Does Man Have A Free Will?
By Elder Matt Jordan
By definition, Ďwillí indicates a determination, a desire, an inclination, a choice. Before we are born again, do we have a desire for or an inclination toward God? If we compare with Scripture the common belief that man has a free will to choose God, then we have a contradiction. The Bible describes man as being Ďdead in trespasses and sinsí and being Ďby nature the children of wrathí (Eph.2:1-3). We are also taught that the natural man does not and can not receive nor know the things of the Spirit of God (1Cor.2:14). We are further described as being without strength and sinners who are enemies to God (Rom.5:6-10). Now, in light of these and numerous other Scriptures, what is the only conclusion we can come to regarding manís will? Free will contradicts the Bible, which teaches that man is in bondage to sin and corruption. Understanding this truth gives us a greater appreciation of Godís sovereignty and causes us to rejoice in the grace that was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. Salvation is of the Lord!
In our natural state, we are spiritually dead (Eph.2:1, Col.2:13). Our will is in bondage to the flesh (1Cor.2:11), which cannot please God (Rom.8:8). If man had a will inclined toward God before the new birth, it would make sense that his will would be instrumental in being born again. But, in John 1:12, we read about those who received Christ and believed on his name. In verse 13, he tells us how these were not born, and then he tells us how they were born. Notice those things that were not involved in the new birth: "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of manÖ" John is saying that those who believed and received did so because they were born of God, not in order to be born again. In other words, the new birth did not come about because of any desire or inclination toward God on manís part. Before we come to Christ, we must be given a new nature and a new will Ė we must be born again! Considering the nature of manís will, this can only come about by Godís sovereign work according to HIS will!
In Romans 3:9-12, Paul says we are all under sin, that is, we are captives under bondage to sin. He quotes the Psalmist David stating there is none righteous and none that understand or seek God. This is who we are by nature. Our will by nature is contrary to God. It can never change until God gives us a new nature and a new will through the new birth. God doesnít do our work for us, but he gives us the desire and the ability, which we didnít have before being born again. If you understand our state of death in trespasses and sins, you can rejoice that God works in us both the will and the desire to do His good pleasure (Philp.2:13). If you understand manís corrupt will, you can rejoice with Nebuchadnezzarís declaration that God works all things after the counsel of His will, in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth (Dan.4:35). You can also rejoice when David said "thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power" (Ps.110:3). A better understanding of Godís sovereignty brings rejoicing, not concern.
In the 2nd chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul teaches us some vital points about the nature of man, the nature with which we are all born. As you read verses 10-14, notice some of these points. Those things that God has prepared for us, He reveals to us by His Spirit. The spirit of man knows only those things that are of man. No man can know the things of God except through the Spirit of God. We have been given the Spirit of God so that we can know the things of God. Man by nature cannot receive the things of the Spirit: he has no ability because the Spirit alone discerns them; he has no desire because he counts those things as foolishness. With no ability or desire to receive the things of the Spirit, how can the will of man be inclined in any way towards God? If man by nature cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he receive the Spirit itself. Man has to be given a new nature, a Spiritual nature. He must be born again, not get born again. He must be given a new will according to Godís sovereign will.
Jesus said "No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw himÖ" (John 6:44) This plain statement of truth tells us that we cannot come to Jesus until God draws us. How does God draw us? God said in Jeremiah 31:3 "with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." In this same verse, God states the reason He draws a person: because "I have loved thee with an everlasting loveÖ" Godís love for His people is eternal and everlasting. God draws every one of His elect sheep through His lovingkindness, His mercy, and His grace. God effectually draws us in the new birth. When it comes to being born again, God must act first. Our corrupt will is not inclined toward God. Our fallen nature has not the desire nor ability to come to Jesus. Thatís why Jesus said, "NO man can come to me." The glorious truth of Godís sovereign will is "All that the Father giveth me SHALL come to meÖ" (John 6:37) Manís will is in bondage to sin; manís will is not free until we are drawn by the Father and are born from above.
Ye Must Be Born Again
In John chapter 3, Nicodemus is enlightened on the new birth. Jesus tells him and us that we must be born again before we can see or enter the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is that spiritual realm where God reigns and where we commune and have fellowship with Him. Before we can see or enter this spiritual realm, we must first experience the washing of regeneration and the sanctification of the Spirit. In our flesh, what we are by nature, we can neither see nor enter this kingdom. We must be given the Spirit of God. We must be born again, born from above. Jesus compares this work of the Holy Spirit to the wind: not controlled by man but directed by Godís sovereign will; unable to see it but able to see the effects. After being born again and given spiritual eyes and spiritual understanding, we can receive the gospel, which brings this life and immortality to light. As children of God, this kingdom is within us, we press into it through obedience, and we will experience it in its perfect fullness one day in Heaven.
Matt Jordan, pastor
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Does Man Have A Free Will?