The “will” of the natural man.
Fallen, sinful man who is dead in his sins DOES have a will. But his “will” is fallen. He will not come to Christ. He will not believe and he will not repent of his sins. If God leaves him to himself and his “will”, he will always resist God.
“And ye WILL NOT come to me, that ye might have life.” John 5:40
“For it is GOD WHICH WORKETH IN YOU BOTH TO WILL AND TO DO of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13.
I am not defending John Calvin or any other “Calvinist” I do not agree with a lot of things some of them have said. But I DO care about what the Book says. That is the authoritative and inerrant words of God.
I do not believe that God controls all the things evil men do. And we are all evil. "If ye then BEING EVIL, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Matthew 7:11
I DO believe we have a "will". But it is very limited in the things that it can "freely" choose. And it is a fallen, dead in sins, self-centered type of "will". It will always follow its own sinful nature.
We can chose the little things in life like Do I want to wear the red shirt or the blue one, or buy a Chevy or a Ford, or Do I want to go to college or not, or work for this company or that one, or vote for this politician or the other one?
But we cannot choose the color of our eyes, whether or not we will be born, or choose our parents, or whether we are physically sound and healthy or born with severe physical problems, or whether we will be smart or not very bright.
We cannot choose to sprout wings and fly nor choose to defy the laws of gravity and jump off a high building without a parachute and expect to survive intact at the bottom.
I believe that God generally and only to a limited extent allows man to follow his own inclinations and choices - his own “will”. Just read the first 3 chapters of Romans and see what the natural, fallen and sinful man does. God does not cause sinful man to do those sinful things he lists there. Man does those things all on his own.
He chooses to do them. He likes to do them. He loves darkness rather than light. (John 3:19). That is his nature.
Or look at Satan in the book of Job. God in effect turned him loose to do his own will, but only up to a certain point. God did not cause Satan to do the things he did. But God would only let him go so far.
I believe it is the same with the natural man. God allows us to go our own way and do our own thing, but when he deems it necessary, he will stop man in his tracks and lead him in a certain way to accomplish His own purposes.
"The kings heart is in the hand of the LORD as the rivers of water, he turneth it whatsoever he will." Proverbs 21:1
God does not always turn the heart of the kings or anyone else. Generally he allows man to go his own way and make his own choices.
But when the time comes for God to work out his purposes, then he does work in men's hearts either for good or evil.
"For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled." Revelation 17:17
But what the “free willers” just can’t stand and fight against is the fact that when it comes to things like the new birth, redemption, and salvation, if God were to leave fallen man to his own "will" and choices, then everybody would be condemned to hell and rightfully so.
"There is none righteous, no, not one. There is NONE that seeketh after God. There is NONE that doeth good, no not one. They have ALL gone out of the way." Romans 3:10-12
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to HIS OWN WAY” Isaiah 53:6
So God has his elect people whom he chose in Christ before the foundation of the world and predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself accord to the good pleasure of HIS will (not ours). Ephesians 1:3-6
And God is the Potter and we are but the clay, and out of the same lump He has mercy on whom he wills to have mercy and whom he wills he hardens, and he makes some vessels of wrath fitted to destruction and others the vessels of mercy which he hath afore prepared unto glory. Romans 9.
This is the doctrine that so many professing Christians hate and fight against. I did not write the Bible. God did. And this is what God says about his elect and those whom he did not choose.
"Man's will" and "God's will"
Proverbs 19:21 - “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.”
Three examples of men doing their own wills, and God doing His will.
Number 1. The story of Joseph and his brethren in Genesis 37 to 50.
In these chapters we see the story of how the brethren of Joseph envied him and hated him. Several wanted to kill him outright but they finally settled on a plan to fake his death by an evil beast (they dipped his coat of many colors in a goat’s blood and sent it back to his father Jacob) and sold him to the Ishmeelites.
They in turn sold him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh. There in Egypt he ended up in prison for several years and later, when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, he was placed in a high position.
Because of the widespread famine, Joseph’s brethren come into the land of Egypt and are confronted by Joseph who eventually reveals his true identity to them.
But Joseph sums up this entire history saying: “for God did send me before you to preserve life…And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
SO NOW IT WAS NOT YOU THAT SENT ME HITHER, BUT GOD”
God did not force or make Joseph’s brothers sin or do the things they did to him, but God had an overriding plan to fulfill HIS will and He used the “free will” actions of evil men to accomplish those purposes.
Number 2. How God used the “free will” actions of Assyria to accomplish His purposes.
In Isaiah chapter 10 we read of the haughty, pagan nation of Assyria and how God used them to judge his people Israel for their sins.
Assyria boasts of its own actions saying such things as: “By the strength of MY hand I have done it, and by MY wisdom; for I am prudent” (See Isaiah 10:7-14)
Yet from God’s point of view we see these events in an entirely different way. God says: “O Assyrian, the rod of MINE anger, and the staff in their hand is MINE indignation.
I WILL SEND HIM against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath WILL I GIVE HIM A CHARGE, to take the spoil, and to take a prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
HOWBEIT HE MEANETH NOT SO, NEITHER DOTH HIS HEART THINK SO; BUT IT IS IN HIS HEART TO DESTROY AND CUT OFF NATIONS NOT A FEW.”
Clearly the Assyrians are doing their own hearts desires and fulfilling their “will”. Yet God is behind the scenes accomplishing His purposes.
God continues; “Shall the ax boast itself against him that hearth therewith? Or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.” (Isaiah 10:15)
Number 3. Perhaps one of the best examples found in the entire Bible is what happened when they crucified our Lord.
In Acts 2:22-24 and in Acts 4:26-28 we read the following words -
22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
23 Him, BEING DELIVERED BY THE DETERMINATE COUNSEL AND FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD, YE HAVE TAKEN, AND BY WICKED HANDS HAVE CRUCIFIED AND SLAIN;
24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.
27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
28 FOR TO DO WHATSOEVER THY HAND AND THY COUNSEL DETERMINED BEFORE TO BE DONE.”
God did not make these evil men sin. By their own wills they “were gathered together against the Lord and against his Christ” and “BY WICKED HANDS” they crucified him and killed him.
They did this all on their own volition and out of the desire of their wicked hearts. Yet God used their “free will” actions to accomplish HIS ultimate purpose.
God is NOT the Author of Sin.
The typical Arminian complaint is that Calvinism teaches that God is the Author of sin. But they really have not thought through their own position.
God did not cause Adam to sin. He gave Adam a true free will, and Adam chose to go his own way and rebel against the commandment of God and he chose Eve over God.
If you or I had been in his place, we would have done the same thing. We still often choose our own way rather than God's, and we do this willingly.
The only sense in which God is "the Author of sin" is in that he knew that Adam would sin before he created him, and yet he decreed to create him in spite of this foreknowledge. Yet the Arminian has the same "problem".
If God knows everything (and he does) and he sees the end from the beginning (and he does) then he also knew that Adam would assert his own will against his Creator and choose to rebel and would bring ruin on the entire human race, and that many millions of people would then be created whom God knew beforehand would die in their sins without Christ as their Saviour.
YET he went ahead and decreed their existence by creating Adam in the first place, knowing full well that the entire human race would fall into that same sinful state of rebellion and corruption.
The Arminian has not gotten himself out of this very problem he criticizes Calvinism for.
“To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.” (2 Corinthians 2:16)
To the non-elect (the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, the tares, the goats, those who are without, the children of the devil) we are the savor of death unto death. Men SHOULD repent and believe their Creator. It is their natural moral obligation. But when the gospel is preached to the non-elect their guilt and sin are only magnified. They choose to rebel against the light.
Yes, the natural man has a will. But his "will" can only follow his nature and by nature he is a child of wrath who hates the light, loves darkness, is willingly ignorant, goes his own way, resists the Holy Ghost, and rebels against his Creator.
The “natural man” is an enemy of God. (Romans 5:10) “We will not have this man to reign over us.” (Luke 19:14)
His sin is therefore compounded and he becomes all the more guilty before God. God is not doing him an injustice by leaving him to follow his own will and nature.
The only difference between the elect and the non-elect is that God has chosen of his own will to save those he elected and predestined before the foundation of the world unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of his own will. (Ephesians 1:4-5)
God made this choice, not man.
This is what the Book clearly teaches, but the natural man absolutely hates this doctrine of the electing grace of God and his hatred is not just against this doctrine, but against the God who chose to do things this way.
God is indebted to no man. If he chooses to save some out of the fallen wreck of lost and rebellious and sinful humanity, but not others, and instead leaves them to face the consequences of their own rebellion and sin, who are we - mere lumps of clay - to question God or accuse him of wrong doing?
18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
Further Thoughts to Consider -
The word "predestination" only occurs four times in the King James Bible and all four times refer only to the elect of God.
The passages where this word is used are Romans 8:29-30 and in Ephesians 1:5 and 11.
Romans 8:29-30 - "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."
Ephesians 1:5 - "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will"
Ephesians 1:11 -"In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will"
All four instances describe God predestinating his elect people to the adoption of children, obtaining an inheritance and being conformed to the image of Christ.
The word "predestinate" is never used in reference to sin or the fall of man, or to the eternal destiny of the wicked.
Adam did have a free will and "free will" is actually the cause of sin in the world. Whenever there are two independent "wills" they will eventually come into conflict. Only when there is one will - the will of God - do things work out right.
That is why the Lord Jesus taught us to pray "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." and he himself said he came down from heaven to do the will of the Father, and he prayed "Not my will, but thine be done."
Man sins all on his own.
The "will" of man in the New Birth.
What part does the "will" of man play in the new birth? Can you answer this question? The natural “will” of man plays just as much a part in the new birth as it did in his natural first birth - None.
You will find the answer in John 1:12-13.
12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, NOR OF THE WILL OF THE FLESH, NOR OF THE WILL OF MAN, BUT OF GOD.”
And even when the “free will” Fantasy lover sees these 2 verses, he will naturally glom onto that little word “receive” in verse 12 and proclaim that this was his choice to receive. In spite of the fact that God’s Book says that “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.” John 3:27
See my article “What does it mean to "receive Christ" as your Saviour?”
And “The Gift of God - Do we choose to either accept or reject it?”
Do Calvinists believe in Free Will?
Real good 5 minute video explanation by R.C. Sproul