MM00099 Free will within the will of God
Mentoring Manna: Free will within the will of God
© 2003 Pastor Keith Hassell
Genesis 2:16-17 (NKJV) “And the Lord commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’”
When God made man, He created him with a free will. God placed man in the Garden of Eden and told him that he could freely eat of any tree in the garden except one, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Man had the right to make personal choices within the boundaries of God’s will.
Many people become burdened by the false notion that there is always only one choice within the will of God in any given situation. Under this notion it is believed that if we do not make the right choice, we will forever be outside of the will of God. However, the Bible does not teach this rigid understanding of God’s will.
God set boundaries for Adam and Eve in the Garden and then gave them the freedom to choose within those boundaries. It might be compared to cattle eating grass within a fenced pasture. The cattle do not have the freedom to establish the parameters of the pasture, but they are free to eat anywhere within the parameters set by the rancher. In many ways this is like the will of God.
Before we exercise our freedom of choice, we need to know the parameters in which our choices can be made. We do not have the right to alter the boundaries set by God, only to discover and honor them. Therefore it is important to scope out God’s “fence line.” We accomplish this through a regular practice of reading and studying God’s word. As we do, we can be sure that we are not stepping outside of God’s will.
Where God has revealed His will clearly within the word or by His Spirit, we have only one choice and that is to obey. In areas where God has not clearly revealed His will, He has given us the freedom within the parameter of His word to make wise choices for our lives. For instance, according to the Apostle Paul, a person is free to marry or to remain single. In another instance, a single man has the freedom to find a wife of his choosing. Of course, God desires that in our freedom we seek His guidance in order to make the best choice. In searching for a wife, however, the clear boundary set by God is that the man is not to seek a wife from among non-believers. Sadly, many believers have ignored this boundary line and experienced heartache and shipwreck in their lives. In still another example, a widow is free to marry whomever she wishes with the same restriction---she must marry a believer.
Within the parameters of His revealed will, God has allowed man the freedom to tend the garden in his life. He is able to eat freely of what God has given to him while at the same time honoring the boundary lines of His word. The key is staying in God’s word so that we might know where the boundary lines fall. As we do, the words of Jesus become reality, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
Application: God has a plan for your life. But that plan does not negate the freedom of choice He has given to you and I. God’s word has much to say about our responsibility before God and His boundaries in our lives. But within that will, He has given you the freedom to make godly choices for your life. Use the freedom of choice that God has given you to make the best choices for your life.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, thank You for the boundaries you have set in my life. Thank You for giving me a free will to make godly choices within those boundaries. Help me to clearly see and understand Your boundaries and give me the wisdom to use my free will to make excellent choices in life. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
 1 Corinthians 7:27-28 (see also Matthew 19:12)
 Proverbs 18:22
 Genesis 24:17, 12-15
 2 Corinthians 6:14
 1 Corinthians 7:39
 John 15:7 NKJV