Choices Create Our Future: What the Bible Says about Free Will
By Betty Miller
Free will or the freedom to make our own choices is a very important issue in our society. Every day, each of us chooses to do the things that we do, unless we are in a situation where we have been stripped of our freedom and then we must do as those who have control over us command us to do. This would be the case of those in prison or those who are enslaved by force in repressive societies. Even in these circumstances one still has freedom to make certain choices although they may be limited. For example, one can choose as to what kind of attitude and response one would have to his or her oppressors. Those in prisons can still experience freedom when they have Christ, because true freedom is an act of the soul and therefore we each can make choices in our soul. Other men cannot force us to think wrongly unless we choose to agree with them.
Authority Limits Choices
There are other circumstances that can limit our choices because of the authority that exists in the world. One of these would be the choices of school children that are limited to the authorities’ decisions and rules. This is also true of the military. These are just two of many circumstances that can limit one’s own personal choices.
However, no matter what our choices are today, they are ultimately creating our future because every choice that we make will either cause us to be blessed or cursed. Another way to put it is that things will get better or worse for us. All choices have consequences. These consequences will be for our betterment or will work to destroy us. We are also responsible for our choices. The Bible challenges us with this admonition in Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”
Messages going forth in our society today have stressed our “right to choose” but have not balanced it with the message that our choices also have consequences (especially in the area of lust and selfishness.) For instance, most movies have glamorized many things that are bad for us and have not generally shown the destructive results of smoking, drinking, adultery, fornication, gambling, abortion, etc.
These things do not often hit home until:
- A loved one gets lung cancer and is dying
- A child is killed by a drunk driver
- Close friends divorce because of the unfaithfulness of a mate
- A teen is infected with a venereal disease she will have for life
- A family loses their home because of gambling debts
- A baby is aborted because of the lust and selfishness of its parents leaving them struggling with guilt
Our Daily Choices
We face choices on a personal level daily:
- What shall we eat? We can choose to eat healthy or just “pig out” on junk food.
- Whom should we vote for? We can take the time to pray and study the candidates’ positions and vote accordingly or we can refuse to vote. When we do not vote, we are actually making a choice to allow others to choose who shall rule over us.
- Whom shall we marry? This is a serious life-time commitment and should never be gone into without God’s guidance. Making this choice foolishly or based on emotion alone has brought much heartache to many a person.
- What occupation should we pursue? Those making this decision strictly based on need or money issues will regret not seeking God about this issue. God has gifted every person with certain talents to adapt to the jobs that are suited just for them at the right times in their lives.
- Should I return the money that was credited to my account by accident? Remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When only God is watching, what kind of choices do we make? He is looking for people He can trust, as He desires to use us in His work.
- Should I purchase this item on credit? Do I really need this item or is it something I want, even though I cannot afford it?
These are just some samples of choices that we face. We also face temptations that we must resist with the Word of God. The consequences of some choices are more deadly than others. When we rebel against God and choose our own way, we are choosing a path of destruction that will ultimately end in hell. Because of God’s love and mercy to humanity, most of our choices do not have immediate results. We are all given a time to repent and find the Lord and His ways. We may all get away with sinning for a while; however in time we will reap what we have sown.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Galatians 6:7-8
Wrong Choices Cause Soul Sickness
Many people are sick in their souls because they have not known the ways of the Lord, and therefore have made wrong decisions. God wants to heal us in every area of our souls and bodies, as well as give us a new life in the spirit. To receive healing of the soul, however, we must understand it and why it needs to be healed, restored, and renewed.
The Greek word psuche (pronounced “sue-kay”) is the word Bible writers used when talking about things of the natural man, which in English is called “the soul.” The soul of man is comprised of the mind, the will, and the emotions. Our emotional patterns tend to formulate our personalities.
The soul, or personality, is formed through a person’s reactions to the information the mind takes in. The way each person chooses to react to the things he hears, the things that happen to him, and the things he chooses to receive as truth causes each soul to become what he, or she, is. However, when a person is born again, he becomes a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 6:15), and the soul can be changed and renewed through the Holy Spirit.
As Christians we are to develop the attributes of Christ and become like Him. Because much of our personalities are formed through our choices, we have to make new choices to let go of the old nature and receive the new. Our new natures are formed by the truths from the Word of God. The healing of the soul, which is a cleansing process, takes place as we learn to study the Word and develop a close fellowship with the Lord through prayer.
The Mind, Will and Emotions
We might look upon human beings in this way: each of us is a spirit who has a soul and lives in a body.
The will is how we exercise our freedom of choices. God gave man this freedom when He created Adam. God will not violate our free wills and make us do the right thing, nor will He make choices for us. We can choose His way, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ” (Romans 8:22: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”), or we can choose the way of self — which really is the devil’s way or “the law of sin and death.”
There are only two ways: God’s or the devil’s. What man thinks is his own way is really Satan’s way and puts him under the authority of the enemy. If someone is not for God, he automatically is against Him (Matthew 12:30). There is no possible way man can just do his own thing and think he is not making a choice. That choice is choosing Satan’s way. Even “no choice” on man’s part is a choice, because when we refuse to choose, others will make our choices for us. Satan causes men to follow him by encouraging apathy, laziness, or lack of responsibility.
The mind is the intellect, with reasoning being the “voice” of the mind. If the mind remains unrenewed, not “healed,” it will continue to think carnal thoughts, believe false information, and result in fleshly speaking and living.
The emotions were designed by God to express His characteristics, which are placed in our spirits when we become born again. Those are the “fruits” written about in Galatians 5:22, 23 and other places. If we do not yield to the renewal process, we continue to act like our “old father,” the devil.
Put On the Nature of Jesus
Much of the Church considers sanctification or “conforming to the image of Jesus” (Romans 8:29) to be optional. It is not taught or preached as much as it was in former generations. Many Christians born since World War II are as much a part of the “Me Generation” as the world. Self-will and rebellion are more a part of society today than at any time previously in the history of the United States. It is no surprise that much of today’s American Church operates in carnality, and it should be no surprise to us that God has finally set out to expose this evil and clean up His Church.
When Paul wrote to the Ephesians about “crucifying” the old man, this is exactly what he meant (Ephesians 4:18-24). When something is crucified, it is put to death. Every Christian needs the things of his old nature (which are part of his unregerated soul), to be put to death in order for the life of God to permeate the whole person. We have been given the power through the Holy Spirit to overcome sin in our lives. We can choose to obey God and He will empower us to overcome every sin.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Romans 6:12-16
Instead of pursuing holiness, many Christians have just allowed Christ to dwell in their spirits, but have not allowed Him to renew their souls and heal their bodies. As soon as a person is born again, he should begin to make the choices that will put to death his old ways of thinking, talking, and acting, and allow the Holy Spirit to replace them with God’s ways.
Overcoming Through Faith
Renewing the soul will cause negative habits and emotions to change. The key to that change is faith. Through our wills we must choose to change. However, it is only the work of the Holy Spirit who can actually bring permanent change in us. We cannot do it in ourselves. We choose to let go of the negative and that allows the Holy Spirit to do the changing. But doubt and unbelief can keep a person from receiving this kind of healing as much as it does healing of the body. A Christian must make the choices for God’s way and against his own way in absolute faith that the Holy Spirit will do His part and make the needed changes in us.
If we allow our bodies to be lazy and undisciplined, they will suffer the consequences. Bad physical habits can hinder God’s work in us. The Holy Spirit wants to help us overcome these ungodly ways. In the soul, if we choose to be resentful, hateful, angry, unkind, discouraged, worried, fearful, impatient, lustful, greedy, etc., we will allow these things to rule us instead of calling on the strength of Christ to help us to overcome these negative attitudes.
Many habits or addictions of the soul and body can be broken with a three-day fast. Certain desires or feelings of the body are perfectly legitimate, such as hunger, sleep, and so forth. Through the five senses, the body is the receiver of information from the world around it. The senses were given to us by God to protect us, and under the direction of the Holy Spirit, they work perfectly to serve us. However, under Satan’s influence, or self-will, the senses are perverted to fulfill the lusts of the flesh which can bring destruction.
Changing Old Habits
Every sinful habit in our lives gained its foothold through our thoughts and choices. We can gain victory over those habits by thinking God’s thoughts. A person who feels unworthy and unacceptable can replace those negative feelings with the truth that through Jesus, he or she has become worthy and acceptable. The process of conforming to the image of Jesus will be successful as we choose to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
The way to change a habit of negative thinking is to choose to change that negative thought for its opposite. The Bible calls that “overcoming evil with good” (Romans 12:19-21). For example, if a Christian finds himself ready to repeat some negative gossip about a brother or sister, he should choose to say something nice about that person instead. Very quickly, the habit of repeating negative things about other people will be broken.
The Lord wants to save us from tragedy, sickness, fear, anxiety, and the turmoil of this world. These things come upon us because of our bad choices or through ignorance or chains of iniquity. Instead, God wants us to walk in the Spirit of life so we may have His love, joy, peace, and victory (2 Corinthians 7:1) over every trial and temptation.
Bible Choice Bring Blessings
Our future is determined by all the choices we are making today. Let us bring God into helping us make our decisions. In doing that it will determine whether our future will be secure and will have God’s blessing on it. Let us be as Joshua was and declare: “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” God promised Joshua good success if he obeyed the words of the Bible and chose to follow Him. Joshua and his family were blessed because he made the right choices; even though he went through many battles, God was with him. He was an overcomer!
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Joshua 1:8
Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:14-15
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