Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Free Will

Genesis 3:
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?"
2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,
3 but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'"
4 But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.
5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Did Eve eat of the tree of her own "free" will, or dd the "devil make her do it"
If the serpent made her do it, then her will was controlled by the serpent. This mindset is the foundation of virtually all deliverance ministry. Unfortunately these ministries also teach that man freely chooses God, and His salvation, of his own will. So we have at best a partially free will. Man freely chooses or declines God's offer of salvation out of his own will power, but is controlled by the devil.
Following that line of argument, we can conclude that man's will which can be overridden by Satan, is still able to override the will of God. This then makes God's will submissive not only to man, but also to the devil.
The same ones who promote this teaching also support the interpretation, according to a flawed interpretation of 2 Peter 3:9, that is is God's will that everyone should be saved.
This is the "catch 22" of all free will philosophy.

Paul wrote in Romans 9:

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,
7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named."
8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.
9 For this is what the promise said: "About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son."
10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac,
11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad--in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls--
12 she was told, "The older will serve the younger."
13 As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means!
15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."
16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."
18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
19 You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?"
20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?"
21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory--
24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

This passage first of all, proves that Israel is jew and gentile, and always has been so. Israel is not separate from the church, Israel is the church.
Just as important, verse 11 reveals the fact that God's sovereign process of election,which is not based on the criteria of our actions good or bad, but based on His sovereign will and foreknowledge, has also been so from before creation. Jacob was chosen over Esau, in an act of His sovereign will, so that God's purpose of election MIGHT CONTINUE. In other words, this was not the first demonstration of God's willful election on this earth. (take Abel, Enoch or Noah, as examples)
Paul then presents the heart of this revelation; All vessels are God's; some appointed to mercy and some appointed to wrath, and we have nothing to say in the matter..Since Paul is writing to the post- ascension church in Rome, we can safely conclude that this truth applies to all of mankind, past present and future. Remember that this is a letter, and all of this is based on the foundation which was laid out in the beginning of the letter in chapters 1,2, and 3.

The rhetorical question is presented: 19 You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?"
The answer (which is implicit in the question) is; NO ONE.
Now if 2 Peter 3:9 says that it is God's will that all men be saved ,then based on Paul's point here, all men would come to saving faith and salvation would be universal. As Paul said no one can resist the will of God. The issue is the translation from the Greek. Both the word "boulēma" used by Paul, and the word "boulomai" used by Peter, are obviously related. In Peter's usage the word is better translated as wishing or desiring, (that all come to repentance). In Paul's context he is talking about the will of God that is set in stone. (see Job 42:1-2)
Peter is also addressing this specifically to the readers of his letter, and it is about them not all of mankind.

2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

God's will is that all the elect come to repentance. It must be recognized that repentance is not an action by which a man obtains salvation, it is the action of one who is saved already.
Peter is giving encouragement to those who are being beset by mockers who attack the saints for their belief in the Lord's imminent return, (verse 4)
The Lord is sanctifying his elect.(Hebrews 10:14)

Needless to say, not all will come to belief, as not all are elect.

Looking back at Adam and Eve and their choice to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, the letter to the church in Rome needs to be studied one more time:

Romans 3:
10 as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one......"

Romans 1:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.............

Both of these passages continue on in their point.(in Romans 3 Paul is actually quoting from Isaiah and the Psalms)
The gist is however that man in the flesh can only serve the flesh.
Romans 7 is the great revelation of the believer's battle to overcome the flesh and find freedom for his will which is trapped in a body of death. The victory, which is revealed in chapter 8, is to be found only in Christ. At His return we will have incorruptible bodies and will be completely free able to do the good that we will to do. (1 Cor 15:49-50) This makes Peter's point in the passage cited from his second letter, even more salient.

Eve chose to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because it was ......

"good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate,"

The fruit appealed to the flesh. It not only satisfied physical hunger and taste, it satisfied the desire to advance oneself in life. In this case to be godlike.
Eve was not able to overcome the flesh by strength of her will. She knew what God commanded re: what could, and could not be eaten, and quoted it to the serpent verbatim. However she was unable to do the good which she knew to do. This reinforces Paul's point in Romans 7.
It does not stop with Eve as we well know.

"and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate."

Paul writes in Romans 1:

32 Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Eve encouraged Adam to eat, He ate for the same reasons which she did, but more so he could not refuse his wife's offer.

Neither Adam nor Eve possessed a free will. They both succumbed to the flesh and its desires. God created the serpent, and Adam named it. (Genesis 2:19-20) The whole scenario was predestined by God. They were destined to fall. They made the only choice the natural, unregenerate man could make Satan did not make them do it. He could only entice through the lie. Their "choice" was birthed from fleshly bondage.

Glory to God that the undoing of all that had been wrought was also foreknown.

Acts 4:
24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, "Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,
25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, "'Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed'--
27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

John 1:
12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
13 who WERE born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

We receive Him and the right to be called His children only if we are born again by His will.
Thank the Lord for all who are born again by that sovereign will and power of His Spirit. He did not leave the choice up to you and me. Had he done so, we would have never chosen Him.

Romans 7:
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.
22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,
23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Soli Deo Gloria

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