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What the New Testament Teaches about Our Ability to Choose

July 27, 2019

“Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” John 8:34 (NIV)

Jesus is not the only one who says that we’re sinners by nature. It’s also the teaching of the rest of the New Testament. Listen to the teachings of James, Paul, and John:

“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed” (Jas. 1:13-14). What causes us to be tempted? James tells us that sin has a deep root in us that most people don’t want to admit.

“The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so” (Rom. 8:7). Paul teaches that we do not naturally have the ability to follow God’s law.

That’s why John says that the new birth isn’t the result of a human decision: “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). But how did they come to believe? They were “born not of natural descent (not defined by race), nor of human decision (not by our choice)… but born of God” (1:13).

By nature our minds do not see the glory of Christ. By nature our hearts are resistant to the love of Christ. If God left you to your own choice, you would never choose Christ. This raises the question of the will. In what sense is the human will free?

React to this statement: “If God left you to your own choice, you would never choose Christ.”

The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the president and teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.

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