Does man really have free will?
Can lost people decide for themselves to believe in Jesus and be saved?
These and other similar questions have been asked and argued over and over for last two millennia. I cannot begin to address or expect to answer them in this blog, but I will bring the Word of God to bear upon this matter.
“As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12)
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1)
“…having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;” (Ephesians 4:18)
“…we were still sinners…we were enemies” (Romans 5:8, 10)
These verses are just a small sample of the condition of lost humanity. They are lost like sheep without a Shepherd; they are also blind, evil, sinful, hateful and spiritually dead. Mankind despises the light of heaven and loves darkness (John 3:19), oh and before I forget, every unbeliever is also a slave of sin (Read all of Romans 6).
…Which brings me to Ezekiel 37:1-14. In this vision, God shows to his prophet a valley filled with very dry bones and then He asks: “Can these bones live?” Now, you and I know that dry bones CANNOT live and therefore CANNOT exercise any kind of “free” will, because when you are dead in sin, your spirit is also dead and therefore you do not have the moral ability to choose what is right.
A dry bone---which symbolically represents the lost soul of an unbeliever---can ONLY live again by the regeneration brought forth by the Word of God. It was the breath of God which gave life to the lifeless statue of Adam (Genesis 2:7) and it is the Word of God that brings faith and salvation to our hearts (Romans 10:17).
This is exactly what is portrayed in this vision. God commanded the prophet to “prophesy” to the bones and as he did, the bones got together, new bodies were formed and the Spirit of God brought life to all of them (Ezekiel 37:1-14).
These verses were a future prophecy for the reunification of Israel. After many centuries they returned to Palestine and became a nation. The prophecy is only partially fulfilled, as one day the remnant of Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26).
Sinners---Gentiles or Jews---are the dry bones waiting to hear the sweet music of the Gospel that can give eternal life to those who repent and believe. Preach the Word and dry bones will dance.
Many years ago I had the profound displeasure of watching in the infamous movie “Fatal Attraction.” The plot of this movie is simple, sinful and sad; and yet it contains a powerful message to all married couples: The “greener” grass we seek is actually Poison Ivy.
Beach balls---in a lesser degree---also hold a dangerous attraction over young children. I remember almost drowning when I was a young child, pursuing a capricious beach ball deep into the ocean. I was so captivated by this colorful ball, that I lost track of time and space. When I finally heard my mom yelling my name frantically, I turned around and suddenly realized that I didn’t know how to swim and descended rapidly to the bottom of the ocean before I was miraculously rescued by my uncle.
Temptation is always a fatal attraction. We run after it like little children following a bouncing ball into a street bursting with dangerous traffic. How many kids have perished in this manner! How many believers fall into the same trap over and over!
James recognized the fatal attraction of temptation when he said:
“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15).
There are many other attractions in this life that, although they may not prove to be fatal or destructive, they become a pesky distraction to our Christian walk with Jesus. These things may not be sinful in themselves, but if they turn into a constant distraction, they will eventually lead us astray into darker and more dangerous paths.
We are the sheep and Christ is our only Shepherd. As you know, sheep are not very strong or smart and they have a tendency to deviate from the right path. We must be wary of every “attraction” that is a potential distraction which could lead to destruction.
How can we avoid this danger? In the words of the apostle,
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:27-28)
Brother and sister, get closer to Jesus, so close that you can hear the voice of the Good Shepherd calling us to follow Him today. There is joy, life, power and many blessings for those of us who walk close to Jesus. There is no better or sweeter sound than the sound of His tender and loving voice.
Let us also fix our eyes on Him (Hebrew 12:2) and set our minds on those “things above” (Colossians 3:1). We need to be focused and alert to avoid any and all attractions, distractions and temptations.