Sunday, November 18, 2007

Faith and Free Will

Free will is defined as having the authority and power to do as one pleases (ISBE).

The above definition being true, there is no such thing as a man with a free will; or man as a “free agent.” A free agent, or one with a free will, would be a person who is able to choose neither serving righteousness nor unrighteousness; but there is no neutral ground, man serves one or the other (2 Pet. 2:19).

When a person is first born he is born into the flesh of Adam and therefore into the sin of Adam; being found in sinful flesh he is under the law of sin and death; he is bound under the law and he hopelessly serves unrighteousness (Rom. 7:14-23). A slave does not have a free will; as a slave a man’s authority and power is limited, thus his will is not “free.”

Man cannot be set free from his enslavement by his own will for he is helpless to do so (Rom. 7:24-25), he is set free only through the will of God, the only agent with free will (John 3:16; Eph. 2:4-5).

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9NASU).”

If a man, through the conviction and guidance of the Holy Spirit, desires in his heart to be set free from his enslavement to sin he must first choose by his limited will to seek repentance (Acts 2:38). Once God is satisfied with the nature of mans repentance, God wills his repentance granted (Rom. 2:4), he is forgiven and released from the law of sin and death through faith in Jesus (Rom. 8:1-4); but then he becomes a slave of righteousness; he is not his own he has been purchased, redeemed or bought with a price, that of the life of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).

So in essence, mans will is limited to choose which nature he will be conformed to and whether he will be a slave to Christ or to sin. Those who love Christ only love Him “because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).” Salvation takes a definite choice on the part of the sinner: to confess with the mouth and believe with the heart (Rom. 10:8-10), without the confession of and continuing in faith (Rom. 8:4-14), God’s grace cannot save that person from their slavery to the enemy (Eph. 2:8).

We conclude, because of the warnings in Scripture concerning using his power of choice to become apostate in the faith (Gal. 5:4; 1 Cor. 10:12; Heb. 3:12, 6:4-8, 10:26-27; James 5:19-20; 1 Tim. 6:21; Phil. 2:12), it is also true that men have the power to choose to no longer be a slave to Christ. One of the things the Holy Spirit teaches through Scripture is making the right choices---in obedience---and the only way to do such things is to have a will to either do them or not, otherwise man would not be instructed in the use of his will.

Now concerning faith: Perfect faith is hearing God, believing and obeying Him from a heart of love. Therefore the sum of perfect faith is total surrender of mans will to the will of God (Luke 22:42); such a faith neutralizes the will of man and God’s grace is abundantly poured out upon him. Now, under the law of faith (Rom. 3:27), all that he does is in the authority and power (will) of God.

James C Sanford

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