May 17, 2017
WOFCF Bible Explosion
The Power of Free Will (Lesson 1)
People are hurt by their own lack of judgment and by the bad decisions that others make. Wouldn’t it solve many problems and spare us all a lot of misery if we couldn’t make mistakes?
Point #1If people were more like machines
God could have made us like machines. Machines do what they’re supposed to do without thinking about doing anything different or considering why they do whatever they do. Sure, they eventually break down because they’re mechanical devices. But they don’t make bad choices that damage themselves or hurt other machines.
Maybe the world would be a better place if people were more like machines…
Then again, machines have no character, soul or personality. Machines can’t experience joy, anticipation or pleasure. They aren’t creative, spontaneous or inquisitive. Lacking self-awareness or consciousness, they have no relationships, no sense of priorities and can’t make plans for the future and experience the satisfaction of accomplishment. They do not have free will.
On second thought, aren’t we glad people aren’t more like machines?
We wouldn’t want to give up our freedom of choice, but it seems like there couldn’t be a perfect world unless some higher power had complete control, regulating every aspect of everyone’s life. How frustrating would it be to be forced to only eat healthy foods, always go to bed on time and never skip a daily workout? Generally speaking, people would resist an external force always making them do “the right thing.” In fact, it sounds like a good premise for a bad science-fiction movie.
Instead of creating machines or robots, God created people. And He gave us free will—the ability to think, reason and make our own choices. He gives us commands and instructions that show us how He wants us to live, but He allows us to decide whether we will obey. He created us with free will for a simple reason: To fulfill His purpose of creating an eternal, spiritual family, He wants His children to choose to be like Him.
Point #2 The law of consequences
When God created Adam and Eve, one of the first things He did was to give them the opportunity to choose whether they would obey Him. He instructed Adam very clearly to not eat the fruit of a particular tree, under penalty of death (Genesis 2:15). But when the serpent (Satan) gave Eve a different explanation and appealed to her sense of independence and curiosity, she and Adam both chose to ignore God’s command. That one mistake resulted in tragic consequences in their lives and changed the course of history.
One of the first lessons we learn in life is the law of consequences. Good choices bring about good results, and bad choices cause unpleasant or even disastrous outcomes. As the apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (NIV).
There’s an old expression that some people sow wild oats and then pray for a crop failure. But the reality is that God’s universal law cannot be denied. Eventually, we will reap what we sow; the choices we make inevitably lead to consequences, good or bad.
Point #3 God is creating children, not building machines
The phrase “free will” means that we were created with minds with which we independently think, analyze, draw conclusions and make choices.
That Godlike quality of reasoning and decision-making is part of what is meant in Genesis 1:26-27: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Men and women have different physical characteristics, but all of humanity is created with the ability and responsibility to manage and have authority over their own lives as well as the rest of the physical creation.
God gave us a great deal of responsibility so that through experience we will grow in the ability and strength of character to make the right kinds of decisions. When we choose to obey His commands, God is, in effect, teaching us to think like He thinks. He can’t accomplish that by doing our thinking for us. We must have freedom of choice. Eventually, the way that we choose to live will have the ultimate consequence.