Am I truly free to act upon my will, or not??
the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.
synonyms: self-determination, freedom of choice, autonomy, liberty, independence More“they take for granted their blessed right to free will”voluntarily, willingly, readily, freely, without reluctance, without compulsion, of one’s own accord, of one’s own volition, of one’s own choosing“I pursued a modeling career of my own free will”
(especially of a donation) given readily; voluntary.“free-will offerings”
ref: Systematic Theology, pages 330-331 #9
We have Free Will to do what we want, what we desire, to our heart’s content, BUT we must also be willing to accept the consequences of our choices and our actions. There are those who espouse that Free Will is the ability to make free choices without the hindrance of external coercion. It is my opinion that Free Will is the ability to make choices despite external coercion. The Apostle Paul wrote, in part, to the Church at Corinth the following:
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 NKJV
So, clearly we can do all things, but if we know they are wrong, morally or ethically, we are not to participate in them nor act upon such things. For it is with the perspective that God holds that we should see all things! Free Will is one’s basic choices that one makes in determining what one will do, or where one will go, or what path (morally) a person chooses to take.
Clearly, we can take the position that God is in control of all things, because He is all powerful. But He created us with the intent for us to glorify, love and praise Him with all of our heart, soul and mind. That being said, He will not for us to do anything against our will. However, there is one caveat, that God will urge some toward a specific task to be accomplished (namely Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Job, Jonah, David, among numerous others.) This is because God intends you, or I as the case may be, to accomplish something great. You can continue to choose to take the wrong path and one of two things will happen, either God will choose another to accomplish the task that you were to accomplish OR you will choose the right path and fulfill your task and glorify God in your actions. Some have asked, what if Jonah had chosen to take another hiatus from his assigned task from God? Some have answered that another Big Fish would have been sent. Others have said God would have assigned the task to another. Me, I would have thought that God would have sent the same Big Fish to swallow Jonah, again; in order to teach him the lesson he should have learned the first trip.
While God can know what your choices will be in the future has no affect upon your future choices, unless He acts upon His will in order to make you choose another choice – as in the case of Jonah. Regardless if God takes any action to have you change your decision, or not, is irrelevant. In that, your choice is still your choice. You choose to do what is right or what is wrong, simple as that. If God inspires you to make a different choice, the choice [in reality] remains yours to be made. Others tend to influence us in our decision making abilities all of the time. Salesmen, telemarketers, your friends, political pollsters, etc. But in the end of each interlude, the final decision is yours…the buck stops with you!
God’s ultimate will is unwrapped before us every minute of everyday despite our choices. God sees everything from the very beginning to the very end. We are finite in our abilities and therefore are finite in our ability to see the big picture, even if it is spelled out for us (as it is in the biblical text.)
God has given us simple instructions: Love Me with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind; and to love your neighbor as yourself. But before that God gave the simple instruction of:
“Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” ~Genesis 2:17 NKJV
It was much easier to not eat from one tree than to love our Creator! Think about that for a moment. To love God means you have to give up all those so-called fun things we tend to do, despite the fact they do nothing for us or help us to aid anyone else in the mean time. We will spend more time looking for a parking space than seeking the will of Him who created us, or trying to understand His word that He gave us. His word is there to read, but do you read it? Furthermore do you understand it? It’s ramifications??
Free Will, in my opinion, is a matter of making choices despite all outside interference(s).
May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!
MK Murphy, PhD, DD
Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem