We have been made to believe over the years that when the purpose of a thing is not known, the abuse of it is inevitable. So also, when the purpose of a law or a principle is not known, we are not exempted from its consequences. That is, even if you claim to be an ignoramus to the law of gravity, it still doesn’t nullify the fact that when you fall from a tall building, you won’t land on the ground. So, being ignorant about certain laws and principles that govern this earth realm is really not an escape route and that’s why I want to briefly discuss your free will.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defined free will as the ability to make choices that are not controlled by fate or God. We clamour today that man was created with a free will and it is what distinguish man from every other being created by God. But knowing only that man has a free will wouldn’t do much good to you, it is only a part of that statement. In as much as man possesses a free will, man is not free from the consequences that accompany that free will. When we hear the word consequence we first think of a negative outcome. The word consequence is a neutral word, it is neither positive nor negative.
God knows about your future because He created you in it, but He doesn’t control your future. He has given you a free will to that effect already. He didn’t create a still life object but He created you with the ability to make choices independent of Him. But bearing in mind that it comes with a consequence.
When God created Adam and Eve, He created in them a will power, which gives them the ability to make decisions. This will power was to enable them to make decisions on how to advance the work He committed into their hands in alignment with His original plan and purpose for the earth. But Adam and Eve used that free will contrary to God’s instruction by partaking from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (see Gen.2:16-17 & 3:1-7). What was the consequence of their free will? It led to the fall of man. But Jesus came on the scene to show us a much better way. He showed us what it means to have free will and its purpose.
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken away from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will”.
– Matthew 26:39 (NIV, Emphasis added)
This was a few hours before Jesus arrest. Here He was caught between going to the cross and refraining. The will of the Father was that Jesus is crucified on the cross for the sin of humanity that He never committed, but here we Jesus expressing His own will of not wanting to go to the cross. Was Jesus afraid to die? No! Because in John 10:17&18, we see Jesus expressing authority to lay down His life and to take it up, as received from the Father. His main concern was the temporary separation from the Father when he would become sin on the cross and therefore neglected by the Father. How did Jesus reconcile this conflicting will? He had to, first of all, get rid of His own will not wanting that separation and accept the will of the Father. The consequence of His action was that He rose on the third day, with the sin of mankind fully taken care of! (See Romans 4:25).
How all these do relate to the free will that God has given to man today? The purpose of free will is to use our will to accept the will of God. What is the will of God for man today? It is clearly stated in the Book of John.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
– John 3:16 (NIV)
It is God’s will that the world believes in Jesus and be saved. But He won’t shove it down their throat. But the only way this will of God can be actualized is through the preaching of the gospel and they use their free will to accept the will of God for them. The apostle Peter also wrote in his letter.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering towards us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
– 2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV, Emphasis added)
But are all coming to repentance? No. God has done His part by sending Jesus to die for the sins of mankind and He rose on the third day so we can receive salvation. It is now left for you to use your free will to accept that salvation that He has made available.
Having believed, what is now God’s will for my life? Receiving eternal life, the very life and nature of God, doesn’t invalidate your free will as a believer, but rather, it helps you to always and at all times choose to do God’s will. The will of God for us who have believed is that we act on His word at all times. Even when there seems to be a conflict of will between yours and the Father, you should make a decision to always choose to do the will of God. We use our free will to choose the will of the Father so that we can at all times be in agreement with His plan and purpose for our lives.
This is the purpose of free will, to use our free will to choose His will.