Free Will – A Contradiction

Assume someone asked me the following question: “Do you have a free will?” This would be my reply: “Yes and no.” Evidently I have a will, but it has some limitations. If I say yes to something I inevitably say no to something else. When I said yes to my wife I said no the rest of the women in the world. By my choosing I have voluntarily and irrevocably fixed my will and I can not exercise it outside my choosing.

The Scriptures repeatedly maintain that God cannot lie. He has made a fixed choice, if we are to use words originating from our limited human perception about things that are too great for us. It seems like God has put limitations on His own free will. We are not greater than our maker, so this is valid for us as well. When we have said yes to something we also have said no to a host of other things. The thing is that when we have made a choice we are slaves of that choice.

Paul says we are either slaves of sin or slaves of righteousness. There is nothing in between. When we were children of wrath following the prince of the power of the air we were slaves of sin. Whether we did good or evil it was nevertheless sin. We were slaves of our choice to be His. This choice severely limited our will. We could for instance not use our will to do righteous deeds. Then we exercised our will again when we chose God. Again we became slaves of our choosing. We inevitably became slaves of righteousness when we said no to sin.

When we were under the delusion that we were independent selves we attempted to free ourselves and do good in our own powers. You can if you will free a Tiger from his bars, but you cannot free him from his stripes, because then he ceases to be a Tiger. You cannot fill yourself with your own life, because then you cease to be a human.

In like manner as God cannot lie we cannot sin due to our choosing. Again our will is restricted by the path we have chosen. Whether what we do seems like righteous acts or “unrighteous” acts (evidently, no such thing as unrighteous acts exist when we are God’s) they are nevertheless righteous. We cannot help ourselves – we are slaves of our choosing.

Chesterton wrote: “Every act of will is an act of self-limitation. To desire acting is to desire limitation. In that sense every act of will is an act of self-sacrifice. When you chose anything, you reject everything else…..Every act is an irrevocable selection and exclusion.”

In the natural we can of course choose again, that is, leave our wife and marry another. However, we are slaves of our new choice. We cannot escape the limitations of our choices whenever we exercise our will.

In the spiritual realm when we have chosen God we cannot, however, go back. That is an eternal choice. We are His forever. We have chosen His will to be our will. We are not greater than Jesus who said; I can do nothing of myself. We are forever slaves of righteousness which connotes a life in perfect freedom. Don’t you just love those contradictions which heaven provides? Chesterton said about the mystic who are forever caught in contradictions: His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that.

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10 Responses to Free Will – A Contradiction

  1. Colin Lagerwall says:

    Ole, you got so deep here I think I lost sight of you !

  2. Ole Henrik says:

    I am not sure, but I think I am here.

    • Colin Lagerwall says:

      Therefore you are !

      Isn’t it great to lose sight of “yourself”, and then regain sight of you, but it is not you, yet it is ?!

      Gal 2:20

  3. Hi Ole, I thoroughly enjoyed this. The one thing that I pondered for a while is the point about there being no unrighteous acts when we belong to God. On the surface, that seems to negate sin as a possibility, but I’ve been very right-on for a long time with the point that the good an unbeliever does is not really good; so it isn’t fair to switch paradigms when looking at the evil deeds a Christian is capable of doing. After thinking it through again, what came to mind is that, of course, we only are and only keep what we are at center. I’m not one to worry about sin since I live in God’s keeping and tell God regularly, “I’ll din that sin if You don’t keep me, but thank you that You are keeping me,” so that makes life a totally different experience since 1994. Thank you for a very challenging article, very sharp; and just like the Bible, your article doesn’t make a place for fearful logic of the flesh to take root. One always needs these bracing contradictions, and I relish them! Brian

    • Ole Henrik says:

      Thank you, Brian, for confirming what I believed the Spirit gave me to pen down. This sentence wasn’t planned when I started out writing: “In like manner as God cannot lie we cannot sin due to our choosing.” It somehow materialized out of nothing and something within me said “Yes” when it landed in my mind. This article is also a result of a week of seemingly defeats. However, God has used those episodes to bring me new insight and to settle me further in Himself. Thanks for your support and love! I genuinely appreciate your wisdom and your words of confirmation, because you have walked this path before I did.

  4. Wayne Kraus says:

    Hi Ole,

    I’ve never posted here, but I’ve been lurking for a while. Chesterton’s quote about “stereoscopic vision” jumped off the page at me. The Lord has been showing me that we cannot apprehend the knowledge of Christ, we can only receive. Gospel truth is paradoxical, and reason isn’t capable of holding in tension paradoxes/contradictions like election-freewill. “Stereoscopic vision” is just the term I was looking for!

    “We are slaves of our choosing” sums up the mystery very concisely. If Norman Grubb were here, he would probably say, “That’s very good, Ole, I think I shall have to invent that myself!”

    • Ole Henrik says:

      Hi Wayne! I am delighted to meet you here. Thanks for your wonderful words of loving confirmation and accept. As I mentioned to Brian I have been through a week where the Lord really has let me battle with those paradoxes and I believe this brief article is the result of His conditioning. I wish I had met Norman. I have had the pleasure of reading most of his books, where his later works stand out as brilliant to me. I have paid your Jacob Boehme page a brief visit. Hopefully, I can explore more of it at later occasions. Thanks for your encouragement!

  5. susan avello says:

    Ole, this is wonderful…..so beautifully written and explained in such simple terms…to where the simple, (those like myself), can understand. Thanks

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