Did God Give Humans Free Will?
What is free will? How do we know if free will really exists and do humans really have a free will?
Britannica defines free will as the following: Free will, in humans, the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints.
So free will can also be defined as the ability to make a choice or a decision – whether that choice / decision is good or bad.
Did God Give Man Free Will?
Beginning with Adam and Eve, the Bible gives evidence that God gave all humans free will. In the garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve the ability to make choices. God gave them the choice to either obey Him or disobey Him when He told them not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:15-17 says: The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 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.”
However, from the events of Genesis 3:1-24 we learn that Adam and Eve made a free will choice to disobey God instead of obeying Him, because despite being warned about the consequences, they still made the choice to eat from the forbidden tree.
When God created man, He did not create humanity to be like robots or machines who have been programmed. Having been created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), humanity was made different from animals or anything that is man-made in that free will is an integral component in the relationship between God and man. Unlike animals, which act mainly on instinct, we resemble our Creator in our capacity to make choices and display such qualities such as love, mercy or justice.
If God had not placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and not stipulated His rule concerning that particular tree, then Adam and Eve would not have a choice to exercise their God-given free will.
This one rule that God gave them, allowed Adam and Eve to exercise their free will and to make a relationship choice between choosing God and choosing something else.
How Do We Know That Free Will Exists?
God can teach, inspire, persuade, invite, rebuke and even warn people about their choices – but He does not violate man’s free will.
If God wanted to violate man’s free will, then He would have stopped Adam and Eve from eating from the forbidden tree of knowledge of good and evil?
So even in His foreknowledge, God did not stop Adam and Eve from eating from the forbidden tree because God had given them the free will to choose.
Furthermore, if God wanted to stop or violate our free will, then He would stop most or all individuals from sinning or committing acts of evil. Instead God would force us to do good deeds – even against our own will.
We also know that man is capable of willfully making wrong choices even though he knows that the choice he is making is bad or wrong. If free will did not exist, then man would be absolved of any wrongdoing. Justice would not exist, even within society, and God would not hold anyone accountable for his/her life. Accountability would not exist if free will did not exist.
So we know that free will exists because mankind is always making a choice between alternatives, regardless of whether those choices are good or bad.
In Deuteronomy 30:15-19, God says the following:
“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil… I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live”
Having free will means that, God does not force man to love Him. God does not force man to follow Him. God does not force Himself upon humanity. God does not force man to do the right thing. God gives man the ability to make a choice between alternatives.
So every single day, man has a free will choice between right and wrong; good and evil; light and darkness; blessing and cursing; life and death; God and satan.
The Effects of Free Will
Every choice we make in life can have good or bad consequences. The problem of evil and the bad experiences we have in life, partly exist because mankind uses his free will to make bad choices. For example, we may choose hatred instead of love; or bitterness instead of forgiveness; or violence instead of peace; or lies instead of truth.
So even though God gives us free will, the choices we make can bear either good or bad results, depending upon the choice.
For example, even though God gives man free will to choose, God also advises man about the benefits of making good choices. He also warns people about the consequences of making bad choices.
So in Deuteronomy 30:16-18 God says the following:
“If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in His ways, and by keeping His commandments and His statutes and His rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess.”
Choosing Life Instead of Death
The most important choice that every person has been given since the fall of man in the garden of Eden is that of choosing between life and death.
How do we choose death? To choose death is to reject Jesus Christ and to reject the work of redemption which He completed for mankind on the Cross.
In John 3:18-19, Jesus said the following
Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.
So we learn from John 3:18-19 that even when the light or Christ presents Himself to people, there are some who will make a free will choice to reject the light and follow darkness.
How do we choose life? We choose life by accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour.
1 John 5:12 says: Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Eternal life is found in Jesus Christ who paid for the sins of mankind on the Cross. All humanity has sinned (Romans 3:23) and therefore needs a Saviour who can save us from the eternal consequences of sin.
The penalty for sin is death or eternal spiritual separation from God (Romans 6:23) – but God offers us the free gift of eternal life through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ who bore our sins and took our punishment on the Cross. God’s salvation is by grace through faith in Christ and not by our own effort (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Jesus Christ became our Substitute and paid our debt for sin through His blood and crucifixion on the Cross. Therefore forgiveness of sins and an eternal relationship with God is possible through accepting Jesus Christ in our lives (John 1:12).
So to choose life, is to accept and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and to make a decision to be a follower of Jesus Christ because of His sacrifice for our sins.
To choose life is to respond to the Gospel message and to yield to the Holy Spirit who is able to regenerate us.
In John 3:16-17 Jesus said the following:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.
Jesus Christ died on the cross for the whole world so that whoever chooses to believe in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life.
It is not God’s desire that anyone should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) and so God provided Jesus Christ as the propitiation or atonement for the sins of the whole world (1John 2:2).
God therefore presents the choice between life and death to the whole world because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for the whole world.
So humanity is always choosing between good and evil and has been doing so since the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Everyday humanity is exercising free will. Today, what is your choice? Will you choose life or will you choose death?
DO YOU WANT TO BE A CHRISTIAN or A FOLLOWER OF JESUS CHRIST?
1. ACKNOWLEDGE: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
This means that we have all broken God’s laws and God’s 10 Commandments like those mentioned in Exodus 20:1-17. For example, if you have told a lie; if you have stolen something; if you have lusted after somebody or if you have coveted. This means you are guilty of breaking at least one or more of God’s 10 Commandments. Breaking God’s commandments makes us sinners. The fact that we are sinners who have broken God’s law means that we are accountable to God who is the Lawgiver. Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death BUT the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”
You must acknowledge that you are a sinner who has broken God’s commandments and that you therefore need Jesus in your life.
2. REPENT: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3), “Repent therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19)
Repenting means: to change your mind; a sincere turning away, in heart, mind and action;
Therefore God wants you to change your mind about sinful values and of sinful living. God wants you to decide to follow Him and to make Jesus the Lord of your life.
3. CONFESSION: “If we confess our sins. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9)
God is a forgiving God. God will forgive any sin that you have done because Jesus died for ALL your sins and to set you free from the bondage of all types of sin in your life.
4. BELIEVE: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
You must believe that ONLY Jesus can save you and restore your relationship with God. You must believe that Jesus is the ONLY way by which you can have everlasting life and escape from eternal separation from God. You must believe that Jesus died on the cross for you and resurrected from the grave.
“He came to His own, and His own did not receive him, 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” (John 1:11-12)
By faith, You must receive Jesus as Your Lord & Savior and therefore; you become a child of God; you become born again; you become a Christian; you restore your broken relationship with God
Why Not Make Your Eternal Decision NOW?
We become born again Christians by GRACE through FAITH or TOTAL TRUST in Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior (Galatians 3:26) & (Ephesians 2:8,9). Salvation is a FREE gift received through FAITH in Christ.
PLEASE NOTE: You can choose to pray in your own words. This prayer is a sample prayer and it is only an EXPRESSION of your faith, belief & trust in Jesus. Salvation is by GRACE through FAITH or BELIEVING in Christ Jesus as your Lord & Saviour.
“Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your love. I thank You that You died on the cross for me and resurrected so that I may have eternal life through You.
I confess Lord that I have sinned against You and broken your laws and commandments. Today I ask You to forgive me of all of my sins, past present and future.
Today I repent and I’ve decided to follow You. Thank You for forgiving all my sins.
From this moment, come into my life Lord Jesus & take full control of my life. I want to follow You Jesus and I want to follow Your ways. Save me and from today, make me a new creation in Christ.
I receive You Lord Jesus right now by faith. I trust You as my Lord and Savior – Amen”
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