A Little Time With The 1689: Day 178

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Day 178

Of Free Will.

Chapter 9, Paragraph 4.

“…and by his grace alone, enables him freely to will, and to do that which is spiritually good;…”

Scripture Lookup

Philippians 2:13

Reflection

When Christ converts us and frees us from the stranglehold of sin, we no longer automatically want to do wrong. Our inclinations now are enabled to desire that which is spiritually good. Learning about God and His will for us becomes enjoyable, something that we want to spend time doing. We also are now able to act upon these inclinations. Loving God and loving our neighbor was something we could never do before. When God transforms us, acts of mercy and kindness are realized in our lives.

Remember, though, that it is God through His grace alone that changes us. The good works performed by the most godly people you know are not a result of some super-Christian status they possess.  Any good you do is not cause to celebrate self. For it is God who works in you, both to will and to do His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13) When you want to promote yourself, or secretly envy the fellow believer that seems to have all the fruit of the Spirit and then some, remember: it is all of God.

His grace solely enables our freedom to will and do that which is spiritually good. This is also a great comfort when failure seems constant and you start to question if Christ died for you. In those times, look up from you despair! God’s work in your life, not your efforts, are what cause godliness in you. Strive to be holy, repent of sin, but rest on His omnipotence and faithfulness to produce that holiness.

Questions to Consider

  • Do you ever forget that the ability to will and do spiritual good is from God’s grace alone?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 177

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Day 177

Of Free Will.

Chapter 9, Paragraph 4.

When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of Grace, he frees him from his natural bondage under sin,…

Scripture Lookup

Colossians 1:13

John 8:36

Reflection

Christian, sin no longer has any power over you. It is not your master. Those who are converted are freed from the bondage of sin. The guilt it holds over us is removed by the work of Christ, and we need not fear that we will be forever desiring sin. We are free!

Who is it that frees us from this bondage? Definitely not us! We cannot look in the mirror and say each morning, “I am freed from sin” and voila – it happens! No, we are powerless to change ourselves. It is God who converts us from slaves to sin to adopted sons of Himself. He makes the provision for our sin. He changes our state of loving sin to hating it. God alone makes this happen.

Knowing that it is God who has freed us from the bondage of sin gives us hope, for this freedom is an act of an all-powerful Being. Therefore, there is no way that this act of redemption could be half-baked: “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” We are freed from sin, all thanks to Him!

 

Questions to Consider

  • Do you ever doubt that as a Christian you are freed from sin’s rule in your life?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 176

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Day 176

Of Free Will.

Chapter 9, Paragraph 3.

” …is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself; or to prepare himself thereunto.

Scripture Lookup

Titus 3:3-5

John 6:44

Reflection

Lying on the floor, an elderly woman called out to her emergency alert system: “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” That tv commercial of a couple decades ago enjoyed immense popularity, spawning t-shirts and jokes. Despite the cheesiness of the commercial, though, that one phrase – “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” – describes the state of mankind concerning salvation. Because of the corrupt nature humanity inherited when Adam and Eve fell, there is nothing we can to do restore ourselves to that place of communion with God.

Our modern culture likes to tell us that we can have it all. Great job, good friends, health, happiness, inner peace – anything can be ours if we just visualize it or work hard enough for it. In other words, we have the power within us to align stars and create our own destiny, no matter what lies in our way. Such philosophy makes us the strongest being in the universe – if we have enough drive to become it. This thinking has crept into some churches, offering a salvation of our own doing. Such insidious thinking places God in the backseat of saving faith, rather than the author and perfecter of it. The truth is, dead men cannot align stars, much less move an atom. We are wholly dependent on Christ to save us.

We are fallen, and we cannot get up. Unlike that elderly woman in that old commercial, the unregenerate man or woman cannot even cry out for help. Our wills must be changed so that we can will that which is spiritually good. Thankfully, God is the bringer of life!

Questions to Consider

  • Are you guilty of expecting people to save themselves, rather than relying on the Holy Spirit to regenerate them?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 175

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Day 175

Of Free Will.

Chapter 9, Paragraph 3.

” …so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in Sin,…”

Scripture Lookup

Eph. 2:1,5

Reflection

People, in their corrupted, fallen nature, do not want to be saved.

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. It is foolishness for them because, in their view, they don’t need saving. Surrounded by comfort, family, and friends, they have all they desire. Why change your life if there’s nothing wrong with it?

Or there are some who are perishing that are not pleased with their life. They want a solution and are eager to follow any promise of deliverance – except the true one. Backing away from the gospel, they readily turn to a false one.

While mankind has a free will and the ability to act upon that will, that will is averse to any good concerning salvation. This is a result of the corrupted nature inherited from Adam and Eve. With sin seeping through every pore of ourselves, it is impossible that we could be stirred to any interest in redemption on our own.  We need intervention before any thought of the gospel sparks interest in us.

Questions to Consider

  • If fallen people are averse to any spiritual good, how does that affect your evangelism?

 

A Little time With The 1689: Day 174

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Day 174

Of Free Will.

Chapter 9, Paragraph 3.

Man by his fall into a state of sin has wholly lost all ability of Will, to any spiritual good accompanying salvation;…”

Scripture Lookup

Romans 5:6, 8:7

Reflection

When Adam and Eve sinned, they plunged humanity into a state of sin and misery. As a result, every human born of ordinary generation has inherited a corrupted nature. This corruption did not leave man’s free will unscathed. There has been a fatal malfunction in his will ever since.

Does humanity still have free will? Yes. Mankind is able to choose freely and has the ability to act upon that choice. However, the will that we are born with differs from the will Adam originally had in one vital respect: it has totally lost any ability to choose that which is good and well-pleasing to God. That ability has been stripped from us, never to return without divine intervention. No amount of “positive thinking” will ever enable the corrupted will to change the fallen man’s state.

Salvation can never be sought by oneself. The fallen man has no direction of where to find such salvation, no knowledge of how to obtain it, and no ability to move towards it. This is why Christ’s offices of Prophet, Priest, and King are essential for our salvation. Without His work in our lives, we would remain blind and lame.

Questions to Consider

  • Do you ever expect fallen people to will any spiritual good on their own?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 173

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Day 173

Of Free Will.

Chapter 9, Paragraph 2.

“…but yet was mutable, so that he might fall from it.

Scripture Lookup

Genesis 3:6

Reflection

Adam and Eve were righteous. They knew God’s law, loved it, and were able to keep it. They had open and unashamed fellowship with God and each other. Their interactions with creation had no hint of wrong.

And yet…

…with such an ability to will and choose good, there was also an ability for Adam to change his mind. He could will to disobey God and act on that disobedience. This is proven to us in Genesis when he took the fruit from Eve and ate it. The upright man, righteous and holy, plunged from such a happy state to a miserable condition. And it was entirely his choice. Despite blaming everyone else around them, Adam and Eve were fully responsible for their action. Adam was not so severely tempted as to be unable to resist. He had the ability to freely choose what was pleasing to God, but he willingly disobeyed.

What Adam and Eve did was disgraceful. Lest we be too harsh with them, though, let’s remember that we freely choose to sin as well. Christians, who have the ability to overcome temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), still fail each and every day because we decide to do so. This makes Christ’s intercession on our behalf all the more necessary and urgent, so that we may continue to rely on His work, and not on our own efforts. Through His provision may find a way of escape, and resist evil.

Questions to Consider

  • Do you consider Adam and Eve worse sinners than yourself?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 172

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Day 172

Of Free Will.

Chapter 9, Paragraph 2.

Man in his state of innocency, had freedom, and power, to will, and to do that which was good, and well-pleasing to God;…”

Scripture Lookup

Ecclesiastes 7:29

 

Reflection

There was a time when man freely chose to do good, and was capable of doing it. Pleasing God was an ability that Adam had without the intervention of a mediator. Such an ability is foreign to us, and hard to comprehend. How could Adam do good without relying on the work of the Holy Spirit? What does it mean to be upright without redemption?

Thomas Boston, in Human Nature In Its Fourfold State, says thus: “[God] did not first make him, and then make him righteous, but in the very making of him, He made him righteous.” Boston explains that Adam had perfect knowledge of God’s law, and what God required of him; Adam’s will was inclined to be in line with the will of God; and that his affections were pure and holy. No war against sin raged within Adam and Eve in their pre-fallen state.

Everything Adam and Eve did before the Fall was done in keeping with God and His law. They tended the Garden of Eden and ruled over the creatures with incredible wisdom, for it was not tainted with sin. Guilt was unknown; all pleasures of the world were acceptable and delightful. Their character was above reproach. They were the glorious creation of God.

“Had Adam stood, none would have quarrelled with the representation.” -Thomas Boston

 

Questions to Consider

  • What do you think Adam and Eve were like before the Fall?