Two Wills in God?

Over the past few years, I had, without giving it sufficient thought, come to the conclusion that God does not, and cannot, have two conflicting wills within Himself. At the gentle urging of a couple of good friends, I have taken another look at this.

I spent some time reading a chapter written by John Piper on the subject. He had some very good points and observations that I spent some time pondering. Piper relayed that throughout history, many theologians have spoken of the “two wills” in God. I think the clearest “names” for these wills would be:

1) The will of decree and 2) The will of command.

Traditional theology has God eternally commanding something that He does not decree to come about. He is forever commanding one thing while causing something else to happen.

I know, this sounds odd… and that is precisely the reason I originally rejected this idea. After reading this chapter from Piper and then coming back to the scriptures, I came upon one of my favorite verses again:

“God has bound all men over to disobedience
so that he may have mercy on them all.”

Romans 8:32

This is one of my favorites within Paul’s “apology of anti-exclusivism” found Romans 8:18-11:36. But, I think I’ve spent so much time contemplating and relishing the second part of Romans 8:32 that I’ve missed a fundamental truth that is found in the first half.

Lo and behold, the “two wills” in God is very clearly stated in this passage. It hit me all at once when I read this.

The phrase in this verse that declares that there are two wills in God…

“God has bound all men over to disobedience.”

How can one disobey unless there is a standard or law to which they are supposed to live? God has set the standard to which we are to live. Because He loves us, He commands that we live the only life that would bring us perfect happiness and bring Him the ultimate glory. He commands us to live a life without sin.

But, God has bound all men over to disobedience. While He commands that we live sinless lives, He has bound us over to sin. He has decreed that we disobey His commands.

I know, this is a big can of worms and I’m standing here with a can opener. How in the world to we even begin to understand this?!?!

I was sitting talking with Jennae about all of this. We were thinking this through and trying to come up with an analogy to explain how we now view the “two wills” of God. While I was trying to explain some lame analogy, Jennae revealed to me the perfect one… actually, a very scriptural one.

Jennae does not enjoy being pregnant. Of course, we both absolutely love the fact that there is a little one on the way, but the pregnancy itself is uncomfortable and inconvenient on many levels. This is not to mention the pain of the birthing process itself.

“Multiplying I multiply thy sorrow and thy conception,
in sorrow dost thou bear children .”

Gen 3:16 (YLT)

Labor is hell.

Now, neither Jennae nor I would ever wish this pain and discomfort on her, except that it leads to wonderful new life. The moment this new life, this bundle of joy, comes into the world, all the pain and discomfort of the pregnancy and labor is forgotten. It’s funny to me that Jennae and I would “stumble upon” this analogy as it is a “type” for what is now occurring in all of creation.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
Romans 8:18-23

The whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs. But the current suffering is not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.

Here again, we see that it is God’s will that creation is subjected to futility. Our present suffering is God’s will.

For many, this is tough to swallow. But let’s bring it back to the analogy.

It is my desire, as well as Jennae’s, that she not suffer in life. At the same time, this pregnancy was “planned” as much as any pregnancy can be. So we both will that she not suffer, and yet we have willed that she does. Together, we decided that Jennae would undergo 9 months of discomfort and many hours of horrible pain.

Are we sick and twisted individuals?
Are we in conflict with ourselves because of our “two wills”?

Nope… we eagerly await the birth of our second little boy. The pain of childbirth ends in new life and great joy!

The suffering of labor is not worthy to be compared
with the glory of a new life!

Xander: 5 Days Old


“God has bound all men over to disobedience
so that he may have mercy on them all.”

Romans 8:32

It is for our good that God has bound us over to disobedience. It’s only because He loves us that we have been subjected to suffering. There is indeed a great mystery in this. But we must rest assured that the present suffering is not worthy to be compared with what’s about to happen!

I have now come very close to believing exactly what Piper and many other theologians do. There is one difference in what I believe. According to the popular theologians, God goes on having these “two wills” for all eternity; commanding one thing while decreeing another. The theologians say that God commands all to repent, even wants all to repent, and yet He decrees that they don’t. I don’t believe this is the case.

It may seem a bit ridiculous, but, back to the analogy;

I would never want to get Jennae pregnant if I knew that she would be eternally in labor with no hope for the birth of a child.

If the suffering of labor continued forever with no hope for life,
that would be everlasting hell.


This was written while my wife, Jennae, was 35 weeks pregnant.  She is now 39.5 weeks pregnant and she feels pretty miserable.  But, we still eagerly await the arrival of our Rhys Richard… now, even more-so.


About aaronkreider
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