There are many definitions of human free will with a plethora of nuanced interpretations by each of us. Many Christians look at human free will as a gift from God to be treasured. It seems to be almost worshiped at times right along with the Trinity.
Why is that and does human free will as many commonly think actually exist?
I think not.
Let me explain.
I make choices. I choose. I do it all of the time. Some are good. Many are bad.
The cause of the choices I make is my nature. I always make choices in accordance with my nature. My choices are always what I perceive in my best interest as well. I do not have any freedom to choose against my nature or against my perceived best interest. That just does not happen and would be absurd. Who would say this is a bad choice and against my best interest and I am going to make it anyway. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Christian or non Christian, either. We make choices the same way.
That is not to say that from someone’s else viewpoint my choice was a good one, but to the person making the choice it was the best choice. I am also responsible for my choices, because I am the immediate cause of them.
How many times after a bad choice was made have you heard the person say “it seemed like the right choice at the time.” So to them it was right and in their best interest. Tiger Woods, the world’s greatest golfer, destroyed his life for a while by poor choices, but certainly he did what he thought was right at the time and in his best interest. From our view it was dumb, but from his it was right. It is crazy to think he would intentionally destroy his life like he did. He, like us, was acting in accordance with his nature and making choices in his perceived best interest.
Some of my choices are very limited. I cannot choose to do what is physically impossible. Others are limited by external powers. Once I tried to go see the federal courthouse because I heard it was quite beautiful, but I was not allowed to enter.
I wanted to choose to buy a Corvette a couple of years ago, but I did not have the money. My choice was limited there, unfortunately it seemed.
There are constraints everywhere affecting my freedom to choose. Often I am not happy about that.
Sometimes there are constraints that hinder making a good moral choice. Sometimes the constraint is within myself, my unperfected nature. I could elect not to help someone because I may get injured. Because I am selfish and make choices I perceive to be in my best interest I may not risk myself.
There are many times where I am not constrained by an external power in making choices. I make the choices without external coercion. I am certainly responsible for those decisions.
God can certainly influence my decisions by guiding my thinking and emotions even though I don’t realize He is doing that. “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord, He turns it wherever He will.” Proverbs 21:1. Therefore, I believe God can control my choices. He has both that right and that power. But I am still responsible simply because God can hold me accountable for my choices even though at the same time He can cause my choices. "But who are you, o man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to it’s molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Romans 9:20 But fear not for God says in James 1:13 “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself tempts no one.” So when God controls and influences your choices rest assured those resulting choices are not God coercing your choices by giving you an evil nature.
Let me say this. I would rather be conformed to God’s will than have what I have now. I would rather not have the ability to choose poorly like I do all the time. Wouldn’t that be true freedom? The freedom to do what is right. There would be no ability to do wrong. Would we then be angry that God had removed our ability to do wrong, thus, to some, limit our human free will?
When answering someone with a question about human free will, determinism and foreknowledge, I think I would above all else tell them about Jesus, with love and respect, of course. He is infinitely more interesting. If, after you tell them about Jesus, they still want to talk about human free will, determinism, and foreknowledge, you can probably deduce they are not yet saved, because who would choose, according to their nature, to talk about human free will, determinism and foreknowledge when you could talk about Jesus instead.
I will pray for those hung up on human free will, determinism and foreknowledge.
‘I love to tell the story for those who know it best seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.’