The Illusion of Free Will
by Pastor Mark Downey
How often do we hear someone say, “God gave us a free will”? What they usually mean is that they have freedom of choice. Free will and choice are two different things. In Romans 7:17 Paul says it wasn’t him making the choice: “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” If he’s making choices at the behest of a “law of sin” that has been put within his “flesh”, but not of his doing… where is the ‘free will’ here? I had to think long and hard about composing this sermon, so bear with me.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s define our terms. To me, the term generally implies we have the ability to exercise our will free of any outside catalyst. The Oxford Dictionary of English gives a similar definition: “The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate.” Every choice a person makes is at the insistence of necessity. Necessity is defined as, “A situation enforcing a certain course.” In other words, a person’s choices are what he had to do whether he liked it or not. Please understand that I am not suggesting people do make choices. They surely do! They just don’t make choices that are free of outside influence. The same dictionary defines ‘choice’ as “An act of choosing between two or more possibilities… a range of possibilities from which one or more may be chosen.”
When people think they have a free will to choose between the Law of God and the law of sin, it is not a situation that is devoid of outside influence. This state of affairs requires your choice to be that of the stronger force that is imposing its power upon you. In other words, whichever desire you have, whether to sin or not to sin, the weaker desire will lose out and the other desire will prevail. Paul describes this internal conflict as a war (Romans 7:23). There are two powers of laws that are in you. One is the Law of God in your mind and the other, the “law of sin”, is in your flesh (Romans 7:22-23). What choice do we have in either of these laws being put within us? If you truly had free will, you could choose what you thought was the best course of action without any outside influence. But even then, something has to be the catalyst that causes us to want to do whatever it is we choose to do. I’m not saying there aren’t any choices, but rather there aren’t any free will choices.
Why would God punish sin if the sinner had no choice in his actions? Paul asks this rhetorical question to the Romans in 9:19-21, “You will say to me then, Why does God still find fault? For who can resist His will? Nay but, O man, who are you to talk back against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why have you made me thus? Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel to honor, and another to dishonor?” Isn’t Paul saying, in so many words, that complaining about having no choice in the matter is futile and God can do whatever He wants? What choice do we have in how God makes us?
But Paul also writes that God’s mercy is under His sovereign will in Romans 9:14-18, “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For He said to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy. For the scripture said to Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised you up, that I might show My power in you, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore has He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardens.” What is this passage saying? It’s saying that God will have compassion and mercy on whom He will and hardens hearts at will; it’s not somebody with free will running the show, it’s God who wills something. As you know, God raised up Pharaoh and hardened his heart to fulfill His plan (Ex. 7:13-14; 9:16). God held Pharaoh responsible for his actions even though he did what God raised him up to do.
Why do you think God holds people accountable for their actions? Because He is working out His plan for the ages and establishing His Law as part of that plan. It’s part of the finishing of His people’s faith; like an artist putting the finishing touches on a masterpiece. He is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2), perfecting how we become fully persuaded, rewarding us at the consummation of the war from within our souls. When we, as a people known by God above all the families of the earth, get smacked down by the lowliest of antichrist swine, which is happening right now, because of our submission to the gods of secular humanism and self worship, shall turn back again to the will of God and serve Him, then we will be moving ever closer to the Kingdom. If sin is a free will choice, why did David implore God to not allow him to sin (Ps. 119:19, 141:4), but to incline or turn his heart towards’ God’s Law (Ps. 119:36)?
In order to understand what free will implies, we must acknowledge the sovereignty of God and predestination. Would you agree that God knows all things past and future and therefore He must have known all about the sins that have ever been and ever will be committed? In other words, events are fixed and inevitable. What Eve did had to happen, right? The point here is that God's omniscience includes foreknowledge and that His foreknowledge is eternal. If it were not, then He must have learned something new at some given time. But that would mean that before the time when He learned it, He was ignorant of something and therefore He would not be omniscient and He would not be God. Acts 15:18 will help secure this idea in your mind, "Known unto God are all of His works from the beginning of the world." We could say that it’s the divine dimensions of His unlimited sphere of influence, the ‘alpha and the omega’.
So God not only foreknew the Fall of Adam and Eve, He purposed it, He planned it, He intended it, He foreordained it, He predestined it. However you want to put it, God was in charge. If we understand and believe that God has a plan for the ages, we must know what it is. What is it? Is it that man would have his own sovereign will to decide what is right or wrong? Or is it that only God has a sovereign will and the only option for man is to have the same will or purpose as his Creator? If God merely wanted robots or some kind of dysfunctional creature, would it not be logical that that creature could not possess the ability to know God's will, because there would be no need for any law from God? They would just be programmed machines. On the other hand, I think you'll agree that God did create Adam and Eve and did provide a law for them. The Lord chose them to fulfill a certain role and they failed and He knew they would fail. What possible purpose would God have in doing such a thing? Well, we know throughout Scripture that others have been chosen also; Esau and Pharaoh and the Pharisees were all chosen vessels... vessels of dishonor, that God might show forth His power and glory. God raised them up to play the role of the antagonist or adversary to God. But God had foreknowledge that He would have a race of people who would play the part of His protagonist or be in concord with His law, His will.
The Big Question is: What is it that causes man to make his choices? That is the fundamental issue in understanding free will. It's not whether or not man wills, but rather whether God determines that will. It's whether or not man or God was the ultimate cause of that choice.
If God created Adamkind with a sovereign free will, then He has created something greater than Himself. God would then be without control over His own creation. Do you think free will had anything to do with the race you were born into? Hardly! Do you think your ancestry has any effect on the choices you make? Most assuredly! If free will had anything to do with our own birth, then our ancestry would be meaningless. However, there is a meaning to life in God's Plan for the Ages and it has to do with God's power and glory.
Eve made a mental choice, because God gave her a mind to choose. God didn't give her a sovereign free will, because there is only one sovereign... God! So when people are under the illusion that they have a free will, they are in essence an antagonist to God's will. Deciding what is right or wrong, outside the auspices of God's authority, is playing God and makes one a god, which the First Commandment prohibits and rightly so. Does “Do what thou wilt, shall be the whole of the law” ring a bell? Who said that? It was Aleister Crowley who called himself ‘the beast’. God created Adam-man and all the other races were called ‘beasts’. Pastor Elmore has been analyzing the lyrics of songs, on a continuing basis, that are influenced by a beast mentality – music created from the illusion of a free will. What we’re fighting against are the pied pipers of another law outside of God’s jurisdiction. The thing about it is: “For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.”
We do not inherit 'original sin' from Adam. We inherit mortality and death. We are not mortal because we sin; we sin because we are mortal. The Good News is that God is sovereign, not us, and that He has a plan for our reconciliation. "Therefore as by the offence of one [man, Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [man, Jesus Christ] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" Romans 5:18. That's the plan that glorifies the God of the White race.
The free will of Adamkind has not been free since the first decree that God gave them. "Thou shalt not…" restricted Adam and Eve as to what they could or could not do in the Garden. The significance of the 'tree of knowledge of good and evil' was known only to God, so the temptation presented itself to know what God knew. The original sin was believing that they would be as gods and not believing they would die (or lose their immortality) for the trespass. Having trespassed the decree, they realized they were naked as jaybirds for what they did and thus helplessly exposed for their crime. Genesis 3:7 reports that they put fig leaves together as a cover-up or apron. This expression is as figurative as the language in I Peter 1:13, "Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind." In other words, we are being told to gird up or bind, as with a belt (and thus securing) our full mental capacity. This girding is in context to a soldier putting on protective armor. So we can see that from the get-go of our race, that mortal man must equip his mind with the proper protection. However, this symbolic apron does not protect mankind from the judgment of God any more than the aprons of Freemasonry or Mormonism. It is a cover-up or mask that tells us that the action was of our own free will. Thus begins the history of mankind wearing a self righteous mask of protection. Of course, this is just the opposite of putting on "the whole armor of God" that we read about in Ephesians chapter 6.
The masquerade has been the sovereign free will of man in contradistinction to the sovereign will of God. This inevitable conflict begs the question as to who is in charge. God or man? This reverts back to the sin in the Garden. The masquerade of man's free will does not say you will be equal to God, it says you shall be above God, because it is a clash of sovereignties or wills. A self-evident truth is that the Creator is always greater than his creation. Free will puts forth the notion that there is no power outside of ourselves (including God) causing us to choose a course of action. It says that God does not determine a person's choice.
The Word of God can be viewed as a book of cause and effect. The first of the Ten Commandments states, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." And yet we can see from the very beginning of Adamkind, man superimposed his will over God's will and assumed the masquerade of sovereignty. Obviously, we cannot make God null and void as a factor affecting our being born into the world, although many pretend that that is the case. Our wills are constantly being influenced from cradle to grave. The question is: do we acknowledge the influence of God to do His will or do we believe we can be as God with our own will? One can pick and choose Bible verses which would imply man has a free will to act upon a decision. Probably one of the best known passages is Joshua 24:15, "Choose you this day whom ye will serve"; but we shouldn't forget the last phrase, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." In other words, our choice corresponds to the will of God not our own.
But what happens when one chooses something above the will of God? Is God still in control? If we balance Scripture implying the free will of man with Scripture promulgating God's will on earth, then the answer is certainly yes. God is always in control. We are told that the God of Creation declares, "The end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done" Isaiah 46:10. This not only suggests the Word of prophecy, but establishes predestination. All prophecy proves the divine destiny of God's will and control of His Plan for the Ages. We can then make the logical conclusion that free will and predestination are mutually exclusive precepts. One must be right and the other wrong.
If God foreknows all things then how can anyone deny that He also predestinates all things? The truth of the matter is that we do not deny man making choices or having a will. The truth is found in what causes man to make the choices he does. If there was no tree in the Garden, there would have been no choice for Adam to make. It's not whether we choose to do something or not, but whether God determines that choice. Is man or God the ultimate cause of that choice?
Let me pose an example. You are now listening to this message. Why are you spending your time here? Why aren't you home watching football on TV or out fishing? Why are you at this church while other people are not? You might respond that you wanted to be here or it was your desire or that you chose to be here of your own free will. And I'd say, "Sure, but who or what caused your will to decide to be here right now?" We can find a precise answer to this question in Philippians 2:12, "Wherefore, My beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in My presence only, but now much more in My absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." There you have it: God determines our will and our actions.
When Billy Graham beckons his followers to his "altar calls" and tells his audience not to pray for those coming forward, because they have to accept Christ of their own free will and at that point in their lives not even God could help them, then Graham is contradicting the cause of one becoming a Christian. He is telling them to put on the mask of free will and to forget John 15:16, "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you." The will and desire to follow Christ emanates from the independent mind of man being prompted by the Masonic tempter Graham, rather than the auspices of God.
How can any of us in our carnal minds initiate the will to subject ourselves to God? "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither can be" Romans 8:7. You see, sin entered the world and God's Plan for the Ages was for man to acknowledge his fall from grace (loss of immortality) and his need to be free from the illusion of self will. This means surrendering our will to the will of God. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world, not the will power of self.
To whom does Christ grant to sit with Him in His throne? According to Rev. 3:21, it’s those that overcome! What is it these people are to overcome? It’s “The world”! “In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” John 16:33. Now we could debate what the Greek word ‘kosmos’, which is translated ‘world’ here means, but the Bible gives us a fairly detailed description of its meaning in I John 2:13-17: “Ye have overcome the wicked one… the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world… For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he who doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
Of course, the word ‘one’ in this passage is not in the Greek text as Young’s Literal Translation, The Bishop’s Bible and Tyndale’s N.T. agree that it was added by the translators. The word translated ‘wicked’ in this verse is ‘poneros’ and is translated ‘evil’ without it being a modifier for the non-existent word ‘one’ in Mt. 5:11, 37 and 39. It’s the same Greek word translated ‘evil’ in the LXX in the phrase of Gen 2:9: the ‘tree of knowledge of good and evil’. Evil is synonymous with sin in the Bible; “A sinner does evil” Eccl. 8:12. So, evil or sin is what we are to overcome.
As we saw in I John 2:13-17, it is the power of the flesh or the ‘law of sin’ per se that is ‘in the world’. If you have free will in choosing to sin or not, why is it something to overcome? The word ‘overcome’ is defined as ‘success in dealing with a difficulty’. The very fact that one is having a difficulty tells us that we have to deal with something that isn’t free of outside forces or influence. This is especially critical for young people and immature adults who are prey for the beast system and vulnerable to antichrist predators that devour impressionable minds.
When we think we make the initial decision to know God, we, in essence, trespass against God to be as God, because we have meritoriously taken grace upon ourselves without sanction. People try to face God with a vicarious mask of piety, which is nothing more than a shallow attempt at self righteousness. Perhaps, we can see more clearly why the Israelites would not face God at Sinai after their naked shame of building a golden calf. We can only face God with the mask off and repent with a humble heart.
Jesus clarified the order in which man is saved and it doesn't begin with our will. "All things are delivered unto Me of My Father; and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him" Mt. 11:27. In other words, it is Christ that reveals God to us, not our own artificial penchants for personal discovery. "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him" John 6:44. How can any man be right about anything if it doesn't correspond to the righteousness of the Lord? Repentance then corresponds to what God has decreed right or wrong. We don't change from carnality to holiness through free will, but rather through the agency of divine righteousness. "Or despises thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" Romans 2:4. Again, Paul tells us, "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" II Timothy 2:25.
These scriptures prove that salvation does not come by our free will, but rather God's grace (unmerited favor). The only thing we can do about salvation is a response to God's gift of grace, which initiates the desire within and causes us to repent and have faith. This process works through the Holy Spirit, which is to say God's separation of man's motivations from His own motives. The motivation from God will cause you to do what is right. Self motivation will cause you to err.
We must always come back to the question of who is in control, who has the power and real authority? Are we to believe Billy Graham, who thinks your free will can overrule God? This is the gall of pride waxing the mystery of iniquity to a shine. Man may claim free will, but their ignorance of history reflects the invisible stream of Providence according to God's Plan for the Ages. And what pray tell is that Plan to the man who places free will on the throne of our hearts and minds instead of God? "What? Know ye not that your body [heart and mind] is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" I Cor. 6:20. Who sits on your throne in your temple? If you think you have free will, then you do and you've just dethroned God.
Apostasy is part of God's Plan. "Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed… who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God… so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" II Thes. 2:3-4. Don't be deceived into thinking that the "man of sin" is not a plurality of mankind that violates the first commandment and is just a singular individual like the Rapture’s foreboding “Antichrist”. And don't think that God can't deceive or incorporate "strong delusion" (II Thes. 2:11) for those who reject the truth and believe a lie, because it is within God's power to do so. The incredible irony is that the masquerade of free will is necessary for the Plan of God to be revealed. You may be wondering why God would keep people in ignorance of His Divine Plan. It's so they can fulfill their predestinated roles, thinking they have free will while carrying out their part of the Plan.
The illusion of man’s government was a mystery until it was revealed in the Word. Had certain men known that they really didn't have free will, they then would have ruined God's Plan of salvation. "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained [predestined] before the world unto our glory. Which none of the princes of this world knew; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord in glory" I Cor. 2:7-8.
This message may be incomprehensible to the usual suspects as, "The natural [carnal] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" I Cor. 2:14. And here's the kicker, "God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit, for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" I Cor. 2:10. Some people won't have a clue about this message: some people just don’t get it. As a matter of biblical fact, the spiritually immature (even neophyte Christians) will struggle to understand the illusion of free will. It may come as a surprise to some, but God foreordains our thoughts and our choices. "The preparations [plans] of the heart of man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord" Prov. 16:1. That means that the aprons of fig leaves and the whole armor of God are both under His control.
If God is unable to foreknow what course of action men may take, then God must be without knowledge of the future. He would be limited to knowledge incrementally as it happened… so you can forget about His "omniscience". Fortunately, that is not the case, because the "Testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Rev. 19:10) i.e. the motive of predestination. Jesus was our example to pray and witness to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (the White/Adamic race of Creation). We are an instrument of God's methodology, as no other people, to bring forth the fruits of His Kingdom. We are being used in a mighty way to accomplish His Plan and purposes upon the earth.
But, we must learn the difference between God's will and free will or self will in order to advance His Kingdom. The motive behind free will is the impediment which we must overcome and conquer. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" Eph. 2:10.
As perfect timing would have it, I was having a conversation with some CI folks and my good friend Pastor Ken Lent (SolarSabbath.org) said some things I’d like to share with you. He said, “The subject of free will is an amazing topic to think about. I mostly view it like this: God Almighty controls the “big picture” in that He has chosen the outcome of His eventual perfect Kingdom, He has chosen who gets in, and He has set forth the “rules of the game”. But within that parameter He has given us choices, set before us, by which He may extend blessings, chastisement, rewards, and interaction with His children.
“It’s somewhat like the progression into the fullness of the Kingdom is a big river which God has set forth the course and direction, but within that river which is flowing a predetermined direction, we can paddle our own little boats to one side or the other, drop anchor here and there, steer into a rock, or steer clear of it by choice. The bottom line however is - - we’re flowing into the Kingdom by God’s determined “river” and our choices cannot stop it.
“We can go into a lot of Scriptures on this but it’s evident that The Almighty has not made us robots for every decision in life or else there would be no point in His fairness of rewards for our actions in the here and now. "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works." (Matthew 16:27) We can make choices, within a limited parameter of events all controlled by God Almighty. Therefore, robots we are not, yet final controllers of our “heavenly destination” we are not either.
“I have always considered our “will and choices” in light of God’s supremacy to be something like having a fence in my yard for my dogs. Don’t get me wrong in using dogs as an analogy here in the Scriptural “non Israel” sense, but only in a sense as it applies to our observation about free will and choices. I am ruler of my dogs. I bought them, I feed them, and I train them. I put a fence around my yard to keep them in an area not of their choosing. If I want to move the fence to direct them elsewhere, they have no choice. The fence is a boundary that I am master over, and they are powerless to move that boundary.
“I have predetermined my dogs’ limitations and freedom of travel. However, within that fence a dog may be obedient to my training so that he does not dig up bushes, chase the cat, and take a wiz on the porch. If he’s going to be a “bad dog” within that boundary, he’s going to get dealt with. If he chooses to respond nicely to certain training, he’s going to get a doggie bone and a pat on the head. Therefore, in order to have a great relationship with “my best friend” I certainly don’t want a wind up robot dog. I want the real thing, along with all the “ups and downs’ that come with the package.
“This makes the best of both worlds. I control the big picture (where the dog resides, when I feed it, rewards for right or wrong behavior), but it’s great to see those friends come up by their own choice, give a paw, and put their head on my lap. I feel that this is close to what happens with man and God. He builds our fences, yet inside the fence we are free to make various choices He sets before us, and He gives us quite a few. In this manner rewards for our actions are understood and justified, even though we have no power to move the fence. We can make a choice between options, of one of several that God has put before us, but only of those He has given. We can't go beyond an option He has given, so therefore we don't have free will, but we are accountable for whatever one of the options we choose.”
I concur with Pastor Lent’s assessment and agree with the Dirty Harry line, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Now that God has put salvation out of my control through the illusion of self will and put it rightly under the control of His, I can rest in His Spirit before His throne all the days of my life. And the Lord's Prayer will not be spoken in vain: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.