Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Free Will: Is It a Biblical Concept?

I stumbled across a statement one day in a book I was reading. I can't remember the book any more because it actually was a few years back. I have always made it a habit to write down various statements, quotes,  quips, or pithy sayings in order to at some point find the time to reflect on them. Many times I forget who made the statement which prevents me many times from giving credit/shame on you to the source. And yes, sometimes it is years before I come across my notes and muse on them.

I came across this statement once and because at the time I thought it was provocative I wrote it down meaning to come back to it. Well, Saturday I stumbled on it again and here goes:

"The will does not command the heart; the heart commands the will."

That sounds like such a loaded statement, doesn't it? It just doesn't sound right. If the heart is used as "the seat of emotions" then it sounds like our emotions control our will. One would think that it should be the other way around, the will or volition should control the heart or the seat of emotions.

But look at Matthew 12:33-35

"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil."

Matthew seems to imply that the heart is equal to or can be equated with the human nature. So, if this is the case, what does it imply?

  • Words and actions are fruit of the human nature; they reveal our nature
  • It implies that the will is in bondage (not free) to the heart. Men are not free to do what they should do.
  • It implies that the nature (heart/sin nature) controls the will
  • The will is only free to do what the nature/heart commands because that is all the nature knows. It operates within the confines of itself.
  • Even in bondage to the heart (nature) we are still responsible before God (Romans 7:18-23)
  • All men are born slaves or in bondage; either to sin (old nature) or to God (new nature). 
  • God liberates us from the bondage of sin making us a slave to righteousness. With this new nature we freely follow Christ.
To be continued...

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