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?