Is Man a Free Moral Agent?

This is the first question to settle, for if man is not a free moral agent then God can be held entirely responsible for all sin, rebellion, sickness, and all the effects of sin, as well as for the damnation of men and angels, as unconditional security men teach.

One of these teachers says, “No man is an absolutely free moral agent, for he is either led away by the devil against his will or he is a servant of Christ. I do not simply choose to keep myself in a place where I am secure. God has chosen me and I am secure in His choice.” Another says, “Ownership means lordship. That which is owned has no right of will contrary to the will of the owner…. Adam was the only true free moral agent. When he sinned he lost free moral agency. No man ever wills to be born in the human race, and equally impotent is he to will to separate himself from the human race….Yet it is argued that man can separate himself from God…. It was not his own will to be born again, but the will of God (John 1:13)…. Man has as little to do with that as he had to do with his physical birth. As it is impossible for man to separate himself from the human race, so it is equally impossible for him, by a free act, to separate himself from God’s kingdom. There is no such thing as free moral agency in the kingdom of God…. To say that a man can will to go away from God and be lost is to make the sovereign grace of God subject to the will of man.”

These statements simply mean that man has no power to choose to serve God and consequently no responsibility in any sense in serving God or Satan or in being saved or lost, that it is up to God to choose each one or not, that those God sees fit to choose are secure by His own choice and not by man having anything to do with it, that God is a respecter of persons in not choosing some and in not making all men secure and in saving all men alike, that God is responsible for the sins and damnation of the lost as well as for the security of the few pets some say He delights in choosing, that some men can never be saved due to the fact God has not chosen them to be saved and to be as secure as the others, and that God is responsible for all the sins and sufferings and curses of the universe.

If Adam was responsible for his fall from grace or favor with God, if he chose to fall from his former state, if grace and divine nature did not keep him saved and holy, and if God left it up to the free will of man in the beginning, then it is the same with all men today. There is no passage, and no one has ever given one, that proves that man is not a free moral agent all the days of his life, whether he is saved or unsaved.

Man is absolutely a free moral agent and serves the devil or God as he freely chooses. If man wants to turn to God from the devil he is always free to do so, and if he wants to turn from God to the devil he is always free to do so. Neither master can force man to obey him if man does not freely choose to do so. Man has the free choice until death, of serving either.

Man is morally obligated by his moral make-up to serve righteousness, live holy, and consecrate himself to the same end that God is consecrated – the highest good of all. Man is not forced to live holy. He is free to consecrate to the end that the devil is consecrated – a life of self-gratification. He is free to choose either end and to use the means of attaining to the end he chooses. He is not forced to choose either end or the means of attaining to that end.

A saved man has the same power of choice as he had before salvation. His desires are changed in salvation, but he can again permit the same old desires to take hold of him again and the flesh can gain ascendancy over him again and he can choose to live in the old sins again. If he chooses to sin again he incurs the same death penalty and will be damned as much as if he had never been saved (Ezek. 18:4; Rom.6:14-23; 8:1-13; Gal. 6:7-8; James 5:19-20).

In matters outside the moral realm in which man has no choice, such as the case where man is not free to choose to be born, such has nothing to do with free moral agency which every man has when he is born. He is, as he grows up, free to choose his own destiny by the choice of the life he lives in serving God or Satan. It is only when man becomes a free moral agent that he is held responsible.

To say that a man has no will power when he chooses to go back into sin and becomes overpowered by sin and Satan is to state a falsehood. This does not prove he is not a free moral agent. It proves man is a free agent or he could not have chosen to sin again. When man chooses to yield to sin again, Satan can make him a captive and can more or less dominate his life, depending on how much the man submits to him. Man can completely submit to demons and become a total slave to them. He can at any moment turn to God by his own free will and defeat the same spirit-rebels by the help of God. If he had no choice power to live right and turn to God, then we might argue he is not a free agent in the moral realm. Because the Allies overcame the Axis nations in the last World War is no proof that the Axis did not have will power. We were stronger than they were and we were helped by God in their defeat. Their resistance as well as their choice in making war and in choosing to surrender proves they had will power.

If man can resist sin at all it proves will power on his part. If he is exercising will in the least degree concerning moral things it proves he is a free moral agent. To be a servant of Christ does not do away with will power. It proves that the man does have such power or he could not have chosen to turn from Satan and sin. To believe as the above men do would make God an unjust tyrant holding slaves in greater bondage than Satan ever did. It is Satan who tries to enslave men and control their choices. God always gives them freedom of action to serve Him. When they voluntarily turn to God then He delivers them from Satan and sin and permits perfect freedom of action as to whether they will continue to serve Him or go back into sin. It is true men are spoken of as servants to God, but it is a voluntary service. There is nothing arbitrary about it on God’s part.

No freedom of choice to come into existence and no freedom of choice to become nothing again is naturally true, for man is an eternal creature and cannot will to cease to exist. This does not disprove free moral agency for man, who is always free to choose the highest good for himself and others or to choose selfish ends contrary to the highest good.

If we admit actions have certain effects vie should also admit that these actions are free moral actions. If man had no free actions concerning moral living and God alone had the choice in man’s actions, then He would be responsible for all evil and its effects. God would be responsible for sin and could not justly judge man for his actions. He would also be responsible for death, the penalty for sin, and could not rightly execute the sentence of the broken law.

Adam or no other man ever lost the power of choice in the moral realm as long as sanity remained. To lose power to be what man was before the fall does not do away with man’s power of choice. This is simply the result of the fall and of a wrong choice. Man is still free to choose God and righteousness and come back to the original state where the effects of the moral fall are erased. Man can be redeemed from the effects of the moral fall and again do right from free choice. Being overpowered by sin was a willing action to begin with or Adam never would have fallen unless God can be blamed for it. Since the fall, it is a willing co-operation with Satan to the same end, to gratify self, for one does not have to serve sin and Satan even one day, if he does not choose to do so.

If man never wills to be saved he will never be saved. This is why some are saved and some are not saved. It is God’s will that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). If God’s will is done all will be saved, but God will not and cannot save man until he chooses to be saved and calls upon God. God’s plan is to “whosoever will” and God will not operate contrary to His own Word. However, man is not saved by his own choice alone, for there is no saving power in a mere choice. Then, too, salvation cannot be given by God without man’s choice (Mark 16:15; John 3:15-20; 4:13-22; 14:6; Rom.1:16; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 1:9; 5:1; Rev. 22:17). Neither can man continue to be saved apart from his free choice (Isa.59:2; Rom.8:1-13; 2 Tim. 2:12; 1 Cor. 15:2; 1 Thess. 3:8; Heb. 10:26-29; 2 Pet. 2:20-21; etc.).

This power of choice on man’s part to get saved and keep saved does not make will power more sovereign than God’s own power or grace. It simply means that God, as an intelligent being, having made His plan, which includes free wills for men, granting them the sovereignty of their own wills as to whether they want to be saved or stay saved by grace or not, will not break His own law and act contrary to His revealed plan and save or keep men saved contrary to their own choice. If this is God’s plan, then for God to arbitrarily force men to be saved or stay saved contrary to their wills would be the most unjust action to take and would make God break His oven laws.

To teach that man has nothing to do in the new birth and that it is entirely up to the choice of God is to make God false according to His own Word. Man must make a choice in his spiritual birth because he is in existence with power to make a free choice, but in the natural birth he was not in existence with power of choice to decide whether he wanted to be born or not. God has told us that any one who is a respecter of persons is a sinner (Jas. 2:9), and therefore if it is left up to God alone to save some and damn some as He sees fit, then He would be a sinner Himself. But God is no respecter of persons (Rom.2:6-16). If a man cannot exercise will power in the Kingdom of God, and if he cannot sin after being saved, then many Scriptures are false, as we shall see in Point IV below.

Man is a subject of moral law and moral government and is under moral obligation to obey the moral governor of all free wills according to prescribed law. He is subject to the penalties for disobedience and rewards for obedience. If he has no free moral choice to render obedience or disobedience and meet his own moral obligation, his own existence is an act of injustice and abortion on the part of the Creator. That man has intellect, reason, sensibility, and powers of knowledge and choice cannot be doubted as long as man is sane.

The freedom of the will of man in moral action has been denied IN THEORY by unconditional securityites, but it has never been disproved and never will be. Those very ones who deny free will have admitted it in their arguments in trying to disprove it. The fact that they freely choose to deny such a plain fact as free action in man proves they have it and are exercising it. The fact that others who are more logical and do not choose to believe their vain arguments, but are honest enough to admit plain everyday facts also proves that all men have free wills to do as they please.

No man can deny the fact of free action in daily life without incurring the charge of insanity, for he knows in his own daily life that he has freedom of action to do right or wrong, or to be saved or lost according to God’s law. By the necessity of his own nature he himself knows that he is a free agent in the moral realm. If he can hide this fact from himself, or argue himself out of this fact, he can likewise deceive himself about his very existence. He may, in speculation and for the sake of argument deny either fact, but the truth remains that he knows both. That HE IS and that HE IS FREE to choose his own destiny and moral actions in every stage of his life until eternity, are facts well known by virtue of his own creation and experience in life.

He not only has the power of choice but he has a natural created faculty that dictates to him what choice he should make concerning every moral action of free will. To deny the will is to deny the conscience and by so doing he can soon make himself believe he is not responsible for sin and its effects, even though he may sin every day. However, it will take more than a false doctrine of unconditional security to make him immune from sin and its effects.

Possession of the will and conscience makes man subject to the moral obligation to keep moral law and obey moral government. Every normal man recognizes these powers in himself and in all other men. This assumption is irresistible and universal and cannot logically be called into question, and would not be unless it is for some selfish purpose to prove a point or to excuse one’s self in living in sin, contrary to Scripture. Regardless of why it is called into question man’s free will still remains an established fact of man’s constitutional make-up. The affirmation by millions of men of sound mind that they are responsible for their acts among men and before God, shows beyond contradiction that all men regard themselves, and others, as subjects of moral obligation.

Moral obligation, made possible by the free will and the conscience, extends to the ultimate acts of the will concerning moral law. Man is free to choose obedience to the moral law, although he may be overpowered by sin and Satan in some acts because he wills not to serve God and live spiritually alive enough to resist the effects of a moral fall. Nevertheless, in these matters he is always free to reject Satan and turn to God to be free from the effects and responsibility of these sinful acts, or he is free to continue to submit to such bondage by his own free will. He has a Helper in God and a deliverance in salvation if he chooses such, but as long as he chooses to remain in rebellion against God he has no claim on such help. Man is absolutely free to choose the end in life to which God is consecrated-the highest good of all, or he is free to choose the end to which Satan and all rebels are consecrated-a life of self-gratification contrary to the highest good of the universe and all societies therein. Man can choose his own end and the means of securing that end. He is free to relinquish, at any moment, his choice of an end as well as the means to that end. He is free to refuse known necessary conditions and means to an end or he is free to accept them. He can always choose holiness as an end and also the means of attaining to that end, or he can choose sin and the means to secure that end. He can choose any object or any means to an end, or refuse both as he pleases. He has absolute preference and choice in all matters pertaining to moral law and moral obligation and can choose the means to obey moral law and live up to moral obligations, or he can reject them. No choice can be made without the mind having a reason for that choice, and in this sense free will extends to the ultimate intention of the mind.

Such freedom of the will and conscience is recognized in young children who justify themselves in their acts in childhood. Grown people also exercise such freedom and make excuses to justify many acts. In many actions some are honest enough to admit wrong although in some acts they are justified by right and voluntary decisions. Courts of justice have always assumed that man is free to choose and they judge him on the basis of the ultimate intention of the will. Only lunatics are regarded as not being responsible for their acts, thus proving the universality of belief in free moral agency as the first truth of reason, as well as of revelation.

The Bible throughout recognizes the freedom of the will and conscience. Moral obligation then extends to everything about us, over which the will has direct or indirect control. Our muscles, intellect, senses, and appetites are all controlled by the will. If one cannot directly do as he wills concerning moral law, then he can choose the means of grace that will enable him to obey the letter of the law. Hence, he is a free moral agent in the highest sense of the term.

The moral action is a voluntary action and moral obligation respects the ultimate intention only. Involuntary acts are not moral actions. Choices concerning the well-being of God and the universe constitute moral obligation and this God demands in His moral law. He cannot excuse breaking this law because He has provided all necessary means to obey it, if man wills to use them. This is why man is as responsible for his sins after he is saved as before. God requires both in the law and in the gospel that free moral agents choose the same end to which He is consecrated, consequently, all obligation consists of the choice to the same end. Virtue consists of consecration to this end, and vice consists of consecration to the wrong end, self-gratification.

The so-called sovereign grace and the will of God are not the basis of moral obligation and free action. The moral law legislates over voluntary action only. It is our moral obligation to will the best good of all regardless of the will of God or of grace, for it is the law of our creative make-up. Whether God commanded it or not we would by nature be obligated to will, choose, and secure the highest good for ourselves and others. God’s will merely reveals to us the rule of action and choice but it never forces the choice in right action. This must be a free choice of man himself. The will of God as expressed in His law, is the rule for all free wills. This law defines the rule of moral action, and the reason to conform to it is the highest good of the universe. If God should command us to do that which our reason tells us is unwise and not for the good of all, it would be impossible for us to feel obligated to obey Him. Thus reason does not regard His law as the foundation of moral obligation, but only as proof that what He commands is wise and best for all and that it is commanded for that reason.

The moral law makes known to free wills what is right and wrong but the whole thing is a farce if man has no choice in whether he should do right or wrong. Any theory concerning moral action that destroys the free moral agency of man is wholly illogical, impractical, unnatural, factitious, and unscriptural and must be rejected. All this fallacy of self-indulgence with a dream of Heaven and irresponsibility here and hereafter is a religion of Satan to damn souls and it should be treated as such. To teach it means that we make God the one committing the sins in both saints and sinners and the one responsible for some to be lost and others to be saved.

The Bible never teaches that God saves and keeps any man contrary to his will. Any action that man is responsible for in exercising his own created will power, should he make the wrong choice, does not make God responsible, nor lessen God’s power, will, purpose, or change God’s attitude or plan to help man, should he change to the right choice and accept God’s way and help.

God is limited in blessing man, should he rebel against Him. If He were not then He would be obligated to force all men to be saved alike. If one is lost it only proves failure on the part of man, not God. It is God’s will that all men should be saved, but the question of who will be saved depends on the individual, who must meet the conditions of salvation and of keeping saved (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9; John 3:15-20, 36; Rev. 22:17). A saved man no longer belongs to God if he rebels and lives and dies in sin, as we shall see in Point IV below.

The following statements prove both saints and sinners have the power of free choice and that God holds them responsible for wrong use of this faculty: “Choose you this day whom ye shall serve” (Josh. 24:15), “did not choose the fear of the Lord” (Prov. 1:29-33), “I have chosen the way of truth” (Psalm 119:30, 173), “They have chosen their own ways” (Isa.66:3), “he will hold to the one, and despise the other” (Matt. 6:24), “I will follow thee” (Matt. 8:19), “If any man will come after me” (Matt. 16:24, 25), “Whosoever will do the will of God” (Mark 3:35; 16:16), “ye shall not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40), “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine” (John 7:17; 9:31), “If any man serve me, him will my Father honour” (John 12:26), “hath power over HIS OWN WILL” (1 Cor. 7:37), “If I do this thing willingly” (1 Cor. 9:17), “not by constraint, but willingly” (1 Pet. 5:2), “whosoever will” (Rev. 22:17).

These and literally hundreds of like passages in the Bible prove free moral agency. The words “choice,” “will,” etc. are used over 4,000 times in Scripture. Other words expressing power of choice in all phases of life are used thousands of times, so to deny free moral agency of all men, saved or unsaved, is the rankest ignorance of all and willful blindness to plain facts.

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