Have you ever heard it said that God is a gentlemen? That no matter what, God would never force Himself upon you or go against your free will? This idea corrupts the goodness and overwhelming love of God.
I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. (Jeremiah 10:23 ESV)
A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way? (Proverbs 20:24 ESV)
I’ve been to many churches in my life. And at every alter call I have ever been witness to I have heard this phrase,
“God is wonderful and gracious. He is a gentleman who will never force Himself upon you for He has given each of us a free will.”
It’s a well-intentioned sentiment but it leads to a distortion of the image of God and the false idea that we are completely independent of any and all external forces. However, if it can be shown that the concept of free will is impossible, then God will become the force that sets us free instead of the hands-free by-stander that hopes and waits on His creation. In reality, free will is a devious lie and I’m going to expose it in the light and dismantle it with a few practical and Scriptural examples.
Our universe is bound by the force of cause and effect. This is a scientific fact. Our lives are set-pieces in a universe that does not and can not run independently of its creator. It could not begin without Him and it cannot end without Him. If one were to trace back every beginning and every force and law in our universe one would find themselves at the one from whom all things began. The first cause, which is God. He is the only being who is truly and utterly free from any causes above Himself. This first cause cannot simply cease operating or else every cause under Him (that being our universe and everything in it) will thereby cease also. God orders and sustains every beginning and every law and function of our universe.
And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17 ESV)
….He Himself gives to all life and breath and all (Acts 17:25 CLNT)
If God were to be the gentleman the church describes Him as then the universe would fall apart. There is nothing that can be done apart from Him. If He gives everything life and breath then He is the one giving to and sustaining the lung and the heart. Their work are the effects of His cause. Now, watch where this leads: From lungs comes breath, from breath, speech, from speech, words, from words, praise, and from praise, faith. It all comes from Him and He requires nothing of us. This is how free will is so easily dismantled.
…..neither is He attended by human hands, as if requiring anything…. (Acts 17:25 CLNT)
We are guided by practical forces every day, from hunger, thirst, and desire, yet these are not commonly acknowledged as forces because they exist within us. However, if this is true, then our own mortality cannot also be rendered a force for it too exists within us. And if our mortality cannot be described as a force, neither can the power of sin, of which our mortality places us under. And if sin is not a force then one cannot legitimately believe in eternal torment or an eternal punishment or consequence for sin, for sin has no power whatsoever and no one could be tempted by it.
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. (Romans 5:12)
We sin because we were born into death. This is a force we cannot escape for we were all born into the creature of Adam (i.e. human beings) (1 Corinthians 15:22). Free will is an incoherent statement for the concept of complete freedom and independence in a world governed by cause and effect cannot exist. The idea of a “will” is something that comes into the actual through cause and effect, for it cannot exist within a vacuum. In other words, a will or desire cannot exist without something to cause it. We must remove the “free” from free will in order to be consistent. As soon as we do that then everything else falls into place. We have wills, this we cannot deny, but let us remember that our wills are governed by causes and these causes are governed by, you guessed it, the first cause.
This is a verse I’ve shared before but it will shed even more light onto this wisdom,
For to vanity was the creation subjected, not voluntarily, but because of Him Who subjects it, in expectation. (Romans 8:20 CLNT)
In the Genesis account Satan is clearly the one who subjected creation to vanity. He is the one who planted doubt and temptation into the mind of Eve, however, Satan wasn’t THE cause. Satan was merely a tool for he had a cause above him. Paul states it plainly. The one who subjected creation to vanity was the first cause. Now things are getting exciting!
Yet he who is doing sin is of the Adversary, for from the beginning is the Adversary sinning. For this was the Son of God manifested, that He should be annulling the acts of the Adversary. (1 John 3:8 ESV)
Jesus was manifested to “annul the acts of the Adversary.” To annul means to make invalid or to erase and cancel out. If the acts of the Adversary, which is the devil, will be annulled then his first act will likewise also be annulled. What was his first act? Subjecting creation to vanity and depravity. Satan is a frightening being if one does not believe he has a cause above him. But if there is a cause above him then Scripture can be true. Christ has the force to annul everything he has done, reconcile all of creation to Himself, and make everything as it should be where the wolf will lay with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6).
This is the force of the cross. This is the force of grace. He died for us while we were still sinners. God is not the kind of gentlemen that does not interfere in the lives of His creation and leaves them to their own devices. He gives life, breath, and everything else and this is all for His glory.
I thank God that He forced Himself into my life. He didn’t leave me in my infirmities but He forced Himself into my broken world and redeemed it. He hung on the cross, bleeding, broken, and suffering in anguish, shame, and pain-for our sakes. The image of Christ on the cross is not an apathetic or hopeful second chance but a force that overcomes all else. As the Roman soldiers nailed Him onto that piece of wood He cried out, “Father, forgive them….” They never asked for it but were grinning ear to ear in their vicious execution of the Son of God. We were no better off and yet, standing there watching Him bleed out and die of exhaustion, we hear Him plead for our forgiveness. That grace shook us to our core. It was a force so powerful, so wonderful, and so joyous that it caused us to fall to our knees in shame for what we had done. We had betrayed our weakness and pride and yet He loved us still. It was never too late and it never will be. He forced Himself into our world and saved it. It is like how Jeremiah so wisely put it, “The way of man is not in himself.”
What a prideful thing it is to say that God will never force Himself upon us. That love has no power and will leave thousands locked up in their stubbornness. That love can never open the eyes of the blind. That salvation can only be achieved through our belief and that righteousness can only be established through our works. That apart from us, the cross did nothing to save creation. To believe this way is to steal all glory from God, the crown that rightfully belongs to Christ, and place it upon ourselves. It is a wholly satanic teaching and Christianity revels in it. The church, for centuries, has been an enemy of the cross.