I Must, I Can, and I Will

There are three things every man must recognize and resolve in his mind about the commands of the Lord if he is going to do the will of the Lord.

First, every man needs to come to this point about the commands of the Lord:  “I must.”  A “must” is a requirement, an obligation.  By their very nature, the commands of God to us are musts, so when we read in the Bible that we should do this or that, it is imperative that we believe and understand the “must” of it.  The Lord Jesus told Paul to go into the city of Damascus where it would be told him what he “must do” (Acts 9:6).  Ananias had the privilege of telling him what he must do – “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).  This instruction was a “must” if Paul would have his sins to be forgiven.  When Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24), we have to understand and believe that we must worship this way and no other.  So may I say this:  If you’re going to obey the Lord, you need to recognize that what He commands is a “must.”

Secondly, every man ought to believe this about the commands of the Lord:  “I can.”  A man may think he is not able, that he cannot.  Such a message is not from God but originates with the father of lies, the devil.  “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”  (1 John 5:2-3).  If the commandments of the Lord are not burdensome, and they are not, then “I can” obey them.  Satan’s helpers may also say, “it is too much,” as King Jeroboam said regarding the people of Israel traveling back to Jerusalem to worship (1 Kings 12:28).  The fact is that it was not “too much,” but many bought into the lie.  On the other hand, consider the people of Ezra’s day who needed to separate themselves from their foreign wives, a most difficult thing to do.  Ezra said, “Arise, for this matter is your responsibility.  We also will be with you.  Be of good courage, and do it” (Ezra 10:4).  They could do it.  And they promised to do it (Ezra 10:19).  So a man must not only believe “I must,” but he must also believe “I can.”

Finally, in addition to recognizing that I must and that I can, we must muster the strength within us to say, “I will.”  Your will is seated in your heart and is within your power to determine, but not without consequence of course.  Jesus said, “If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself” (John 7:17, ASV).  This shows the essentiality of deciding “I will” in order to know and to do the will of the Lord.  It is one thing to admit that I must and that I can, but if I don’t decide that I will, then what does it profit?  In the parable of the lost son, the Bible says that the son came to himself – he came face to face with the truth of the matter.  And he said to himself, “I will arise and go to my father and say to him…” (Luke 15:18).  What a beautiful expression of a decided and determined heart:  “I will!”  We do those things which we have willed within our heart to do.

We are commanded to do what we may consider some very difficult things.  Every man is commanded to repent, and that many times involves some difficult changes.  Consider the man living in adultery who needs to put away his wife to whom he has no right.  Difficult?  Yes.  Impossible?  No.  The attitude needed is:  I must, I can, and I will.  Consider the lawfully bound man and woman wanting a divorce without scriptural cause.  Jesus and the apostles command to not divorce (Matthew 19:6, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11).  Does it feel difficult to obey?  Most certainly.  Impossible to obey?  No.  The attitude needed toward obeying this command is:  I must, I can, and I will.  When reading the will of the Lord in the Bible, let us approach the truth with “I must, I can, and I will.”

  • Larry Jones​