What is Free Will


Free Will is the freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention

In the Bible, Free Will means God gives humans the opportunity to make choices in their life that genuinely affect their destiny.


God created man as a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions.

God willed that man should be 'left in the hand of his own counsel,' so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him.

God created mankind in His own image, and that included the ability to choose.

God could have made us like machines.
Machines do what they’re supposed to do without thinking about doing anything different or considering why they do whatever they do.
Sure, they eventually break down because they’re mechanical devices.
But they don’t make bad choices that damage themselves or hurt other machines.

Machines have no character, soul or personality.
Machines can’t experience joy, anticipation or pleasure.
They aren’t creative, spontaneous or inquisitive.
Lacking self-awareness or consciousness, they have no relationships, no sense of priorities and can’t make plans for the future and experience the satisfaction of accomplishment.
They do not have free will.

Maybe the world would be a better place if people were more like machines.
On second thought, aren’t we glad people aren’t more like machines?
Instead of creating machines or robots, God created people.
And He gave us free will—the ability to think, reason and make our own choices.
He gives us commands and instructions that show us how He wants us to live, but He allows us to decide whether we will obey.

We wouldn’t want to give up our freedom of choice.
How frustrating it would be that by force we eat healthy foods, always go to bed on time and never skip a daily work.
Generally speaking, people would resist an external force always making them do “the right thing.”

God created us with free will for a simple reason:
To fulfill His purpose of creating an eternal, spiritual family, He wants His children to choose to be like Him.


Curses and Blessings – Freedom to choose

Human Free Will is manifested in the fact that God gives us choices and calls on us to choose the best way.

To give just a few illustrations, notice the way God talks to the Israelites when finalizing the Mosaic Covenant with them at the end of Deuteronomy:

Deuteronomy 30 : 19   "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; (NKJV)

God gives the Israelites a choice to either choose life or to choose death.
That is, they are offered the freedom of choice either to choose to love and obey God or to reject him.
The important point to note in this action of God is that:
God obviously hopes they’ll choose life, but it is ultimately up to them to decide.

God created a world centered on love.
None can get love by force.
Force can squeeze a pretence of love and respect from a person; but not real love.
God wanted His people to love with their whole heart, mind and soul.
And that must pour out spontaneously from the heart of man.
So God offered Free Will to choose to love Him or reject Him, hoping the people to love Him.
Free Actions

Another way Scripture reveals that humans are free is by depicting them as the originators of their own free actions.

For example, Jesus’ taught that:

Luke 6 : 45  "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.  (NKJV)

Similarly, Jesus taught that evil comes out of the person’s own heart.

Matthew 15:19  "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.  (NKJV)

These are not things that God in any sense desires from a man.
They originate in a persons’ own heart.


Free Will and Responsibility

The Bible is clear that we not only have the ability to choose, we also have the responsibility to choose wisely.

In the Old Testament, God chose Israel as a nation, but individuals within that nation still bore an obligation to choose obedience to God.

And individuals outside of Israel also were able to choose to believe and follow God as well.

Thus Rahab and Ruth chose to worship Yahweh.

In the New Testament, sinners are commanded over and over to “repent” and “believe”.

Every call to repent is a call to choose.

The command to believe assumes that the hearer can choose to obey the command.

God has dignified us with free will, the power to make decisions of our own rather than having God or fate predetermine what we do.

Unlike animals, which act mainly on instinct, we resemble our Creator in our capacity to display such qualities as love and justice.
And like our Creator, we have free will.
So to a great extent, we can determine our future.
God gave us a great deal of responsibility so that through experience we will grow in the ability and strength of character to make the right kinds of decisions.
When we choose to obey His commands, in effect, we are thinking like Him.
Our thoughts become God’s thoughts.

He can’t accomplish that by thinking for us.
We have the freedom to think and choose.
Eventually, the way that we choose to live will have the ultimate consequence.


Free Will - Before and After Adam

The Bible is emphatic on its teaching that humans possess free will and are capable of originating good or evil.
In the very first chapter of the Bible God commands humans to be fruitful and exercise dominion over the animal kingdom and the earth.
It is God’s Will that we humans should exercise dominion.
Instead of God forcing us to exercise dominion over all creation on this earth, He commands humans to do it.
That means, humans are not forced to carry out God’s Will on earth but is only commanded to fulfill God’s purpose.
Human beings were left with the freedom to choose to obey God or not.
The subsequent narrative makes it clear.

Before the fall of Adam, man was sinless and was able not to sin.
On the sixth day of the creation God finished all His creative works and saw everything “very good”.
“very good” is the phrase God used to comment on His creation.
That means, Adam and Eve were created sinless and because they possessed Free Will they were able to sin or reject sin.
In this context God placed the choice to eat the fruit of a particular tree in the garden with a warning about the consequence of eating it.

If Adam was not able to sin, he would never disobey God and would never eat the forbidden fruit.
But God the creator knew that His creation Adam had the Free Will to choose to obey or reject Him.
That means Adam was able to sin or reject sin.
Unfortunately Adam chose to rebel and disobey God and committed the sin.
As soon as Adam fell into sin, human nature was profoundly altered.
Now man is not able not to sin.
In the fall, human nature lost its ability not to sin.
In other words, after the fall, human nature is always towards sin.
Humans have an inclination to sin than towards a Holy life.

Romans 8 : 7, 8
7    Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.
 8   So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  (NKJV)

But the Free Will is never taken away.
The Paradox of Free Will

Free Will is another Christian Paradox.
A paradox is a seemingly absurd or contradictory statement or proposition which when investigated may prove to be well founded or true.
A paradox involves two statements that are contradictory yet true.
An example for a Christian paradox is the belief that “we must die to live.”

The paradox of Free Will is that, “Everything is foreseen; yet free will is given".
God is omniscience, all knowing.
He knows the past, present and the future.
Still Free Will of man to choose his actions is given as a gift by God to man.

The Bible does teach that God is Almighty, that God can do anything He wishes.
God’s power is not limited by anyone other than himself.
However, he does not use his power to control everything.

The world’s current sinful state is directly linked to choices made by Adam and Eve.

A Christian paradox always stands beyond our understanding.
Always a Christian paradox is explained, but not resolved.
God exists outside of time, and therefore, his knowledge of the future is exactly the same as his knowledge of the past and present.
Just as his knowledge of the past does not interfere with man's free will, neither does his knowledge of the future.
The law of consequences

When God created Adam and Eve, one of the first things He did was to give them the opportunity to choose whether they would obey Him.
He instructed Adam very clearly to not eat the fruit of a particular tree, under penalty of death.
But when Satan as a serpent gave Eve a different explanation and appealed to her sense of independence and curiosity, she and Adam both chose to ignore God’s command.
That one mistake resulted in the tragic consequences in their lives and changed the course of history.

One of the first lessons we learn in life is the law of consequences.
Good choices bring about good results, and bad choices cause unpleasant or even disastrous outcomes.
The reality is that God’s universal laws cannot be denied.
Eventually we will reap what we sow; the choices we make inevitably lead to consequences, good or bad.
All of humanity is created with the ability and responsibility to manage and have authority over their lives as well as the rest of the physical creation.
When we choose to obey His commands, we are thinking and acting according to God’s thoughts.
God can’t think or act for us or instead of us.
Eventually, the way that we choose to live will have the ultimate consequence. 

Israel and Choices
Just before Israel entered the land that had been promised to them, God instructed Moses to gather the nation to remind them of choices and consequences.
In Deuteronomy 29 and 30, Moses summarized the blessings that would result from obedience and the curses that would come about if they disobeyed.
Sadly, much of the rest of the Old Testament details the wrong choices and bad decisions the people of Israel made.
They did indeed suffer the consequences of those mistakes.
Individually and as a nation they suffered terribly.
One might reason that God could have intervened to make it impossible for them to fail.
But God’s purpose for them was that they should choose to obey Him.

The commands, promises and warnings given to Israel apply to all of us today.
God sets before us all life and death, good and evil, blessing and cursing.
As free moral agents created with free will, how to live is our choice.
God, of course, desires that we choose to be like Him, meaning that we choose to obey His commands.
When we make that choice, God ultimately will bless us.
If we choose to disobey, there will be tragic consequences.
That means, there are consequences for all our actions, both good and bad.
If we want the good results of life, we must be willing to exercise our free will to choose to live each day honoring God through obedience.
 Those who choose to be selfish and disobedient will reap the consequences of sin.
God gave us the gift of free choice so that He would know what kind of person each of us chooses to be.


Limitations on Choices


However, free will does not mean that mankind can do anything he pleases.

Our choices are limited to what is in keeping with our nature.

For example, a man may choose to walk across a bridge or not to walk across it.

What he may not choose is to fly over the bridge because his nature prevents him from flying.



In a similar way, a man cannot choose to make himself righteous.

His sinful nature prevents him from canceling his guilt.


Because as free agents, man chooses to disobey God, many things in God’s plan don’t get accomplished, and many evils God wishes to prevent take place in this world.
Yet, because God is infinitely wise and retains over-all control of the cosmos, we can rest assured that His promise to eventually overcome all opposition and achieve his purposes will come to pass.


Let me conclude this message with few more sentences.

God has given all of us the absolute ability to makes choices in life.
We have the ability to choose good or evil; right or wrong.
Unfortunately, from the beginning of time, we have chosen evil quite often.
Why did God give us free will then?
Wouldn't it have been easier and nicer to create mankind as inherently good?
Well, God's purpose with mankind is to have eternal fellowship with those who truly love Him.
Therefore, to create us as inherently good robots, without the potential for the opposite character, would not allow for true love.
For only love that comes from a free choice of the will is true love.

Voluntary choice is the key - love isn't genuine if there's no other option.

Free choice has its complications also.
There will be those who make poor decisions, causing themselves and others grief.
But God would not accomplish His purpose in our lives if He were to deny us the freedom to make choices.
He is creating a family made up of those who choose life, by exercising the freedom and responsibility of free will.

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