Monday, February 29, 2016

Thoughts on Free Will and the Work of the Holy Spirit

A falsehood commonly conveyed and regarded as truth amongst many professing Christ today, (that the Holy Spirit takes possession of men, or that He controls men, similarly as when a hand takes control of a glove when inserted, and consequently the glove takes on the will of the hand), this falsehood charges God with one of two blasphemies: That God was ignorant of this option in the beginning of Creation, and consequently many evils ie. wars, adulteries, greed, etc. resulted from His ignorance. Or, that God was not ignorant, but knew His own will to take possession of men by the Holy Spirit, but desired that men should first sin, provoke Him to wrath, and then be destroyed. That He knew how to avoid all of these evils, and to create men who needed no improvement, but were altogether perfect and inherently virtuous, but for some mysterious reason chose not to produce this until years of much misery were accomplished.

Those who think that "if God knew these things would happen, then why did He grieve, weep, or become angry when they happened ie. men chose to live wickedly. It seems to have caught Him by surprise." I would ask you, "Why did Jesus weep in John 11? Or why would a woman weep for the slow death of her son? Or why weep for any who die? We all know we're going to die, this doesn't surprise us." Just because you know something is going to happen, before it happens, doesn't mean you do not cry or rejoice when it happens. Likewise, if God knows who is going to repent or sin, this doesn't prevent heaven from rejoicing when one has repented, or Him from grief when men live wickedly.

Evil only exists because of the longsuffering of God. Rather than destroying those presently living in rebellion immediately, He gives them breath. He is patient with men, and desires the repentance, not the death of the sinner.

If Adam was created to “fall”, then he needed no forgiveness from God. He would have been perfect, free from fault, and without blame, for he would only have done what he was designed by God to do. God would not have told Adam to not eat of the tree, if that was the reason Adam was created. Both God’s spoken and eternal plan would have been in conflict with each other, the one being an illusion, and the other God's true design.

If man is not the one who chooses each time to obey, to endure, to believe, to suffer long while being kind, to really love his neighbor as himself, to turn the other cheek, bear his cross, to give and to forgive; if God is really the One doing all of these things in each man by His grace and through the Holy Spirit [without any cooperation from man], then God made a mistake by placing man in Eden, and telling him not to eat of the tree, and for allowing him to err as he did [For then God's own will would accuse Him, and He would become the Author of sin, the Lover of what He hates, the blame for all evil, and incompetent to retain absolute control over His creature; if God had absolute control over man, then [in Eden] He willed against His own will, and His kingdom being divided against itself, could not stand]. And, if man had no will of his own, then it would not be possible for man to ever love God. God would be served by creatures that could not do otherwise. But the fact that it is possible for each man to do otherwise [than to lovingly serve God] is what makes our relationship to God, distinct from other creatures.

Again, if it was God's will for man to obey God, by being controlled by the Holy Spirit, God's grace, or any other power than man's own free choice, then God, lacking wisdom, must have overlooked this option in the beginning of creation; or even worse, played a cruel game with man while He withheld His power.

If somebody were to ask, “If God is so holy, so perfect, all wise and all knowing, then why did He create an imperfect man, who would make a wrong choice, bringing death to all humanity, causing every person to run the risk of hell for eternity?” The answer could be explained as: Love is a complicated thing. For some it is too complex but for others it is not. God created man as perfectly as He could have within the confines of love. God would not be that which He is not, nor would He do that which He would not; therefore the essence of God is faithfulness, being that God is love. So, it would be against His nature to behave or act contrary to that nature. God, through being, upholds the entire universe. The eternal seams which hold the cosmos together would suddenly come undone if He were to reverse Who He is. Therefore, it was expedient that He established freedom in the will of man. This grand creation of His was placed in a garden with two trees. The trees represented two choices and two realities. The wise choice would make man immortal; but to err would mean the gravest mistake, resulting in mortality. Man erred. However, God foreknew the choice His creation would make, so He prepared redemption for humanity long before man ever became a living soul. Is there then, injustice with God, who knew that man would fall, yet made him anyway? Certainly not! For He was willing to suffer the loss of all those who would perish in their own unbelief and rejection of what is good, that He might have those who would believe in Him of their own volition and love what is true and good.

"As for why evil exists, it is understood as the direct and indirect results of humanity’s abuse of a free will. Thus free will is the gift that makes it possible for us to do evil and is what makes it meaningful when we choose to do good. Apparently our Creator believes that a universe in which evil is possible would still be better than a universe where free will, love, and meaningful relationships are not possible [Hatzier]."

If humanity does not possess "free will" then everyone is perfect...and the only Person to be blamed for the evil in the world is God...However, the problem has never been with God, but with our own free will, as one early Christian stated, “We were not created to die, but we die by our own fault. Our free-will has destroyed us; we who were free have become slaves; we have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God; we ourselves have manifested wickedness; but we, who have manifested it, are able again to reject it.” (Tatian A.D. 160)

Let it be known that loving God and doing is will is not so important to Him because of vain mortal ambitions. Some may accuse God of being vain, standing in need of recognition and love, etc., because it is all about His will (Him). These accusations would only be true if He does not have the most perfect will, or if His will is selfish. But who does doing His will benefit? Who benefits if you take the command to "love your neighbor as yourself seriously"? Who benefits if you turn the other cheek, help the poor, and purify your heart from lustful looks and carnal desires? Who benefits from knowing God, acknowledging Him, and doing His will? Doubtless, above all, humanity is blessed in doing His will, obeying His commands, acknowledging Him, pursuing holiness, and from knowing God. He is the source of all life, love, righteousness, true joy, and peace! It is when the human race rebels and seeks its own that morality declines, and men suffer, which effects not only humanity, but in short, even animals, and the environment.

"And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 'If any man WILL come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.'" It is absurd to think that He declared such a statement to men, when such a statement would belong to God only; If God alone had the ability to choose. The fact that He proclaimed those words to great multitudes of MEN who were with Him, "If any man WILL," demonstrates His understanding of what is in men: A will able to choose to deny themselves, take up the cross, and follow Him. The Lord's Prayer, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done," is how he taught His disciples to pray. If it were not possible for another will to be done, this prayer makes no sense. If His example in the garden applies to us, "Nevertheless not My WILL, but Thy will be done," then it is because we have a choice to do "Thy will," or our own will.

"The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." [2 Thess. 1] If men have no free will, then men are not going to be punished for not obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They have no choice in the matter. The very evil works they do would be the will of God, not theirs. Such a blasphemous view of God debases the mind, and produces totally depraved men.

Is God going to cast Himself into hell? Is He going to render to Himself according to His works? Is He going to tell Himself "Well done thou good and faithful servant? or depart from Me ye cursed into the everlasting fire?" Certainly not!

Moreover, Wisdom says, "When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth." [Proverbs 8] The waters do not transgress His commandments because the waters have no choice in the matter. Men will be punished for transgressing His commandments, because men (unlike the waters) are capable of performing them, but choosing not to obey they are guilty of transgression. If God is completely Sovereign and ruling over man in the same way as He does the aforementioned waters, then He will not be punishing men for transgressions. However, God does not rule over men the same way He does the waters, for He has commanded men not to transgress His commands yet they do it anyways.

"My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." [John 7] Again, if any man WILL do his will.

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." Notice: whosoever WILL.

"For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works." The Son of Man will never be able to do this if the works men do are not their own works. If men are not doing what it appears they are doing (if the works they perform are not the results of their own free choice) then the works are not their own, and Jesus made no sense when He said that He will reward every man according to HIS works.

But let it be known that we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; Who is the propitiation for our sins, not for ours only but also for the whole world. This is needed, not because the Holy Spirit takes possession of men slowly, and therefore, the inherent evil in men manifests from time to time; but because the Holy Spirit does not take possession of men, but rather men choose to walk after the flesh, and not after the spirit. This is why God calls men everywhere to repent, warning those who don't, and promising eternal life to those who do. “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him,” says the apostle. For the Holy Spirit does not steer men, rather He guides them into all truth; for God is a Teacher, not a puppet master.

If God alone has the power of choice, then He alone is responsible for everything, whether good or bad, not the men He promises to bless or punish for the good or bad done in the body. And all of the wrath kindled in Him by wicked works would be the consequence of His actions, not ours; in fact, He would be blaming man for His own mistakes! If God alone has the power to choose, then man is wholly innocent, and the only Good God does not punish the innocent!

Additionally God waited until the fullness of time to send His Son to be born of a Virgin, that time when all of the free choices of men and all circumstances would all work according to the counsel of His own will, from Caesar Augustus’ decree for every man to return to his native region, thus fulfilling the prophecy that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem of Judah, to the envious Pharisees and leaders who had Jesus crucified, who gathered against Christ to pierce His hands and His feet, thus fulfilling the 2nd and 22nd Psalm.

An early Christian quote: "Celsus imagines that an event, predicted through foreknowledge, comes to pass because it was predicted; but we do not grant this, maintaining that he who foretold it was not the cause of its happening, because he foretold it would happen; but the future event itself, which would have taken place though not predicted, afforded the occasion to him, who was endowed with foreknowledge, of foretelling its occurrence. Now, certainly this result is present to the foreknowledge of him who predicts an event, when it is possible that it may or may not happen, viz., that one or other of these things will take place. [Origen Against Celsus, book 2]"

Another early Christian excerpt: "the Spirit is theirs alone who tread down earthly desires." And, "This truth, therefore, [he declares], in order that we may not reject the engrafting of the Spirit while pampering the flesh. “But thou, being a wild olive-tree,” he says, “hast been grafted into the good olive-tree, and been made a partaker of the fatness of the olive-tree.” As, therefore, when the wild olive has been engrafted, if it remain in its former condition, viz., a wild olive, it is “cut off, and cast into the fire;” but if it takes kindly to the graft, and is changed into the good olive-tree, it becomes a fruit-bearing olive, planted, as it were, in a king’s park (paradiso): so likewise men, if they do truly progress by faith towards better things, and receive the Spirit of God, and bring forth the fruit thereof, shall be spiritual, as being planted in the paradise of God. But if they cast out the Spirit, and remain in their former condition, desirous of being of the flesh rather than of the Spirit, then it is very justly said with regard to men of this stamp, “That flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God;” just as if any one were to say that the wild olive is not received into the paradise of God. Admirably therefore does the apostle exhibit our nature, and God’s universal appointment, in his discourse about flesh and blood and the wild olive. For as the good olive, if neglected for a certain time, if left to grow wild and to run to wood, does itself become a wild olive; or again, if the wild olive be carefully tended and grafted, it naturally reverts to its former fruit-bearing condition: so men also, when they become careless, and bring forth for fruit the lusts of the flesh like woody produce, are rendered, by their own fault, unfruitful in righteousness. For when men sleep, the enemy sows the material of tares; and for this cause did the Lord command His disciples to be on the watch. And again, those persons who are not bringing forth the fruits of righteousness, and are, as it were, covered over and lost among brambles, if they use diligence, and receive the word of God as a graft, arrive at the pristine nature of man—that which was created after the image and likeness of God. But as the engrafted wild olive does not certainly lose the substance of its wood, but changes the quality of its fruit, and receives another name, being now not a wild olive, but a fruit-bearing olive, and is called so; so also, when man is grafted in by faith and receives the Spirit of God, he certainly does not lose the substance of flesh, but changes the quality of the fruit [brought forth, i.e.,] of his works, and receives another name, showing that he has become changed for the better, being now not [mere] flesh and blood, but a spiritual man, and is called such. Then, again, as the wild olive, if it be not grafted in, remains useless to its lord because of its woody quality, and is cut down as a tree bearing no fruit, and cast into the fire; so also man, if he does not receive through faith the engrafting of the Spirit, remains in his old condition, and being [mere] flesh and blood, he cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Rightly therefore does the apostle declare, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God;” and, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God:” not repudiating [by these words] the substance of flesh, but showing that into it the Spirit must be infused. And for this reason, he says, “This mortal must put on immortality, and this corruptible must put on incorruption.” And again he declares, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” He sets this forth still more plainly, where he says, “The body indeed is dead, because of sin; but the Spirit is life, because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies, because of His Spirit dwelling in you.” And again he says, in the Epistle to the Romans, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die.” [Now by these words] he does not prohibit them from living their lives in the flesh, for he was himself in the flesh when he wrote to them; but he cuts away the lusts of the flesh, those which bring death upon a man. And for this reason he says in continuation, “But if ye through the Spirit do mortify the works of the flesh, ye shall live. For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” [The apostle], foreseeing the wicked speeches of unbelievers, has particularized the works which he terms carnal; and he explains himself, lest any room for doubt be left to those who do dishonestly pervert his meaning, thus saying in the Epistle to the Galatians: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are adulteries, fornications, uncleanness, luxuriousness, idolatries, witchcrafts, hatreds, contentions jealousies, wraths, emulations, animosities, irritable speeches, dissensions, heresies, envyings, drunkenness, carousings, and such like; of which I warn you, as also I have warned you, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Thus does he point out to his hearers in a more explicit manner what it is [he means when he declares], “Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” For they who do these things, since they do indeed walk after the flesh, have not the power of living unto God. And then, again, he proceeds to tell us the spiritual actions which vivify a man, that is, the engrafting of the Spirit; thus saying, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, benignity, faith, meekness, continence, chastity: against these there is no law.” As, therefore, he who has gone forward to the better things, and has brought forth the fruit of the Spirit, is saved altogether because of the communion of the Spirit; so also he who has continued in the aforesaid works of the flesh, being truly reckoned as carnal, because he did not receive the Spirit of God, shall not have power to inherit the kingdom of heaven. As, again, the same apostle testifies, saying to the Corinthians, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not err,” he says: “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor revilers, nor rapacious persons, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And these ye indeed have been; but ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified, but ye have been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” He shows in the clearest manner through what things it is that man goes to destruction, if he has continued to live after the flesh; and then, on the other hand, [he points out] through what things he is saved. Now he says that the things which save are the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God. Since, therefore, in that passage he recounts those works of the flesh which are without the Spirit, which bring death [upon their doers], he exclaimed at the end of his Epistle, in accordance with what he had already declared, “And as we have borne the image of him who is of the earth, we shall also bear the image of Him who is from heaven. For this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” Now this which he says, “as we have borne the image of him who is of the earth,” is analogous to what has been declared, “And such indeed ye were; but ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified, but ye have been justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” When, therefore, did we bear the image of him who is of the earth? Doubtless it was when those actions spoken of as “works of the flesh” used to be wrought in us. And then, again, when [do we bear] the image of the heavenly? Doubtless when he says, “Ye have been washed,” believing in the name of the Lord, and receiving His Spirit. Now we have washed away, not the substance of our body, nor the image of our [primary] formation, but the former vain conversation. In these members, therefore, in which we were going to destruction by working the works of corruption, in these very members are we made alive by working the works of the Spirit. Irenaeus Book 5 [10:1-2; 11:1-2]”


  1. This was an amazing note, David. Thank you.

  2. Greetings. I am glad you appreciated this post. May I know your name?


“Reason dictates that persons who are truly noble and who love wisdom will honor and love only what is true. They will refuse to follow traditional viewpoints if those viewpoints are worthless...Instead, a person who genuinely loves truth must choose to do and speak what is true, even if he is threatened with death...I have not come to flatter you by this written petition, nor to impress you by my words. I have come to simply beg that you do not pass judgment until you have made an accurate and thorough investigation. Your investigation must be free of prejudice, hearsay, and any desire to please the superstitious crowds. As for us, we are convinced that you can inflict no lasting evil on us. We can only do it to ourselves by proving to be wicked people. You can kill us—but you cannot harm us.” From Justin Martyr's first apology 150 A.D. Martyred A.D. 160