Is our will truly free?

Is our will truly free?

Since no part of us is pure, untainted and unaffected by sin, there is nothing in our sinful fallen nature that desires or decides devotion to God. As the church father Augustine has said, “Man has options, but those options are all sinful in nature. He is free to choose, but merely to engage in one sin rather than another.” (Augustine, Against Two Letters of the Pelagians 1.5; 3.24.)

The Bible is emphatically clear that our sin is so pervasive that left to ourselves not one person could or would pursue or choose Jesus Christ:

  • Genesis 6:5 – The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
  • Genesis 8:21 – The intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.
  • 2 Chronicles 6:36 – For there is no one who does not sin.
  • Proverbs 20:9 – Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”?
  • Ecclesiastes 7:20 – Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.
  • Ecclesiastes 9:3 – The hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
  • Psalm 58:3 – The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
  • Isaiah 53:6 – All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way.=
  • John 8:34 – Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.”
  • John 8:43-44 – Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
  • Romans 6:20 – You were slaves of sin.
  • Romans 8:7 – For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
  • 1 Corinthians 2:14 – The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
  • Ephesians 2:1-3 – And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
  • Ephesians 4:17-19 – Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
  • Philippians 3:18 – For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.
  • Colossians 2:13 – And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh…
  • Titus 1:5 – To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.
  • 1 John 5:19 – We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
  • Titus 3:3 – For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

What sins do you struggle with? Spend time praying for God to help and deliver you by giving you the Holy Spirit to fight against temptation.

This is an excerpt from Pastor Mark’s Romans 8-9 commentary Duck Duck Doom. You can get a free e-book copy by clicking here or get a physical copy for a gift of any amount during the month of March here.

To find the new, free Romans 6-11 digital study guide for individuals and small groups, hear Pastor Mark’s entire sermon series on Romans, or find a free mountain of Bible teaching visit or download the Real Faith app.

Mark Driscoll
[email protected]