Is the First Commandment an Example of Free Will?

(Kelly) #1

I have always thought of the First Commandment to Love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength as a reflection of the fact that we follow those we admire the most. For example, I have an individual in my life that recently told me of a person they admire. As I observe this person’s life and lifestyle, I see that they model the person they mentioned. In future contemplation, I was thinking that God made this a law; He did not hard-wire it within us. Because we can chose to follow or not follow a law, doesn’t the fact that this is a law also reflect the fact that we have a choice to love God or to not love God? Would this be considered a valid argument?

(Caleb Eldridge) #2

You bring up a really good point that I had never thought of before. I think you are on to something here. If we truly have free will, God would need to give us Commandments on how we should respond in light of the freedom we have. Ultimately, true freedom rests in His Truth.

(SeanO) #3

@kelelek If I am understanding you correctly, I have hard a similar argument for free will based upon the fact that God establishes covenants with mankind. A covenant is traditionally an agreement with blessings and curses depending on whether or not people keep the covenant. The argument for free will goes like this, “Why would God make covenants with us if our choices were already predetermined?” Basically, the covenant is pointless if people do not truly choose of their own free will whether to keep it or not.

Your argument from the first commandment may be similar - if love is a choice then how can you keep the first commandment if your will is not free?

I find this line of argument meaningful personally, but I think we should be fair to those who hold to predestination. The counter argument, I believe, would be that our will is free except as it regards salvation. We are not robots, but we cannot choose God without His enabling us to do so. Once God enables us to choose Him, we do freely choose to love Him because we are a new creation - God has made us new. In that sense, we could keep the first commandment even if we are unable to choose God without His enabling.

I do not find this to be a strong counterargument, but I think it is only fair to consider it. For example, why does God not choose everyone if this is the case? To me personally, if salvation was dependent on God’s enabling, I think He would choose everyone. I believe the only reason people perish is because they freely choose to reject God.

The idea that God is glorified even by those who are punished because God Himself did not choose to enable them to choose salvation is not one I find Biblical or attractive in the least. However, I love my brothers and sisters who hold to this view and I think they could make a case that we could keep the first commandment once we were enabled to choose God, though it is not a strong one in my own opinion because of its implications.

You may find these posts helpful. Christ grant you wisdom :slight_smile:

(Kelly) #4

Sean, Thank you for the response and the references. Your comment “We are not robots, but we cannot choose God without His enabling us to do so.” seem contradictory. If God is the one “enabling” us, then it is still God making the choice and not us. I agree with you that God would choose to enable everyone.

Would you agree that there is a difference between predestination and selection. There are instances where God has clearly chosen someone and called them (Moses, Jacob, etc) to a specific task. But being called out for a specific purpose does not seem to be the same as being chosen to love and walk with God.

Thanks again for your response.

(SeanO) #5

@kelelek Yes, I do believe there is a difference between selection for a special task - an anointing or move of God in the life of Moses or Elijah or John the Baptist - and predestination. I personally do not believe in predestination of individuals to salvation. I believe God gives all people the opportunity to repent and know Him.

I was simply trying to be fair to the other perspective, which I think is good practice.

(C Rhodes) #6

Morning! Just chiming in. When I remember scripture that reads He rains on the just as well as the unjust, or gifts and callings are without repentance it opens wide the sense of GOD’s inclusiveness. Matthew 5:45 and Romans 11:29 KJV. Many things are given to us not because we choose them, but because GOD is just good. Personally, that remains good news for me. Some things are for granted like the many sources of food in the Garden of Eden.

I see the need to exercise my free will when submitting to the ordinance that declared, stay away from this tree, or when trusting GOD. When GOD says it is death, it always death. My submission of will is the small contribution I bring to the relationship with the CREATOR. A relationship that has always given me the best of this life. The prohibition is always for my good even if it seems illogical to me.

Life has a way of bringing me back to home base. Each situation requires that I choose GOD’s way. Mainly because inhabiting this body makes it improbable that I can respond routinely or correctly without help. No matter how long I live.

Each time the tears are fresh, the pain still hurts, and once again I must encourage my soul to remember the goodness of GOD and His faithfulness. When I do, joy becomes a deliberate response to my humanity. But I must do this because of human limitations. My choosing is the perfection I bring to the relationship. The weight of that choice is massive.

Therefore the commandments of the Lord are fuel within me. Not necessarily as a way of honoring the Lord, but rather support for my desire to live honorably before GOD.

I think that is part of the Grandeur of GOD. “He laid the foundation, then opened up the well.” (The Blind Boys of Alabama)

He established the point of redemption, much as He did when planting the Garden of Eden. He has given His Word that clearly identifies how best to maintain the relationship born of redemption. Much as He did via commandment in Eden and throughout our collective history.

What is newly received is the indwelling of the HOLY SPIRIT to ensure that we travel the best course for maintaining that place of Grace. That is spectacular to consider! With the sacrifice of JESUS, GOD added one more safeguard to the keeping of His Commandments. The relationship is not just outside of me it permeates me within. The ultimate writing of the law upon the door post. The ultimate reminder.

All I need to do is choose. He asks me to choose. Talk about being Saran wrapped in Love!

(Kelly) #7

@ceru7 Morning. Thanks for chiming in. I have somewhat of an on-going dialogue regarding the whole free will vs predestination view. There was a time when I had no interest or concern. This changed after I listened to this “predestination” teacher teach from the book of Romans, and realized I did not truly understand exactly what the predestination perspective taught. After listening to this, I went on a quest and have listened to several teachings and perspectives. I continue to ask questions and to seek understanding. To Sean’s point, living in harmony with my brothers and sisters trumps being right or wrong. The world is watching how we live and love not debate theology!

So I appreciate Your post. It is a great reminder of how good our God is and how He is faithful.


(Dennis Allen) #8

May I pose a thought? Preface: Your posts are great Bible study stuff, to ponder both sides here. Not too useful in most first conversations with people asking about Christ’s work for us. But terrific spiritual research.

What if our “free will” was there, and also God’s intervention? Biblically, we could read passages describing how each one of us, individually, elected cosmic treason against God - meaning we freely chose spiritual suicide from the womb, and time and again. We each freely choose to be god, and reject Him.

Predestination often gets a rap sheet that goes something like this: “There are non-believers out there wanting God to save them, but He’s declaring ‘not chosen, get lost’, so these poor people are shut out. That’s monstrous.” Dr. John Lennox discussed that kind of thinking in his 2018 book “Determined to Believe”. image

Perhaps though, both facets exist. We self-destructed - on the spiritual morgue table, so to speak, with our free will choices having clamped out our minds toward God. Does the Bible infer we all are at war with God until His intervention? If so, in a sense, we predestined our own inability to turn to God, because we were not sick hoping for help, we were dead.
Then God intervenes. He wakes you up on the table and asks “Do you want to live?”

Hoping you “will choose freely” to feed back…Grace and peace and joy in Christ!