Do we have real choices in life? I mean if God knows all I do? I really have a choice in what I do. Like if there are 3 ways to get to my home from work and I choose way 2 did I really make a choice? Because if God knows all was that really a choice??
You have asked one of the most fundamental and yet one of the most misunderstood questions as it relates to God and man. Do we really have choices in life or are we simply robots that are controlled and manipulated by God?
Many who believe we do not have choices teach that we are born guilty of sin. Further, they teach that in order to be saved the Holy Spirit must take action upon our will because we cannot choose to obey God. They teach that after obeying God we cannot choose to turn from God and be lost after once being saved. Either these things are true or not. And, they all rest on one concept, free choice. Does the Bible teach that although God may know certain actions, do we still have the freedom to choose our way, either to obey or disobey Him?
Unique among all of God’s creation is man, given the ability to freely choose how he will behave and thus endowed with the greatest responsibility. Gen. 1:26-31. We can choose how we will respond to God, whether we will serve Him or not. He does not force us to serve Him. Note, the stirring words as Joshua, the leader of Israel as they conquered Canaan, spoke to them in his farewell address.
JOS 24:14 ¶ “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. JOS 24:15 “And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Note the words, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve. If they did not have any choices, this statement would be absurd. But, they did have a choice and with the choices came consequences either good or bad. But, God did not make the choices for them.
When we look at choice, we can see these four truths revealed in the Bible. Any teaching that would seek to deny these things is fundamentally false.
1. Man can choose to sin against God. Sin is a violation of God’s law. It is not passed along by the genes or contracted like a disease, but sin is an action that man chooses to perform. The first sin is a perfect example of this. Gen. 3. When we follow and act in this way, we become guilty of sin. 1 John 3:4, 5:17, Rom. 3:23, James 4:17. It is sin that separates us from God. Isa. 59:1-2.
2. We can choose to turn to God and be forgiven. God has revealed the gospel to us and how we should obey Him. We can choose to yield our will to His and receive forgiveness. See Acts 2, especially verses 40-41. They chose to respond and some chose not to respond. The apostles were told to preach to the world so that people could make their choices. Mark 16:15-16.
3. After being saved, Christians can choose to be lost. Note the warnings 8n 2 Peter. 2:20-22, Hebrews 6:4-6. What do these warnings mean if we do not have the power to choose to follow the world again after once being in good standing with God?
4. Thankfully, we can choose to turn back to God after we have abandoned Him. An example of this is Simon in Acts 8:13-25. We are told to seek to restore those back to the Lord again who have turned away. James 5:19-20.
What does all this mean? No matter what we believe the Bible teaches about how much God knows, we must accept the plain teaching that people then and we now have important choices to make in our lives. To deny this is to deny the teaching of Scriptures. Have you made these choices that will save your soul? See Acts 2, especially verses 22-47.
By Gary Hunt