“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44)

Today we are looking at God’s gift to man that he has free will. My quick response to God’s purpose in giving mankind a free will is this is the only way that man can express his love towards God, freely. There is a lot to be said about the free will of man but I am only touching the surface of the whole topic. First, we need to use a word that is often used interchangeably with freedom, liberty. I have seen several definitions of each but for now, I rest my thoughts on the usage that Thomas Jefferson used. From Jefferson’s point of view freedom means to be free from something and liberty means to be free to do something. Both these words have the quality of a state of freedom but Jefferson’s usage of these words always reflected his meanings.

When we consider that God gave man free will we have to realize that we were created in the image of God and thus we have been given this attribute that God has. As a Christian, the biggest daily quest is the assurance that we are walking in the will of God. Using the free will that God has given us is the privilege to make choices. As we go through life we make many choices that will have effects on our near future. Such as education, financial, and planning for our retirement. For us, these are shortsighted goals. Our primary choice we should make freely is the one that decides our eternal destiny.

Many years ago in the paradise that was called the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve with their free will made a choice that had a devastating effect on the human race to this very day. They chose to disobey the Word of God and sin entered in and fractured God’s creation. Man’s link to an eternal and holy God was broken and mankind became destined to die. To this day every one of mankind lives under the bondage to sin and will have to pay the wage of death.

There are limits to free will we have and that is by our nature. There are things we cannot do no matter how much we freely chose to. I can walk or run around the track field but I cannot fly around the field. My nature will not allow me to fly. Also because from my inherit sin nature which has corrupted my body, mind, will, and spirit I cannot choose to make myself righteous, as my sin nature prevents me from knowing the weight of the guilt accumulated in my life. This is the cause that prevents me from making a wise choice benefitting my destiny.

Man’s God-given free will is then limited by their sin nature. They cannot conceive the profoundness of Paul’s statement to the Romans. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

This inability to choose righteousness does not mitigate our accountability to the Word of God. It is clear in the Scriptures that mankind not only has the ability to choose but they also have the responsibility to choose wisely. During the Old Testament times, God chose a nation to be a Priesthood of people that lived a righteous life according to His law that the nations of the world could see their difference. God chose Israel but the people of that nation still had the obligation to choose to obey God’s law. God never lost His affection for His chosen people in spite of their stubbornness. “Then the LORD said to me, Arise, go down from here quickly, for your people whom you brought out of Egypt have acted corruptly. They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them; they have made a molten image for themselves. The LORD spoke further to me, saying, ‘I have seen this people, and indeed, it is a stubborn people.” (Deuteronomy 9:12-13)

When John the Baptist came to be the forerunner of Christ his message to the people was to repent from their evil ways because the Kingdom of God was at hand. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2) The Baptist’s purpose of this message was to prepare the way for the coming Christ, the Son of God who came amongst men to save the lost. It was a call to believe upon His name. “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.” (1 John 3:23) The call for men to repent is a call that they must make a choice and the call to believe is an assumption that they can choose to obey the command.

The problem for unbelievers when offered an opportunity to come to know Jesus is that they chose not to. This is their exercise of free will to make a choice based on the desire of their heart. They have no moral base to make a wise choice. Many have heard about Jesus yet they refuse to come to Him. Their sin nature prohibits that choice. Jesus in the gospel made that point clear. “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)

People live in this world and most have their five senses and can detect from the creation of God they live in there is a superior intelligence behind creation. At the very least all mankind should perceive this. Paul made that point clear to the Roman Church that all men are without excuse for not recognizing the work of God. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Romans 1:20-21)

Thus they use their freedom of will to choose to live in their desire for this world and follow the path that leads to destruction and death. They choose to pass by on the choice to choose life. Then there are those who refuse to believe that God would send so many to the pit of Hell. They will believe and preach that yet by their choice they will reap their just reward. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

How then can a man with limited ability by his sin nature be able to choose righteousness? Because of his fractured state, he is unable to make the right moral judgment towards his destination. It comes from the grace of God Himself. “For He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Romans 9:25) God chooses whom He will show His mercy and offer His sufficient grace. It is then that the gift of free will truly become free and an unbeliever is able to make the wise choice for his final destiny. “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” (John 15:16)

It is the work of the Holy Spirit that He works through the will of the lost that the old sin nature is regenerated to a new nature. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

When we look at free will we see that our freedom and liberty climaxes in this statement from Paul to the Romans. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) When we choose righteousness in Jesus Christ we find freedom from the power of sin over our lives. “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14) This is the liberty that Christians have that they no longer are controlled by sin, but by the righteousness of God. “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:17-18) The freedom that they now have is to be used for the goals that support the goals of their calling. “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

The salvation the Christian receives is the work of God. The motives of the Christian and the desire and actions are voluntary. It is the responsibility of the Christian to work their salvation and be held accountable to their desires. “But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:20-24)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, January 24, 2019

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