Freedom Of Choice Or Free Will To Choose?

Free will is an attribute God gives to all people starting with Adam and Eve, (even before the Fall). It includes mental tools like curiosity and imagination that we can use to help make decisions, and a conscience to help us determine proper and bad choices. He created us this way because He wanted beings He could love and have a relationship with, but who could decide for themselves to choose or reject Him (within the limits of Predestination). He already had His angels but they were not created to have this relationship with Him (most are like God’s loyal pets plus the fallen ones which are more like feral animals). Even before the Fall it was possible for Eve (and Adam!) to ignore the helpful guidance of their consciences and misuse their imagination and curiosity, imagining that the forbidden fruit was desirable for food and could provide wisdom to resolve their curiosities about God. Their free will could successfully be tempted by the deceptions of an outside influence (the serpent) into making a bad decision. After the Fall our sin nature has corrupted how we use our free will and biased us through pride and sense of “self”. So in addition to being susceptible to external temptations our bias also skews our sense of what is right or wrong. Every single evil or even mildly harmful act committed after the Fall was caused by someone who selfishly thought they had the authority to take and enjoy something they wanted. Every person who’s sense of self led them to think that eternity and how to get there will be whatever they want it to be instead of learning what God says about it is doomed to be separated from Him forever (read 2 Timothy 4:3-4 about people who just want their ears tickled with new ideas that contradict the truth).

If you don’t want to know details to help make a wise choice then you believe ignorance is bliss which makes freedom of choice (FOC) decisions easier (more selfish and juvenile). FOC people hope for things they want without thinking about the likelihood or have any reason to assume they will occur or at what cost to others. If you want to know details about choices, and why you even have choices, then you want to identify good and bad choices to make an informed decision. This is more mature, trying to understand how the free will to choose (FWTC) actually works. FWTC people think the chances for their hopes occurring can be improved and the sacrifice of others limited by their considered decision-making. From a Godly perspective this means learning how to recognize and want to make Godly choices and understand that there is a manager of temptations and evil choices to reject.

Most people are not completely FOC or FWTC, they have better understanding of some parts of life over others. But they still can be divided into the two groups by seeing the intent of their character. Some people make foolish decisions (like the second king David who made terrible mistakes) but have enough vision and humility to learn how to repent and gain wisdom from God in that area. They understand FWTC even though they have made selfish choices. They are willing to be held accountable to the responsibilities of their relationships. Some people (like the first king Saul) never learn and are doomed to juvenile FOC thinking in most areas for their entire lives, always focused on what they think is best for themselves. They are considered to be fools, not just people that occasionally do foolish things.

The first step towards maturing from thinking in terms of freedom of choice to free will to choose is recognizing that EVERY desirable idea in life is a conditional promise (IF you do this THEN you can have that), even the free gift of Grace from God. God will make sunshine and needed rain for the just and unjust (Matt 5:45), but the benefits of His grace are only for people that realize the NECESSITY of accepting and submitting to the need for a Savior first before they can gain God’s favor. At Jesus’ birth the angels proclaimed peace and good will. FOC people see this as God doing a solid for everybody unconditionally because goodwill is a best wishes type of blessing for all, they can just think they love Jesus and get the good stuff. FWTC people see that the angels are proclaiming that peace (and other fruits from an indwelling Holy Spirit, the “Then” part) is available to people that accept the good intentions of God on HIS terms (the “If” part). So FOC people focus on their own desires, and FWTC people want to understand and fit into something outside of themselves. This actually is the start of understanding what love for others really means.

If Jesus says “take my yoke and learn from me and I will give you rest” (Mat 11:29), He is saying something akin to IF you eat your broccoli THEN you can have some pie. FOC people scan this looking for the choice that appeals to them and assume that since they like pie Jesus wants to give them pie, they don’t even try to understand the broccoli part. FWTC people study the whole statement and realize that they are responsible for some part of how to get the pie, that they can use their free will to make an informed decision on what to do then do it to get the pie (It’s not the same idea as earning something from God, which we cannot do in any case, it is just accepting that God knows what is right and wants to teach us, so we want to learn how to recognize and do HIS ways, not OUR ways).

FOC people live their lives believing in whatever sounds appealing at the moment, so they are easy victims of dishonest marketing and get rich quick stunts and other too good to be true ideas like liposuction, lifestyle meds etc. FWTC people understand that there are no actual easy buttons or other shortcuts to a goal, success means studying options and making informed decisions that may require sacrificing something to progress towards the goal. For example, maybe the inconvenience of diet and exercise is better than conveniently taking pills to avoid or resolve lifestyle related health issues.

FWTC people are like the ants in the Aesop’s Fable, they have learned that working collectively towards goals protects the community and themselves and their future but requires some study and sacrifice to achieve a goal. They understand that yielding to Jesus’s yoke and allowing Him to teach them to be led to plow a field is part of enjoying the harvest later. They may still have some juvenile selfish attitudes but have matured enough to know that some selfless consideration for the community is required to achieve goals that are good for all (Philippians 2:3-4). FOC people think like children and are all about selfishness and tend to be like the grasshopper in the fable, being opportunistic and looking for fun and a free lunch while ignoring any ideas that might force them to adapt their behavior. Their immaturity causes them to act like an unyoked being, trampling across the field that the ants have prepared, causing problems that the ants have to fix.

Liberal politicians and social media activists know how to appeal to FOC people because they can market ideas that are desirable to grasshopper types but don’t stand up to scrutiny, because FOC people assume that others will do whatever it takes to make the desirable ideas happen. Conservative politicians appeal to FWTC people because they understand ideas like rule of law and other restraints and constraints, and opportunities that must be earned, that are necessary for an ant community to succeed.

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