The Wonderful Gift of Free Will
1, 2. What wonderful gift is part of our makeup?
TO UNDERSTAND why God has permitted suffering and what he will do about it, we need to appreciate how he made us. He did more than create us with just a body and a brain. He also created us with special mental and emotional qualities.
2 A key part of our mental and emotional makeup is free will. Yes, God implanted in us the faculty of freedom of choice. It was indeed a wonderful gift from him.
How We Are Made
3-5. Why do we appreciate free will?
3 Let us consider how free will is involved in God’s permission of suffering. To begin with, think about this: Do you appreciate having the freedom to choose what you will do and say, what you will eat and wear, what kind of work you will do, and where and how you will live? Or would you want someone to dictate your every word and action every moment of your life?
4 No normal person wants his life taken out of his control so completely. Why not? Because of the way God made us. The Bible tells us that God created man in his ‘image and likeness,’ and one of the faculties God himself has is freedom of choice. (Genesis 1:26; Deuteronomy 7:6) When he created humans, he gave them that same wonderful faculty—the gift of free will. That is one reason why we find it frustrating to be enslaved by oppressive rulers.
5 So the desire for freedom is no accident, for God is a God of freedom. The Bible says: “Where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17) Hence, God gave us free will as part of our very makeup. Since he knew the way our minds and emotions would work, he knew that we would be happiest with free will.
6. How did God create our brain to work in harmony with free will?
6 To go with the gift of free will, God gave us the ability to think, weigh matters, make decisions, and know right from wrong. (Hebrews 5:14) Thus, free will was to be based on intelligent choice. We were not made like mindless robots having no will of their own. Nor were we created to act out of instinct as were the animals. Instead, our marvelous brain was designed to work in harmony with our freedom of choice.
The Best Start
7, 8. What fine start did God give our first parents?
7 To show how caring God was, along with the gift of free will, our first parents, Adam and Eve, were given everything that anyone could reasonably want. They were put in a large, parklike paradise. They had material abundance. They had perfect minds and bodies, so they would not have to get old or get sick or die—they could have lived forever. They would have had perfect children who could also have had a happy, everlasting future. And the expanding population would have had the satisfying work of eventually turning the entire earth into a paradise.—Genesis 1:26-30; 2:15.
8 Regarding what was provided, the Bible relates: “God saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) The Bible also says of God: “Perfect is his activity.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) Yes, the Creator gave the human family a perfect start. It could not have been better. What a caring God he proved to be!
Freedom Within Limits
9, 10. Why must free will be properly regulated?
9 However, did God purpose for free will to be without limits? Imagine a busy city without any traffic laws, where everybody could drive in any direction at any speed. Would you want to drive under those conditions? No, that would be traffic anarchy and would surely result in many accidents.
10 So too with God’s gift of free will. Unlimited freedom would mean anarchy in society. There have to be laws to guide human activities. God’s Word says: “Behave like free men, and never use your freedom as an excuse for wickedness.” (1 Peter 2:16, JB) God wants free will to be regulated for the common good. He purposed for us to have, not total freedom, but relative freedom, subject to the rule of law.
11. Whose laws were we designed to obey?
11 Whose laws were we designed to obey? Another part of the text at 1 Peter 2:16 (JB) states: “You are slaves of no one except God.” This does not mean an oppressive slavery, but, rather, it means that we were designed to be happiest when in subjection to God’s laws. (Matthew 22:35-40) His laws, more than any laws devised by humans, provide the best guide. “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk.”—Isaiah 48:17.
12. What freedom of choice do we have within God’s laws?
12 At the same time, God’s laws allow for great freedom of choice within their boundaries. This results in variety and makes the human family fascinating. Think of the different types of food, clothing, music, art, and homes throughout the world. We surely prefer to have our choice in such matters rather than have some other person decide for us.
13. What physical laws must we obey for our own good?
13 Thus we were created to be happiest when subject to God’s laws for human behavior. It is similar to being subject to God’s physical laws. For instance, if we ignore the law of gravity and jump off a high place, we will be injured or killed. If we ignore the internal laws of our body and stop eating food, drinking water, or breathing air, we will die.
14. How do we know that humans were not created to be independent of God?
14 As surely as we were created with the need to submit to God’s physical laws, we were created with the need to submit to God’s moral and social laws. (Matthew 4:4) Humans were not created to be independent of their Maker and be successful. The prophet Jeremiah says: “It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step. Correct me, O Jehovah.” (Jeremiah 10:23, 24) So in every way humans were created to live under God’s rulership, not their own.
15. Would God’s laws have been a burden for Adam and Eve?
15 Obedience to God’s laws would not have been burdensome for our first parents. Instead, it would have worked for their welfare and that of the entire human family. Had the first pair stayed within the limits of God’s laws, all would have been well. In fact, we would now be living in a wonderful paradise of pleasure as a loving, united human family! There would not have been wickedness, suffering, and death.
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The Creator gave humans a perfect start
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Would you want to drive in heavy traffic if there were no traffic laws?