Friday, August 04, 2006

I have been posting a series about my thoughts and reflections on free will. To summarize up to this point, I believe that every person has free will. When I talk of free will, I defined it as man being able to choose what he wants. The will, however, is driven by our strongest desire at the moment of the choice. Whatever the strongest desire of the individual is determines the choice that will be made.

If the above is true, then our choices are a direct reflection on our character.
Let me begin with an example. Joe's marriage is in trouble. He is sitting in Church and he decides that he is part of the problem and wants to change what he can. He realizes that he is often critical of his wife, Mary, and he decides that he is not going to be critical anymore, but instead will focus on being uplifting. After church, they go out to eat. While sitting down, Mary's tray knocks over Joe's drink and it spills in Joe's lap. Joe immediately responds "Would you watch what you're doing? Were you being careful at all?." Joe immediately thinks about his decision he made at church, and immediately apologizes to his wife.

What happened? Did Joe lose his desire to be kind to his wife at that moment? I don't think so. I think he still had the same desire to be uplifting to his wife, but at the moment the drink was spilled, his desire to lash out was stronger than his desire to be uplifting to his wife. His strongest desire changed, and it changed suddenly.

This entire episode points to a much deeper problem than simply some unkind words or a bad choice. It is a reflection of Joe's character. In his heart at that moment he was intolerant, impatient, and demeaning. The only choice he had was to react like he did because it was his strongest desire. From a Christian perspective, this suppports the saying "The fact that we sin does not cause us to be sinners, but the fact that we are sinners causes us to sin."

In order to make "better choices" (I don't really like this term)our desire to do good must outweigh our selfish evil desires at the moment of the choice. While our own desires change from moment to moment, they are always bent towards evil. A work outside of ourselves must work within us to change our true nature. This change must come from the grace of God.

Other Posts on Free Will
Free Will: Introduction
Free Will: Humanist Perspective
Free Will: James 4
Free Will: A Reflection of Our Sinful Nature



  1. Anonymous said...
    so we can't choose not to sin? Why would God condemn someone to hell for doing something they can't help? It doesn't make sense.
    Brett said...
    I don't know enough to agree or disagree, but some argue that Adam and Eve were indeed made with the ability not to sin. Once they sinned, their innocent nature became corrupt, and this corrupt nature was passed down to man. God still has his same Holy standards, and did not "lower the bar" after the fall of man.
    Even if they were not made with the ability not to sin, I believe that Romans 5 teaches that Adam was set up as a representative of all mankind, so when he sinned, it was perfectly appropriate for God to judge everyone according to the one who was created to represent us. Before you say this does not sound appropriate, Romans 5 also teaches that another came to represent us. It was Christ. As Christians, Christ is now our representative. Like Adam brought sin and death, Christ brought eternal life. We deserve to be represented by Adam. It is by the grace of God that we are represented by the Second Adam.
    To get back to the comment: Why would God condemn someone to hell for doing something they can't help? The answer is because we are depraved. Our desires are selfish and wicked. God cannot let evil go and still be Holy. If we truly understood where we stand before God, apart from his grace, the question should be "why would God not condemn everyone to hell for their wickidness?" Instead, He made a way to redeem us from our depravity.

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