God, the Freedom Freak

control

I made a nice list of phrases related to God, control, and freedom that you don’t have to agree with anymore, why you don’t have to, and better alternatives to each.

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You have heard it said, “God made you just the way you are.” But I say, God recreated us as new creations, just the way Jesus is.

If you mean he made you as his beloved child, then yes. But if you are referring to things like disease and depression (anything negative), then no. This only pertains to your true identity in Christ as a new creation and nothing that is part of the fall. God doesn’t make you sick or depressed. He heals you.

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You have heard it said, “God has a plan for your life.” But I say, Jesus is God’s only plan for your life.

This phrase is based on some verses in Jeremiah 29. Keep in mind, Jeremiah was not prophesying to you. God was speaking through him to the Israelites concerning the specific circumstances they were in at the time, namely of a coming destruction.

Jeremiah wasn’t saying God had every detail of their lives laid out (as if God has already determined it), nor is he saying God has things he wants us to do down to every detail (as if God wills something specific for every situation in our lives – i.e. he doesn’t care if you wear your blue or black socks).

This doesn’t mean God is uninvolved in our lives and just watches as things happen, not caring how it all goes down. Far from it! His desire is to live in relationship with us, with the most intimate interaction. But that is only possible when we are free. It wouldn’t be much of a relationship if we merely did everything the other told us to do.

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You have heard it said, “You need to give God control of your life.” But I say, Holy Spirit has empowered you with self-control.

Guess what? God doesn’t want control over you. And even if you give it, God will reject it.

How pointless would it be if God had only created us so that we would come to a point where all we did was constantly ask God what to do and then do that? If he wanted robots, he could have made those. Instead, he made us in his own image – free and desiring.

(Note: sometimes God doesn’t tell us what to do when we ask him because he wants us to choose, not him.)

God never wanted puppets; he desires children. Although children do go to their daddies for wisdom, they don’t ask what to do for every decision they make. We were not created to suppress our wills and desires but to realize union with our creator, willing and desiring with him.

Yes, at times God does tell us what to do. And we would be plain stupid to not do what tells us to because we know that he has our greatest joy in mind. But these times are only to help us in our maturing process. God is building us up to be able to handle increasingly more freedom with unlimited options (and sometimes his suggestions are things we haven’t even considered yet, opening our eyes to more possibilities). But ultimately, God’s will is that we will.

It was typically the case that God would say ‘No, I don’t have a will for you; I want to know what you want to do.’ So you were put here to will and to make a difference. It’s not always the case that we should want to know what God wants us to do, but often that God wants to know what we want to do. In fact we were put here so that God could trust us and give us what we want to do. – J. P. Moreland

*****

You have heard it said, “Everything happens for a reason.” But I say, God may not have wanted everything that has happened to have happened, but he knows how to bring about good despite it.

Sure, everything that happens does have a reason for happening. But sometimes the reason is that we’re stupid and we make bad decisions. Like it says in Provers 19:3, “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD.” Bad stuff happens and people blame God. Or bad stuff happens, people attribute it to God, but are quick to add something like “don’t worry, God has a good reason for this and it will bring him glory.”

Just because something happens doesn’t mean God made it happen or that he even wanted it to happen. Romans 8:28 is sometimes twisted to mean that in all the apparently bad things that happen to us in life, there is always good in them. For example, there is good in earthquakes, tsunamis, sicknesses, deaths, etc. Somehow, God is glorified. But it doesn’t say that. God doesn’t work evil to bring good (e.g. make us sick to teach us a lesson), but God works despite the evil, which he is and always was adamantly against.

This doesn’t mean God is not involved in the world and its activities. It just means he only does good things. And I don’t mean that in a “God works in mysterious ways” way (a popular excuse for a lot of evil in this world that we have been empowered to deal with).

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You have heard it said, “God is in control.” But I say, God has all authority in heaven and on earth, and he has delegated it to us, his children.

God is not a control freak who exercises meticulous governance because he is worried about giving people freedom to make significant choices. God could control everything if he wanted to, but he doesn’t.

Say you had the power to control everyone that you came into contact with. Would you use that power? I wouldn’t. That would give me the most boring esixtence on earth because it is void of love, which can only be born between free beings.

God does, however, have all authority.

Our world is like a home. The parents (Trinity) have full authority, but that doesn’t mean they control everything that happens within the household. Their kids are still free to do whatever. The parents do give healthy limits to what the kids are allowed to do (because lots of things have negative natural consequences), but even with those prescribed limits the kids can still choose to ignore them. For example, a parent might tell a child, “don’t touch the stove!” when it is burning (likewise, God told Adam and Eve, “don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil – it’ll kill you!”, but they were still able to and did). The limits given are for their benefit, so it would be foolish to ignore them.

People are free to choose to do whatever they want.

Some might ask that if God is not in control, then how can we completely trust God’s sovereignty? But if God’s so-called “sovereignty” includes things like the holocaust, natural disasters, and disease, it’s not a very trustworthy sovereignty to start with. You don’t need a theologian to tell you that these things are evil and that there is no good in them. Jesus himself stopped a stoning, a storm, and healed every single person who came to him because all these things were not aligned with his will.

In conclusion, God is a freedom freak who insists on our being free to make our own choices despite the possibility of our making grave mistakes. What a Dad!

*****

Also see:

Is God Sovereign?
http://escapetoreality.org/2013/01/04/is-god-sovereign/

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8 thoughts on “God, the Freedom Freak

  1. Hi, great post. until about 4 years ago, I had not heard of the real grace message. I was at the point where I did believe that God was heavily involved in our lives / micro managing. Now I get that God is not in control and it is amazing to me what common sense that is! Yet people guard and hold onto scriptures from Job, etc.. to try to justify their view and say we just can’t know why these bad things happen… aargh!

    But now I wonder, how involved is He. I can believe he doesn’t cause or allow the bad things. What about the good things? I always think of PSA 84:11 that he won’t withhold any good thing and in Rom 7 Paul talks about the flesh and how there is no good thing in his flesh — depending what you believe in that scripture.. I could almost ascertain that anything and everything good that happens to me is from God. Although with the constant presence of evil someone could be doing something good for us with an evil or selfish intent (manipulation).

    Psa_84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
    Jas_1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
    and
    Rom_7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

    Maybe that is something that we cannot know, but I was curious how those who live “grace” for real think about the good things. Maybe I need to read a Joseph Prince book.. unmerited favor or something… LOL

    • Hey Holly. I didn’t hear the “real grace message” until about 3 years ago either :] Thank you Jesus!

      Good question. It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately, and even considered discussing it in this post but passed since it was already long. First let me address the verses you quoted.

      Psalm 84:11 – yes, God won’t *withhold* any good thing. So God won’t prevent you from getting goodies. But it doesn’t say God makes all the goodies happen.

      Romans 7:18 – the topic Paul is writing about here is sin. Personally I don’t think he’s writing about what we’re talking about.

      James 1:17 – yes, every good and perfect gift comes from God. But taking every good thing that happens to us throughout our days as gifts from God would be an assumption. Who said they are gifts? What if they just happened? And, again, judging from the context James is not writing about what we’re discussing.

      Personally, I don’t attribute every good thing that happens to me to God (in the sense that he specifically made it happen). I think lots of things just happen. On the other hand, I think God does intentionally make good things happen. He’s madly in love with us, so I don’t think he can help himself :] And I have definitely experienced him love me by making certain things happen. His love is better than wine!

      • I love that mindset about God being madly in love with us “that he can’t help Himself”. I really want that to be fully in my heart, I know that will bring me greater freedom and keep me from idolatry. I also know that fullness is something I’m missing out on, but as I read that statement it puts a smile on my face! With the Paul verse, I was thinking of how I have heard people say every little thing, like if someone smiles at you, it’s from God, etc.. so if we are so in the flesh and not doing good things then become a new creation and walk in the spirit.. then that could be considered “from God” if the born again believer does something loving for you. Anyway.. I think rather than reasoning every little thing it is more about having that mindset of knowing God’s overwhelming love for us.

        Thank you!

    • Your super welcome Holly! I’m not sure what you meant by saying that you are missing out on fullness, but just in case you mean what I think you mean, I want to let you know that you have all the fullness of God you will ever get.

      “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete [full]” (Colossians 2:9-10).

      In the same way that the fullness of the Godhead is in Christ, so is it in you! Enjoy your fullness in him :]

  2. When interpreting Scripture we must look at the full context and compare Scripture with Scripture. Some will say that the God of the Old Testament was a vindictive and wrathful God while the God of the New Testament is a loving and gracious God. Both have a truth in them and we have to weigh the evidence.

    For example, in the Old Testament passage of Psalm 99:8 both are mentioned in one verse, “O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings.”

    Similarly, in the New Testament, Jesus who is loving and gentle and gracious says the following, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.”

    So, if this be the case we need to weight passages which speak of God’s goodness and consider the passages which speak of trial/suffering as well. For example, in James 1:17 it says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” However, the context of this passage is that James (most likely the brother of Jesus) was leading the Christians in Jerusalem and they were undergoing intense persecution at the time. James writes in 1:2 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness…”

    Job is a common go-to passage when discussing suffering and for good reason because Job did experience a lot of suffering and he was a righteous man but it also says, “And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand” (1:12). What is Job’s response? “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (1:21). Job praised God when he was blessed and he praised God when everything was stripped away. If God is only praiseworthy when we are blessed then what kind of God have we made Him out to be? Rather, He is a God that a person can praise regardless of one’s circumstances.

    God will be glorified no matter what. Why? Because no one else deserves glory but God. The response that both Job and James have in the midst of suffering is one that resonates strongly with me because I have myself experienced it to some degree. There is an adage that says “The Christian is a like a tea bag, when they are put into hot water the flavor comes out.” When God ‘turns up the heat’ in our lives the fragrance of Christ is made evident. We are strengthened in our faith and our resolve is made all the more sure.

    Of course, God did not intend for suffering as we can see by looking at the Garden of Eden when He first made creation and also by what He has planned for the restoration of all things. In Revelation 21:4 it says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” If then, God cannot be praised in every circumstance He is not truly God. God, in His very nature is worthy of all glory, “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created” (Rev. 4:11).

    • Hey Victor. Just to clarify, this post was not intended as an exposition of scripture, but more as a revelation of what the person of Jesus is like. On the other hand, I believe it is consistent with the testimony of the scriptures.

      However, I also believe that Old Testament writers, because of their lack of revelation of what God was like as was revealed to us through the person of Jesus, at times misrepresented God (e.g. 2 Samuel 24:1). I don’t believe God’s wrath was ever against people but only against sin. I also do not believe that God is by nature constrained to punish sin, but rather that that constraint is given by the Law, something God never desired. But I don’t mean to begin a discussion of these things here.

      Regarding Job’s statement that God gives and takes away, he was wrong. As the story plainly tells us, Satan took away, not God. Job later admits, “Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” In essence he said, “I didn’t know what I was talking about!”

      I’m not sure what you mean by “God will be glorified no matter what.” I think many things don’t glorify him.

      I don’t believe God “turns up the heat” in our lives (at least from what I understand you mean by that). I believe he only turns up the love :]

  3. Pingback: Choosing Your Feelings | Supernatural Gospel

  4. Pingback: Unconditional Salvation (Part 2) | Supernatural Gospel

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