O lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. Jeremiah 10:23 KJV
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. Psalms 37:23 KJV
Most people say that they believe in “free will.”
Sadly, as with many other doctrines in the Word of God, people pick upon one liners and catch words without properly examining the Bible for the answer. I do not deny that man has a will, however, that will is not free.
Man’s will is in bondage to his fallen nature. The only people who have a will that is free are those who have been saved by Jesus Christ.
Even then, we still have the old nature that is warring against the new nature. The redeemed of the Lord have a will that is free to choose to serve God.
I now want to define “will.” Will is the faculty of the mind by which we determine either to do or forbear and action; the faculty which is exercised in deciding among two or more objects which we shall embrace or pursue. It is the part of man that makes choices. The question is whether or not this ability to choose is “free.”
The first myth of free will I want to examine is that of circumstantial freedom. That is to say that our will determines the circumstances in our life. Man does have the ability or will to make a decision, but he does not have the power to carry it out. Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him to be a slave. They staged his death and told his father that a wild animal had killed him. They even brought his coat of many colors covered in blood to prove it. Joseph’s brothers willed to get rid of him and not have him rule over them.
However their will did not thwart the will of God. (Gen 50:20) You may will to have good health, fortune and many other things. You can exercise, eat right and still die young. Man can do all the right things financially and not be wealthy.
Yes, we can choose and plan to do what we will, but our will is no free to accomplish anything against the purpose of God. The rich man in Luke 12:18-21 said I will, I will. He was free to plan, but not free to carry it out.
The second myth I want to look at is the myth of freedom for an unregenerated man to choose to do good.
From man’s viewpoint we say someone is good if they do something we considered good. Proverbs 21:4 tells us that the plowing of the wicked is sin. All that the lost man does is sin in the sight of God. The lost man does nothing to please God or bring glory to God and therefore he is free to choose sin because that is what his nature tells him to do. man’s will is not free to operate apart from his depraved nature. (Romans 3:9-18) (Psalms 14:1-3, 53:1-3)
Man does not become depraved and sinful because he sins, he sins because he is depraved and sinful from birth. (Romans 5:12-21)
This illustration by Walter Chantry says it well, “if fresh meat and tossed salad were placed before a hungry lion, he would be free to choose either, but he would choose the meat every time because his nature dictates the choice.” So even what we call good things done by the unregenerated man are evil because he cannot please God.
The last myth i want to look at is spiritual freedom.
Many still think that the human will makes the ultimate decision in spiritual life or death. Eph 2:1 tells us that we were dead spiritually in our sins. Since our will is not free to choose outside the control of our nature, we can see no man can or will choose God on his own. Romans 3:9-18, John 3:18, I Cor 2:11-14
John 1:12-13 says that those who believe on Christ have been born by the will of God and not man. Some may ask what about “whosever will.” The myth of free will and whosoever will do not contradict. John 6:14 says no man can come or will come unless he is drawn. The whosoever wills come not of their own free will, but the will of God.
Please join us at Russellville Baptist Mission, 223 North Main Street, Russellville KY 42276. Service time is Sundays at 11 a.m. Pastor Chad Johnson