Transforming Power; the Work of God on Behalf of Man
Weekly Devotional 10-12-20 Mind Numbed Robots
Recently I was in conversation with a Christian brother concern-ing free will and he said without free will, man would be a mind numbed robot. I observed, yes man has free will but in his natural state (the state in which all persons are before spiritual regeneration are) they can and will only choose that which they know, things void of a relationship with God, their creator. My aim of this little work is to expand that on that observation.
In the book of beginnings, the book of Genesis, we find Adam and Eve in full recognition of God. He communicated with them and walked and talked with Him in the garden. They were of the same mind and will with God. But alas, the Serpent (Satan) influenced them to seek the only thing that was forbidden, to be like God. This could be accomplished, Satan said, by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Succumbing to Satan’s suggestion they took of the fruit and were immediately separated from God. That is, they became spiritually dead toward Him, exactly as God had warned (See Genesis 2:15-17). Upon taking of the fruit they became creatures of self-desire and self-will. No longer did they seek fellowship with God or commun-ication with Him. At least as they had before. This new mindset became the mindset of their offspring. From Genesis 6:1-12 we learn that all of mankind had become so corrupt through self-will and desire that God destroyed them all except the family of Noah whom He used to begin the repopulation of man on the earth. Verse 8 of Genesis 6 tells us the even the family of Noah was saved only because of God’s grace (God’s unmerited favor) toward them.
Throughout his life, Noah had chosen (an expression of his will) to worship and serve God, but the question is, why? Was in not because of the Holy Spirit of God? Yes, it was. The Holy Spirit had/has always been active in one way or another upon the earth, from creation forward. Whenever and wherever we read of man deciding toward God throughout Scripture it has always been by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Abraham is a good example of this. We read from Genesis 12:1-4 we read: “1 Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 4 So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.’”
Not much can be determined here about free will unless we connect Abraham with the family of his father Terah who lived in Haran and worshipped other god’s, they were idolaters (Joshua 24:2-5). But God had been working in Abraham’s life and when He called him, he left that situation, journeyed into the land of Canaan, and worshiped true God. So, Abraham did exercise free will, however in the exercise of that free will he worshipped other gods until God the Holy Spirit regenerated in him newness of spiritual life. This was God’s unseen hand at work.
Leaving Abraham behind we turn to the family of his grandson Jacob a.k.a., Israel. The family of Jacob/Israel became the nation of Israel and they were tested by the exercise of their free will. They continuously failed and God said of them that someday in their future He would take the heart of stone from them, give them a new heart and a put a new spirit within them. See Ezekiel 36:21-27 and Jeremiah 31:30-33. In essence, Israel in the exercise of their free will continuously chose against God worshipping the gods of their neighbors. Nationally, only after God creates in them a new heart and gives them a new will, will they choose Him.
What God will do for Israel nationally He is now doing in the heart of individuals. From the gospel of John we read that persons are given the right to become children of God but they do so not by natural descent, nor is it the result of a human decision (lit., “the will of the flesh,” nor is it the result of a husband’s (of human) will. The spiritual birth of those who become children of God is not a natural birth; it is by the will of God, a supernatural work of God in regeneration (John 1:12-13). A person welcomes Jesus and responds in faith and obedience to Him, but the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit is “the cause” of regeneration (John 3:5-8).
Therefore, man does have free will, he is not a mind numb robot, but to choose for God, or to serve Him, man must be spiritually regenerated (spiritually born again).
Paul in writing to the Corinthians wrote: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1st Corinthians 2:14).
And to the Ephesians, he wrote: “1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:1-10).
Physically dead persons can do nothing, neither can a spiritually dead person by the act of his will make right spiritual choices. Spiritually dead persons must be regenerated to spiritual life before they can exercise a will towards Him. So yes, man has free will, but in their unregenerate natural state they will always choose that which they know, the only thing they know, things that pertain to their fallen natures. When persons are regenerated by the Holy Spirit to new spiritual life, they then have a freedom that they did not, nor could have as persons separated from God. After a person is spiritually regenerated by the Holy Spirit, he then has true freedom of choice. In this new experience of living he is not a mind numbed robot; he can choose to worship and serve God and make spiritual choices.
Thanks be to God for His life changing work.
Transforming Power; The Work of God on Behalf of Man
Lian Muan Kim
Koinonia Baptist Seminary – Yangon, Myanmar