The single biggest issue I receive email about involves emotions and thoughts. We live in a culture of short bursts of video and sound designed to stir emotions, preying on fears and suspicion, rarely appealing to the higher and noble emotions and thoughts of man.
We are also self-centered by fallen human nature, living in a damaged and fallen world. Life experience causes some to grow up never having learned to control their emotions and thoughts - they live by what is called 'emotional reasoning', which I've covered in previous 'Thoughts'. Free will allows us to find balance.
Free will gives us the ability to have emotions, and to learn how to control them
Because we are not robots but sovereign beings, it means we are in charge of what we think, what we feel, and how we act. Emotions urge us to act and influence our decisions. Emotions create a value to our world, but they are like rivers, each going in a direction and carrying specific volumes of water and content. Emotions allow us to explore the heights and depths of the human experience, and are given that we may balance reason with emotion, for life requires that balance to make wise decisions.
Recognizing the conflict between the part of our thoughts and emotions that want to walk with the Lord and that part which doesn't, Paul wrote in II Corinthians 10:4-6 that we are to "throw down our imaginations which exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
We may feel like staying home some cold and rainy morning, but we override our emotions and get up and ready for work or school. Some Christians never take that every day discipline into their thoughts and feelings about their salvation. They live conflicted: Able to override emotions to get out of bed and go to work but unable to control emotions and fears that tell them maybe they offended God one too many times and He kicked them out of the kingdom.
Emotions in proper balance and obedience to Christ allow us to reason properly. If those thoughts and feelings are out of balance, they make us so that even though we see chapter and verse, we override what we read in favor of choosing (free will) other verses that agree with how we feel - afraid for our salvation, afraid we have committed the unpardonable sin. We don't know God by our emotions, we know Him by His Spirit in our spirit and by the Word. He can affect our emotions most certainly, but we don't know Him by emotions.
Free will allows us to live by morals - a moral being the distinction between right and wrong
A human choosing between an apple or orange is no different than a monkey choosing between an apple and orange - we are not truly exercising free will. Free will involves moral decisions - sacrifices because it is right. Doing the right thing when no one is looking.
We have the ability to take command over an impulse to do something else. Your dog can destroy a room but has no moral compass guiding it. People have the ability to look at a situation and assess it, and override emotions in order to do the right thing. That is our decision. Not God's. Not the devil. Free will forces us to make moral decisions.
People who refuse to take responsibility for their lives want to be like that monkey choosing an orange. They want to live as if their actions have no consequences, attach no moral value. They can steal from a family member and express no outward signs of remorse. But they aren't a monkey. Their life is larger than merely choosing which food to eat, it involves make moral choices involving others they have hurt, or help. Taking responsibility for our actions is what free will gives us. Jude wrote in v4, 'Don't use the grace of God as a license for sin.' Free will allows us to do just that - justify sin because we are in grace. Or, we can understand the grace of free will empowers us to live godly lives as we grow as human beings and grow up in Christ.
Have you noticed in the New Testament letters precious little is blamed on the devil? Have you noticed all the authors teach taking personal responsibility, walking with God, walk in the new creation in Christ, and growing in Christian character and thoughts and emotions? The devil is barely mentioned. They put the responsibility on the individual. Look what Jesus did for you, step up and grow up and respond as you should for One who paid such a price for your soul! That's what they were all about.
Free will allows us to have hope
When God appeared to Abraham and began a relationship with him, it not only made all religious formula irrelevant, but it brought hope to mankind. In Abraham's day everyone was involved in religious rituals to please the gods. They lived in fear that if they did something wrong, offended the god or goddess in some way, disaster would strike them. When God invited Abraham to know Him, and offered that to all mankind, it brought hope. Man could continued with religious ritual if they wanted, but they had the free will to know God Almighty, to have a relationship with Him. Free will allows us to have hope, to know the Father, to know the worst thing that could ever happen to us is that we go to heaven. That is solid hope and confidence - an assurance of the soul acting as an anchor through the storms of life.
Free will means failure is never the end
When I was in the 6th grade I had a wonderful teacher who always challenged us. One day he posed this question to us as he stood some distance from the wall. As he walked half way to the wall with each move he asked: How many times of going half way to the wall would it take before I reached the wall? There were many guesses, but his answer stunned us: Never.
In theory, going half way to the wall with each step means a person will always have half way to go. You will never reach that wall. That was probably my first lesson in quantum physics, lol. But his point is related to free will, which is that you always have a choice in this life. Failure is never the end, there is always something else.
Even death is not the end. The Bible speaks of an age to come when Jesus will rule and reign as King over all nations. It speaks of us ruling with Him. Then 'ages to come' are mentioned. Death is not the end, it is merely the opening of a new door to the next age in life. An eternal God who created eternal beings in Him means there is no such thing as ultimate failure. There is always an option, always a provision He has made for any situation.
In our faith we talk of God opening a door or shutting one. The expression 'when God closes a door He opens a window' is also heard. There is always another 'half way' move to something else. You cannot not ultimately fail.
Absolute free will is God's domain alone - He willed the universe into existence, He willed the earth into existence.
He willed man into existence. Man is created in His image and likeness, therefore we also are given free will, but being created beings our free will is exercised within the bounds of His creation, with those limitations. But also, within those freedoms. We would never know what we have in Him if we didn't have free will.
Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us we are God's 'workmanship', having been saved by grace through faith. The Greek word 'workmanship' is 'poiema' which translates to English as 'poems'. Paul wrote, "For we are God's poems created for good things, which God (Father) has prepared for us ahead of time to walk in."
We are God's poems, empowered with free will to walk in the things He prepared before the world began - let us exercise with confidence our free will in Him. New subject next week, until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and me at firstname.lastname@example.org