Exercising Your Power of Choice

from Oct 18, 2009 Category: Articles

Does man have a free will? This question is one of the most frequently asked questions of theology. At times, it is not voiced as a question but as an objection to the whole idea of a sovereign God.

At the heart of the problem is the definition of free will. What are we saying when we assert that man has a free will? Stated briefly, free will simply means that man has the ability to choose what he wants. Such ability requires the presence of a mind, a will, and a desire. If these faculties are present and functioning in a man, that man has a free will.

Free will does not mean that man can choose to do anything he pleases and necessarily succeed. We may choose to fly without the aid of mechanical devices. We can fall through the air by ourselves, but we cannot fly through it. We lack the necessary natural equipment (in this case, wings) to fly. This does not mean, however, that we are not free. It does mean that our “freedom” is limited by our natural physical limitations. My will may be outvoted by the will of a majority or by some higher power. Such conflicting power does not eliminate my freedom but may surely impose limits on it.

One of the most important limits on my freedom is myself. If we examine the workings of the will closely we run into a point of irony that is often overlooked in discussions about free will. The point is this: Not only may I choose what I want, I must choose what I want if my choice is really to be free. Choice is made according to desire. Without desire there could be no free choice—certainly no moral choice.

Coram Deo: God gave you a free will to choose. You choose according to your desires. Will your present desires lead to wise choices for the future?

Deuteronomy 30:19: “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”

Joshua 24:15: “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Psalm 25:12: “Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.”