made to us. Every promise is pure gold. Whether you stand or fall, his promises remain as reliable as ever.

So let us quit making promises we can’t keep and trust in the eternal promises of our Father. Let us give up the futile practice of saying “I will” and put our faith in the “I wills” of God. Here they are:

I will make an everlasting covenant with them (Jer 32:40)
I will never stop doing good to you (Jer 32:40)
I will bless you (Gen 22:17)
I will be your God, and you will be my people (Jer 31:33, Eze 36:28, Heb 8:10)
I will have compassion on you (Is 54:8)
I will forgive your wickedness (Jer 31:34, Heb 8:12)
I will remember your sins no more (Jer 31:34, Heb 8:12)
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean (Eze 36:25)
I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols (Eze 36:25)
I will give you a new heart (Eze 36:26)
I will put my Spirit in you (Eze 36:25)
I will save you (Eze 36:29)
I will not forget you (Is 49:15)
I will strengthen you (Isa 41:10)
I will help you (Isa 41:10)
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isa 41:10)
I will be with you when you pass through the waters and flame (Is 43:2)
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go (Psa 32:8)
I will counsel you with my eye upon you (Psa 32:8)
I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field (Eze 36:30)
I will rescue you from every attack and will bring you safely to my heavenly kingdom (2 Tim 4:18)
I will never cast you out (John 6:37)
I will never leave you or forsake you (Heb 13:5)
I will never blot out your name from the book of life (Rev 3:5)
I will raise you up on the last day (John 6:39-40)

What the Lord requires, he provides. This is the lesson of the new covenant and we need to learn it. Everything you need – salvation, holiness, righteousness – he freely supplies according to the riches of his grace in Christ Jesus.

Find your rest in God’s good word and be set free from the endless cycle of making and breaking promises. There are no ifs in God’s promises to us, no conditions for you to fulfill. All he asks is that you take him at his word. All he requires is that you believe in his eternal goodness as revealed in Jesus.

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39 Comments on The “I Wills” of God

  1. Moses Kawuma // July 20, 2017 at 12:17 am // Reply

    Brilliant Paul. Thanks

  2. All I can say is amen.

  3. Paul Rodgers // July 20, 2017 at 1:30 am // Reply

    This give me such comfort. I pray I would find a church that would teach the truth like this. Thank you Paul!

  4. In my own experience, before I understood the New Covenant, I was always struggling to see God’s promises manifest in my life. Today I believe my own efforts to manifest life were actually manifesting death (Gal. 5:4). He has given us a free will to wear ourselves out trying to earn what He freely gives, but when we’re on that path, we eventually realize something is not right and it’s just not working. As Peter looked to Jesus, he was walking on water. When he started looking to the waves and tried to navigate the seas himself, he sunk. Abiding in the Vine is the only way to manifest God’s life.

  5. Great post, thank you.

  6. Dorothy Moran // July 20, 2017 at 2:37 am // Reply

    So freeing…. so simple… so amazing!

  7. My experience line up with this! I am unpunishable in Christ. I am sinless and capable of being sinless. I am a mature and capable teacher of the Word regardless of what truths are being withheld from me. God will remind me again of His goodness. I am the righteousness of God in Christ. I am eternally pleasing to God. I am loved by Jesus Christ. God is on my side. How can I fail! I do have his goodness, favor, and love. My devil-worshipping family will see the folly of their ways.

    • That last line was out of line we are to pray for the ones that have not meet Christ as we have asking for God to soften their hearts to the trust

      • The last line did seem a bit harsh almost as if animosity was involved but that is not neccesarily the case. God opened your eyes to the truth and you forsook the folly oef your ways so through prayer their eyes be opened as well to forsake the same folly.

    • Yes, there is no more condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. But you are categorically not sinless (however good you believe yourself to be as a preacher). You are misreading Rom 6. The point is that your sins, past, present and future have been forgiven. Semper iustus, semper peccator (Luther)
      PS – Make sure your flock don’t think you are so much better than them

  8. This is most excellent. This is what brought the whole bible together for me. To understand the difference between what I must do under The Law and what He has already done under Grace. You mean we can sin and just not worry about it? License to sin? Absolutely not. If your a child why would you want to do that?

    • ‘Why would you want to sin?’

      Do you never, ever want to sin? I would like to meet you – and kick you in the shin and see if that makes you angry

      You are effectively re-introducing the law in a subtle way by making people think that if they are ‘true’ Christians, they won’t sin. So begins their life of performance

      You are misreading Rom 6

      • Haha, being angry is not a sin; it’s a God-given emotion. Saying “I don’t won’t to sin” is not the same as saying “I am never tempted to sin.” I would say the former, but not the latter. I don’t want to cheat on my wife, throttle my kids, or drive like Evel Kneivel on the highway, but sometimes…

        The great mystery to me is why anybody would want to sin, since the greatest lesson of history is how sin is thoroughly destructive.

      • Nicely said Paul. I have been told before that the grace I speak of is a license to sin, as you have run across before yourself. As you have said the question then becomes Why, why would a Christian want to sin? They wouldn’t is the answer. We love with the love by which we have been loved. We don’t get a new desire to sin upon salvation we are given desires from God for good.

      • No, I am not, You are misinterpreting me. No sin a Christian ever acts on will ever be counted against them because it has all been covered under Christs obedience. God sees us as perfect, not because of anything we have done but because of what his Son has done. He is our propitiation, our salvation, our redeemer.

  9. roshaneaso // July 20, 2017 at 3:15 am // Reply

    So um. What does being punished when all our obedience is complete mean? What does the apostle mean? First it’s God. Second everything is an expression of love. Third, God won’t spank the devil’s children so why would he spank his own?

    Good enough?

    • roshaneaso, I am not sure I get you. Maybe it will take us further off-topic, but what do YOU think that strange statement of Paul means? “And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.” (2 Cor 10:6)

      You seem to be saying: 1) It’s not “we” but God who punishes, 2) Everything God does is an expression of love, 3) God does not (even) spank unbelievers [“the devil’s children”?] and 4) [Therefore?] God punishes no one.

      Paul, I’d love to hear your take on that verse, too. Thank you.

  10. Hi Paul. I take it that we can believe with all of our heart, soul and strength knowing that He gives us every good thing we ask of Him to enable us to believe and trust His Word accordingly. This is my understanding. In rest we must hold to belief.For me I can truly believe that His shed blood on the cross enabled me to become one with Him. Romans 8:9; 2 Cor 5:17; Eph 2:15 etc. Yet I live in a sinful body though not a sinning body.
    I suppose the more we seek to know Him, the more we will receive of Him. I see the Father as a loving Dad engaging with us through every moment of our lives waiting for us to get that all He finally wants from us is absolute trust in Him. Most of the time He invites me to step out unto the vast ocean of faith where deep calls out to deep but I fearfully choose to not move beyond the shallow pools of life. Yet He continues loving and waits for me to swim out of the shallow into the deep.
    Yes I believe all that you have penned though it seems silent on what the Father has purposed for our lives. That we be joined with His Son.
    This is my heartfelt reasoning and not meant to be critical of your encouraging work. I would dearly appreciate some feedback.

    • ‘Yet I live in a sinful body though not a sinning body’. Where does this idea come from? Indeed what does it mean

      You are misunderstanding Rom 6 and 7

      • It gets confusing. Our current bodies or tents have been established in sin and cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven, as all should know. However, our position in the Father is secure through the Son so we are no longer called sinners but saints.

  11. Jeremy Woods // July 20, 2017 at 3:58 am // Reply

    Great article! Bob George’s book on the New Covenant on this – Jesus Changes Everything

  12. Truly, our own carnal efforts are worthless. However, that list of “I will” from the Old Covenant are not made to us but to the Messiah which is Jesus. We still have the responsibility to stay in Him and walk according to His Spirit for those promises to be valid for us.

    • You are so right. But there is no curse if you don’t. They say that you must choose between old a and new, but the new is so good it’s made the old obsolete and it’s passing away. That’s what the apostle said.

    • Having said that our efforts are worthless, you then say we must walk according to His Spirit. Of course, this is exactly what Paul says in Galatians.

      But for so many people now, this phrasing becomes a way of clawing the Law ‘qua Law’ back into our daily life.

      We do not lose the Law because God has said He will write it in our hearts, and incidentally I think that is a continuing process not a completed work of regeneration (I have yet to meet someone as sinless as Jesus)

      But we do lose the Law as something we do (ie Law qua Law), that we have a responsibility to do, even that we do ‘enabled by God’. Those are all old ‘Law’ notions. God changes our heart, and we do what our heart wants – we always have. There is no sense of trying to do the Law. Indeed obedience to the Law is not God’s primary concern – it is reconciliation/atonement. His Holy Spirit will look after whatever else is needed. We are to be new men (in an ontological sense) not just improved old men

      One way to gauge where we are at theologically is to ask ‘Do I think intimacy (with God) comes from obedience, or do I think obedience comes from intimacy?’ Christianity is the only religion to espouse the latter

      I know my language is deficient in this, but I am trying to convey the scandal of the cross. Paul’s post is excellent but perhaps it does not go far enough because I can already see people agreeing with him and yet smuggling Law back in for our sanctification even if not for our justification. Anyone who is Reformed will be at risk of doing this

  13. Aren’t the “I Will’s” from God meant for the Israelites, not us? Not that we can’t learn about God from these promises, but they weren’t specifically directed at us right?

    • They were written for the Israelites, but since “Abraham is the father of all who believe” (Roman 4:11) we can say that that a true Israelite is one who believes in Jesus. The work of the cross is for all humanity – Jew and Gentile alike – and those who believe in Jesus benefit from the gracious provisions of the new covenant.

  14. The only difference between the old and new covenants is what it is now written on (the law), and who is the mediator of it. Being instead of tablets they carried around in the ark of the cov’t, the new covenant is better Bc it is based on better promises. “I will put my law on their hearts and cause them to obey it” .

  15. Hi pastor Paul! Tanx for the message. From the post i can conclude that we no longer need to depend on our ability and effort to please God but by relying on the power of God to do right, right?

  16. So freeing! It’s been 4 years since I discovered this website, and God gave me this revelation, and I still can’t get over it! It changed EVERYTHING for me (in the best possible way)! I am now seeing God’s good plan for my life unfold more than ever! I’m undone by the mercy of Jesus!

    If I hadn’t found this website, and Joseph Prince, I may still be stuck in life-sucking, striving, strenuous, depressing, anxiety-ridden, dead religion!

    God bless you Paul Ellis!

  17. Thank you Paul, there is life in this wonderful post. The loveliness of a dear Father and provider, freely giving what we can never earn. Finding rest in God’s good word, that is so good. Bless you and peace to all.

  18. Kevin mills // July 31, 2017 at 10:15 am // Reply

    Perfectly true

  19. lahblahblckaheep // August 1, 2017 at 6:19 pm // Reply

    This is truth, and life. I thank God for revealing this to you, Paul.

  20. I’m very prone to anxiousness. But when I read this article and specifically the list of “I Wills” relief pours in… then I look up the scriptures and meditate them and then the benefits pour in like a flood too. It’s so simple I wonder how I ever managed to complicate it (a rhetorical statement obviously!). 🙂 Thank you again Paul!!!!!!

  21. Jonathan Haley // August 2, 2017 at 6:08 am // Reply

    Thank you Paul for your continued sharing of the simplicity of the Gospel, anyway you turn this great news it shines and shows the way and declairs rest. I appreciate it so much and this good news never gets old or tiring. I am releasing my need to be right to be ok and accepting his righteousness as the gift it is. So much more freedom in the relationship he provides. So much more intimacy.

    You are such a blessing.

  22. I really needed to hear this again and now. Two years ago I gave my life back to Christ after knowing for 30 years He was still always there. It was so sweet to be back with Him surrounded just by His Love and His Grace, knowing that He loved me just the way I was and allowing Him to change me. Then as the days went by I started “trying” to change myself; be a better, kinder, clean up my act person, only to find myself disillusioned again and disappointed in myself, breaking promises with God, myself and others. Scared and losing that rest and peace I had in Him again. Going back to just His Grace again. Thank You.

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