What is Free Will in the Bible?


The concept of free will is an important topic in Christianity, as it has profound implications for our understanding of God, human nature, and the choices we make in life. As followers of Christ, we often hear that our salvation is the result of God’s grace, but at the same time, we are called to exercise our free will in choosing to follow Jesus. This article aims to explore the concept of free will in the Bible, specifically the New King James Version (NKJV), to provide a better understanding of this complex yet fundamental aspect of our faith.

Throughout the Bible, we can find numerous instances that demonstrate the existence of free will, as well as the responsibility that comes with it. The tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility is a recurring theme in the Scriptures, and we must approach this topic with humility and a willingness to engage in deep reflection. In this article, we will delve into the biblical understanding of free will, examine key passages that highlight the significance of free will in our relationship with God, and discuss the implications of this concept on our spiritual journey.

Our exploration of free will in the Bible will help us to better understand the balance between God’s sovereignty and our human responsibility. As believers, we are called to make choices that align with God’s will, and recognizing the role of free will in our lives can help us to live out our faith more authentically. By examining the biblical evidence and engaging with the wisdom of the Scriptures, we can gain valuable insights that can strengthen our walk with Christ and help us to grow in our understanding of the incredible gift of free will.

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free will in the Bible

The Concept of Free Will in the Bible

The concept of free will in the Bible is grounded in the understanding that God has created humans with the ability to choose between good and evil. This capacity for moral decision-making sets us apart from other creatures and reflects the image of God in us (Genesis 1:26-27). The very existence of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) and other moral laws in the Scriptures presupposes our ability to choose between obedience and disobedience.

One of the earliest and most well-known examples of free will in the Bible is the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2-3). God explicitly instructed them not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17), but they ultimately chose to disobey and sin against God. This account demonstrates that, from the very beginning, humans have possessed the ability to choose between obedience and disobedience.

Key Passages on Free Will

Several passages throughout the Bible offer further insight into the concept of free will. Some of these passages include:

Joshua 24:15

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

In this passage, Joshua challenges the Israelites to choose whom they will serve, emphasizing that the decision is ultimately up to them.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

In this passage, God presents the Israelites with a choice between life and death, blessing and cursing. He encourages them to choose life, which involves loving and obeying Him, but ultimately leaves the decision in their hands.

John 7:17

“If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.”

Here, Jesus emphasizes the role of an individual’s will in determining whether they will accept His teaching as divinely inspired. The choice to follow God’s will is presented as a matter of personal decision.

Revelation 3:20

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

In this verse, Jesus invites individuals to respond to His call and enter into a relationship with Him. The decision to open the door and accept His invitation is an exercise of one’s free will.

Implications of Free Will on Our Spiritual Journey

The biblical understanding of free will has several important implications for our spiritual journey. First, it underscores the reality of human responsibility. We are accountable for our choices, and we will ultimately be judged based on how we have exercised our free will (Romans 14:12).

Second, the concept of free will reminds us of the importance of living a life of faith and obedience. As followers of Christ, we are called to make choices that align with God’s will and His commandments (1 John 2:3-6). Our free will enables us to respond to God’s grace and to actively participate in the process of sanctification (Philippians 2:12-13).

Finally, the existence of free will highlights the significance of God’s grace in our salvation. While we have the freedom to choose whether or not to follow Christ, it is ultimately God’s grace that enables us to choose wisely and to experience the transformative power of the Gospel (Ephesians 2:8-9).


In conclusion, the concept of free will in the Bible is a profound and essential aspect of our faith that informs our understanding of human nature, our relationship with God, and our responsibility as followers of Christ. Through the examination of key passages and biblical teachings, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the gift of free will and the role it plays in our spiritual journey.

The challenge for each of us, as believers, is to exercise our free will in a manner that honors God and reflects our commitment to following Jesus. By embracing the freedom to choose and recognizing the importance of aligning our choices with God’s will, we can grow in our faith, deepen our relationship with Christ, and experience the fullness of the life that God has planned for us.

May our exploration of free will in the Bible inspire and equip us to make choices that glorify God and bear witness to the transformative power of His grace in our lives. As we continue to seek understanding and wisdom from the Scriptures, let us remember that our free will is a precious gift, a reflection of God’s image within us, and a means by which we can participate in the unfolding story of God’s redemptive plan for humanity.

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