“The will of man without the grace of God is not free at all but is the permanent prisoner and bondslave of evil since it cannot turn itself to good.” – Martin Luther
“Our entire Christian walk must be fueled by the grace of God.” – Rick Warren
“Free-will doctrine – what does it? It magnifies man into God. It declares God’s purposes a nullity, since they cannot be carried out unless men are willing. It makes God’s will a waiting servant to the will of man, and the whole covenant of grace dependent on human action. Denying election on the grounds of injustice, it holds God to be a debtor to sinners.” – Charles Spurgeon
“God’s sovereign grace does not annihilate man’s will: it overcomes his unwillingness. It does not destroy his will but frees it from sin. It does not stifle or obliterate his conscience but sets it free from darkness.” – Ernest Reisinger
“Managing the power of choice, with all its creative and spiritual implications, is the essence of the human experience.” – Caroline Myss
Last week, we talked about walking the fine line of faith – the balancing act between our personal, accountable declarations of it and the idea of a God who through His own faithfulness, instigates it and perfects it within each of us.
This week, we’ll take a closer look at walking the balance beam of personal choice – the reality and consequences of free will stacked against the idea of a sovereign God and His ultimate purposes for us and others.
Is free will nothing but an illusion in the shadow of an Almighty God? Theologians have debated this subject for centuries.
Without doubt, we all possess the power of personal choice. The Scriptures are filled with directives and commands that instruct us how to use it wisely, however; the Scriptures are also filled with verses that declare the sovereign power of a God whose purposes stand, who softens and hardens hearts to accomplish those purposes, and who announces that nothing happens or transpires apart from His allowance and approval.
I believe walking the fine line of choices is less analogous to a balance beam and more accurately pictured as walking a tight rope. Our free will may have it limits, but it doesn’t entirely relinquish our personal accountability behind the choices we make.
In the same way, we must accept God’s overriding authority – realizing with reverence that even our free will is subject to His approval and His ultimate purposes.
When you think about it, there is such a beautiful mystery behind it all – the intertwining of God’s ultimate control and our blessing of free will. It’s hard to articulate and even more difficult to understand, but too often we attempt to reason out the unfathomable – to easily explain what is outside of our human limits to grasp. God tells us His thoughts and His ways are not our own, but still varying doctrines attempt to place them into a tidy box that fits their own religious narrative.
“We” (they say) know exactly how God operates, what His intentions are, and how He relegates His purposes within the design of man’s free will. They claim to have all the answers – a special and “enlightened” view of it all.
I make no such claims my friends. As Job states, “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above – what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below – what can you know?” (Job 11:7-8 NIV)
So, with that in mind, how can we walk the tight rope of choices with humility and reverence? In our humanness, how can we effectively manage them as Caroline Myss suggests above? How can we do our part when it comes to the blessing of free will and a God who is sovereignly at work within our choices?
Make Choices that Align with Divine Principles
As I mentioned earlier, the Scriptures are filled with God’s directives and commands for living. They describe the character attributes and principles that surround what God stands for and what He expects of us. There isn’t a greater guide we can follow when framing our choices – ensuring they align with God’s character and His divine principles.
Make the choice to give and serve versus choosing selfishness and self-interest. Forgive instead of taking vengance into your own hands. Be kind, merciful, and gracious in all you do and with everyone you encounter. Let these divine principles shape your choices!
Understand the Virality of Personal Choice
Many of us believe that free will comes with a type of personal power that gives us the authority to do as we please. After all, it’s OUR LIFE and we can make choices that fit our individual desires and needs FIRST.
But there is a viral nature to choices we often discount. Our personal choices can disrupt the lives of others in ways that are devastating and harmful. Can God intervene if He chooses? Without a doubt He can, but often He allows the consequences of our choices to unfold.
This viral nature can have a positive, contagious impact as well. We can make sacrificial, selfless choices that change the lives of others in positive ways we’ll never see or fully understand.
Have you suffered as a result of the choices others have made? Have you personally made poor choices that hurt others in the process? Has a personal choice you made positively impacted someone – dramatically changing their life? Have others made choices that helped support and encourage you? With reverence, consider the virality of choices before taking any action or making any decisions that might affect others.
Realize Your Choices are No Surprise to God
Our God is omniscient – fully aware of all that has, is, and will transpire. He knows of all the choices you will make well in advance of you making them. No decision you make today or in the next few moments spontaneously will ever take God by surprise or catch Him off guard. No single person has the power to make choices that devastate your life outside of God’s awareness or allowance.
Here is where the intervention of God’s grace, the mystery of His providence intermingles with our free will and the free choices of others. If all our choices are laid out before God before a single one of them is made, He can graciously intervene, redirect, and establish new pathways for us in the process. He can take poor choices and make them right in the long run 😊
The quote from Martin Luther above puts an exclamation point on this idea – noting that without God’s grace, all of human choice and free will is tainted to some degree. Without his loving intervention and redirection, we would all be helplessly bound to our evil choices – never capable on our own accord to make them right again.
Praise God for our freedom to choose, but more importantly, THANK GOD for his omniscient, gracious, loving intervention – fully capable of fulfilling His purposes for our lives when we make wrong choices.
Surrender to God’s Choices
When we have made all the right decisions, yet all the wrong things unfold in our life, we need to surrender to God’s choices – the circumstances and situations He has allowed to transpire as a result.
When we receive the unexpected diagnosis, when the loss comes out of nowhere, when our well-crafted plans hit a dead end, we must lean in the direction of a sovereign God who is in control of all aspects of life. The most critical choice at this juncture is to trust in Him.
Today, I hope you take some time to humbly contemplate your freedom to choose within the context of a sovereign God – thinking about the delicate balance between personal choice and God’s ultimate will being fulfilled. Take comfort and assurance in the mystery of it all – thanking God for your ability to chose as well as His gracious, sovereign intervention that rules over the choices all of us make.
I hope you seek His face prior to every decision you make – doing your best to align your choices with His principles. With sobering intention, I pray you embrace the potential virality of every choice you make my friend, contemplating all the consequences that might impact others.
If you have made poor ones or you are currently suffering due to the harmful choices of others, realize that those choices are no surprise to our omniscient God who has seen them well in advance. With gracious providence, He is at work making all things right again 😊
Finally, trust Him when the right choices seem to head the wrong direction for you – knowing with confidence that all things are in His Hands and fulfilling His loving purposes for you.
May each of your choices be made with reverence and humility my friend!