G-D Does Not Have a Permissive Will
Many years ago when I first became a believer in Yeshua, I heard a theological concept that I had never heard of in Judaism. I heard preacher after preacher teach on this concept, yet not one of these preachers ever provided Biblical text as a basis of their belief in what they were teaching. I will admit that what they were teaching sounded good and helped some believers feel confident in their redemption. However, there are many things that preachers say that sound good and make us feel better that are unbiblical and, in many cases, dangerous.
The theological teaching or doctrine that I am referring to is the belief that G-D has a perfect will and a permissive will for us. This belief teaches us that G-D has a perfect plan for our lives. One that He wants us to walk in. One that will provide His blessings. His perfect will is where He wants us to walk and live our life of faith. This belief also teaches us that G-D has a permissive will for us. This permissive will is outside of His perfect will, but still acceptable. According to these teachers, His permissive will is an acceptable path to walk our faith in, but doing so will bring fewer blessings into our lives. In this permissive will, we are relying on G-D’s grace to cause G-D to see us as if we were walking in His perfect will, even though we are actually walking outside of His perfect will. Just for the record: anytime we are walking outside of G-D’s perfect will that means we are walking in our will.
The teaching of both a perfect will and a permissive will is a dangerous doctrine that may cause us to feel better about ourselves. In reality, it results in idolatry because it makes our will equal to G-D’s will and it justifies our sin by saying G-D has permitted it within His permissive will. This belief causes those who teach it and those who accept it as truth to live outside of repentance. After all, why would they repent for something that is within G-D’s permissive will?
The truth is that we can only live within G-D’s perfect will or outside of His perfect will. G-D does not have a permissive will. The Bible does not teach that there is a permissive will anywhere. What it does teach is that there is G-D’s perfect will and then there is the way G-D provided for man to be restored to His perfect will. Some of these paths to restoration may look as if G-D accepts our changes to His plan. But in truth, they are simply G-D helping us deal with the real repercussions of our walking outside of His perfect will.
Let me provide some examples: It was G-D’s perfect will for Israel to not have an earthly king. G-D wanted to be the only ruler over Israel. We begin many of our prayers with the words, “Blessed are You, O L-RD, our G-D, King of the universe.” Yet, in His foreknowledge, G-D knew Israel would choose their own will over His will. So, G-D provided laws in the Torah so they would be able to restore Him as the ultimate King, even if they chose to have an earthly king. This was not allowing a permissive will. It was G-D allowing them to return to His perfect will. Read these words from Deuteronomy 17:14-20:
14 “When you come to the land that Adonai your God is giving you, possess it and dwell in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations around me,’ 15 you will indeed set over yourselves a king, whom Adonai your God chooses. One from among your brothers will be appointed as king over you—you may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 Only he should not multiply horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to multiply horses, because Adonai has said to you, “You must never go back that way again.” 17 Nor should he multiply wives for himself, so that his heart does not turn aside, nor multiply much silver and gold for himself. 18 “Now when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself a copy of this Torah on a scroll, from what is before the Levitical kohanim. 19 It will remain with him, and he will read in it all the days of his life, in order to learn to fear Adonai his God and keep all the words of this Torah and these statutes. 20 Then his heart will not be exalted above his brothers, and he will not turn from the commandment to the right or to the left—so that he may prolong his days in his kingship, he and his sons, in the midst of Israel.
As you read these commandments, you will notice that each of these commandments limit the actions of the human king of Israel so that the human king has to recognize G-D as the ultimate King of Israel.
Another example is when G-D tells Israel that if they obey His commandments, they will live in peace in their land. But, then G-D also provided commandments for what they should do when they go to war. G-D’s perfect will was for Israel to obey Him and live in peace. But, He also knew that Israel would sin at times, so He provided a way for restoration to His perfect will in how their military would behave. Again, this is not a permissive will. This is a means of restoration to His perfect will through repentance and submission to His kingship.
One last demonstration of G-D’s perfect will and His restoration to His perfect will is when He placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and provided His perfect will. They listened to the adversary who told them they could be like G-D. They ate the fruit and sin entered them. However, G-D had, before the foundation of the world, established a way of restoration to His perfect will through the atonement provided through Yeshua. The death of Yeshua was not G-D’s permissive will. It was G-D’s plan for restoration to His perfect will.
When you think about it, Adam and Eve were told way back then by the father of lies that G-D had a permissive will, “...You shall not die...you will be like Him…”
The truth is the deceiver convinced them that “their will” was G-D’s permissive will, and the deceiver is still telling that same lie to people today.