DO YOU HAVE A FREE WILL?
Rom. 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
The question about free will, salvation, and predestination have been fought over for the last 2000 years. There was Augustine and Pelagian, Luther and Eramus, then there was Wesley and Whitefield. It seems that those words, free will and predestination are, as they say, fighting words. Most everyone believes man was created by God with a free will, but after the fall of man how was that effected. Martin Luther had some stunning insight into this whole dilemma. This is how Luther viewed it.
“It is false that the will, left to itself, can do good as well as evil, for it is not free, but in bondage.”
Luther believed that our will to choose rightly was deeply effected by the fall. Many times our conscience tells us what is right, the law definitely does, but fallen man always manages to choose badly. That is the problem with our sinful nature. It is ensnared by sin and easily falls prey to the promises of pleasure and happiness offered to us by the pleasures of this world. Fallen man, without the influence of God’s grace can never choose God.
Augustine also believed in the bondage of the will. In his teaching he went on to teach how we could be freed from that slavery of sin that holds us in its clutches. Augustine believed and preached that grace, what he called Sovereign Grace, had the ability to liberate us into a whole new life of joy in God. Augustine believed that the Lord would make demands upon us then fulfill those commands with His Sovereign Grace. Here is what Augustine said about freedom of the will.
“In some places God requires newness of heart [Ezek 18:31]. But elsewhere he testifies that it is given by him [Ezek.11:19; 36:26]. But what God promises we ourselves do not do through choice or nature; but he himself does through grace.”
He went on to pray, “Command what you will but give what you command.”
Did you catch that? The Lord gives us the ability to live this Christian life ( and to like it) by His Sovereign Grace. Today there is a lot of false teaching about grace. Grace is not God overlooking sin and blessing us with worldly goods. Grace is the effect of God upon our souls. What kind of effect? The kind that opens our eyes to His goodness and beauty and also shows us the horrible corruption of sin. Grace also changes our heart. As Jonathan Edwards has taught me, grace arouses our affections for God. The Lord Himself becomes irresistibly attractive when we come under the sway of the Sovereign Grace of God.
So is our will free? You tell me. You are free to do drugs and practice immorality and chase the desires of the flesh. You are free to choose what kinds of sin you indulge in. When the grace of God falls on you, then and only then are you free to live for God.