Free-Will—My Favorite Golden Calf

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Some time ago, I was discussing a theological idea with a pastor friend of mine. During the discussion, as a totally, throw-away, inconsequential statement of universally accepted truth (i.e.,“the sun comes up in the East”),  he mumbled this aside, seemingly not to me, but as a reminder to himself—”Of course, we have free-will.” 

Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, “free-will” has been baked into human nature. It is the  logical result of being able to determine good and evil, right and wrong, for ourselves, completely independent of God’s leadership, as occurred at the Fall. Making that determination is “free will,” and it is our compulsive, go-to addiction, an addiction with which we are all born, and of which the vast majority of us are blissfully unaware.  

Here is why that is true: we disobeyed the sovereign, creator God, “in Adam ” in the Garden when he ate the forbidden fruit of the Tree of THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL. For the first time, Adam and Eve decided independently, for themselves, how to live, rather than simply doing what God told them (like puppets). They embarked on a life of “free will.” 

How are we doing with living that way today? The Bible tells us, “Not too well.” We are all hopeless sinners. Our independent choice to try to be “good and not evil,” according to the Bible, has been disastrous “As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one!” (Romans 3:10-12) 

We are doomed. Living by “free will” and choosing “good” won’t cut it, because we can never do so—in our hearts. Since “no one does good, not even one,” we can never please a perfect, sovereign God by what we do!

However, gloriously, “Daddy’s got it!” The following is old hat to serious Christians, as we have heard the story so often, but imagine hearing this incredible, divine plan for the first time. Satan himself was completely fooled by it. As Paul tells us, “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age (Satan and his earthly minions) knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7, 8)

 Here is God’s eternal, divine plan that so surprised Satan: “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” (Ephesians 2:4-6)

Paul tells us that even though we were all “in Adam ” when he sinned, and we sinned with him, God has placed all mankind “in Jesus Christ,” and when He died, bringing us  salvation for our sin, WE TOO DIED “in Him.” The whole Adamic race went to the cross in Christ. Then we were RAISED FROM THE DEAD in Him at the resurrection. We ASCENDED TO HEAVEN in Him as well, and currently we are SEATED IN HIM AT GOD’S RIGHT HAND. Hallelujah! The battle was won at the cross, the event upon which all history revolves..

The decks are cleared. The Fall has been reversed and its effects have been remediated at the Tree of Life, the Cross! We have been redeemed at that Second Tree, and it is only our FAITH in that vision that releases the Spirit of God in us and makes these truths experiential.(Hebrews 11:1) 

Can you see that free-will is no longer an issue? We no longer live by choosing for ourselves good or evil, right or wrong. We are now free to live as did Adam and Eve before the Fall—just doing what Daddy tells us. However, God lived outside them, forcing Him to speak to them verbally. But, since Pentecost, He now lives inside genuine believers by His indwelling Holy Spirit. He leads us moment by moment in our hearts experientially, as we simply trust Him to do so! 

As He leads us, He is at work in us by His Spirit, as we “walk in the light,” openly and transparently, as loved, forgiven sinners. The Spirit promises us that He is changing our “want-to’s” to conform to His (Philippians 2:13) so we can live by “doing what we want to do!” This is simply “living by faith” that He will do just as He says He will do in this verse. As we walk by faith, we discover that the Holy Spirit is indeed obeying the law of God IN us (Romans 8:4). That obedience is occurring naturally, spontaneously and unconsciously, and we are surprised at what is happening. We are but spectators!

How can being GOD’S PUPPET bring such love?. How can being GOD’S  SLAVE (Romans 6:22) with absolutely no free-will, bring such joy? How can being LIKE A LITTLE CHILD (Luke 18:17) with no knowledge, understanding or wisdom, bring such peace? Only in God’s upside-down, inside-out, serving-is-leading, losing-is-winning, dying-is-living, world!

This is what God is like—an absolutely sovereign, all-powerful God who loves us all with an absolutely unconditional love that will relentlessly pursue us until He captures our hearts! Next week, – “Theology for Dummies #2 – What are we like?”


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