How free is my will?

How free is my will?


If by “free will” we mean the ability to choose what we want, then it is abundantly evident that we have free will. We were not created as robots, but as volitional creatures that walk and talk and think. But what determines what we “want”? The humanist viewpoint is that we have the ability to make choices that are not determined by any prior inclination or motive, i.e., that we are “neutral”. But this produces a logical absurdity: an effect without a cause. Without some motivating factor, we would be paralysed. This is not free will but lack of will.

The fact is, even our simplest choices are conscious, even if we don’t stop to analyze the reason for them. America’s great theologian Jonathan Edwards said that free will is the mind choosing. The Bible tells us, further, that it is not just what we do but our motive for doing it that matters. This is related to the biblical concept of conscience. Edwards’ “Law of Free Will” states that free moral agents always act according to the strongest inclination they have at the moment of choice.

The problem is that we aren’t neutral. God created man with the moral ability to choose between good and evil – free will. But he [Adam] chose to sin, and we have inherited that fallen nature. We are not just morally sick, but spiritually dead in our transgressions and sin (Ephesians 2:1), utterly incapable of righteousness [being perfectly good].  We sin freely, because that’s what we want to do. Every desire of our heart is rooted in our inclination to evil, and it is impossible for us in our sin nature to want to choose life, to choose Christ. “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:10-11 NIV).

God uses many means to bring us to see the truth of our slavery to sin, but gives us only one means by which we can be set free—the Saviour Jesus Christ, who said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44). Only when we are regenerated by the work of the Holy Spirit, born into spiritual life through faith in Jesus Christ, are we free to want to do good that is pleasing to God. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Recommended reading:

The Potter’s Freedom by James White ($16.15 from Amazon)


4 comments have been left.

  • willie longchap left comment on April 1, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    I used to have a bible….The book Drunken with Blood tells you about GOD …bad stuff to read
    GOD’S KILLINGS
    Seldom read in church and are ignored by most Bible believers
    Which is a shame because GOD is so proud of his killings

    BSBS response: Willie, I don’t know where you get the idea that ‘God is so proud of his killings’. If your read your Bible you will note that, “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” Genesis 6:5 You can’t blame God for your own wickedness. Compare this with that which God actually says, “Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” Exodus 34:5-7

  • willie longchap left comment on March 26, 2015 at 10:45 am

    How come that there are no more words from God or (here are more words from God) just the ones in the Bible
    Mankind has more words than God

    If there is a God …..For sure I would buy and read this book if it ever exists( More Words From Words GOD )

    BSBS Response: Willie, If you had read God’s first book, The Old Testament, and his second book, The New Testament, you would understand that God has written everything necessary for you to know Him, how to live your life and to have hope for the future. What more would you like God to say? Others tried to expand and elaborate on the original: Joseph Smith who wrote the Book of Mormon, the Jehovahs Witnesses, etc. but these books have simply led people astray from the complete and truthful words of the Bible.

  • willie loncghap left comment on February 5, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    As a (First Nation Residential Survivor) I can say that there is no GOD the way the churches (Known as people of God) ran the schools
    Did all sorts of bad things that pleased them to do….YUK the people of God
    For me why believe in something you can’t see
    My belief SEEING IS BELIEVING why can’t you understand that saying

    BSBS Response: Willie, I am sorry to learn of your experiences. Please do not judge God by the way you were treated. Evil people do evil things. God is not evil, He is the opposite. Evil occurs in the absence of God. God did not create evil. God hates what happened to you. You may ask why God did not stop that evil? If God were to intervene to stamp out all evil then what would happen to you and me? We both know we do evil things, things that displease God.

    You say that your belief is ‘seeing is believing’. I would ask you, how can you see that which is spiritual, for God is Spirit.

    Willie, I will leave you with this promise from God: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” its from Jeremiah 29:13 Why not take God up on his promise?

  • Jenny left comment on April 11, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    So why pray? Why blog this when it’s not complete? If there are questions left unanswered, the blog post fails as an FAQ.

    If I pray that person A does something, is that not asking God to overstep the boundaries of person A’s free will?

    BSBS Comment: Why pray? is a great topic for another page. We had to start somewhere and there are admittedly many, many questions that need to be both asked and answered.

    In answer to you question about A’s free will one must remember that God’s will will ultimately take precedence. That God allowed Adam to sin is ample evidence of God giving mankind free will.

    God will answer prayer in accordance with his perfect will. Fortunately for us God’s ways are not necessarily our ways, and we must remember that He is God and we’re not.

    We apologize for the brevity of this answer and will follow up with a page on Why Pray? in due course.

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