Freedom or control – which is it to be?

The world seems to be dividing up into two camps – those with power and wealth who want to control our every thought, word, act, and movement, and those who wish to be free to choose for themselves what they think, say and do, and where they go, without being pressured by outside forces against their will. 

So what does Scripture favour – freedom or control? Well, it presents a case for both of them, and even in the same verse, like Romans 8:9, where Paul writes, “You are no longer ruled by your desires, but by God’s Spirit who lives in you.” On the one hand, then, freedom from the controlling force of our desires, but on the other hand becoming subject to the power of God’s Spirit. Likewise Romans 6:22 – on the one hand “freed from sin,” but on the other “enslaved to God.” 

So there’s both freedom and control – or “enslavement,” as Paul calls it.  But these verses also sound like we’re always under the control, or rule, or influence, of one power or another – by either sin or the Spirit. Our choices are very much decided, therefore, by which power is at work in us the most. 

Paul gave an example from his own life too, in Romans 7, that on the one hand the driving force in his mind was being “a slave to God’s law,” but there was this other “law at work” in him that made him “a slave to the law of sin.” Either way, his life was determined by which power was controlling him at the time.   

So, actually everything in our lives is a type of slavery. Slavery, first of all, to being “ruled by the selfish desires of our bodies and minds,” Ephesians 2:3, but then later on, when “our minds are set on what the Spirit desires,” Romans 8:5.

So where’s freedom come in? If our lives are dictated by either our selfish desires or the Spirit’s desires, when can we ever choose for ourselves what to think, say, and do? 

But we do choose. It’s totally within our free will and choice as to which power we wish to be driven by. It’s actually the first time in our lives we’ve had a choice at all, because when our natural desires controlled us we had no choice. But now we can set our minds on what the Spirit desires as well. We can, as Paul writes in Galatians 6:8, “sow to please our sinful nature,” or “sow to please the Spirit.” Our choice. And what motivates our choice? The outcome of it. And experience, as well as Scripture, tells us what that is. 

So how does this apply to those who wish to control us with their freedom destroying dictates, agendas, and ideologies? We have a choice. We can let the thoughts, words and actions of our own nature dictate (and best of luck with that), or dive into Scripture for the Spirit’s thoughts, the outcome of which is certain, because it “always works for good,” Romans 8:28

5 thoughts on “Freedom or control – which is it to be?

  1. I did a search on on the term “freewill” and found 30 results, each one of which is associated with “freewill offerings.” There is no other association with this term in the entire Bible. As far as I’ve been able to ascertain, there’s self-will, and then there’s God’s will, but no “free” will.

    As to the idea of “freewill,” Ray Smith of sums it up in a nutshell:

    “I do NOT believe we have a “free” will. It is GOD who “wills” in us. Choices have nothing to do with free will. All choices are caused. There is no such thing as a choice that DID NOT have a cause! And when a choice is CAUSED to happen, it could NOT have been prevented. ….. There are hundreds of Scriptures that show that God is Sovereign and that man is caused to make his choices by circumstances that ONLY GOD CONTROLS.”

    An example would be the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 7:3), without which Pharaoh might have let the people go in the first place. But that would have foiled God’s plan to demonstrate His power and His glory in a very visible way—the plagues, the institution of the Passover, the parting of the Red Sea, etc. And so the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was necessary for God to accomplish His purpose.


  2. I believe God can and does put thoughts in people’s minds to affect a certain outcome.

    “For IT IS GOD who works in you both TO WILL and TO DO for HIS good pleasure.” (Php 2:13)


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