Free will is the idea that humans were created with the ability to make their own choices. Through these choices, they could determine their own fate. This is probably too simplistic to just take this definition at face value. Circumstances can and do impact many of life’s decisions. The Bible teaches us that humanity possesses free will, and that humanity is capable of originating evil. To understand this gift from God, we can begin in the first chapter of the Bible.
(Genesis 1:26)1NIV New International Version Translations – “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’”
God’s command to be productive and exercise dominion over the earth reveals that we were never forced to carry out His will. We were given a choice to either obey God or not. Human free will is manifested in the fact that, throughout Scripture, God gives us lots of choices and lets us choose. With choice came accountability and responsibility. Both good choices and poor choices have consequences.
(Deuteronomy 30:15-19) – “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death, and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways…then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed…I have set before you life and death, blessings, and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live….”
There are four ways to look at the idea of free choice:
- You should always read the directions first!
- You should consider choosing God’s way!
- You can always make your own choices. But when you are wrong, God is going to do His best to guide you to Him in the end!
- You can always do whatever you want, including avoiding God’s advice!
The choices we make are often influenced by forces outside of our control. There is genetics, and what our environment may be that we cannot control. Children born in the inner-city of Chicago will have different choices forced upon them in life than a child growing up on a rural farm. Genetics may keep someone out of the Olympics despite their competitive nature. Education and training opportunities can also broaden one’s ability to make both good and bad decisions. And of course, we have the big Gorilla in the room, the world’s influence on us all. While there are many reasons to believe that a person’s will is not completely free of influence, humanity is still free to make conscious decisions affecting the outcomes of a person’s life.
(Proverbs 16:9) – “In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
In the wisdom of Proverbs, we are told that humanity also holds the power of choice. It is this simple in the eyes of God. Good choices, choosing God, was never meant to be hard. From God’s perspective, He followed up the creation of humanity by creating a full set of instructions for our use. Yes, we are free to make choices, and yes, God still oversees our world. Therefore, life should be about getting better at making good, Godly choices that are consistent with God’s directions for life.
- First, we must remain faithful to our Core Values. Core Values are those virtues in life that bind our choices to our goals. It is the glue of life. To have core values, one needs a reference point. God’s Word, God’s Son is the glue of eternal life. A person cannot have meaningful values if the values are of this world.
- Choices require thought. If there was a problem in our world today, too many of life’s decisions have become spontaneous. Impulse, compulsion, perversion, habit, or luck are alive and well in our world’s choices. Making poor life-altering decisions often leads to sin and always leads to disappointment. They lead to everything bad in our world today. Remember, you have the power of the choice! Take time, make good ones.
- Try listening for the whisper of the Holy Spirit. He can be a Comforter, Counselor, and Advocate (Isaiah 11:2; John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7); the Convicter of Sin (John 16:7-11); a Guide: (John 16:13). Not only did God give you instructions, but He also gave you “Power Tools”.
- Finally, don’t be afraid of mistakes. When Jesus died on the cross, He erased your guilt forever. Just don’t keep making them! Do your homework. Examine the outcome of each choice you make. Let history guide you. If you need to, change where you get your information, change how you study God’s Word, change who you let influence your choices, change what you believe to be consistent with God’s Truth.
We are living in a world filled with leaders, politicians, profit-seekers, narcissists, even a few despots, who were all empowered by the very people they are harming. Our world now watches peaceful nations being destroyed, thousands dying, starving. Instead of action, there is inaction. Remember, Jesus threw caution to the wind on Calvary. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just before Jesus was arrested, He prayed to his Father three times, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39). The human nature of Jesus led Him to ask His Father to lift the hard choice to die on the cross, but Jesus said, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42) The ultimate hard choice! With that eternal gift of free will comes a responsibility for us to learn how to make good choices in life. If you don’t like the world you are in, then make better choices, Godly choices. Where your sneakers are made makes a difference, where our oil comes from makes a difference, the people who lead our country make a difference. Choices matter!
- Why do you think we still purchase products and services from places that do not honor our God nor uphold basic human rights?
- Ideas to Explore: Our sources for knowledge insulate us from the truth. Do we care? It is all about the price! It keeps other countries dependent upon us and therefore, peaceful? Do you believe that the choices you make have power?
- Why does our government try to do business with evil leaders who hate us? How are these choices being made?
- Ideas to Explore: It is all about the money. We are fearful of the bad actors. Our leaders just don’t care? We’ve picked the wrong leaders?
- Why is the world reluctant to get involved with helping a country whose hospitals, children, even bread lines are being bombed and shot at? What is driving the choices of complacency and/or caution?
- Ideas to Explore: What do you think Jesus would do with the present world conditions? Why is our country different than what Jesus would do? How do we make our country more Godly?
- How would you help keep the free will of the people focused on God?
- Ideas to Explore: Start making your choices better. Be more open and evangelical about how you make decisions. Teach people by example?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations