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Featured Concerning Free Will

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by canadyjd, May 5, 2022.

  1. canadyjd

    canadyjd Well-Known Member

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    In another thread, RevMitchell asked a very good question that really made me think.

    The question in reference to Romans 7 and “free will”…

    Are the unregenerate able to do anything that is “good”?

    The “good” mentioned in Romans 7 is the OT Law, and the inability to do “good”, in context, is keeping OT Law.

    Upon reflection upon this question, I remembered Paul had written that Gentiles keep at least some aspects of the OT Law.

    Is this a “good” that God finds acceptable?

    peace to you
     
  2. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    My questions was a response to someone else' having brought up doing good. The point of my question was to determine if they believed that a lost person could do good at all. There reason being is if it is true that lost people can only follow their lost nature then it cannot be true that they can do some things that are good while lost. It has to be true that lost people can only evil things in order for reformed theology to be true.
     
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  3. JesusFan

    JesusFan Well-Known Member

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    Lost sinners can still go "good deeds". its just that none of their deeds are totally motivated to please God, are selfish to some degree, and that none shall ever get justified by doing any of them, as to a Holy God still putrid works!
     
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  4. AustinC

    AustinC Well-Known Member

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    Luke 18:19
    And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
     
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  5. Reformed1689

    Reformed1689 Well-Known Member

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    Good in God's eyes or man's eyes?
     
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  6. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    All our "works of righteousness" are as filthy rags to God. There is no one (of the lost) who do good. But the lost can give "good" gifts to their kids.

    It is not that the lost's efforts are insincere, but rather our unholiness contaminates everything we think and do. So we can do "works of righteousness" but they merit nothing in God's eyes. Salvation is by grace alone.
     
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  7. Reformed1689

    Reformed1689 Well-Known Member

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    Mark it down! Me and Van agree!!
     
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  8. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    its an irrelevant question. Things like help somebody else, anything other than evil
     
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  9. canadyjd

    canadyjd Well-Known Member

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    Jesus condemned the Pharisees for giving alms to the poor because they had selfish motives.

    Does that demonstrate “doing good” can be seen differently by people and God.

    peace to you
     
  10. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Gensis 6:5
     
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  11. Darrell C

    Darrell C Well-Known Member
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    Just for the sake of discussion, I would suggest that the unregenerate can do good. Romans 2 states...


    Romans 2
    KJV

    12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

    13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

    14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

    15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another)


    It is reasonable to call the keeping of the Law to the point one is justified good, isn't it?

    But even the unregenerate can refrain from murder, adultery, stealing, et cetera. When it comes to having an understanding of spiritual things, all me,
    I would have to answer with, yes, God does find it good when men come into obedience with His will. I think we must remember that when Paul writes "...not the hearers of the Law are justified, but the doers of the Law are justified," he isn't advocating that men "keep the Law," he is simply pointing out that in that economy were men that feigned obedience (the hearers) and men that, because of the Law written on their hearts that were doers. Of the doers, they are said to be justified.

    Romans 2 KJV

    12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

    13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

    14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

    15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)


    However, I would also suggest that the justification in view is temporal. It should not be equated with the salvation we have in Christ in this Age. Those who are born again through faith in Christ will, when they die, go immediately into the presence of Christ. Those justified in the Old Testament did not, according to Luke 16, as well as the many Old Testament passages that refer to men going into Sheol/Hades. Unlike those justified in the Old Testament, we receive eternal life at the moment of salvation, that is the reason we are born again. God imparts His life unto us through the eternal indwelling that takes place at salvation.

    So again, I do believe God is pleased when natural men obey His will, but the fact that natural men do not murder each other doesn't equate to reconciliation with God. As touching the issue of "free will," we would again distinguish between the temporal and the eternal, the fleshly and the spiritual. Men have free will in a temporal sense: for example, they can decide which clothes to put on when they get dressed, providing their wives approve. They can make the conscious decision not to lie about something. But in the eternal and spiritual context, Paul makes it clear that the natural man cannot perceive or receive the spiritual things of God:


    1 Corinthians 2:12-14 KJV

    12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

    13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

    14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.


    "Spiritual discernment" is said to have the Spirit of God as the cause. It is the Holy Spirit that has since the beginning enlightened men to spiritual truth. In this Age the Comforter is the One that enlightens the minds of unbelievers that they might believe on Christ:


    John 16:7-9
    King James Version

    7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

    8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

    9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;


    The Holy Spirit has always performed this ministry:


    Acts 7:51-52 KJV

    51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

    52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:


    And men have consistently resisted His ministry. He is the One that filled the Prophets that they might speak forth the Word and Will of God to men, that they might come into obedience. He is the One that provides the internal witness among natural men, that the "Law (or, the will of God)" might be written upon their hearts. The only difference between the ministry of the Comforter and what He has performed since the beginning is the revelation He is providing to men. In this Age the Mystery of the Gospel is being revealed to men, and again the result differs greatly. Those who respond to the Comforter do so, not because they have a natural ability to understand the Gospel and exercise "free will," but because God opens their understanding and brings conviction upon them. He sought to do the same thing in the Old Testament.

    Concerning Romans 7, I take the position that Paul is not comparing his past life with his new, but comparing the fleshly with the spiritual. I doubt there is one among us that cannot admit that sometimes we sin willfully. The reason? Because we are still in unredeemed bodies and an unredeemed creation. I think we have all had instances where we knew what the "good" thing to do was—and we didn't do it. We knew what the "evil" was—and we did it.

    This brings us back to the justification of the Gentiles in Romans: that they "kept the Law" written in their hearts was—good. But it wasn't a means of Eternal Redemption. Their fate, as did all Old Testament Saints, lie in Hades awaiting judgment. We are told Hades was divided between the just and the unjust. I view the side of the just (known as Abraham's Bosom by the Jews) as the place of the dead for the just until Christ died on the Cross to obtain Eternal Redemption for them. Not a single one of them arrived there because they, of their own free will—kept the Law, or any of God's commands to men in the Ages prior to the Law. They arrived there because God opened their understanding to spiritual truth and they responded to that truth. Some of them committed grievous sin within that limited relationship they had with God. David was a murderer and an adulterer, yet when he died he was at peace with God. Because he had faith in God.

    Everyone who is said to be of faith in Scripture share one thing: God sought them out. The natural man has no hope but that God will seek him/her out and enlighten their minds to the truth.


    God bless.
     
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  12. Darrell C

    Darrell C Well-Known Member
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    There is a silver lining:

    Genesis 6 KJV

    8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

    9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.


    Thanks be to God for His grace and mercy.

    God bless.
     
  13. Reformed1689

    Reformed1689 Well-Known Member

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    No it's not an irrelevant question. It is precisely the question that needs to be asked. Is anything that the unsaved does good or righteous in the eyes of God. The answer is no.
     
  14. Eternally Grateful

    Eternally Grateful Active Member

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    Romans 2:14
    for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,

    I think the passage you mentioned answers the question

    How can we say they are doing evil when they are doing things in the law.
     
  15. Eternally Grateful

    Eternally Grateful Active Member

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    That says no one is good.

    I agree. All have sinned and fall short

    That does not say no one can do a good deed.
     
  16. Eternally Grateful

    Eternally Grateful Active Member

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    that was not doing good. They were doing it to get people to look at them

    A lost person helping his wife because he loves her is him doing a good deed. Not from a selfish motive.
     
  17. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    "
    Noah was a just man; not only before men, but in the sight of God; and not by his own works of righteousness, for no man is just by them before God, but by the righteousness of the promised seed, the Messiah; for he "became heir of the righteousness which is by faith", Hebrews 11:7 the righteousness which was to be brought in by the Son of God, and which was revealed to him from faith to faith; and which by faith he received and lived upon, as every just man does, and believed in as his justifying righteousness before God; though he also lived a holy and righteous conversation before men, which may rather be intended in the next part of his character:

    "and perfect in his generations; not that he was perfectly holy, or free from sin, but was a partaker of the true grace of God; was sincere and upright in heart and life; lived an unblemished life and conversation, untainted with the gross corruptions of that age he lived in, which he escaped through the knowledge, grace, and fear of God; and therefore it is added, that he was holy, upright, and blameless "in his generations": among the men of the several generations he lived in, as in the generation before the flood, which was very corrupt indeed, and which corruption was the cause of that; and in the generation after the flood: or "in his ages" (w), in the several stages of his life, in youth and in old age; he was throughout the whole course of his life a holy good man.

    "And Noah walked with God: walked according to his will, in the ways of truth and righteousness; walked in a manner well-pleasing to him, and enjoyed much communion with him, as Enoch had done before him, Genesis 5:22." Gill Genesis 6 Gill's Exposition
     
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  18. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    John 6:63 KJV: "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
     
  19. Darrell C

    Darrell C Well-Known Member
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    The only thing I would disagree with is that men can be just before God through their works. Romans 2 points this out, as does Luke:


    Luke 1:5-6
    King James Version

    5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

    6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.


    These two are justified before God, and the reason is given. I think sometimes the attempt to eradicate the need for holiness in our lives as believers (whether Old or New Testament Saint) is a failure to understand that the justification above was not salvific, it was a temporal assessment of those in view.


    Luke 18:10-14 King James Version

    10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

    11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

    12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

    13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

    14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.


    Those justified in the above Scripture were still in need of Redemption, and still in need of the Savior. That they were declared just doesn't change that. In the Old Testament context, justification during ones lifetime was basically being "saved." But it shouldn't, in my view, be equated with Eternal Justification as bestowed through Christ:


    Romans 3:20-25
    King James Version

    20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

    21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

    22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

    23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

    24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

    25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;


    Those above sinned. That they were declared just doesn't negate their need for redemption. Here we see a distinction given to this time, when we are freely justified by His grace through the Redemption which is in Christ.

    We also see that this is how the sins of the Old Testament Saint was "covered" as well in v.25.

    We see that also here:


    Hebrews 9:12-15 King James Version

    12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

    13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:

    14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

    15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.


    So while I thoroughly agree that men will sin, and that righteousness is definitely not obtained through one's actions, I also have to recognize that justification (or the lack thereof) in the Old Testament is seen based on what men did with and within their lives.

    Abraham believed God, and it was accounted unto him righteousness. However, just as the salvation of the born again believer, we see that it is God Who went to him, gave him the Gospel (though it was still veiled at that time), and then Abraham had something to place his faith and hope in.

    God is the Savior. We love Him because He first loved us.


    God bless.
     
  20. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    You must know that "you must be born again".
    "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
    Every instance of true regeneration involves the "Conviction of an individual's personal sin against God".
    Every instance of true regeneration involves "Repentance toward God of an individual's personal sin against God".
    Then, Every instance of true regeneration involves "Faith" in Jesus Christ, as THE SAVIOR.
    These elements involved in True Regeneration are implied any time, "belief", "trust", "choose", etc. are used.
    The reason for wholesale loss of truth and the inability to decern Spiritual Truths is that the individuals who have "prayed for salvation" or "believed" in the flesh, without TRUE Conviction and Repentance and Faith are still lost in their sins.
    "Sin" must be recognized and repented of in order to have a Savior FROM SIN.
    In an instance where actual "free grace" is genuInely "believed, WITHOUT BEING BORN AGAIN, it is NOT WELL WITH THEIR SOUL.
    "BRING FORTH FRUIT MEET FOR REPENTANCE" Matthew 3:8 KJV
     
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