The will is “the mind choosing”– Jonathan Edwards
Can something effect what wedesire; what we „will‟ to choose?
What we Desire is impacted in Two Ways External Internal In the end, we still freely choose…
Is our will completely free in regard to the choices we make? www.confidentchristians.org
Our Desire Limits our “Free Will”Limits exist in all areas of life. For example, I have a freedom to jump, but I cannot jump ten feet into the air. Likewise, we are limited in regard to the choices we make with our will. Our desire limits the choices we makes – it determines the choices we make.
• There is a cause to our decisions. We don‟t make decisions for no reason – that would be indeterminism.• Every choice we make has an antecedent cause – our choices don‟t arise out of nothing.• That antecedent cause is our desire• We MUST choose what we desire; in this respect our choices are determined• We must choose what we desire to be able to choose at all• This means every choice is both determined and free. We are both determined and free in the choices we make
We make choices For a Reason via the Will1. Every choice we make is for a reason.2. We always choose according to our strongest inclination at the moment of choice.3. To say that we always choose according to our strongest inclination at the moment is to say that we always choose what we want at that moment – what we desire.4. The will is the choosing faculty and supplies freedom.5. Freedom allows for self-determinism, but our desire limits our choices www.confidentchristians.org
What does the Bible teach about whatan unbeliever desires and how they are limited in the choices they make?
The Biblical View of the Fallen Mind “You were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds” (Colossians 1:21) “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words,those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth” (1 Timothy 6:3–5) “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. ” (Titus 1:15) “These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. ” (Jude 19)
Martin Luther‟s “Bondage of the Will” and Jonathan Edwards “Freedom of the Will” actually argue the exact same thing: that thefallen mind is in bondage to sin and incapable of choosing God on its own.
The Biblical View of the Fallen Mind “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper” (Romans 1:28)“Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. ” (2 Timothy 3:8) “But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. ” (2 Corinthians 3:14)“in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so thatthey might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. ” (2 Corinthians 4:4)“So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, ” (Ephesians 4:17)
OK, humankind is sinful and hostiletoward God, but we can still „get‟ spiritual truth and seek for God, right?
Jesus on Moral Inability“And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” ” (John 6:65) “No one”: Universal negative. “Unless”: the necessary condition.
Jesus on Moral Inability“Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. ” (Matthew 13:11) “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. ” (John 10:26)“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. ” (John 14:16–17)“For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, “He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.” (John 12:39–40)“And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17) “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.” (John 8:43)
Paul on Moral Inability “as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God . All have turned aside, togetherthey have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” (Romans 3:10–12) “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so” (Romans 8:6–7)“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. ” (1 Corinthians 1:18)“But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
Natural vs. Moral CapabilitiesFree will can be broken up into:1. Natural ability - This has to do with the powers we receive as natural human beings – think, walk, make choices, etc. This capability was not lost in the Fall. All people have the capacity to choose.2. Moral ability – This is the ability to make righteous choices, and was affected by the Fall. Augustine says people have free will but lacks liberty. Fallen people have not lost the ability to make choices; the choices are just bad. They lack the royal liberty of those set free unto righteousness.
Natural vs. Moral Ability in Desires• The problem is not that we cannot make choices. The problem is that, in our fallen condition, we desire sin.• Before a person can choose „good‟ as God defines it, we must desire good• Before a person can make a choice pleasing to God, they must desire to please God• Before a person can find God, they must desire to seek Him• Before a person can choose Christ, they must desire Christ
What Scripture says is that humanity is limited to their free will in that a depraved mind will not choose God. People are „free‟ to makechoices, but they lack the moral ability (lost in the Fall) to respond to God on their own. They simply do not desire God.
Does this inability where God is concerned exist in everyone?
The Biblical View of Original Sin“When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became thefather of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. ” (Genesis 5:3) "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)“The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of menTo see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. Theyhave all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 14:1-3)
“As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atomof our nature. It is so sadlythere, so abundantly there,that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived.” - Charles Spurgeon www.confidentchristians.org
The Biblical View of Original Sin "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5)“The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth. ” (Psalm 58:3) "Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20) “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? ” (Jeremiah 17:9)"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23)
“If each one of us is born without a sinful nature, how do we account for the universality of sin? If four billion people were born with no inclination to sin, with no corruption to their nature, we would reasonably expect that at least some of them would refrain from falling. . . . But if everybodydoes it, without exception, then we begin to wonder why.” - R. C. Sproul
The Biblical View of Original Sin “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, anddeath through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12) “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh,indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Ephesians 2:3) “For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived,enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another” (Titus 3:3)"If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
“The doctrine oforiginal sin is the onlyempirically verifiable doctrine of the Christian faith.” - Reinhold Niebuhr
Westminster Confession of Faith“Our first parents, being seduced by the subtlety and temptations of Satan, sinned, in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin, God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel,to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory. By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion, with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed; and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.”
“It was by the evil use of his free-willthat man destroyedboth it and himself.” - Augustine www.confidentchristians.org
The Biblical Doctrine of Reconciliation “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christreconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17–19)“Reconciliation” assumes two parties who are enemies of one another and are at odds with one another.
Jesus on Original Sin “What man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, willgive him a stone? “Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to yourchildren, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! ” (Matthew 7:9–11)
Jesus on Who is „Good‟“And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. ” (Luke 18:19)
What Total Depravity Means• Total/Radical depravity does not mean humans are as bad as they can be; rather it teaches they are as bad off as they can be.• It goes to the core – the root – of every person. A better terms might be Radical Depravity.• The heart of sin and evil is a failure to glorify God as God. It is putting self ahead of God and not acknowledging Him• “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Romans 1:21)
“According to the apostle and the simple sense of him who is in Christ Jesus, it is not merely the lack of a quality in the will or indeed merely thelack of light in the intellect, of strength in the memory. Rather it is a complete deprivation of all rectitude and of theability of all the powers of the body as well as the soul and of the entire inner and outer man. In addition to this, it is an inclination to evil, a disgust at thegood, a disinclination toward light and wisdom, it is love of error and darkness, a fleeing from good works and a loathing of them, a running to what is evil. . . .” - Martin Luther
What Total Depravity Means• Original sin does not destroy our humanity or our ability to make choices.• What was lost is the good inclination or righteous desire for obedience.• The unbeliever could choose the things of God (because they has the right „equipment‟ to do so – the faculties of choice) if they wanted them, but they do not want them.
“Slavery to sin does not mean that people always engage in reprehensible behavior. It means that the unregenerate never desire to bring glory to God, butare passionately committedto upholding their own glory and honor.” - Thomas Schreiner www.confidentchristians.org
God‟s Restraining Power On Evil “Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept [lit. „restrained‟] you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. ” (Genesis 20:6)“Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, since the Lord has restrained you fromshedding blood, and from avenging yourself by your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek evil against my lord, be as Nabal” (1 Samuel 25:26) “And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. ” (2 Thessalonians 2:6–7)“Then the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, one saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at thegreat river Euphrates.” And the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released, so that they would kill a third of mankind. ” (Revelation 9:13–15)
Review• How do we make choices in life?• Via a self-determined will that freely chooses what it desires• Is our will completely free in regard to the choices we make?• We are limited in that we are determined to choose what we desire• Does this mean we can‟t make choices?• We can use our natural functions to make choices but are limited to the moral choices we make where God is concerned
“We are all by nature Pelagians.” - Roger Nicole www.confidentchristians.org
Review• Are we born with this moral limitation?• Yes, the Bible says we are born with an effaced conscience.• Is the mind capable of making right choices for God?• No, the mind is hostile toward God and in rebellion towards Him.• So we never do good?• Humanity can perform „good‟ acts but still doesn‟t seek or desire God
Questions To Tackle Next Time… Can we cooperate with If humanity runs from God, God where salvation is how does salvation begin concerned? for someone? If a person is born a sinner, then how can God hold that person accountable for sinning?