Where Was My Free Will?
I was born Canadian, Manitoban, of Ukrainian descent, a poor Catholic male, the eldest in a family of five children with but one sister, at this time in history.
I was born with straight hair when I would have preferred curly. I would have preferred to be taller, stronger, smarter, handsomer, more popular, etc. And I was born to unbelieving parents.
Because of their unbelief, we suffered many things; sin flourished, and we reaped its consequences. Did I ask for it? Not that I’m aware. Am I now unthankful? No. That is the way it was, and with what God has now given me, I know that I have more than heart could wish and wouldn’t trade shoes with anybody.
What God has given and done with me hasn’t been by my choosing, as were none of my prior circumstances. Obviously, I had no free will in these or so many other matters.
Is There Free Will in Moral Matters?
Some say free will only pertains to moral issues. How easy was it for me to have free will on moral issues compared to others when, from the cradle, I was taught idolatry, pagan worship, lies, and diabolical doctrines, while other children, born of believing parents, had the opportunity to hear the truth from infancy?
Is not the believer’s choosing of a wife a moral issue? God declares believers are to marry believing, not unbelieving, wives. So now what about Samson? His parents were distraught when he decided to marry a Philistine, contrary to God’s Law. Yet the record bears witness that it was God’s determination that Samson do this:
Judges 14:1-4 MKJV
(1) And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.
(2) And he came up and told his father and his mother, and said, “I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And now get her for me for a wife.”
(3) And his father and his mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your brothers, or among all my people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” And Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she pleases me very much.”
(4) But his father and his mother did not know that it was from the LORD, that He was looking for an occasion against the Philistines. For at that time the Philistines had the rule over Israel.
Indeed, Samson’s entire destiny was determined before he was born (Judges 13). How much free will did Samson and his parents have?
When Moses gave excuses at the burning bush to avoid God’s mission for him, God became angry. Call it whatever kind of issue you please, but obedience is a moral issue whether to God or any authority set over one, and it is certainly a spiritual one when it is God Who requires obedience to Him personally. God decides what is required and what isn’t, and man has no free will to circumvent His will.
Is There Free Will in Predestination?
The Scriptures declare that before Isaac was in his mother’s womb, he was destined to be Abraham’s beloved miracle son. What free will was there for him?
How much freedom did Isaac have when aged, being blind in his latter years? What free will did he have to give the blessing to Esau, his favored son, when he was deceived by his wife and Jacob, who thwarted his desire? We know this happened according to the will of God as expressed in the prophetic Word to Rebekah when Jacob and Esau were still in her womb:
“And the LORD said to her, Two nations are in your womb, and two kinds of people shall be separated from your bowels. And the one people shall be stronger than the other people, the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23 MKJV).
How is it Jacob would obtain the birthright, though Esau was the firstborn? Was it free will that Esau exercised while selling his birthright for nothing, or was his choice predetermined?
This writing is but a tiny sampling of the many instances in the Scriptures of the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ruling out man’s freedom of will.
What exercising of free will was there when the Lord apprehended Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, and why were the others with him let go to carry on? What free will was there when it was determined that Saul would suffer great things for the Lord, unlike others?
When the Lord apprehended me in 1973, I had a family dear to me – mother, father, brothers, sister, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandmothers. I lost them all. I now have a wife. I didn’t want one. In my early days as a believer, I had hoped to be another apostle Paul, who was single and who said it was better not to marry if possible, thereby serving the Lord with greater attention. My wife was pressed upon me, for which I am now very thankful. I had no idea how much I needed her.
I also have a miracle son. About 11 months before he was born, the Lord said to me, “See what I’ll do for you now.” I didn’t ask for children and again I’m very thankful. We have a home I didn’t ask for (perhaps my wife did), finances, friends, and other things we didn’t earn, deserve, or ask for. Most of all, the Lord made Himself known to me when I wasn’t seeking or wanting Him. How rare and wonderful is that? Free will? How so?
The Scriptures teach that man is born in sin and a slave to it. If he is a slave, then how does he have free will? I declare it is God Who determines all things. Man determines nothing – until he is redeemed from the tyranny of sin, fulfilled in the image of God and established on the throne with Him – he has no free will. Only when complete in Christ, can one have free will, even as God has, in Whose image man is created.
Doesn’t the Bible say God chooses vessels of honor and of dishonor? What choice did Pharaoh have when God hardened his heart against Moses?
“For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘Even for this same purpose I have raised you up, that I might show My power in you, and that My Name might be declared throughout all the earth.’ Therefore He has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will, He hardens” (Romans 9:17-18 MKJV).
It is said, “God knew Pharaoh’s heart and determined things accordingly.” That is plain silly… more intellectual acrobatics on the part of those trying to defend the indefensible doctrine of free will, utterly contrary to Scripture and to God. Where is the proof? Why should we trust opinion and speculation rather than the unvarnished truth?
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9 MKJV).
“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD as the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He will” (Proverbs 21:1 MKJV).
Is Believing a Matter of Choice, Much Less Free Will?
“O LORD, I know that the way of man does not belong to man; it is not in man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23 MKJV).
Who chooses whom? Did not Jesus say to the disciples, “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16)?
So carnal reasoning comes in and says, “Yes, but they could have refused being chosen… they made a choice.” But didn’t Jesus later say to the Father (in John 17) that He had kept all those which the Father gave Him, that He hadn’t lost one? If one of those had chosen to reject the choosing of God, wouldn’t Jesus have had to say something like, “They didn’t all choose to be with Me”?
So the carnal man comes in again and says, “God doesn’t need anybody; if one refuses, He raises up another in his stead.” Then why should Jesus make a statement about not losing any if they are so dispensable?
Even Evildoers Are Chosen
Also, when Jesus said He hadn’t lost one, He went on to say, “None of them is lost, except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:12). So where was the free will of Judas?
Again, the carnal man steps in, arguing, “God knew Judas’ heart from the beginning, knowing he would choose evil.” So where was the free will of all those Judas impacted?
Why did God want a betrayer involved in the first place? Because it was necessary for the Son of Man to be betrayed. Is it not foolish to think that first there is free will, then necessary spots or roles to be filled by those who can choose to do as they wish? Would this not be chaos, and still not free will?
All Lives Predetermined
Is it only Judas and the disciples who had certain futures determined by the counsel and foreknowledge of God? The Scriptures are abundantly clear for those given to see that every creature is pre-ordained for a specific purpose, whether Esau or Nebuchadnezzar or Judas or Peter or the men who “crept in unawares” or Isaac or Moses or Joseph or Paul or even the blind man from birth:
“And passing by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Master, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither has this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God might be revealed in him‘” (John 9:1-3 MKJV).
Did Joseph have free will? “I don’t want to be sold into slavery and go to Egypt, God. Cancel my dreams; send someone else!”
My Jewish landlady of 1974, Resie Korber, said to me, “We Jews are called ‘the chosen people.’ We say, ‘Choose somebody else.’” What choice have the Jews had all these millennia?
Masters of Our Own Destiny?
Another way of expressing free will is to say, “We are the masters of our own destiny/fate.”
If someone were to speak those words in the ears of many orthodox evangelical Christians, the listeners would be quick to roundly condemn them. Yet these same people will just as strongly declare we all have free will. What’s the difference? Truly, if man has free will, isn’t he master of his own fate and therefore may have or do anything he chooses?
Stop and Consider, Can You?
Haven’t we chosen so many things that didn’t materialize? Haven’t we been constantly subjected to circumstances not of our choosing? Don’t the effects of those undesirable circumstances determine the outcome of our lives and those of others? Who can deny it?
One will have no choice but to acknowledge these things to be true, unless he chooses to be wrong! However, one day we will all choose to be right, and therefore we will have no choice to choose the wrong! Why will we choose the right? It will be because of Him Who causes us to do choose:
“For it is God Who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13 MKJV).
Limited Free Will?
Now one may say, “We have free will. Because we don’t get what we want, or because our choices don’t work out, doesn’t mean we don’t have free will.”
Isn’t this more of the same contradiction? What’s the point of being free to move arms and legs in a tight cage if I can’t be free from that cage to use my arms and legs? Life is full of cages. What kind of free will is it to have limited freedom?
The Essence of the Doctrine of Free Will
The doctrine of free will is an arrogant premise founded in the Adamic fall. Free will is a delusion, a denial of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It says, “I am Lord.”
It is also an attitude of sour grapes. Instead of admitting he is wrong and repenting of trusting in himself, man essentially doubles down, taking the position he is right and God is wrong. “I fell, I was warned this would happen, but I convince myself I did the right thing – I’m free to do as I please now, I will do it and nobody is going to stop me!”
To think so is to slavishly serve error.
The notion of free will is a symptom of pride and self-righteousness. Men prefer to think they are the architects of their destinies, almost as though they are God Himself. The doctrine of free will is a doctrine of devils.
God Alone Has Free Will
God is Lord of all. He alone is the Master of all destinies; otherwise He is Lord of nothing. Either one has free will, or one does not. Liberty must be total, or it isn’t true liberty – it’s only frustrating torment.
One day, those in Christ will be free in every respect. As the Lord Jesus promised, “When the Son of Man makes you free, you will be free indeed!” (John 8:36). Until that time of fullness comes, we are only deceiving ourselves in thinking we have free will.
Only the Light of all men has the key to deliverance from the chains of darkness that bind us, chains of death and Hell. The day will come when Jesus Christ makes us complete in spite of the choice Adam made and in spite of, not because of, the choices we’ve made or any works we’ve done:
“For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10 MKJV).
Isn’t truth emancipatory? What a burden lifted!
Read in our section Free Will.
Consider the alternative to the terrible burden of believing you have free will, which leaves you with the Creator’s responsibility and the creature’s impotence to handle it. Give God the glory and acknowledge His sovereignty. Confess with your heart He is Lord. Then things will make perfect sense and you can rest and rejoice in God, knowing He is your Perfectly Capable God.
What a debate there has been from the very beginning on this matter of free will, ever since Adam and Eve exercised a choice contrary to God’s command that they not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil! As it was demonstrated, the desire and demand for free will is the expression of the very essence of sin. In this section we address the false teaching that man has a free will, and can exercise it for good.
God prohibits our making or having images in a context of worshipping Him. However, man, in his unbelief, prefers a visible god to the Invisible One. Images are a sure sign of false religion and are widely used in nominal Christendom. Whereas images are seen as enhancing worship, God sternly commanded the children of Israel to destroy them, which tells us how odious to God and dangerous to man images are.
There is a prevalent doctrine that Satan was once a glorious angel, in harmony with the goodness of God, but pride and ambition took over and he rebelled. The primary Scriptures used to support this doctrine are those of Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14, interpreting the king of Tyre and Lucifer as Satan. However, let's take a closer look at what these Scriptures say.