True Freedom of Choice

Now Priebe and Larson are partially right when they emphasize freedom of choice and state that this is the critical factor in dealing with sin. They are correct that it is important in the context of the great controversy, but they, along with millions of Adventists and hundreds of millions of Christians have totally misunderstood the meaning of “freedom of choice.” They have completely misunderstood what they must choose and how they must choose, and as a result, they have set out to accomplish a task which is impossible.

I have no hesitation in saying that all those who seek victory by the means which Priebe and Larson describe will never find it . They will wallow in the hopeless mire of self-effort until Christ returns and be no closer to the victorious life than at the beginning. It matters not whether we believe in the keeping of the commandments or not. It matters not whether we are Trinitarians or whether we can perfectly define the nature and identity of God. The path outlined by Priebe and Larson is a dead end road and I pray God that all those of us who have been travelling this path will get off it as fast as possible. It goes nowhere.

But there is somebody who explains this far better than I can. Let us consider a quotation from the book, Steps to Christ . This quotation has become one of my favourites, although for years, it was one of the hardest for me to understand. At one time I was almost ready to throw the book away because I said, “Sister White doesn't know what she is talking about.” But praise God, when I finally understood the quotation, it became one of the great blessings of my life. Listen to what it says,

Many are inquiring, “How am I to make the surrender of myself to God?” You desire to give yourself to Him, but you are weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits of your life of sin. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity, and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you; {SC 47}

Now when I was reading this, back then, my heart was quickening because I said “this lady understands exactly what I am going through, surely now she's going to give me an answer.” I had made so many promises, so many resolutions, so many determinations that I was going to be better, and I had failed over and over, just like a rope of sand, you hold on to a rope of sand and try to pull it and see what happens. you will never move even a fraction of an inch. There I was, she was describing me. My ears, went up, expecting an answer, I was waiting and expecting, but look what I got ....

…but you need not despair. What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. {SC 47}

What was Ellen White saying? Is will power the answer? Now you see that she says choice and decision are critical, and she ties this to the “right action of the will. Well you know I read it, and I thought, “will power is the answer, so I am going to put my will to work.” So I set out to exercise my will, and you know what? I came upon the same hurdles, I was weak in moral power, controlled by the habits of the life of sin, my resolutions were like ropes of sand, all my will power did not make my resolutions any stronger than simply ropes of sand. In addition, I found another quotation in the same book which seemed to directly contradict what I was reading about the power of the will. It said,

It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Job 14:4; Romans 8:7. Education, culture, the exercise of the will, human effort, all have their proper sphere, but here they are powerless . They may produce an outward correctness of behavior, but they cannot change the heart; they cannot purify the springs of life.... {SC 18,19}

Our real problem is identified; “ our hearts are evil and we cannot change them. ” We were born this way and in this condition it is not possible for us to behave in a way which is pleasing to God. This problem is what the gospel must deal with. We are told plainly that the exercise of the will and human effort are powerless .

So I gave up, closed the book, and I was ready to dump it. For years after that I did not read much of it. But not too long ago I went back and I read it again, and do you know what I found? I found out that a few lines further on, it says,

…You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will ; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. {SC 47}

Freedom to Choose a new master

Do you see what it is saying? You cannot do good. You cannot choose to do the right things. You will always fail. You cannot change your heart, so your affections are always on the wrong things. Your will cannot make you do the right thing, your will cannot change those ropes of sand into ropes of steel, your will cannot make you make the right choices. But you can choose to serve Him!! You can give Him your will. There's only one thing that God gave you your will to do, it is to give that will to Christ! This is the only thing you can do. He will then work in you and work His will in you. You cannot choose to do what is right in terms of actions. But you can choose Christ. You can choose to give yourself to Him!! This is the true force of the will which you need to understand. When you give yourself to Him, then the work of your will is over. For you, the battle has come to an end. Now it is His work. Now it is He who works to will and to do ....

There we have it, free choice . The power of choice God has given to men, it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart , (will power will not change that), you cannot of yourself give to God it's affections , (will power will not do that), but you can choose to serve Him . You can give Him your will!

Therefore doing good is no longer impossible or even difficult, for Christ has already conquered sin. When He is living in you, when you have chosen Him, then it is He who makes the choices, He who works His will. Your part has come to an end. This is why good works appear in your life. The failures and defeats are over.

Now you know why I took the book back up and I held it to my breast. I recognized that God is not saying you must choose the right actions and must continue to choose the right actions moment by moment when you are confronted by wrong. He says, “give me your will, give me your will and then I'll do the rest.” He will work in us to will and to do His good pleasure if we give our will to Him. That is the right place of the will.

Yes the controversy is built on freedom of choice, but it's not a question of choosing actions, God is not saying that you must make a choice as you face each individual temptation and each time choose to do good. It is not that you are to go through life making this choice and that choice and finally developing to a place where you are always choosing all the right things, so you are then perfect. That is a method of attempting to become perfect by works. This is not God's way. The right method is to make a decision to give myself away entirely, to make a decision to abandon myself once and for all and to accept Christ instead of me. Not to choose actions, but to choose a person. That is the right use of the will.

Restoration Ministries

Restoration Ministries is dedicated to the promotion of the truths contained in the word of God. In particular to the restoration of those truths which have been cast down to the ground and trampled underfoot by the papacy, and adopted by her daughters.

Our purpose is to motivate men and women to commit themselves wholly to the task of personal preparation for the coming of the Lord, and to the taking of the final warning message to every nation, kindred, tongue and people.



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