Doctrine of Free Will Part III

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June 13, 2014 by directorfsm

God’s Answer

Last week we covered point number three of The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689’s (TBCF1689) section on Free Will. There we looked at three main points: There was and is a consequence to sin; un-regenerated man (man without Christ) is dead in sin and opposed to doing good and because of this man has no ability to will or desire to do anything leading to salvation

Today we are going to look at points four and five of the TBCF 1689 that I have entitled God’s Plan. First, salvation is God’s work alone next even then (after regeneration) man will battle to choose between good and evil and finally once in glory man will always desire to do that which is right alone.

Let’s read the 1689’s point number four:

4. When God converts a sinner, and brings him out of sin into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage to sin and, by His grace alone, He enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good. Nevertheless certain corruptions remain in the sinner, so that his will is never completely and perfectly held in captivity to that which is good, but it also entertains evil.

Point Number One: Salvation is God’s work alone

Note is says when God converts a sinner, not when man chooses to accept, not when man agrees to this or that. No it is God’s work alone.

Col 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

Who is He that delivers, verse 12 says The Father. It is He who delivers us from the domain (rule) of sin to His Son.

Ephesians 2: 4-10 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)

6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Who set’s man free? The Son, Christ Jesus alone. True freedom is not being out of jail or kicking some addition habit. True freedom is no longer being under the constant rule of sin. And only through and by the Grace of God can anyone experience true freedom.

Point Number Two: Even then, after Salvation, man will battle to choose between good and evil

This is where I will spend the majority of my time today. Far too many pulpits preach this prosperity theology today. Saying all ya gotta do is believed and everything will be right with the world. Unfortunately that is far far from the truth declared in the bible.

I have chosen to use chapter 7 of the Book of Romans to illustrate the point. Here is the Apostle Paul describing his own action. He says he does not understand why he still falls prey to temptation and does that which he knows is bad even though he wants to do good?

Rom. 7:15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

A little context here, this is the Apostle Paul speaking of being a sinner. Not Joe Smith that no one ever heard of. He is the man that walked with Jesus, wrote two thirds of the New Testament and handpicked by Jesus to start evangelizing the gentile world. It is he who is saying I do the things (sinful things) that I hate.

Rom 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

Amplified Bible: For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.]

I want to focus here on this middle sentence. Paul says I can “will” what is right, that is the desire of his heart is to do right.

Remember earlier we decided that no matter how “good” by the world’s standard an un-regenerated person’s desires are, they are but sin to God. So Paul here is clearly speaking of himself to believers.

But, Paul says he cannot perform the righteous thing he desires.

Rom 7:19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

Again this verse is one that says a lot in a few words. It might be easy to focus on the last half where Paul says the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing in fact many non-Christians will quote this as to say see its all fake your God isn’t so powerful. They miss the point and the difference between them and you is in the first half. Paul says the good I want.

Friend’s this is key Paul’s, and hopefully your desire is to do good. It is the “THING” that separates believers from the world, that even WHEN we fall and sin we desire in our hearts to repent and do good.

Rom 7:21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

C.H. Spurgeon wrote on this: Speaking for myself, I can say that, often, when I am most earnest in prayer, stray thoughts will come into my mind to draw me off from the holy work of supplication; and when I am most intently aiming at humility, then the shadow of pride falls upon me. Do not gracious men generally find it so? If their experience is like that of the apostle Paul, or like that of many another child of God whose biography one delights to read, it is so, and it will be so.

Rom 7:23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members

One of the best sermons ever on this subject is The Dual Nature and the Dual Within NO. 1459B, by C.H. Spurgeon. Here is a extract of that sermon:

1. The first in order of time is the old Adam nature. It is born of and with the flesh. Some fancy that it is to be improved, gradually tamed down and sanctified; but it is enmity against God, and is not reconciled to God; neither, indeed, can be.
(1) This old nature lives in our members; its nest is the body, and it works through the body. There are certain appetites of ours which are perfectly allowable, nay, even necessary; but they can be very easily pushed to sinful extremes.
(2) The sin which lurks in the flesh will grow weaker in proportion as the holy principle grows stronger; and it is at no time to be tolerated or excused, but we are to fight against it, and conquer it.
2. When we are born again there is dropped into our soul the living and incorruptible seed of the Word of God. It is akin to the Divine nature, and cannot sin, because it is born of God. It is at deadly enmity with the old nature, which it will in the end destroy; but it has its work to do, which will not be accomplished all at once.
II. THE EXISTENCE OF THESE TWO PRINCIPLES NECESSITATES A CONFLICT. The lion will not lie down with the lamb. Fire will not be on good terms with water. Death will not parley with life, nor Christ with Belial. The dual life provokes a daily duel.
1. The conflict is not felt by all young Christians at the first. Christian life may be divided into three stages.
(1) That of comfort, in which the young Christian rejoices in the Lord.
(2) That of conflict. The more of this the better. Instead of being children at home we have grown into men, and therefore we must go to war. Under the old law, when a man was married, or built a house, he was excused from fighting for a season, but when that was over, he must take his place in the ranks; and so is it with the child of God.
(3) That of contemplation; in which the believer sits down to reflect upon the goodness of the Lord towards him, and upon all the good things in store for him. This is the land Beulah, which Bunyan describes as lying on the edge of the river, and so near to the Celestial City that you can hear the music and smell the perfumes from the gardens of the blessed. That is a stage which we must not expect to reach just now.
2. The reason of the fight is this; the new nature comes into our heart, to rule over it, but the carnal mind is not willing to surrender. A new throne is set up, and the old monarch, outlawed, and made to lurk in holes and corners, says to himself, “I will not have this. I will get the throne back again.” (Read the “Holy War.”) And let me warn you that the flesh may be doing us most mischief when it seems to be doing none. During war the sappers and miners will work underneath a city, and those inside say, “The enemy are very quiet; what can they be at?” They know their business well enough, and are laying their mines for unexpected strokes. Hence an old divine used to say that he was never so much afraid of any devil as he was of no devil. To be let alone tends to breed a dry rot in the soul.

5. It is not until man enters the state of glory that he is made perfectly and immutably free to will that which is good and that alone.

Eph. 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,

The following is taken from A.W. Pink’s The Doctrine of Revelation, Chapter 19; Revelation in Glory; The State of Saints in Glory:

But those who, by God’s grace, enjoy a real communion with Him who is “Spirit” (John 4:24), ought not to flounder on this matter, for they have proved by experience how much more important is the soul than the body, and how infinitely more real and satisfying are spiritual objects than the perishing things of time and sense. So far from regarding his soul as a mysterious, nebulous and indefinable thing, the believer looks upon it as a living, intelligent, sentient being—his real self We should view a disembodied soul as one which has cast off its earthly clothing and is now appareled in a garment of light, or, to use the language of Scripture, “clothed in white raiment” (Rev. 3:5; 4:4).

At death the soul of the saint is freed from all the limitations which sin had imposed upon it, and its faculties are then not only purified, but elevated and enlarged. It will be like a chrysalis emerging from its cramped condition, or a bird liberated from a cage, now free to spread its wings and soar aloft. It is true the body is a component part of man’s complex being, yet we must endeavour to view it in a due proportion. Which is the more important: the tenant or his tenement, the individual or the tent in which he resides? It must be borne in mind that the soul derives not its powers from the body. That is clear from the Divine account of man’s creation: after his body had been formed, and as a separate act, God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). The mind is the noblest part of our being, and therefore it must find exercise and satisfaction in the disembodied state, otherwise we should not be “blessed” or happy (Rev. 14:13) immediately after death. “It is the mind maketh the man; it is our preferment above the beasts that God hath given us a mind to know Him” (Thomas Manton).

“The soul can and does operate without the use of bodily organs in its present state, and in many things stands in no need of them. The rational soul thinks reasons and discourses without the use of them. Its powers and faculties need them not: the will is directed and guided by the understanding; and the understanding has to do with objects in the consideration of which bodily organs are in no way assisting. As in the consideration of God, His nature and perfections; of angels and their nature; and of a man’s own spirit, and the things of it—it penetrates into without the help of any of the instruments of the body. It can consider of things past long ago, and of things very remote and at a great distance; and such objects as are presented to it by the senses, it reasons about them without making use of any of the organs of the body. And if it can operate without the body, it can exist without it; for since it is independent of it in its operations, it is independent of it in its being. Since it can exist without it, it can act in that separate state of existence without it. Wherefore since it dies not with the body, it is not affected as to its operations, by the absence of it, nor at death becomes insensible as that is” (John Gill).

Point Number 3: Finally once in glory man will always desire to do that which is right alone. In the final point today I hope the concept has been clearly laid out. Man will always battle with sin until the day he reaches glory, As long as our essence (soul) is a part of sinful flesh it will battle with that flesh. Once freed it can and will act upon its desires alone. Good or bad in heaven or in hell.

I hope and pray these three sermons have both blessed you and piqued your hunger to seek the truth of The Doctrine of Free Will.

I encourage your comments, complements and concern. Until next time may God greatly bless you.

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