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1 Question What does it mean to have “FREE WILL”? Is your will really free?

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Presentation on theme: "1 Question What does it mean to have “FREE WILL”? Is your will really free?"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Question What does it mean to have “FREE WILL”? Is your will really free?

2 2 This Week i. Examine Augustine’s ideas about “GRACE” AND “FREE WILL” ii. Link Augustine's ideas about grace and free will to the believer’s task of dealing with defense mechanisms Lesson Plan

3 3 This Week iii. Attend to the voice of the Spirit of Christ who desires our complete sanctification as we apply these ideas to our heart Lesson Plan

4 4 I. The Matter of Grace a. For the believer, when it comes to resisting sin, man is not a free, strong, and independent (but subordinate) being dealing with a powerful adversary. He is a helpless, self-shackled creature, whose only hope is the free gift of redemption through grace. Rom 7:23-25 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. KJV

5 5 I. The Matter of Grace b. In the pre-Christian view of God, He is typically placed somewhere outside and above. After salvation, however, God is also within the individual, exercising a transforming power within the soul. This He does independent of human merit or effort. 1 Thess 5:23-24 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. KJV

6 6 I. The Matter of Grace c. This transforming power is accomplished by His shedding love internally in our hearts by the Holy Spirit that He gives. This occurs so deep within the soul that the mechanics of His transforming love elude our abilities to perceive it. Rom 5:5 because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. KJV

7 7 I. The Matter of Grace d. The will to do good and, where it exists, the power to achieve that will are not man's but are the effect of the indwelling Lord and Creator of the universe personally working within man. God’s omnipotence works through His grace. e. For this reason, we must be careful when saying that God assists us in our works of righteousness as we attempt to fulfill His commands for holiness. 1 Peter 1:15-16 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. KJV

8 8 I. The Matter of Grace f. To say that God assists us is to imply that we have some self-generated capacity to obey and that we merely require a little extra boost along the way to get the job done. Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. KJV

9 9 I. The Matter of Grace g. Thinking that we have some capacity to obey misses an extremely subtle but important point. It is no longer I that give life to my mortal body, my life is now in Christ. This is grace in action. Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. KJV h. Where grace prevails, it does so regardless of the choice of the individual subjected to it. The paradox is that moral responsibility for rejecting God remains with the individual, while the moral merit for accepting God is abolished by grace.

10 10 I. The Matter of Grace i. This grace is absolute. Working in the conscience, grace instructs the believer concerning what is right, gives the power to do what is right, and through the mystery of His life in the believer actually performs the act of doing what is right. j. What men do that is wrong, they do themselves; what they do that is right, God does in them. God has decreed His purposes for each believer beforehand. He plans the particular good works, the time, and way, and ensures that it is done. Eph 2:10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. NIV

11 11 II. The Matter of Free Will a. After developing the foregoing arguments, Augustine asked, "Do we then by grace make void free will? God forbid! No! Rather we establish free will. For even as the law by faith, so free will by grace, is not made void, but strengthened. b. Augustine’s Free Will Cycle:

12 Augustine’s Free Will Cycle Law fulfilled ONLY by Free Will FROM THE LAW COMES Knowledge of Sin Faith provides grace against sin Grace produces healing of the soul from the effects of sin Healthy soul gives freedom to the will Free will produces a love of righteousness Love of righteousness produces the accomplishment of the law 12

13 13 II. The Matter of Free Will c. Augustine taught that God is absolutely good, and all that is less than God is inherently less good. Since all choices have moral effects, absolute freedom of the will is only possible when those choices reflect Christ. d. He also taught that true freedom of the will is the highest and noblest of human faculties, but it can be seriously damaged and even destroyed by its own self-inflicted wounds. I.E. by our veering out of grace.

14 14 II. The Matter of Free Will e. For example, by turning the will from what is best to what is less good, places constraints on that will itself, constraints from which it cannot then loose itself. Like the bone that is broken, the constrained will becomes limited and bound. f. Left to itself, the will that has chosen wrongly continues to choose wrongly, and its freedom is further damaged by its own act.

15 15 II. The Matter of Free Will g. Divine grace, on the other hand, provides redemption from the self- inflicted loss of freedom and potentially restores the will to its original state of freedom. h. However, the liberation of the will from the shackles of sin is only partial, and constant relapse in small matters is inevitable, just as total relapse in large matters is possible. This is the natural tendency of man.

16 16 II. The Matter of Free Will i. He acknowledged that the Christian life is a constant struggle. But, that struggle is not that men struggle with the temptation to sin--it is that divine grace (The Spirit of Christ) struggles to overcome the inner tendency of man to turn away. Matt 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! KJV Acts 9:5 And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. KJV Gal 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. KJV

17 The Struggle Against Sin Focus: on ME /AUTONOMY Action: Managing my sin Trust:My effort Result: Failure, disappointment Reality: I CAN’T DO IT Against Christ Focus: on my DEPENDENCY Action: remaining in GRACE Trust: Christ to accomplish Result: Christ is glorified Reality:CHRIST MUST DO IT 17

18 18 II. The Matter of Free Will j. If Christ is truly the life of the believer, then the true self and the full expression of the true self can only be found as one yields and abides in the love of Christ fully and completely. Eph 3:16-17 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, KJV

19 19 II. The Matter of Free Will k. The love of Christ in the mature believer ought to be so compelling that one is totally dominated by the Lord with nothing left of the self. In such case, the will is absolutely free, Christ is exalted, and God is glorified. Eph 3:17-19 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. KJV

20 20 III. Dealing With Defenses a. Defense mechanisms are the work of the flesh; they indicate absorption with self, they demonstrate that one has departed from the flow of grace. They are the hallmark of the unhealthy soul and thus, imposes a limit on free will. b. Another reason that defense mechanisms are self- defeating is that they keep our eyes on the problem, and off of the solution which is provided only by our resting in Christ.

21 21 III. Dealing With Defenses c. Relying on defense mechanisms for protection is actually rooted in a distrust of God. It is saying within the heart that God can’t or won’t protect me, so I must protect myself. In so doing the believer acts as if he is autonomous. d. Defense mechanisms also keep us from entering into situations that God has designed specifically for us to build our character and by which He will ensure our sanctification.

22 22 III. Dealing With Defenses e. It is vital for us to accept personal responsibility for our own ungodly and hateful internal reactions for what was done to us. When prompted by the Holy Spirit, if we choose to dodge that responsibility, then healing of the wound will not take place. f. The first step is to recognize when defense mechanisms are in operation. In order to recognize their presence, we must stay consciously alert to our thoughts and actions and to examine ourselves ruthlessly.

23 23 III. Dealing With Defenses g. Once we recognize that defense mechanisms are in operation we must actively choose to realign our hearts and minds with the grace of God. This is an exercise of the conscious free will and yields a love of righteousness and truth. h. This is a step that is often not taken because in order to take it, one must abandon his self-interest and trust in Christ to complete His healing process. This is a decision to make ones self- available for healing.

24 24 III. Dealing With Defenses i. Overcoming defense mechanisms is a matter of our sanctification. Ultimately, this task deals with the central mystery of the believer’s existence; the question of who we are and why we remain on the earth.

25 a. We do not have the option of ignoring that which the Holy Spirit brings to our conscious mind because our sanctification is at stake. Christ will complete the work. b. Do you love righteousness? Is your will truly free? Are you loving God with your whole heart, soul, and mind? c. What is the Holy Spirit prompting you to bring to Christ for His healing? 25 IV. Application


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