Clear Thinking and Plain Speaking Concerning the Freedom of the Will

by Dennis Michelson
(Painesville, Ohio)

Romans 6:11-14

Introduction: John Owen wrote the following -

We do not absolutely oppose free-will. We grant man, in the substance of all of his actions, as much power, liberty, and freedom as a mere created nature is capable of. We grant him to be free in his choice from all outward coactions, or inward natural necessity, to work according to election and deliberation, spontaneously embracing what seemeth good to him.

Now call this power free will, or what you please, so you make it not supreme, independent and boundless, we are not at all troubled. We are not properly free until the Son makes us free . . . a self-sufficiency for operation, without the effectual motion of Almighty God, the first cause of all things, we can allow neither to men or angels, unless we intend to make them gods; and a power of doing good, equal unto that they have of doing evil, we must not grant to man by nature, unless we will deny the fall of Adam, and fancy ourselves still in Paradise.

The context for our text is found in Roman 6:6. Read it carefully. We who have been redeemed are not unglorified schizophrenics with two competing selves. Our old self has been crucified and we are now a new creature in Christ. Although the inside is new, the outside (flesh) is not.

Suffice it to say that before we were saved we engaged in sin because we had to but after we are saved we sin because we choose to do so.

1. The Position of the Believer (6:11)

a. He is dead unto sin

b. He is alive unto God

c. He is in Christ Jesus

2. The Practice of the Believer (6:12-13)

This is where most of us struggle. God breaks the power of cancelled sin and sets the prisoner free. Now the real free will comes into play as we -

a. Tell our body to obey rather than our body telling us what to do (12)

b. Employ the members of our body for righteousness rather than unrighteousness (13)

c. Settle our surrender - yield yourself unto God (13)

3. The Potential of the Believer (14)

Do this and live
The law commands
But gives me neither feet nor hands

A better word the gospel brings
It bids me fly
And gives me wings.

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