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Do We Have Free Will?

I have often heard it said that God gave us free will so that we could choose Him. Is this true from a Biblical standpoint? Does the Bible say we have through free will the ability to choose God?

Well free will means to make a choice at ones own discretion, but is our choice free or is it influenced to the point where we cannot truly make a free choice? In other words, are we free to act how we want or are we predisposed to certain choices?

Romans 3:11 “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.”

Why is this, why is no one righteous?

Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”

These are just a couple of examples of the proof texts that demonstrate the spiritual truth of original sin, though I prefer the term “total depravity” since it is more descriptive.

What is the doctrine of total depravity? Simply put, it is the biblical teaching that human nature and the faculties- mind, heart and will- are so corrupted by sin that we cannot of our own free will do any good or seek after God. That does not mean that we are all crazed serial killers or out to be as evil as possible, it means that we naturally break the commandments of God, that we are incapable of obedience towards God and His law. It teaches that only through the intercession of God and by His grace are we able to follow after Him. In other words, we are enslaved to sin and can only “freely” act within the limits of that enslavement, meaning we cannot choose to do the will of God; our actions, no matter how “good” they appear to be are stained with sin and are therefore worthless in the eyes of God, thus the necessity of Jesus Christ’s sacrificial atonement on the cross.

Picture if you will, a pit and lying at the bottom is an injured person and Jesus sends a rope down to pull the person out of the pit, all they need do is grab hold. That is how salvation works according to free will advocates. They say it is a cooperative effort between man and God. In other words, God offers a hand and we must choose to take it, or to use a common example, Jesus stands at the door and knocks and we must choose to open it.

But the Bible says that lying at the bottom of the pit is a dead person, a rotting corpse who is incapable of choosing to reach for any rope, take an offered hand or open any door or do anything else to help in salvation. We are dead in our sins, enslaved to a mind, heart and will totally saturated in sin, in other words, we are spiritually dead and need to be born again.

Just as a baby plays no part and has no choice in being born, so it is with being born again, we play no part in it, God the Holy Spirit brings us to spiritual life and makes us through His grace spiritually alive.

John 3:6-8 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

John 1:12-13 “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Before we are born again we are slaves sin. Again, that does not mean everyone is as bad as they possibly can be, it means that when we were slaves of sin, we were free in regard to righteousness. That means that while spiritually dead, we could not act in obedience to God, to bring Him glory, which is the principle reason for our being.

       Romans 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

Having been set free of the bondage of sin by Jesus Christ, we are now free to act in the interests of God and bring Him glory. All of this, being born again and set free from sin is by the grace of God alone.

Ephesians 2:1-10 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—  among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—  and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

How are you using your freedom in Christ to bring glory to God?

About Jonathan Kotyk

Jonathan Kotyk is a student, self taught philosopher, recovering addict and born again Christian. He has spent time on both the far Left and Far Right side of the political spectrum and lives in Canada.

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  1. Step away from the hyper-Calvinist. Characteristic of the Hyper-Calvinist is one who makes the statement as you have, “…so it is with being born again, we play no part in it, …” As Francis A. Schaeffer taught, both the sovereignity of God AND the free will of man is true and significant. These doctrines are as a highway — the limits of the roadway are recognized by ditches on both sides. For the one who says God in His infinite wisdom doesn’t choose who will be saved this one is off the roadway and in the ditch. For the one who says that God’s revelation to us is does not display to us -man(kind) must make conscious justification, responding to God, this one is off the roadway in the ditch on the other side.

  2. C Twitty, respectfully, we’re going to see different viewpoints and we hope to be as truthful as possible with what we share. I appreciate the quote as well, but we must also look to scripture first. We know hell is a reality and the Holy Bible warns us of it. In fact, it was one of the things Christ spoke the most about. We also have to harmonize that with 1 Timothy 2 where it speaks of the importance of us coming to knowledge of Him, and the need of a Mediator. So personally, I believe you are both on the right track. Yes, God brings us to Him, but there is responsibility that falls on us as to how that happens. If there is no human will, then we could have had had the fall in the Garden of Eden, or else we would have to pin that one on God. Adam and Eve chose. In their defense, most of us would have probably goofed as well. In all this, the most important thing is that we can agree that salvation comes through Christ, and that’s what we should stand together on. God bless.

  3. I’m not really getting the “not being able to grab the rope” thing…. Seems to me that it is a choice on our part, just like with Adam and Eve… Anyone wish to give their thoughts on the subject? Like, is there anywhere(feel free to re-address anything mentioned in article) in the bible that says it is not by choice?… A thought. Could it be both, kinda? Like, ultimately, The Creator knows what is going to happen in the end(created it to go that way), but we’ve gotta make it happen, by choosing? Does that make sense? Kinda loopy, I think. Choose, yet chosen… lol, I think it could be something to do with that, but idk for sure.

  4. that face given to me posting, that is… still interested in any thoughts

    • On the subject(no more posting aside from replies after this).

      • Sam, the Bible says we are spiritually dead and dead people cannot grab a rope. Paul says in Romans 3 that nobody seeks after God.

        John 5: 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.
        John 5:25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

        Like it says in Romans 1-3 we are sinners who do not seek after God, that is what it means to be spiritually dead. We require an act of grace from God to make us spiritually alive, which is what being born again is. Just as you played no part in your conception and birth, so it is with becoming a child of God. Those who are born again we chosen by God before the foundation of the world to be His elect people, set aside from the rest of humanity.

        1 peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

        God chose to bring us to Himself, since we would not go to Him.

        James 1:18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

        I recommend the book None Other by John MacArthur, it is a goes into detail on this and a few other subjects.

        • Thanks for your thoughts on the subject. I think this might not completely answer this subject, but I do kinda believe more so around the conclusion of this http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/what-does-the-bible-teach-about-free-will-and-predestination/

          • The problem with being able to reject the salvation of God, is that the Bible says God chose us, we did not chose Him. The only people who can reject God are the unregenerated who by nature are in rebellion to God. When we are born again, our hearts are opened to God and we naturally become inclined towards Him and naturally reject the things of the world. Without that act of grace working in our heart, we would never consider following God.

            The idea that God predestined us because He looked into the future and saw that we would have faith goes against scripture which says we are through no fault or effort of our own chosen.

            Romans 9:10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

            If I might, I recommend A.W. Pink’s The Sovereignty Of God, which goes in depth on the issue of total depravity, free will, election and such topics. YouTube has a free audio version of it, as does sermonaudio.com, where you can download MP3’s of it. It really is worth the effort to take the time to listen to what he has to say, his ministry was gift from God to the church.

          • Idk if I want to look into that, but thanks for the suggestion anyway. Idk about this subject exactly, but I still am going with free will… I mean, I think ultimately The Creator may have set stuff up, hence kinda not, but then fir reasons I’m thinking we also do have a kind of free will… was just kinda thinking about subject, maybe on reasons why, and I think I might have come up with one thing. If we do not have free will, why the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Why would The Creator make rebellion an option? Something like that at least. Also, here, for if only the last sentence. Basically, seems to me that we DO have free will, even though we might also ultimately not… kinda weird sounding maybe, but I do think so. Free to choose, yet chosen from the very beginning… again, idk exactly, but am going with free will currently. http://biblehub.com/niv/john/3.htm

            God bless

          • What my article was trying to say is that we are slaves to sin, meaning we are like a dog chained up in a yard, we can move around and do as we wish, but only as so far as the chain allows. When Jesus sets us free we become slaves to God and are then free to move around within the confines of that slavery to God. (Romans 6)

          • Well if so, maybe so. Thanks for talking with me

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