Choice & the Sanctifying of the Will

Free will is not merely the ability to choose between good and evil: for that is merely freedom of choice, which every man possesses. But the man whose will is truly free is able to choose between multiple goods, and also become learned in discerning the most virtuous.

For choice, being an external impersonal principle, has no personal moral quality; whereas the will which performs the choosing is indeed held accountable, as it is a faculty of persons. The heart of this matter lies in the allegiance of the will, not in whether or not men are freely allowed to choose – for indeed they all are. The will is swayed much by the desire of the soul; so that the more sanctified the soul, the less it considers evil to even be a viable option, and the more goods from the providential hand of God are then opened to its discretion.

Therefore, the most perfectly free will would be that which beholds both good and evil, but chooses that which is only good. Or, to cast this as the choice in the garden according to philosophical terms: the most perfectly free wil chooses the Tree of Life over the Tree of False Dialectics; the latter being “knowledge, falsely so-called”.

Men come to Christ on their part by choice; but they remain obedient in Him on their part by the freeing of the will from sinful desire, through the renewing of their mind according to His Word, which teaches them every good thing, communicating to them the very Life of God.

The Test of Solitude

He (Elijah) said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
… “Yet I (the Lord) will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
1 Kings 19:14, 18 (ESV)

There must come a time in every man’s life, if he would continue to walk in the approval of God, that he realizes himself not to be the primary target of the devil, nor the sole barometer of the spiritual progress of other men; and that he likely does not perceive the secret devices of God’s true workings in others. And by degrees he must conyinually be reminded of this again and again.

He must indeed learn to walk in solitude and in the rejection of others; but this is for him to learn the trusting of God above all – it is not for him to merely become full of mere evil suspicion against his brother.

The man who lives vicariously through God’s past humbling of him, and thereby does not continue to humble himself today, deludes himself; and may quickly become as much a well of poison as he is a spring of living water to others.

The one who has become puffed up in his spiritual solitude will often predict that others will soon begin to avoid him due to his piety, his spiritual knowledge, or his comparative closeness to God; failing to see that this prediction is often only fulfilled because neither the wise nor many of the simple will long endure such a monster of pride, nor waste any time in vainly reasoning with him about it.

He will begin to manufacture his own rejection: for it is at the cost of others rather than himself. He will begin to think of his life as being quite representative of the rejection of Jesus by His own disciples, without having ever yet loved his own friends as Christ did.

And as those who loved him drift away, he will continue to spin his web of self-delusion, feigning humility, taking the weak-minded and gullible along with him. Therefore he warns agains the wise who warn him, and flatters the fools who flatter him.

He will have a secret kingdom all to himself, in which he is secretly the king over his domain of influence. The most unpardonable sin in his eyes is for another to take him less seriously than he takes himself.

(If only we could all see just how spiritually awake and correct he is: then we would all truly understand…)

The only way that such a man may exit this cycle of self-deception is honesty without bounds, without excuses, without agendas, and most importantly, without any regard for the self-image that has been built upon the sands of his completely undeserved martyr complex.

The man who becomes proud rather than humble in the midst of spiritual solitude has wrongly looked not unto Christ, but rather unto others, whom he despises, in order to confirm his delusions of grandeur.

Love… does not take into account a wrong suffered,
1 Corinthians 13:5 (NASB)

At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!
2 Timothy 4:16 (ESV)

Gregory of Nyssa – Quote on Running The Race

“For in the same way that the start of death is the end of life, so too ceasing from the contest of virtue marks the start of the course of wickedness.”

– Gregory of Nyssa [A.D. 335-395]


Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead…

Philippians 3:13 (NKJV)


The Greatest Injustice

The greatest injustice, and the highest crime in all of creation, is taking place wherever the holiness of God is not being perfectly reflected.

And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!”
Isaiah 6:3 (ESV)

Let no man speak of justice whose heart has neither been taught to fear, nor begun to be undone, by the holy, holy, holy Lord of glory.

“Against You, You only, have I sinned…”
Psalm 51:4

Only when all that a man has left are the broken remains of his pitiful naked self laid bare before the majesty of the Holy One – only then does he truly see, that he may be raised up through the dust and ashes of repentance to heed a call beyond his own means.

On Self-Deception – John Calvin

“The vices of which we are full we carefully hide from others, and we flatter ourselves with the notion that they are small and trivial; we sometimes even embrace them as virtues.”
– John Calvin

Alpha & Omega

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Revelation 22:13

Jesus Christ precedes all causes, and exceeds all ends.

Let His revelation determine our reason,
Let His faith determine our knowledge,
Let His hope determine our wisdom,
Let His love determine our life.
For from the least to the greatest, these all proceed from Him; and their end is in Him.

Will & Desire, Nature & Grace

Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Psalm 37:4

The heart which delights in the Lord will eat the fruit of Godly desires; but the heart which delights in itself will eat the fruit of sinful desires.

The sinful will desires not against its own nature, nor do the sinful desires will against their own nature.
Likewise, the sanctified will desires not against its own nature, nor do the sanctified desires will against their own nature.

But the will of each desires against the nature of the other, and the desire of each wills against the nature of the other; for two contrary natures cannot be at peace in one man.

Therefore God in Christ became man so that body soul and spirit might escape the sinful nature through the likeness of His death and resurrection by faith; and the God-man first became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God – not in ourselves – but in Him.

As the scriptures say,

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
Galatians 5:17

If you have found a hunger and thirst for righteousness, it is His mercy alone to which you owe thanks, and His grace alone by which you must walk; only then will you find HIS righteousness bestowed upon you as a garment, and HIS holiness poured upon you as pure water.

There is no righteousness you can apprehend, no mercy you can earn, and no state of grace you can achieve. But that which Christ has apprehended, earned, and achieved, He now gives; and He gives it beginning in the seed of faith, which He alone also plants, waters and gives growth to: so that the man of faith might, by the application of grace, apprehend – and not apprehend that which God has already apprehended for him, but rather apprehend that which God has apprehended him for.

For that which the Spirit of God concieves is “born, not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” And if such a thing born should become full-grown, it must not forsake, but rather mature in, the very same elements of the very same Christ. For His gospel is unto His own, and they hang upon it, and He is their vindicator unto life.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” We are not our own workmanship, nor can we ever be forged in the foundry of our own will unto these good works. For only His will is that which follows after His desire, and so proceeds from His divine nature. And this perfect cascade of nature down unto holy deeds cannot be ascended from deeds unto nature by any man, any more than a worm can ascend the watery steps, the grace and vigor for which is given only to the river trout.

It is our tendency, according to the flesh, to venerate the “free will” of man, which truly is free only within the realm of its given desires; so that we prove ourselves unfruitful in the actual works of God, building rather a faith unto ourselves (though we confess no such thing aloud), unto great and terrible disappointment.

For the will is free only to follow after the desires of the heart; and the desire is free only to follow after the dictates of nature.

Will is determined by desire, desire is determined by nature, and nature is determined by God.

Thou wilt say then unto me, “Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will?” Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, “Why hast Thou made me thus?”
Romans 9:19-20

God’s decree is not limited by the bounds of our desire; the bounds of our desire are rather set by God’s greater decree.

The soul which cries at the supposed “unfairness” of this arrangement has not considered the fierce wrath which he has deserved since before he was brought forth from the womb, and how merciful it is that divine justice has not yet been poured out upon him. For it is the kindness of God which leads us to repentance.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Romans 12:1-3

What, according to this scripture, does our ability to sacrificially offer ourselves derive from?
“The mercies of God”!

And how are we freed from being conformed to this world?
Not by renewing our own minds (which men are tended towards), but rather “by the renewing OF” our minds (a work of the Word and Spirit of God); which then leads to the working out in us of the singular decreed will of God, which singular will is “good, acceptable, and perfect.”

And the command here is one toward humility before God, which can be genuinely and soberly practiced only in light of God’s graceful gifting of faith toward each one who has ever found it.

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
1 Corinthians 15:10