Freedom or Free will

New Christian Bible StudyNew Christian Bible Study

By Mr. Joseph S. David

Freedom or Free Will

Free will is the quality that distinguishes humans from animals. Animals cannot be either good or evil = they are what they are – but humans can choose. The Lord protects this freedom of will to the extent that He allows evil, because only loves that are freely chosen can be appropriated to an individual. Because we are all free to choose to do what we believe is right in the Lord’s eyes, or choose to do what we want, we can be formed into an image of the love we choose. The image may be heavenly or hellish, it’s our choice. No animal has such a choice.

The Lord has always given mankind a choice. Adam had a choice in the garden of Eden, Noah had a choice to obey about the ark or not, Abram had a choice to travel to Canaan or not, and the children of Israel had choices galore.

They all had received revelation of one kind or another, culminating in the Word from Moses, the prophets and the Gospels – what we now call the Bible. (You will find short explanations of the Most Ancient Church, the Ancient and Israelitish churches elsewhere on this site.) The writings for the New Church are a continuation of the Lord’s revelation. The knowledge that they had, and that we have today, from those revelations opens up the ability to make good choices, or bad ones.

We can’t change our loves ourselves. We can’t flip back our skull and throw a switch in our brain that makes us love our neighbor – but the Lord can do something like that over time. And without even opening up our skull! But He won’t do that unless we want Him to. We show Him that we want it to happen by acting as if He’d already done it. If we force ourselves to act as if we love our neighbor even though we don’t feel it yet, we will one day realize that, all unknown to us, He has reached in and changed us a bit. We may have forced ourselves, but free will means that we are free to force ourselves – it’s our choice.

Some people may believe that they can’t change. Maybe they try for a little while and don’t notice anything, so they lose heart. This is a lifetime project. All during our life in the natural world the Lord keeps us in a state of equilibrium between the influences of heaven and hell, just so that our will can move us a little bit one way or the other, so that we can remain in control. This is our freedom.

The Lord wants everyone born to come to His heaven, it’s what we are born for, but we are all free to decide for ourselves if we will do so or not.

(References: True Christian Religion 475, 483, 498, 500)

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A something analogous to Free Will in all Created Things

A something analogous to Free Will in all Created Things

Unless there had been a certain free will in all created things, both animate and inanimate, there could have been no creation. For as regards beasts, without free will in natural things there would be no choice of food conducive to their nourishment, nor any procreation and preservation of offspring, thus no beast. If there were not such freedom with the fishes of the sea, and the shellfish at the bottom of the sea, there would be no fish and shellfish. So unless it were in every little insect there would be no silkworm producing silk, no bee furnishing wax and honey, nor any butterfly sporting with its consort in the air and nourishing itself with the juices of the flowers, and representing the happy state of man in the heavenly aura after he has cast off his exuviae like the worm. Unless there were something analogous to free will in the soil of the earth, in the seed cast into it, in all parts of the tree springing from it, and in its fruits, and again in new seeds, there would be no vegetation. If there were not something analogous to free will in every metal and in every stone, common and precious, there would be neither metal nor stone, yea, nor even a grain of sand for this freely absorbs the ether, emits its natural exhalation, rejects its disused elements, and restores itself with new. Hence is the magnetic sphere about the magnet, a sphere of iron about iron, of copper about copper, of silver about silver, of gold about gold, of stone about stone, of nitre about nitre, of sulphur about sulphur, and a different sphere about all the dust of earth, from which sphere the inmost of every seed is impregnated, and its prolific principle vegetates for without such an exhalation from every particle of the dust of the earth there would be no beginning, and hence no continuance of germination. How otherwise than by what is exhaled from it could the earth penetrate with its dust and water into the inmost centre of a seed sown, as into “a grain of mustard seed, which is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a great tree“? (Matt. xiii. 32; Mark iv. 30-32). Since then freedom has been granted to all created subjects, to each according to its nature, why not free will to man according to his nature, which is that he may be spiritual? It is for this that free will in spiritual things has been given to man from the womb to the end of his life in the world, and afterwards to eternity. (TCR a 499)

What Free Will is

What Free Will is

That it may be known what free will is, and the nature of it, it is necessary that it should be known whence it is; from the recognition of its origin especially it is known not only that it is, but also what it is. Its origin is from the spiritual world, where the mind of man is kept by the Lord. The mind of man is his spirit, which lives after death. And his spirit is continually in company with its like in that world; and through the material body with which it is encompassed, his spirit is with men in the natural world. The reason why a man does not know that as to his mind he is in the midst of spirits is, that the spirits with whom he is consociated in the spiritual world think and speak spiritually, but the spirit of the man, while he is the material body, thinks and speaks naturally and spiritual thought and speech cannot be understood or perceived by the natural man, nor the reverse; nor therefore can they be seen. But when the spirit of a man is in association with spirits in their world, then he is also, with them in spiritual thought and speech, because his mind is inwardly spiritual but outwardly natural; and therefore by its interiors it communicates with them and by its exteriors with men. Through this communication man has a perception of things, and thinks about them analytically. If man had not this. he would think no more nor otherwise than a beast. So also if all intercourse with spirits should be taken away from him he would instantly, die. But that it may be comprehended how man can be kept in a middle state between heaven and hell, and thereby in the spiritual equilibrium whence he has free will, it shall be briefly explained:—The spiritual world consists of heaven and hell. Heaven is over head, and hell is beneath the feet there; not however in the centre of the earth inhabited by men, but beneath the earth of that world,—which is also of spiritual origin, and therefore has not extension, but the appearance of extension. Between heaven and hell there is a great interval, which to those who are there appears as an entire world. Into this interval evil from hell is exhaled in all abundance; and on the other hand, from heaven good also flows in there in all abundance. It was this interval of which Abraham said to the rich man in hell—” Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed; so that those who would pass over from hence to you cannot; neither can they who are there pass over to us” (Luke xvi. 26). Every man as to his spirit is in the midst of this interval, in order, solely, that he may be in free will. (TCR n. 475)

The spiritual equilibrium which is free will may be compared to a balance, in each scale of which equal weights are placed; if then a little be added to the scale of one side the tongue of the balance above vibrates. It is also similar to a carrying pole, or a large beam balanced upon its support. All and each of the things that are within man, as the heart, the lungs, the stomach, the liver, the pancreas, the spleen, the intestines, and the other organs, are in such an equilibrium. Hence it is that each one in the greatest quietness can perform its functions. So with all the muscles; without such an equilibrium of the muscles all action and reaction would cease, and man would no longer act as a man. Since then all things in the body are in such an equilibrium, all things in the brain also are in the same condition; consequently all things that are in the mind therein, which relate to the will and the understanding. (ibid. n. 478)

FREE WILL

FREE WILL

General Doctrine

Man cannot be reformed unless he has freedom, because he is born into evils of every kind, which yet must be removed in order that he may be saved; and they cannot be removed unless he sees them in himself, and acknowledges them, and afterwards ceases to purpose them, and at length holds them in aversion. Then first they are. removed. This cannot be effected unless a man be in good as well as in evil; for from good he can see evils, but cannot from evil see goods. The spiritual goods which a man is able to think of, he learns from childhood by reading the Word, and from preaching; and the moral and civil goods he learns. from a life in the world. This is the primary reason why man ought to be in freedom. Another reason is that nothing is appropriated to man but what is done from an affection, which is of the love. Other things indeed may enter, but no farther than into the thought, and not into the will; and what does not enter even into the will of a man does not become his; for the thought derives all that it has from the memory, but the will from the very life. No action is ever free which is not from the will, or what is the same from an affection which is of the love; for whatever a man wills or loves this he freely does. Hence it is that the freedom of man and the affection which is of his love or will are one. Man therefore has freedom in order that he may be affected by truth and good, or love them, and that thus they may become as his own. In a word, whatever does not enter in freedom into man does not remain; because it is not of his love or will, and the things which are not of a man’s love or will are not of his spirit; for the being [esse] of man’s spirit is the love or will. It is said the love or will because what a man loves that he wills. This then is the reason why a man cannot be reformed except in freedom. (HH n. 598)

He who does not know that no conjunction of good and truth, that is no appropriation of them, and therefore no regeneration can be effected except in man’s freedom, only casts himself into darkness and into grievous errors when he reasons about the Lord’s providence, about the salvation of man, and about the damnation of many. For he thinks that if the Lord will He can save every one, and this by innumerable means; as by miracles, by the dead who shall rise again, by immediate revelations, by angels who shall withhold from evils and impel by strong manifest power to good, and by many states into which when man is led he will repent; and by-many other means. But he does not consider that all these means are compulsory, and that by them a man cannot be reformed. For whatever compels a man does not impart to him any affection; and if it be of a nature to impart it binds itself to an affection of evil. For it appears as if it infused and indeed does infuse a holy [feeling]; but yet when’ the state is changed the man returns to his former affections, that is to evils and falsities; and then that holy [feeling] conjoins itself with evils and falsities and becomes profane, and such that it leads into the most grievous hell of all. For he first acknowledges and believes, and is also affected by what is holy, and afterwards denies, yea turns away from it. Hence at this day manifest miracles are not wrought, but miracles that are not obvious or manifest, which are of such a nature that they do not inspire a holy [feeling] nor take away man’s freedom; and therefore the dead do not rise again, and man is not withheld from evils by immediate revelations and by angels, and forced on to good by strong manifest power. It is man’s freedom upon which the Lord operates and by which He bends him; for all freedom is of the love or its affection, and therefore of his will. If he does not receive good and truth in freedom it cannot be appropriated to him, or become his. For that to which he is compelled is not his, but is of him who compels; since he does not do it of himself, although it is done by himself. (AC n. 4031)

If men had not free will in spiritual things, all the inhabitants of the world might within a day be brought to believe in the Lord; but this cannot be done, for the reason that what is not received by man from a free will does not remain. (TCR n. 500)