FEBRUARY 25, 1993






Does free will  mean that one is free to do what he wants to do at any time? Arthur Shopenhauer, a renowned philosopher, argued that there is no such thing as free will, only determinism.  That is, one typically never chooses freely, but his choices are determined for him in accordance with the character, motivation and knowledge he brings to the decision.  For example, think about your decision to get out of bed this morning.  You know you could have chosen to stay in bed all day .  Maybe you still felt extremely  tired.  After all, you’re an adult, and accountable to yourself.  If there were some “cost” to staying in bed you could have absorbed it.  Instead, you chose to get up of your own “free will”….or did you?  Chances are you got up when you did because the factors in favor of doing so outweighed those in favor of staying in bed.  Often such factors are self-imposed (e.g., embarrassment), imposed by the economy (e.g., employment), nature (e.g., hunger), or other factors, such as society, family, pets, etc.  It is hard to imagine a choice we make that does not involve forces or motivation that bias us.  Shopenhauer would argue that we would make the same choice time after time, if the same factors were always present.  This seems true, and if so, then it is theoretically possible for someone, with enough information about us and our situation, to accurately predict our “free will” choices.

The above is purely hypothetical, but it does suggest that if there is such a thing as free will, it is different from being able to “do what one wants to do at any time.  Why, some brilliant  person (GOD) or unscrupulous person (Satan) could find hidden ways to make you want to do certain things, thereby controlling you while YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE EXERCISING YOUR FREE WILL, but all the while you were being manipulated.  This is how we were before we were born again, being lost in sin, without a free will.  Furthermore, our motivation was heavily biased toward “things of the flesh.”  This is because Satan does not wait for an invitation, while the Holy Spirit usually does.

What most people call free will is really not free will.  When GOD created man, he gave him the right to choose between alternatives, whether good or bad.  Adam and Eve left their relationship of perfect communion with GOD, and it is GOD’s desire that mankind return to himto be once again in perfect communion with him.  However, because Adam fell away from GOD through his right to choose apart from GOD, we can only return to GOD by giving up our right to choose apart from Himin other words, our choices have to be within His will.  It is impossible for us to return to the Father unless we are born again. (John 3:5-8)  Therefore, in our walk with GOD, free will has to be something like a boat on the water without sail or power, moving where the wind and water currents take it.  In a sense, WE are called to be adrift in GOD’s will.  This is not really being out of control, for GOD has a plan, and a specific current for his people to “drift” in.  Remember that although each of us is dear to GOD, his priority is to save ALL His children.  Because of this, His plan for us as individuals may not be clear, but his plan for mankind should certainly be.

Perhaps we should be like a captain in the Caribbean who can’t trust his broken compass and decides to let his ship drift.  To many this would seem foolish, but the ship will drift, in the Gulf Stream, to the British Isles, probably right through the English Channel, which turns out to be where his precious cargo is needed.  In a way, this is what GOD is calling us to do.  Note that along the way the captain has the right to choose how he runs his ship, but his course is set by the Current.

The Bible (and Martin Luther’s famous Cathecism) claim that we cannot come to the father of our own choosing, but that he has called us by his Spirit (1 Peter 2:21).  Our response to that Spirit-call was of our free will.  Chances are we were motivated to listen to the Word by the inner feeling that “there must be something more for my life than the world offers,” or by the evidence in our lives that sin indeed brings pain and suffering.


“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)  What does this suggest that our Father’s will is for us?

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)  This passage tells us that it is not enough to recognize Jesus as Lord, but we must do the will of the Father, which is to trust his Son with our sins, (yes, our sins!), and our very lives (i.e., spiritual lives-Gk: ‘zoe’), and out of gratitude for GOD’s grace and out of honor for the sacrifice of Jesus, we can’t help but “choose” to be living examples of His Way.  Refer to John 6:28-29, Eph. 4:12.


The Spirit leads in various ways:

Through guidance in the written Word of GOD. (Job 23:11, John 10:7, 14:21-23)

Through gentle, internal guidance (Rhema). (John 3:8, Prov. 20:24, Jer. 10:23, Ps. 143:10)

Through direct intervention in a person’s life. (1 Cor. 1:1)  Sometimes He has to hit us over the head to get our attention. (Acts 9:3-9)

By affirming our choices. (Ps. 37:23, 85:13, Prov. 16:9)

It is very important to understand that if you are in GOD’s will. such that you are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, you are a son of GOD (Rom. 8:14 ), and equally important, you are not subject to the Law (Gal. 5:18).  This is because it is not you who lives, but it is Christ living in you, (and HE HAS FULFILLED THE LAW).  You might say that all of us have become His eyes, mouths, hands, feet, etc. to do His will here on earth, thereby accomplishing far more than Jesus could have as one man (John 12:23-24).

THE BOTTOM LINE:  When we are led by the Spirit, we still have the right to choose, however we must give up the right to choose anything that would move us further away from God (i.e., sin). [Writer’s opinion]



























CAN WE FOLLOW THE SPIRIT AND STILL HAVE FREE WILL? [E. M. ‘Ed’ Dupas] 2-25-93          1


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