“The Consequences of Freewill”

"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live..."

(Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Sometimes God is accused by critics as having created evil based on passages like Isaiah 45:7 which reads, "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things" (KJV) However, what the King James Version renders as "evil" is speaking more broadly of the distress and disaster which people experience as a result of their sin (Ex. 34:6-7). In this passage, God is not claiming to be the author of moral evil but rather that he has the power to bring calamity as a just judgment (Amos 3:6). But if Isaiah 45:7 doesn't teach that God created evil is he no at least responsible for its existence?

Let’s examine a few possibilities of God’s creation of the universe of which there can only be four:

  1. That God would create nothing - where there is no possibility for good or for evil to exist.
  2. That God would create an amoral universe - where there is no such thing as good or evil.
  3. That God would create a universe without freewill - where there is no possibility of evil.
  4. That God would create a universe with freewill - where there is possibility of both good and evil.

The only universe in which love can exist is the fourth possibility, a universe where we have the power of choice. This is the universe God chose to create, a universe filled with human beings who are designed both to love and be loved by others. Love is the supreme ethic and the deepest longing of every human heart, hence the echoes of the great commandments (Mt. 22:34-40).

If we erase freewill, we also erase the possibility of giving and receiving love. These two concepts, love and choice, depend on one another. For love to truly be love it must be expressed by freewill and not by force. Love cannot be coerced or cajoled only given freely.

However, while freewill opens the door to love it also opens the door to suffering. The possibility of love makes us all extremely vulnerable to pain and loss, the effects of sin. In a close relationship, love is what makes loss and betrayal cut so deep. But those of us who have loved deeply will agree to keep the heart open is well worth the temporary pain (cf. 2 Cor. 6:11; 7:2-4). Tennyson said it well, "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."

In human relationships, love can be fickle and tenuous, depending on meeting certain criteria. Not so with divine love, which has no expiration date or conditions. To receive the eternal benefits of God's love, however, is a choice of freewill. Eternal residence either with God or away from him is ultimately a choice God has left to us.

C.S. Lewis once famously stated, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”

A father who takes his son to the doctor for a vaccination may appear cruel from the son's limited perspective. But the father’s decision that once perplexed and angered the son is clearly understood when he is safe from the disease ravaging his town years later.

Time and trust are necessary components to making sense of the evil in our world and the existence of our all-powerful and ever-loving God. In time, those who choose to wait on the Lord will understand their pain and learn to even rejoice in it (2 Cor. 4:16-18). Thank God for His love and the ability he has given each of us to return it.