By Eusebio Tanicala, Ph.D.
Confusion results when God’s sovereign will, free will, sin and individual predestination are lumped together in a discussion. It is difficult to piece things together harmoniously. It is like giving a picture puzzle of 100 pieces to a Grade 1 pupil. For the Grade 1 pupil to understand and grow up, a teacher has to start with sticks numbering 1 up to 10. Believers in individual predestination love to use Romans 9:14-21 to promote God’s absolute sovereign will and justify individual predestination. Using Romans 9:14-21 should not be applied when discussing sin and salvation.
Predestinarians say that God directs all the events acted by man and all the flow of human history including the decisions of some men to disobey God.It is claimed that God’s sovereign will over rides man’s free will. On the other hand they claim that God is not to be blamed for any sin committed by any individual because it is the human individual who acted out the sin and not God. This kind of reasoning obviously is not logical
May I submit two basic lessons to understand God’s sovereign will and its relation to free will. Before any Bible student launches into the deep ocean of God’s sovereign will, free will, sin and predestination, Deal ONLY with the case of Lucifer who became the Devil. I appeal that the following questions should first be sincerely answered.
LUCIFER’S FREE WILL
1.Christ created all the invisible and visible dominions, authorities, powers and thrones including the angelic host where Lucifer belonged (Col. 1:15-16). Was Lucifer before he sinned given free will? My answer is “Yes, he was given free will.”
2. Perfect, beautiful, cherub Lucifer willed to forsake and leave the defined abode for him (Ezekiel 28:14-17; Jude 6, 2Peter 2:4) which was a gross disobedience. Was it the Sovereign Will of God that moved Lucifer to disobey or was it Lucifer’s own free will that made him disobey God? My answer is “Lucifer’s own free will led him to disobey and sin against God.”
3. Lucifer willed to forsake his defined abode and had an ambition of lifting himself up to an equality with the Most High Yahweh God. Was this ambition willed by the Sovereign Will of God or was it Lucifer’s own free will? My answer is, “Not willed by God’s Sovereign Will but willed by Lucifer’s free will.”
4. When Lucifer exercised his free will and he willed to disobey God and thus sinned against God, was Lucifer’s decision willed by the Sovereign Will of God? My answer is “No, not willed by the Sovereign Will of God but willed by the free will of Lucifer.”
5. Was it God’s will that Lucifer contradicted and disobeyed God’s Sovereign Will? My answer is “No, God’s Sovereign Will did not will that Lucifer disobeyed God, but it was Lucifer’s own free will to disobey God.”
6. Lucifer decided to harden his heart and free will to be the eternal adversary of God thus he became Satan (adversary), was it God’s pleasure to harden Satan’s heart and free will so that God would have an adversary? My answer is “God’s Sovereign Will did not harden Lucifer’s will but it was Lucifer’s own free will to harden himself in his rebellion and God permitted him to go the direction he wanted.”
7. Was it God’s Sovereign Will that predestined and hardened the free will of Satan to eternally oppose God? My answer is “No, it was not God’s Sovereign Will that predestined Lucifer to become Satan; rather it was Lucifer’s own free will that willed to become an adversary of God.”
8. Is it God’s Sovereign Will that wills Lucifer’s free will to remain an eternal Satan? My answer is “No, it is not God’s Sovereign Will that determines Satan’s disobedience, rather it is Satan’s own hardening of his free will to eternally oppose Yahweh God.”
9. Free will has a corresponding responsibility. When Satan was judged as a disobedient sinner, was it God’s Sovereign Will that carried the responsibility of Lucifer’s disobedience and sin? My answer is “No, God’s Sovereign Will is not answerable for the irresponsibility of Satan, rather it is Satan’s free will that is answerable for his own irresponsibility.”
10. Is it God’s Sovereign Will that wills for Satan to will that the great majority of the present six billion people’s will would will to disobey God and sin against God? My answer is “No, it is not God’s Sovereign Will that wills the disobedience today, rather it is the will of Lucifer that dominates the will of the billions of people in willing to disobey God.”
11. Did God’s Sovereign Will prevail over Satan’s free will during Satan’s rebellion? My answer is “No, God’s Sovereign Will did not prevail over Satan’s free will, rather Satan’s own free will and ambition prevailed over God’s sovereign will.”
12. Is God the absolute sovereign over His own creation from the beginning up to the end of time? My answer is “Yes, God is Absolute Sovereign but it does not mean that absolute sovereignty means complete dominance and complete control all the time. God’s complete and absolute rule comes in His own time, sometimes in a later time. God’s unlimited power could vanquish and banish Satan from the earth, but He would not yet. If God does not immediately punish Satan and his cohorts after the rebellion, it should not be the Absolute Sovereignty of God that we put under question, not His omnipotence. Rather it is God’s own time that we ask when. We merely ask, “Lord, when will you make all angels and all humans bow down and respect your majestic sovereignty’”
YOUR OWN ANSWER
After giving my answers to the basic questions above, the Bible student should now be able to formulate his own answer to the following question: “Was God’s Sovereign Will absolute and irresistible over the free will of Lucifer before and during the rebellion, and is God’s Sovereign Will absolute over the will of Satan today?” Additionally, we ask, “Did God predestine the perfect and beautiful Lucifer to become the pangit and lying Satan who seduces billions of souls that are all going down to hell?”
Be careful with your answers. Don’t make God the author of disobedience and sin. When one takes the position that God determines and directs every decision and move of a person and then curses that person in hell is not the teaching of scriptures.
Your observations and reactions are welcomed.