In the past year, we denizens of Planet Earth, and in particular the USA, have witnessed, and been subjected to, a blatant and continuing attack on our freedoms—of religion, speech, assembly, self-defense, and more. This assault is obviously coming from the Devil, who remains bent on achieving his 6000-year goal to enslave humanity under his control.
But there’s also a more insidious, and less obvious attack, to thwart our greatest “inalienable” freedom from our Creator, which is FREEDOM OF WILL, which actually can never be taken from us. That incursion also comes from God’s arch-enemy, but it is coming by way of many of our sincere Christian brethren, who erroneously espouse the notion of “the Sovereignty of God,” by which they mean that He can do anything He wants any time He wants, and that everything that happens is part of His Master Plan, which He laid out before eternity, and which we should not question.
That lie, which we have often addressed, actually renders our freedom of will superfluous. If God has already determined the future, our choices really do not matter. Of course, the written Word of God repeatedly says they most certainly do. For example:
19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days.
In regard to current events, and the unmitigated onslaught against humanity today, the errant theology that “God is in control” skews one’s perspective of what is really taking place, and thus leaves people passively accepting “God’s plan” rather than actively resisting the attack on our liberties. For the will of God to “be done on earth as it is in heaven,” God for the most part needs human cooperation, and He leaves it up to us to choose whether or not to be “fellow workers” with Him. Think about what that means in terms of how much He values each of us. THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE invites you and me into a personal, working relationship with Him to accomplish His purposes day by day. That ought to put a song in our hearts and a spring in our steps!
Let’s consider more about why God gave us free will, as it relates to our being made in His image. I believe this unique gift is inextricably connected to His declarations about, and His instructions to, mankind in Genesis 1, as follows. Note the verbs regarding what He expected of man, and consider the countless godly imperatives throughout Scripture that we can choose to carry out.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
What does it mean that we are created in the “image of God”? I don’t believe it simply means that He gave Adam and Eve holy spirit, for the Word doesn’t say that. God is “spirit,” but spirit isn’t an image. As I understand it, chief among the similar characteristics we have with our Father is our ability to use language, and therefore to think, to reason, to “create” (in a limited sense), and to CHOOSE. No matter the circumstances, you and I ALWAYS have the precious freedom to choose our thoughts, words, and deeds. God so loved us that He even gave us freedom to choose whether or not to love Him. That is because love would not be love without an alternative choice not to love, and we would be little more than robots. Furthermore, our God never encroaches upon that freedom, but lovingly encourages us to obey His guidance, for our benefit.
Many of our Father’s sterling qualities are clearly set forth in Genesis to Malachi, for example, His declaration to Moses when He first defined his name: “Yahweh, Yahweh, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” But it was His Son, Jesus Christ, who most vividly illustrated His heart of love, compassion, grace, and mercy. Not by being a robotic “God-Man,” but by choosing to perfectly internalize the written Word and then externalize it in his words and deeds to the degree that he could honestly say, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”
Because Jesus endured the Cross and “went the distance” for us, he was exalted to the right hand of God, received from the Father the promise of holy spirit, and then poured into us the divine nature of his Father that dwelt in him (Acts 2:32-33). Thus, you and I now have the moment-by-moment opportunity to put on the mind of Christ and manifest the heart of God to those in our world. When we do, people might say of us, “Like Father, like son.”
2 Peter 1:2-4
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
The verses that follow in 2 Peter 1 list some qualities of the godly potential now resident within us: “virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, kindness, and charity.” Because of our new nature, we have a tendency toward such traits. And God is at work within us “to will and to do in order to fulfill his good purpose” by helping us bring forth these qualities. We simply need to cooperate by choosing to do His will rather than our own.
2 Corinthians 4:5-6
5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
In closing, let us be reminded of the following classic verses, which remain a baseline exhortation for powerful daily living in Christ.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed [a godly metamorphosis] by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
God has graciously given us the privilege, and the power, to change our minds and then act accordingly. I don’t always succeed in doing that, but I recently did manage to do so. Don’t get too excited, it’s not earthshaking.
I was sitting at home loudly exulting about God’s faithful and abundant care of Elizabeth and me in regard to our material needs. I erupted several times: “You are UN-believable!” And then, like during the Baseball Incident when I realized I was making a bonehead move, terror struck my heart. How many of God’s promises do I actually UN-believe? I’m guessing that number might include all those I’ve not yet received. I’m changing my confession to “YOU ARE BELIEVABLE!!!” That’s not copyrighted, so you can do likewise.