Why Did God Give Us Free Will?

One of the best questions I’ve heard from those who don’t believe in God is this one: If God really existed, why did He give us free will?

Usually the argument goes something like this:

Atheist: The mess the world is is God’s fault
Christian: No, what God created is good. The mess is a result of sin.
Atheist: But why didn’t God create people who wouldn’t sin?
Christian: He gave us free will. We aren’t puppets on a string.
Atheist: But if God knew we’d sin, why did He supposedly give us the free will that led to sin? He could have prevented the whole thing.

The fact is, there’s nothing wrong with that line of thinking. God could have made little robots which He programmed to say they loved Him. No one would have used a weapon against someone else. No one would give in to addiction. No one would love money or power or sex more than they loved God. All the behavior of God’s people would be as perfect as He planned for it to be. Nothing would violate His wishes. No one would rebel against Him.

There are two problems with that picture.

First, a third of the angels had already rebelled against Him. So the world of humans could never be perfect. Not as long as Satan continued to show up. The only way to achieve “perfect” was to deal with the rebellion.

The second major problem is that God had determined to make humankind in His image, His likeness. He Himself has a will, so for humans to be like Him, we also would need to have our own will.

There’s probably something bigger here. Would loving God if you had no choice but to love Him, actually be love? Isn’t part of love connected with freely doing so? I mean, God already had trees and birds and reptiles and the like. They could act in an instinctual way if that’s what God wanted. In making humans, He made more. He stamped us with His likeness and He breathed into us the thing that makes us unique.

Ironically, as I looked on the internet at some of the unsolved mysteries of science, I discovered that human consciousness is one of those things nobody understands or can explain.

5 What is consciousness?

We’re still not really sure. We do know that it’s to do with different brain regions networked together rather than a single part of the brain. The thinking goes that if we figure out which bits of the brain are involved and how the neural circuitry works, we’ll figure out how consciousness emerges (“The 20 big questions in science”)

For that matter, science has yet to answer what actually makes us humans since “the human genome is 99% identical to a chimpanzee’s” (same source). Why can we talk and reason and do science? Why can we think philosophically, and above all, why do we worship?

The Christian knows the answer to that question.

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Gen. 2:7, KJV)

Unique. Different. With the capacity to relate to God as no other being could, not even the angels. Such a person could relate to the Person who created him by loving Him freely. And likewise, being freely loved.

No relationship could be more.

But creating humans in the image of God, you might say, was “high risk, high reward.” When it works, it’s the best. That’s why Joni Eareckson Tada could say that she, a quadriplegic, would rather know Jesus as she does and be in her wheelchair, than not know Him and be out.

The flip side is the possibility of people choosing NOT to love God. For them the result would be disaster. But of course, God would make Himself clearly known. He’d walk with His people and talk with them. He’d give them signs and wonders. He’d display His glory in a physical, tangible way known as the Shekinah. He’d send messengers to give His words to the people. He’d have some write those words down so they’d be widely disseminated. Ultimately, He reversed the process and came in the likeness of humans so that He again walked and talked with the people He’d made.

Oh, yeah, there was one other thing that He said was even better—He’d send His Spirit to be in us. So that we’d never be alone. Never be without His presence.

Why did God give us free will? I guess the short answer is, He wanted to. That’s what would please Him and complete us. Plus, our relationship freely given, glorifies His name.

Published in: on November 15, 2017 at 5:53 pm  Comments (10)  
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10 Comments

  1. Excellent coverage of this topic! I addressed it on a much more surface level in a post this week. My kids ask me why God gave us free will. I remind them that I would rather them choose to love me than be forced. God is the same. He gives us the choice and is glorified when we choose obedience, devotion, and surrender.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amen, Matthew. How awesome that your kids are asking these kinds of questions and that you’re there to give them the truth from God’s word.

      Becky

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! It’s a matter of choice. That’s one thing about God I adore.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like this post, not to add or take away anything to it but God in fact does not want us to worship Him out of enforced obedience, that would put true love in the same bracket as saying slavery was a job opportunity.

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    • OK, that’s an awesome comparison, BP. I want to remember that. It really puts the concept in perspective. If you don’t have the ability to choose, you really are nothing more than a slave. Excellent.

      Becky

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  3. Very nice, Becky. I know some say the concept of free will reduces God’s sovereignty. In reality, the opposite is true; to say He could not grant free will and still be completely in control actually implies God does NOT have all power. Good post

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    • That’s a great point, Wally. I haven’t thought of it like that before, but I think it’s spot on.

      I’ve said to friends before that the only way Romans 8:28 can be true is if we have free will. How could God cause “all things” to work for good if He already mandated “all things”?

      And yet He is sovereign. We can’t seem to get our heads around the fact that both are true, yet they are. It’s sort of like our mutual friend (or someone who thinks as he does) saying that mercy and justice are mutually exclusive. Not with God, they aren’t.

      Becky

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      • Indeed, Becky. I have long given up thinking I have to get it all. Some things just….are. I mean, He is God after all. If we could fully understand Him that would not be especially impressive, and hardly worth our worship.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is one of the better explanations on the topic that I have read. I have discovered, however, that some people are very hard to convince (especially family members) no matter what argument is used to prove the Bible right – in which case I can only pray and trust Him to enlighten them.

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    • Glad you found it addressed the subject well. But of course, you’re right. We aren’t going to convince people no matter how sound the argument. We can get them thinking, challenge their biases, but prayer is the most important element. Spiritual things are discerned spiritually, and we need to ask God to open the eyes of the unbelieving people He brings into our lives.

      Becky

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