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Do humans truly have free will?

Yes, all humans truly have free will. We are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) and part of this means that we have free will, which is what we call the ability to make choices for ourselves. God did not create human beings to be like programmed machines, blindly following commands with no autonomy. He created us with the ability to choose and make decisions because having free will leads to the most satisfactory and fulfilling life.

Are there any limitations on our free will?

While we DO have free will, we ARE limited by what we are physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually capable of doing. For example, your little brother might have the will to eat all the spaghetti in the world, but his stomach only has so much room. Or let's say you're walking home, and you have to cross a field of prickly weeds. You may have the will to spread your wings and fly over the weeds to land safely on the other side, but you don't have wings and human beings are not naturally flying creatures.

It's the same way with our spiritual nature. Just like we can't make ourselves spout wings and fly, we are spiritually incapable of making ourselves right with God on our own. Our sinful human nature limits us from knowing God and understanding the severity of our sin (Romans 3:23; Ephesians 4:18)—without His help, that is! That's why we need God's grace for our salvation and to be made righteous in His eyes (Romans 5:19, 21).

That aside, we have free will to make any choices we're capable of making. Let’s go back to our illustration and say you get really tired of walking. Within your abilities, you have total free will to choose what to do next. You can choose to sit down and take a break. You can choose to call someone to pick you up. You can choose to keep walking even though you really don't want to. Whatever you choose, you are still exercising your free will.

Our Accountability & Responsibility

Having free will doesn't excuse us from personal accountability and responsibility. Just because we CAN do anything, that doesn't necessarily mean we SHOULD. Not everything we CAN do is going to be beneficial, healthy, or right for us. (See 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 for the apostle Paul's advice to the Corinthian church about this.)

Again, we all have the free will to choose God or reject Him. We are free to choose to accept Christ's sacrifice for our sins or reject His gift to us. God gave us free will so that we can make decisions for ourselves. How we use our free will is completely up to us. Yet, as followers of Christ (and in our own best interests), it is our responsibility to choose wisely.

Free Will & Salvation

In the New Testament, people are commanded over and over to “repent” and “believe” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Acts 3:19; 1 John 3:23). Because of our free will, we must willingly come to Jesus and choose to accept Him. Every instance where we are commanded to repent, it is a call to choose. A call to make a decision. A call to exercise our free will.

Salvation is open to anyone, as Jesus died to save the entire world (John 3:16). The only people who won’t be saved are those who have exercised their free will to reject Jesus unto the point of death. Jesus addressed those who thought they could receive eternal life on their own: "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life" (John 5:39-40).

God will not prevent anyone from accepting Jesus. In fact, He's extremely patient with us as we try to figure out this faith thing (2 Peter 3:9). If a person chooses not to believe in God or His promises, the only person to blame is themselves (Romans 1:20-21).

By the grace and provision of God, we can choose to know Jesus Christ. He chose us before we even considered choosing Him (John 15:16). Once we place faith in Jesus by making the decision to believe that He died for our sins, was buried, and rose again, then we will become God’s children and new creations in Christ (Ephesians 4:24; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

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TL;DR

All humans truly have free will. God created us in His image, which includes the ability to choose, reason, and make decisions (Genesis 1:27). Our free will is only limited by what we are physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually capable of doing. Our sinful nature prevents us from saving ourselves from the punishment of sin and can blind us from accepting the gift of Jesus' sacrifice (Ephesians 4:18). God's grace provides salvation and carries it out, but we must still freely exercise our free will by accepting Christ. All people will be held accountable for what they have chosen with their free will—including choosing or rejecting Christ as their Savior.

By: Vivian Bricker

Vivian loves learning, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She is dedicated to helping people learn more about Jesus and is ready to help in any way she can. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, cooking, drawing, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, you can find her soaking up the sunshine or going on an adventure.

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