The Creator is the only one who has a right to a “will”. The duty of the creature is to obey. Adam and Eve failed in this fundamental principle. An independent will is sin.
The essence of sin is a will of our own, which is, I guess, what people call “free will”. In John’s first Epistle we are told that “Sin is lawlessness”; it is a reciprocal expression and can be rendered “lawlessness is sin”. The old KJV is quite wrong in translating “sin is transgression of the law”. [Sin was in the world long before the law; it just provided a standard by which to measure it.]
Our duty and privilege is to “prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God”, Romans 12:2.
In Romans I learn that I am a bondman either to sin or to righteousness. So it seems that I am never really “free”. However, a bondman to righteousness is one who knows “the perfect law of liberty”, as James speaks of it. I think that means that we enjoy serving and being regulated by the Lord, just as it was liberty and joy to Him to serve the Father. Assume for a moment that when the Lord Jesus was here that He was to be deprived from serving the Father (which thing could not be) – then that would have been bondage to Him, the opposite of liberty. So it should be with us.
Having said the above, how do we answer the advocates of “free will” who point to the question posed by Joshua, (Josh. 24:15), “Choose you this day whom you will serve”, that is, the Lord, or the gods of the nations. We have a choice but it is only the goodness of God - His Spirit working in us - that gives us the desire to choose rightly. To say that we, unaided, can make a right choice is to give too much credit to the flesh that dwells in us. Roman 7:18, “For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, good does not dwell”.
MM May 2008