In a world of wonders of the soul there is the mind, emotion and a thing called the will.
A free will? Or a will in bondage?
Reflections: Proposition one and proposition two.
Proposal One: Man has a free will.
Proposal Two: God has a free will…
Man’s free will was given him by God.
God’s free will is endemic to His own essence, Creator of all that exists, Almighty and self-existent. He is sovereign over all.
If it exists God created it, if it does not exist God did not create it. When God creates anything, He has a reason for creating it according to a plan that He, Himself is carrying to completion. He is not merely doodling in the sand for His idle amusement. The universe with all its Galaxies has a purpose — and God created man for a definable purpose.
Since He has a definite purposeful plan will He allow anything, or anybody divert or otherwise impede this plan?
No. God’s free will is the sovereignty of God.
So concerning man’s free will, how free is that will? It’s limited within boundaries set by God. When man’s free will goes head-to-head with God’s free will, God’s free will wins every time. Man’s free will does not give man freedom to have absolute sovereignty over his own existence. Nor is man capable of such sovereignty.
Mankind would destroy itself with such an autonomy. This is evident throughout man’s history with wars of all shapes and sizes. If God did not intervene and guide at crucial times and events, man would obviously commit suicide on a grand scale. Man’s nature is just that depraved. Anybody who takes an honest look within themselves, past that mask of self-pride and “I’m-basically-a-good-person,” knows this is true. And mankind’s self-annihilation is clearly counter to God’s free will.
Free will is also limited within the boundaries of man’s ability to choose. When attitudes of mind and habits of thinking entrench our thought patterns, then a thing called “automatic thinking” limits our choices. This blinds us to other choices available outside the blinders of habit. These habits include preconceived notions and presupposed positions. Moreover, unexamined and faultily inspected paradigms enslaves man’s will by wrong thinking going unchallenged; held firmly in place by habit and an unwillingness to seek and test alternative perspectives.
What are some of the nemeses of freedom of will?
Pride. Arrogance. Selfishness. Self-centeredness. Lust. Greed. Envy. Strife. Deceit. Malice. Self-conceit of thinking. Hardened heart. Hatred. Debauchery. Discord. Jealousy. Rage. Selfish ambitions. Dissensions. And all such depravities common to man’s natural condition. My pride tells me I have a free will. I am my own free agent. And it’s my pride that is my greatest obstacle to a free will.
Considering such fetters how free is man’s free will now? Limited. Very limited. Limited within the boundaries of our own depravity. Mankind is enslaved by his own imperfect nature.
But not to fret – we have been given more than enough free will than we can wield with any amount of proficiency in our crippled natural state, without the intervening of God in Christ. A will outside of Christ, in its natural fallen state is not, cannot, be other than in bondage to it’s own frailties and limits, regardless of what my pride insists upon.
Christian church fathers and leaders, such as Luther, Calvin and Zwingli, et al. made such as this case in much greater detail in the early 16th century when they stated that mankind cannot, is incapable of, freeing their own soul (will) from bondage unless God intervenes directly, in Christ. Those without Christ remained in bondage, they said. Pride stood immutable, unmoving against them. But the Scriptures, including salvation by God’s grace alone, won out — and split the church. However truth cannot be overcome. It stands unwavering, uncompromising.
“Everyone who sins is a slave to sin…so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”(John 8:34,36 NIV)
“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25 NIV) Therefore, true free will can only fully express itself through freedom in Christ.
There are many things I don’t know about God, and know that puts me in much good company. For the things He reveals to us about Himself I am truly grateful. But I am most grateful for His revealed desire to have personal relationship with one such as I.
For further study of this subject let me recommend:
The Bondage of the Will: Martin Luther, By J.I. Packer, O.R Johnston
Institutes of the Christian Religion – John Calvin, the French edition of 1541 translated from the French by Robert White. (First published 2014, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh). It’s easier reading than the seminary study edition with nothing omitted.