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In this last post, I end the discussion of proving the doctrine of inability. We can prove the doctrine of the inability of man is by discussing the work of regeneration. This is not a work where man is able to regenerate himself. This is not a work where man can make a decision to be regenerate either. Because the ability to make a spiritual decision implies that the person is spiritually able. The work of regeneration is a work of God that demonstrates God’s power: (more…)
This post discusses briefly Reformed anthropology. Reformed anthropology is a critical part of understanding Free Will. Reformed anthropology is derived from the Scriptures that makes it clear that the unregenerate man’s state is one of spiritual blindness, darkness or death: (more…)
What is meant by liberty? Hodge, “By liberty we mean the inalienable prerogative of the human soul of exercising volition as it pleases. In this sense man is as free now as before the fall.” Understand an important point what something has changed in the Fall but it wasn’t freedom or agency. It was ability. What we are able to do has changed. That we act in accordance with our nature has not. (more…)
Reformed theology in contrasts with Romanism has always maintained that Adam in his created state was made righteous. Holy. He was able not to sin and able to sin. He was not created glorified. He was created able to obey or disobey. He was created liable and susceptible to external temptation. While Adam was created this way. We are not like Adam. We are not born holy but imperfect. Our estate of birth is one of sin and misery. (more…)
These sections state and contrast the different conditions that “characterize the free agency of humanity in the four stages of innocence, hereditary sin, grace and glory.” In each state humanity is an unchangeable free agent. In each state humanity is responsible and always choosing or refusing in accordance with the innate desire. The faculties of humanity are according to their desires. The desires of the person are determined by the tastes (general or permanent), tendencies and habits of their character.
The responsibility lies within the person because they are desires that belong to the person. They are their tendencies and qualities of their own nature. Actions that are immoral come from a nature that is immoral. Actions that are immoral come from desires and decisions to act in accordance with those desires that are immoral. In the same way, if these actions are holy, they are his because he is holy.
What is meant by a free agent? Hodge:
(1.) That he has the power of originating action; that he is self-moved, and does not only move move as he is moved upon from without.
(2.) That he always wills that which, upon the whole view of the case presented by his understanding at the time, he desires to will.
(3.) That man is furnished with a reason to distinguish between the true and the false, and a conscience to distinguish between the right and the wrong, in order that his desires and consequent volitions may be both rational and righteous; and yet his desires are not necessarily either rational or righteous, but they are formed under the light of reason and conscience, either conformable or contrary to them, according to the permanent habitual disposition or moral character of the soul itself.
If humanity had a will that was determined it would be opposed to all reason. This would make humanity nothing but a “pitiful slave”. It can be common reason for us to look at see that men judge the morals of any kind from the intent of the heart. The heart, will, mind of humanity is what prompts us to act. It is what prompts us to sin. We act in ways that are not rational when we act contrary to our judgment and contrary to our inclination. This is not a free person. Nor is this a person who is responsible.
It is not hypothetical to think the human soul has power to act in a way contrary to its condition. Rather the human soul will act in accordance with its strongest desires. Humanity left to their own condition will always act in a way that is non-contradictory. If it were possible for humanity to act contrary to their nature, this could not be foreseen by God neither could it be controlled. Jesus speaks against this notion that humanity can act contrary to a nature left to its own volition. This is the fruit that is determined by the nature of the tree notes Hodge.
There is only one way to change the action of humanity. That is to change their character. There must be a change their “moral tendency and habit of the heart”
Matt 7:16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Matt 7:17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. Matt 7:18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Matt 7:19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Matt 7:20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
Matt 12:33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. Matt 12:34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matt 12:35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.Part 1