Meditations about free will

Dear brother, grace & peace to you 🙂

While I am not a Biblical scholar, there are beliefs that I hold, most likely from the Reformed point of view, though that is based on Scripture, as far as I know, but there is something that really irks me when some people try to tell me otherwise. It is the topic of “free will”.

Based on Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live but it’s Christ who lives in me, and the life that I now live, I live by the faith of Christ”. Based on my understanding of Scripture, here is what I believe – that I do not have “free will” based on what some people think. My will has been surrendered to the will of Jesus Christ. I am not a robot, neither a person who is not free, but my alleged “free will” is bound to act within the parameters of the new nature in Christ which will enable me to yield to holiness (not that I am so holy, as I am not perfect, but yet that means “set apart to serve God.) I believe that “free will” is an attribute of God since God is the only one who has a free will – as He is not bound by anything or anyone and does not need permission for anything. Then some say “but it’s your choice.” No I disagree, our choice is that of what God chooses for us. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. “Psalm 37:23. We pray to God “not my will but thine be done” Also when we call Jesus Lord we are calling Him our Master, and we again do not have “free will”. We also do not have “choices” . We do what God in His sovereignty instructs or allows or decrees us to do and then again, it is still not our will but God’s. I do not believe we have “choices” because we do the Father’s will.. not our will. We have put off the “old” will to do the Father’s will. And even to deny ourselves & take up the cross and follow Jesus. If you deny your will, and yield yourself to Christ, then that is NOT “free will”.

So, brother, do people say this because they are coming from an Arminian or Catholic point of view? I refuse to agree with them. I refuse to be told what my attitude and experience is with the Lord, based on Scriptures. Based on what you have learned from the Bible, can you talk about the issue of alleged “free will” please?

The other issue I have with “free will” folks is that this places YOUR will over God’s will. That is still trying to have control over your own life, and we are to have no rights as we are dead in Christ, raised to newness of life. Further, when we were sinning before Christ, we following our own will, we did what we wanted, because we sinned. Now in order to become regenerated into a new creation, God had to take our “will” and change it, from a hater of God to one who loves to serve God. So again, that shows that we have no free will because if we did, we would not serve God but our flesh instead.

Yet, we have freedom in Christ. Everyday, we have choices put before us, to brush our teeth, to choose food to eat, but even then, those are all God’s sovereignty at work. Aren’t we supposed to do whatever we do to the glory of God? That seems to negate “free will”.. To me, when you say you have free will, that means you are the lord of your life, and anyway, when we are in Christ, we have no free will – we only have the will of God.

Anyway, it is frustrating to try to explain this, and yet people still want to throw in that “choices” and “fee will” thing. I suppose after a point of repeating myself 5 times, it is time to let them believe what they want. Or maybe I’m being a kind of Pharasee about it. But I won’t give in to the free will thinkers!

By Mary T

This was originally posted by Mary T as a question in the Questions section of this blog. As in this post Mary T has detailed her meditations about free will, so it was decided to have this posted on the blog and to leave it for readers to add their comments. Let’s sit at the Lord’s feet and study together in the light of God’s Word what Mary T says in this post.

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13 Responses to Meditations about free will

  1. Mary T says:

    Dear brother – the solution to this dilemma occurred to me today – the problem is when people do not understand the difference between Justification and Sanctification. Voila!

    Justification is that which we are justified by God, by receiving the righteousness of Jesus Christ given to us by God’s grace, in exchange for our own unrighteousness that we can never ever please God with. This cannot be earned as it is a gift of grace. No works can earn this justification one bit. Do we even have anything good enough to offer to the Lord to attempt to earn justification if we could think of something we consider valuable? No! That would be as silly and unfruitful as my attempt to help the classic artist, Michaelangelo, by adding to one of his masterpieces with a pencil drawing. And how much more glorious and holy and magnificent is our mighty God than just a man named Michaelangelo.

    However, sanctification is the continual work that God works in us each day, and that is where God commands us to be holy, to yield ourselves to holiness, and flee evil, to do whatever is His will, to become transformed by the renewing of our mind, to become more and more like Christ, to be less and less of ourselves, not in a legalistic way, but a new creation in Jesus Christ.. That will happen and should happen as an ongoing process (some slower, some faster), as the believer has now the new regenerated nature of Christ where they are no longer a slave to sin but to righteousness. This is the work of God!

    Now, I am not speaking of church members who think they can be “carnal christians” which is a lie because if we are in Christ, we are not slaves to the flesh, even though we may war with the flesh vs the spirit, but of course that can be overcome by falling upon Jesus Christ and trusting Him and his faithfulness, again not trusting in our own selves, and Christ living His Life thru us. (I was about to say “letting Christ live his life thru us” however, we do not “let” Christ do anything in that way as if He has to ask our permission to work in us – as he is the King of kings, and Lord of lords, the Author and Finisher of our faith).

    I think that some people get the two – justification and sanctification – mixed up, and it occurred to me that this is the problem that I knew in my conscience, but did not have the exact word for it! That seems to be what is happening. I don’t know if people are being taught this way, (works-based salvation) which is not Biblical or if some people think that salvation is something they just “have to do” in order to do something to please God. The way to please God our Heavenly Father is to love His Son Jesus Christ.

  2. YAQUBOS† says:

    The problem is when people do not understand the difference between freedom and independence

    Be in Peace!

  3. Mary T says:

    Can you explain please?

  4. YAQUBOS† says:

    Mary, can you first explain what you understand by freedom and independence?

    Be in Peace!

  5. Mary T says:

    I will try.. by the grace of God as I think aloud these thoughts which is how i come to a conclusion)

    Freedom – “He whom the Son sets free is free indeed” (John 8:36). and independence – Wanting to be independent means to have one’s own choice to do what they want, when they want, how they want, and how they decide, not depending on anyone else, taking care of one’s self. in their own wisdom. Independence spiritually is probably the greatest sin as to a person wanting to do things independent of God’s will for them. (God’s will – First that the person believe on and love and serve Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, and God’s will for us to surrender to Jesus Christ and to serve Him forever.)

    Independence is good and practical when a person needs to leave their mother and father and begin their own life as an adult where they need to be a mature person to be able to live an adult life; that is independence which is necessary as a person. But even that must be according to the will of God, because not every adult is living the lifestyle that is according to the Bible and God’s will and that is a mess (as in Psalm 127: 1 “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain).
    And even if we are presented with a few ways that might seem desirable or right, even then we must not be independent and seek our own will, but we should seek God’s direction, for if we make our own choices and do not listen to God, we may find ourselves shipwrecked. God may in fact say no to a “good thing” because of something only He knows. It may also be a sin to not be in God’s will even if that thing is a “good thing”.

    Freedom can only be found in Christ, by actually serving Christ, and actually becoming less and less and Christ be more and more.(die to self). Freedom is found only when serving the Lord. Freedom is found in total surrender to God. Freedom is – “What shall a man profit if he gain the whole world and lose his soul, and what shall a man give in exchange for his soul”. (Matt 16:26).

    Independence spiritually, therefore, seems to imply a “going away” from the Lord and all that the Lord in His wisdom, knows what is best for mankind. Since I know God is sovereign, actually we cannot really get away from what the Lord has planned for all creation. If we try to escape the things God has decreed and declare independence, we will probably run into a brick wall, so to speak, because whatever God decrees will happen.

    So, independence spiritually is not a good place to be in at all. Actually, the Bible also says God is everywhere, His eyes are everywhere, going to and fro about the earth and even in Hell we cannot escape Him, so now that I am writing this, I do not believe anyone can truly be independent because God is sovereingly in control of everything, including, I beleive orchestrating things to come to pass as He sees fit and decrees… in His perfect wise will.

    A person who is wise is one who seeks God’s will and obeys it, and repents if they fall short, and is not wise in their own eyes, and leans not to their own understanding, acknowledging Gods’ ways and God will direct his paths. In fact, the whole Book of Proverbs tells us what wisdom is.

    So, in brief, freedom spiritually is only found in Christ, and independence spiritually is not possible nor desirable. And I do not believe that God wants us to be independent but to be TOTALLY dependent on Him, for wisdom, for direction, for knowing His will, but most of all… God is worthy of total dependence on Him – for anything short of that is idolatry and leaning to our own understanding.

  6. YAQUBOS† says:

    Dear Mary,

    I have a question: if real freedom is in being dependent of Christ, then can we say that all men are free but not free indeed? Can we say that they are free, and yet not independent of sin?

    Be in Peace!

  7. Mary T says:

    John 8:36 says “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” We are literally free indeed In Christ, with spiritual freedom from the wrath of God and condemnation and spiritual freedom to serve God because now we are slaves to righteousness. Romans 8: 1-4 – “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”

    Before Christ, we were dead spiritually. We were slaves to sin. Our nature was corrupt so that sin permeated us and we lived in a “body of death” as Paul called it in Romans. When Christ the Life lives and reigns in the Christian we are delivered from that body of death, and are made anew, now to serve Christ and not sin.

    However, even though we are a new creation, with a regenerated nature, and eternal life in us, never to be judged or condemned for sins forgiven and forgotten and not regarded by God, we still have the flesh attached to us. The spirit and the flesh are continually at war with each other. Without total reliance on God, and yielding to temptations then the flesh might win the war, and that is why we keep on repenting and examining ourselves to see if we be in the faith. It is continually crucifying the flesh and its desires, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of Christ and we are promised that we are overcomers thru Christ.

    so I say that because I am in my flesh, I am not independent of the possibility of sinning, but I am not its slave. Sin is not my master. Being a Christian is not sinless perfection… but of constant sanctification. That does not excuse me from living the life that God tells me to live, but it gives me the reality that sin/flesh will try to prevail, but it will not prevail for long as I become sanctified, and transformed by the renewing of my mind.. and thru Jesus Christ who lives and reins in me. It is not my own self that i need to look at to overcome, but we are overcomers thru Christ ONLY. Because he has truly set me free from the law of sin and shame.

    Oh, and about the Law – the Law is my schoolmaster to bring me to Christ. The Law makes me aware of what is sin.

  8. YAQUBOS† says:

    Mary, what do you mean when you say that flesh and spirit are continually at war with each other? Where have you read this??

    So I have a question now: as you still sin, then does this mean you’re still a slave of sin? Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” (John 8:34)

    Be in Peace!

  9. Mary T says:

    This is what i mean about the flesh warring against the spirit – “Galatians 5:16- “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.”

    You said “So I have a question now: as you still sin, then does this mean you’re still a slave of sin? Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” (John 8:34)”

    We are not a slave to sin because we are a new creation in Christ Jesus. the old sin nature is what we are not a sin to. 1 John 2:1 says “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” That means we might sin, though we do not pursue it, but if we do sin we need to confess it before God. But we dont have to obey it like before when we were sinners.

    Shall I continue brother?

  10. YAQUBOS† says:

    Mary, so when you said “spirit”, you meant the Holy Spirit?… Do you usually write His Name with a small s?…

    Well, as Christians are in the Spirit, so what does it mean that the Spirit is making war against the flesh?

    I still didn’t get how you’re not a slave of sin as long as you still sin… Can you please explain how there is an “exception” for the believer concerning what Jesus said (that everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin)?

    Be in Peace!

  11. Mary T says:

    I am sorry, when I wrote that above, today, I was grieving about the loss of something, and I may not have written the best as I could 😦
    However, When i write the word “spirit” with a small “s” I am not talking about the Holy Spirit – God – but I am talking about a person’s own spirit.. You know that spirit -who we are – some may call it personality – their very being, that which is in each of us, that when trials and troubles come and one doesn’t know what is going on, then their spirit can be troubled. I do honor the Holy Spirit with capital H and S.

    That said, I am not a slave to sin. Yes, sin troubles me, yes sin lies awaiting for me at a weak moment, and yes sin is all around lying await to trip up a weak Christian or a Christian who is unaware of the wiles of the devil. (But we are to wear the whole armor of Christ where we can withstand all the fiery darts of the wicked.) I tell you Yaqubos, no matter what fiery darts the enemy throws at me, I will not give in to that demon and I renounce that enemy of Jesus Christ my Savior, my Refuge and my Lord. To make me think I am its slave – NEVER!!!!! GOD FORBID!!!!!!!! Never!!! Anathema I say to sin.!!!! No I am not a slave to sin, but to Jesus Christ only!!!!!! Sin has no dominion over me. Jesus Christ is my Master and Lord and I am His unworthy servant/slave.

    We are told in the Word of God, in 1 John 2:1 – “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” Yes, we might sin, because we are still in the flesh, and are being daily sanctified and becoming into the image of God’s dear Son, by the work of the Holy Spirit working in us – His ministry in fact – being saved is NOT SINLESS PERFECTION… but it is a holy lifestyle (not legalism which enslaves us).. but true holy living in Jesus Christ!!!.
    I am not perfect at all… but God knows my heart…. I can only fall upon my Savior, He will deliver His lambs as we trust in Him. Jesus paid for all my sins – past present and future – on that cross at Calvary. And I will never be condemned nor judged for those sins under God’s eye. Jesus has redeemed me from the curse of sin. He has declared me legally justified. Jesus bore my sins and faults and He has freed me from sin and its consequences.

    Now I must not trust in my own strength, nor lean to my own understanding, nor lean to my self, nor boast about how perfect I think I am – and I am NOT – but just forgiven. Lest you think I am taking this off topic, I apologize, however, I do not apologize for what my Savior has wrought in me thus far, pitiful though as it is. No one can take that away from me, never!!!! For his grace has kept me and will keep me,,, no matter WHAT.

    I am the slave of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior, my King and my God, and I love Him. and no matter what happens, no matter what is thrown at me, no matter what misunderstandings, no matter, I will trust in my Advocate, Jesus Christ the Righteous to save me. And He has and I rejoice in Him!!! That is all I can say…

    Please Lord forgive my shortcomings, as they are under your blood, and I can only testify of Your glorious love and forgiveness for me. Slave to sin? NAY!! For He has made me overcome by His grace.

    Shall I continue dear brother?

  12. YAQUBOS† says:

    Mary, I remind you that we are talking about this in the context of “free will” which is the topic of the article.

    So as the Christian also sins, but is NOT the slave of sin (we will understand this better as we study it further), then what’s the difference between an unbeliever and a believer? How is the unbeliever a slave of sin? How can you describe his will? Is it free and/or independent?

    Be in Peace!

  13. Mary T says:

    The unbeliever – lost without Christ. The unbeliever is not free and is independent of Christ. His master is the devil and sin. His whole nature is corrupt.

    Romans 1:-28-31 – “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.” In this verse, Paul tells us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that the unbelievers are given up to depravity and they do what their nature tells them and in fact do nothing but sin. They do everything that is contrary to God’s Law. There is no mention in those verses of the depraved mind seeking God, praising God, being honest, clean, pure, meek, nothing that is a trait of Jesus.

    Romans 2:9 says the sinner is under the power of sin ‘ 9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.” No free will here either I see, not like the Christian.

    Romans6:-18 says – “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness” This verse talks about slavery – whomever you offer yourself up to you become its slave whether to sin or righteousness. It is a chance in the heart spiritually. Jesus sets us free from sin and now changed us into slaves of righteousness. It is because of Jesus that we are free from serving sin.

    The believer – saved in Christ.. Free to serve the Lord. Might sin, but thru the process of sanctification, sin will not rule him like the unsaved who cant help but sin. Oh the sinner might do good works, but they are no good according to God. Even the Christian’s “good works” are all still the work of Jesus Christ in him.

    The Christian is now set free to love the Lord, the Lord to love Him and is free from the wrath of God, the punishment of sins, free to enjoy the Lord, and love Him and serve Him forever, now and in the next life, for he has eternal life which is Christ – living in Him, and also the Father and the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised would reside in all believers. If that is not freedom, I dont know what else is.

    The believer is totally dependent on Christ, for everything, for Jesus said without me you can do nothing. It is foolish to try to be outside the will of God. So yes, i wish to be dependent and free in Christ. If I went back to the world of sin, I would be choosing to go back to bondage where there is nothing but death. Who wants that? Not me. And nothing can force me to go back to that because Jesus promises to never leave us nor forsake us.

    Even further, we are not our own, We have been bought with a price. This is when I object to how people describe God as someone who makes us into robots who dont understand God’s sovereignty. We are actually possessions of Christ. That makes us even more dependent on God.

    The last thing I need to say about this is that even if Christ tells us to do something, we must obey Him. When we do, at least for me, we get a sense of freedom. The Lord might give us a task that is very difficult for us, we think. But if we do obey the Lord, we find out that it could be done by the grace of God. We can feel a sense of freedom that we obeyed the Lord and pleased Him. If we were to disobey that command of God, we would feel awful that we let Him down. (at least I would feel that way). All thru Christian history, people have done many hard things for the Lord, but all the while they felt freedom. So even if Christ gives us a hard task, it is still a joy to do, even though it is hard. If the unbeliever looks at that, they will view it as something hard to do, something they would not want to do, and so they can never experience this task as the same way a Christian does. They view it as slavery,, but they are really the ones who are slaves.

    I’d rather be a slave to righteousness than to sin. I do not wish to be independent of the Lord, even if He sends something my way that is too hard for me, but it really is not too hard for me, because He will give me the grace to do it. That comes with depending on the Lord and being free only in Him.

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