Here is a perfect example of free will...the fact that you are reading this is it! It is all about choice folks. You had to choose to click on the title to my article in order to read it. Out of a desire or at the very least a general interest to see what this piece was about, you had to decide to click on the title to filter through to the piece itself and then read it. You have to make decisions all day long, every day of your life. Though I was inspired by Jesus to do this piece, the only way it would get done is if I decided to get my carcass out of bed and plop down in front of my computer and write it, it sure isn't going to write itself!
If we do in fact have a free will, it therefore dictates that we have the opportunity to choose what we want to do with our lives. You had to choose to believe and receive Jesus as your personal Saviour right? He does not just kick in the door to your heart and sit down and kick up his feet and say, "Here I am whether you like it or not!" No, he is waiting for you to open that door freely of your own will, your own choosing and LET him come in.
Can we find any examples of free will in the Bible? Oh yes we can. Let's start at the beginning shall we...and I mean AT the beginning. Closely look at Genesis 2:16-17 and 3:1-5. As I map this out, pay attention to certain words:
"And the Lord God commanded the man (Adam), saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest FREELY eat: BUT of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou SHALT NOT eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou SHALT SURELY DIE."
Okay, several things to notice here. God had put Adam in the garden of Eden in the land of Eden and told him to eat FREELY, thus declaring that ALL trees were available for him to choose from to eat of, EXCEPT for one particular tree. This tree as named by God is called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now, even before Eve came along, Adam was in perfect fellowship with God all on his own. Adam named ALL the animals that God made and had brought before him, but none of them were suitable to be a helper for him. So Adam had a variety of trees which produced fruit to choose from to eat of as he so sought to. If he wanted an apple or a pear, or a peach or lemon or fig or whatever, he could FREELY choose to pick whatever he wanted.
So he chose what he wanted to eat, but he also knew there was that one tree he WAS NOT to eat from. According to God, he told Adam that upon the day he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that he would surely die. The word he uses is "shalt." This is a definite word with a definite meaning. It is expressing a command rather than a wish. God told Adam NOT to eat the fruit of that tree and so he did not! But, if he did, he would surely die.
Now, here is where things get interesting. So far, everything is going great: Adam is in full fellowship with God and obeying him and worshipping him. But as yet a helper (2:18, 20) had not been made for Adam. So God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and removed one rib from him and then made a woman from it. God brought her to Adam later and he called her Woman, "because she was taken out of Man." (2:23)
Both Adam and Eve were naked and there was no shame in the garden before the Lord (2:25) which is where we first learn Adam and Eve are now husband and wife. Genesis 3:1 though is where the trouble begins. I'll just quote 3:15 first for you then get into exploring certain key words and statements:
"Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: BUT of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, LEST ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall NOT surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
Here is where we find God's word being challenged by another living being. That being would be Satan. He is after all referred to as the great dragon, that old serpent, the Devil and Satan as found in Revelation 12:9 and 20:2. So Satan was with Eve and began speaking with her, challenging her conversation with God about what he said about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In today's vernacular he said, "Did God REALLY say you should NOT eat of every tree of the garden?" He posed God's command back to Eve in the form of a question, testing and tempting her at the same time. In her reply, she says that she and Adam could eat of any tree about the garden but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, "Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, LEST ye die."
She changed God's word from something that WOULD happen to something that MIGHT happen. And after Satan coaxed her a little more by saying, "For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil," he got her thinking when she, "saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was PLEASANT TO THE EYES, AND A TREE TO BE DESIRED TO MAKE ONE WISE, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat." (3:6)
Here is where the battle between Satan and Eve began. She had every opportunity to ignore him and continue to abide in God's word to leave the tree alone. But he appealed to her senses, the flesh. He challenged her ability to choose because she had a free will and he knew after enticing her all he had to do was sit back and watch the struggle. You see, if we were all just programmed robots to obey God constantly, there would be no room for a free will. But not everybody obeys God and not everyone serves him or even believes in him, therefore he gave us a free will to choose to obey and serve him and furthermore to freely believe on his Son Jesus as our Saviour.
And if we did not have a free will, there would be no need for Satan to tempt us for he would have no power to do so. But we DO have free will and therefore Satan has power to accuse, test and tempt us at every turn. And even though Jesus defeated him at the cross, Peter says "your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8)
So, Eve chose to take fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and ate it and then she also gave fruit from the tree to Adam and he also ate it. Satan's job was done, so he gets to sit back and laugh at Adam and Eve who have just completely destroyed the first perfect union, fellowship with God their Maker. As a consequence, their eyes are opened (3:7) and knowing that they were naked, sewed leaves together to cover their nakedness. Then they heard God walking about in the garden and because of their shame they hid themselves amongst the trees of the garden. And because they were not together in the openness of the garden as usual, God called out to them, "Where art thou?" (3:8-9)
In their attempt to hide from God, they were attempting to hide from their mistake of disobeying him by choosing to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So Adam replied, "I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself." The only way Adam would "know" he was naked and felt shame about it was if he had eaten from the fruit of the tree. God then asks, "Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?" Here is where Adam admits, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat."
God turns to Eve and asks what she has done. Her response is, "The serpent BEGUILED me, and I did eat." (3:13)
The Hebrew word for beguile is Hiphil and means to deceive as found in Genesis 3:13.
The Greek word for beguile is Exapatao, which means to deceive and is used by Paul in his recount of the events surrounding Eve where he says, "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." (2 Corinthians 11:3)
Are you finally beginning to see where this is going yet? From the very beginning of Adam and Eve's existence we see that mankind was given free will, choice. Every one of us is born with it and we use it every day, we have to or nothing would get done. God did not make robots, he made flesh and blood human beings to fellowship with. And because we have the ability to choose, people choose to do evil. The heart is deceitfully wicked and God knows our inner thoughts and desires and so because we have a free will, there is evil in the world.
A question that keeps people from believing in God is, "If there is a God, how could he let so much evil exist in the world?" Well, God does exist and because we have the ability to choose, there is evil in the world because we choose to do it. Man decides to do things on his own, to be apart from the God of the Bible Jesus Christ and therefore we have the poor, vile, devious, lying, thieving, adulterous, murderers, corruptors and all manner of wickedness. There is not one good human being on this earth! The Bible tells us this for one thing:
"There is NONE that doeth good, NO, NOT one." (Romans 3:12)
"There is NONE righteous, NO, NOT one." (Romans 3:10)
Now consider the words of Jesus himself when a man called him good Master, "Why callest thou me good? There is none good BUT one, that is, God." (Mark 10:18)
So if you are a born again believer who believes that the Bible is God's Word, then hopefully you will feel confident that God himself would know if there were ANY good people on earth. The Bible makes it crystal clear that there isn't a single person in the world that is good, so don't let anyone fool you by telling you they are a good person. They may say that they do good things, but our righteousness is as filthy rags to God
The only goodness that we do (good works) comes as a result of our salvation by faith in Christ and it is Jesus putting the goodness in us. Consider Jesus' own words again in John 15:5, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for WITHOUT me ye can do nothing."
So you see, it is Jesus doing the work in us to do to glorify him, but without him our work is nothing. Look at verse 4, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch CANNOT BEAR FRUIT OF ITSELF, EXCEPT it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me."
So until we are saved by faith in Christ, the good that we think we are doing by choice, is nothing and means nothing. But after saving faith in Christ, our good works glorify the Father.
So what's the end result of this piece? Scripture proves we have free will. Eve proved that. Even after being tempted by Satan, she could have chosen to ignore him and not taken any fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but she chose to go ahead and do it. Adam could have refused the fruit she brought him, but he chose to accept it. Just like when you hear the gospel message, you have to choose to believe it and receive Jesus as your personal Saviour. Believing in something involves decision making on your part. You're not born believing in Jesus as your Saviour. Listen to Paul in Romans 10:14:
"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have NOT heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?"