God’s will versus free will

What this post really comes down to is whether our free will can trump God’s will, in any and all situations. A way to begin is by asking a few questions: Do you believe that where you are in life this very moment, every move and direction you chose to make that got you here, is not in line with the will of God? Is it possible that you’re not living the life God had planned for you? Could you have, in exercising your free will, so royally messed up that your current state is not what God willed?  I must say that if you’ve answered any of those questions in the affirmative, there’s no time like the present to read on.

Think for a moment how odd it’d be if the Lord of all creation had a will that wasn’t fulfilled due to the free will of His created beings. After all, if free will exists, He would’ve created that as well. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely feel as though I make choices. Who and when to marry, how long to stay at a job, when and where I relocate to geographically, or how much ice cream I consume on any given day. All of us have the ability to choose between the options available, but can any of the roads we take be the wrong one?  Well that all depends on what your definition of wrong may be. Preemptively wrong or regrettably wrong, the two are quite different. However, both remain under the sovereign will of God because if they didn’t, that’d infer that this omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent God we worship wasn’t all those omni adjectives. This line of thinking would eventually lead us to question whether the final book of the Bible, Revelation, will play out as it reads, or whether our salvation is safe and sound. Can you see the connection?

Jesus, in the Lord’s Prayer says, “Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10) and again in the Garden of Gethsemane, “May your will be done” (Matthew 26:42). The apostle Paul says, “‘I will come back if it is God’s will'” (Acts 18:21) and “‘The Lord’s will be done'” (Acts 21:14). James suggests that we “ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that'” (James 4:15). John records in Revelation 17:17, “For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled.” These are but a taste of biblical insight into the will of God. He will bring His creation to where He foreordained it to be, when He decides to and most importantly, how He determines to. Our actions, prayers, pleas, intentions, and choices are knit ever so carefully into His plan. The plan that remains in place as the seconds of our lives tick by, bringing us all closer to that day when the trumpet will sound (Matthew 24:31) and all of the revealed imagery told in Revelation will come to pass as we’re granted access into the New Jerusalem.

It may be so that we can rightly comprehend that God’s will shall be done, but only when it comes to the substantial things. When we consider the everyday choices we make, it’s easy to forget that His will is also being done in them. Even when we make the “wrong” choices, what He decrees as sinful, these are still under the absolute control of Him. This brings us back to whether we view our committed sins, or wrong choices, regrettably or preemptively. Do you regret choosing to commit adultery (which, by the way, includes looking at another lustfully)? How about that lie you told today? Or your choice to kill (which, again, includes being angry at another)? Regret yourself away, but don’t stay there. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). In 2 Corinthians 7:8-13, Paul writes at length about regret and the difference between godly and worldly sorrow.  Within verse 9, his letter says, “For you became sorrowful as God intended.” There it is. God at work, even in the hearts of the Corinthians Paul is writing to. God is at work in us all, in each thought we entertain, action we commit to, and movement we make.

Inevitably, if we believe that our choices aren’t in line with the will of God or that where we are in life currently, we are placing ourselves at risk in thinking that we are in control over Him and what His will is.  This all stems from the doctrine of election (thank you, John Calvin) being exactly what the Bible teaches. God chose us; we did not choose Him. Romans 8:29-30 wrap this up explicitly by saying, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” Could it be that we are so full of ourselves that, when our logic regarding free will works itself through, we actually believe that our will is enough to be labeled a “versus” (as in the post’s title) in conjunction with God’s will? As one of my favorite teachers of the Bible, Pastor Voddie Baucham, would say, “Help you!” There is no versus in the will of God. Where we are, what we’re up to, and how we proceed in life is fully in line with God and His will. If, by chance, you’re messing up as royally as I have, and still do, rest in this by calling it what it is: sanctification.

 

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