The Perfection of Free Will – Voluntary surrender to divine love

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The will is the power which moves everything in the conscious world.

How you choose to move and interact with the world is determined by your will. While our limited sphere of influence moves according to our will, the entire reality moves according to God’s will.

God is omnipotent, his will is all-powerful. There is no limit on an all-powerful will. God’s will is always effective, whatever he desires becomes actual.

God’s will is the underlying structure of reality. The entire cosmos moves according to God’s will. Whatever happens must ultimately have his sanction. He’s the cause of all causes, the controlling force of all.

And it’s God’s will that we are free.

God doesn’t interfere with our choices. We have inner autonomy, our conscience is the judge of what is right.

This freedom of our will means we can move in harmony with God’s will or we can move against it. When we do something God doesn’t want, we make God’s will subservient to ours.

But this isn’t the natural state of reality, so when we act against God’s will, we no longer exist within the divine realm, we exist within the material world. The material world is the place where we are free to ignore God.

To exist within the material world means reality has become our object and moves according to our command, not God’s. God’s will is hidden, replaced by the mathematical laws of action-reaction (karma).

The instrument which is responsible for God being hidden is the same instrument which can illuminate him. A misuse of our free will is the reason we’re separated from God, so free will is the only instrument that can re-connect us.

The Super-subject

In relation to matter, we are the subject and matter is our object. But in relation to God, God is the subject and we are his object. Knowledge of God isn’t in our power to take, it depends on God’s power, God’s will.

The intellect only has the power to know God in a theoretical sense, as a detached acceptance of some factual proposition. Only the will has the power to know God in an experiential sense.

To know God we must submit our will to his. You can’t know God without also knowing he is omnipotent and reality moves according to his will.

That isn’t a theoretical truth we can claim to believe and expect our lived experience won’t confirm it. Just as we can’t believe gravity causes us to fall and then jump from a cliff expecting to fly.

To be under the illusion that reality moves independently of God is to exist in the material world, a world where our will is the causal power and matter is our object. To submit to God’s will is to exist in the divine world, the world where God resides and his existence isn’t hidden.

Surrender to God’s will

To our ears, submission to God sounds like oppression. But the highest expression of surrender to God is love. If we freely submit to the will of another, we are trying to please them by fulfilling their desires. Our will becomes subservient to theirs. It’s an unselfish act, a giving of our own self to the object of our love.

In proportion to the depth of our sincerity in wanting to please God, we’ll gain knowledge of him. As the purity of our desire increases, our knowledge increases. And we can’t cheat or lie, sincerity can’t be faked. We’ll get what we really want because God has granted that power to us. It’s only when we sincerely want God that we will get him.

The catalyst for success is sincerity, and sincerity is internal, a state of our inner self. Sincerity isn’t dependent on the outer form of our actions but our motivation, the reason behind our actions. A child may offer their parents a mud pie, something that is outwardly useless, but the parent accepts the love which motivated the offering. It’s the love that pleases the parent, not the item.

Many people say they want God, but really they want some other benefit God can give them. They may want money, followers and admirers; a community of like-minded people; a salve for a guilty conscience; or comfort in times of hardship. We get whatever it is we really want.

Enforcing God’s will

Many religious people think they know God’s will and it’s their duty to enforce it on others. They say it’s God’s will we should act in a certain way and if we don’t comply God will punish us.

But that is their way, not God’s. If God wanted someone to act in a certain way, it would happen. Because God is omnipotent and his will is always effective.

God isn’t incapable of enforcing his will. For God’s will to be effective, no extra effort is required on his part. Just as we don’t need to do anything more than exert our will for our body to move and follow our commands.

God doesn’t need a self-appointed police force to impose his will on others. Someone appointing themselves as the arbiter and enforcer of God’s will has misunderstood what it means for us to have free will.

God’s will is that we are free to choose in accord with our conscience. That is what free will consists of. And if we are our own inner judge, then what is right for me may not be right for you.

The perfection of freedom

We each have different goals. Our spiritual goals are what we decide is the ultimate fulfilment of our existence. The path we follow depends on our chosen destination, as well as our starting point, abilities and resources.

To be authentic, the path must be an expression of our faith. Faith can’t be purchased second-hand, it’s not something external to ourselves but the expression of our inner nature. Faith is an act of will, a movement of the essence of who we are.

Faith expresses our highest ideals, our values, and what we consider sacred. Faith is how we choose to live. The intellect has it’s limited contribution to make in that decision, but it’s the will that must move and act.

The will takes us beyond the intellectual theory to immerse ourselves in the reality of those ideals.

It’s only when our highest ideals align with the true nature of reality that we achieve the perfect expression of our free will. The true nature of reality is that God’s will is the cause of all movement. If our will is in dissonance with God’s, we’ve made a mistake, our actions are tainted with ignorance.

Anything less than complete surrender to an all-good God falls short of perfection. And complete surrender to God is motivated by love. Love of God is the consummation of our existence, the state of being in which we find our complete fulfilment and repose.

6 comments

  1. I am trying, and failing, to understand your statement
    I

    I have recently come across your writings and am enjoying your perspective. However, I don’t understand what you are asserting here about man’s free will so I hope you will respond to the following:
    You say that ‘our limited sphere of influence moves according to our will’ and ‘the entire reality moves according to God’s will.’ You also say that God’s will is ‘all-powerful’ and ‘always effective’.
    What happens when God wants something to happen within our sphere of influence that is not in accordance with our will? Who’s will triumphs?
    You say that ‘when we do something God doesn’t want, we make God’s will subservient to ours’. How can this be if His will is all-powerful?
    Perhaps I am missing something about your assertion regarding the difference between what you call ‘the material world’ and ‘reality’. But even though God is spirit, doesn’t He act through the material world to carry out His will?
    Thanks for considering my questions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Dave,

      For us to have free will means our will must triumph over God’s. God doesn’t interfere with our free choices. The only possible way God’s will can be subservient to ours is if he permits it.

      Another way of saying this is that it’s God’s will that we are free. Our freedom is his primary desire, and since he is omnipotent, this is what happens. For that primary desire to be fulfilled, the inevitable side effect is that sometimes things happen that God doesn’t want to happen because we choose things which aren’t in harmony with God’s will.

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      1. Thank you for responding to my questions. If you don’t mind, I would like to carry the conversation a bit further.
        You say that our freedom is God’s primary desire and God doesn’t interfere with our free choices. Where did you get these suppositions?

        I am a Christian and so have gained much of the foundation of my understanding of the nature of God, the nature of man and the historical interaction between God and man from the Bible. To me, your suppositions are not Biblical.
        The Exodus account is one example of God overruling the will of a man and imposing His will (in this case on Pharaoh). God told Moses He would do so (Ex 7:3) and God hardened Pharaoh’s heart at least five times to multiply His signs and wonders in Egypt.
        The apostle Paul verifies this view in Romans 9. ‘So then, it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says of Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show my power in you, and that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and He hardens whom He wills.’
        Paul gives the additional example of Jacob and Esau and says the decision that the elder would serve the younger was made before the children were born and was therefore not based on their wills or works but was solely through the calling of God.
        Paul here also gives an example from Jeremiah (ch 18) about the potter and the clay. He says the potter has power over the clay to make of it what He wants. He asks the rhetorical question ‘For who can resist His will?’ – the answer being nobody.

        I could give other examples but the point is the Bible states that God overrules man’s will and imposes His will on us when He sees fit to do so. The way I see it, in this age we have been given the freedom to reject or accept God but when our thoughts and resulting actions threaten to interfere with God’s plan for someone else, He will step in and overrule us. Much like Satan in the book of Job, God has given us some freedom but has set boundaries on it that we cannot cross.
        Thus, it appears to me that Calvinism and Arminianism are each partially right. My understanding of the plan of salvation is not dependent on either of these views being totally correct.

        Since God has given us a degree of freedom in this age He will hold us accountable for the choices we have made. Hence there will be a judgment at the end of this age based on our works. We will be rewarded or chastised and disciplined for our choices but I do not believe our salvation is the issue in this judgment. Salvation has been achieved for us by Christ.
        In the next age, as the kingdom further unfolds and more people come to know the truth about what God in Christ has done for humanity, those who desire to further serve will be given more freedom and appropriate responsibilities under Christ. Only ultimately, when God’s plan is complete and the divine nature has matured in each of us, will we all be totally free.

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      2. I’m a religious pluralist, but most of my inspiration comes from the devotional schools of Vedanta. These devotional traditions have a similar goal to Christianity because they accept love of God as the ultimate fulfilment of the soul.

        As a pluralist, I believe if our interpretation of scripture contradicts our ideal, we must adjust our understanding of scripture. This judgment of our conscience is the final arbiter and the ultimate demand of our free will. This is the essence of what you call the maturing of our divine nature.

        I don’t think a conception of God as someone who imposes his will on others is the highest ideal. Having the power to do something doesn’t mean we should use that power. It also means God’s gift of free will comes with terms and conditions of how we use it, so arguably it’s not the highest conception of free will.

        This is of course a complex topic and there is always much more to say. You may be interested in some of my thoughts about Christianity in these articles on my blog at medium –

        The Resurrection – Historical Event or Theological Claim

        Sacrificing Jesus for the Survival of the Church

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  2. Thanks for the references to your articles. I took a look at them. (Actually, of all your material I have thus far read, I most enjoyed ‘Can all the Different Religions be True?’)
    It’s clear that every theological or philosophical position is based on certain suppositions. I think mainstream Christianity has a distorted view of some very important ones such as the great distance between the natures of an ineffable God and fallen man. This in turn colours our assessment of the methods used by God. We feel qualified to judge and critique how we think He is applying the portion of His overall plan for humanity He has chosen to unfold in our current age.
    Yet, the Christian Bible says only the spiritually mature who have been trained through experience possess the necessary ‘powers of discernment’ to even ‘distinguish good from evil.’

    Be that as it may, I hope you don’t mind me asking a few more questions. I came across your translation of the Bhagavad Gita a while ago and am working through it. I have tried studying other Hindu writings in the past but always seem to get bogged down. They just don’t have the same appeal for me as the Christian Bible. Perhaps that can be attributed to the culture in which I was raised. I want to learn more; do you have any suggestions that might help me?

    As a Christian universalist, I think Paul was right when he wrote that God ‘…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’. Because God is omnipotent and loves us all unconditionally, and indeed will not be complete until we are all restored to Him, I believe His desire will eventually be realized. The Bible gives us some clues about God’s future plans and their timing and even some idea as to how He will have some of us participate in their implementation. Have you found anything in other religions you have studied that give any specifics about what the future path to divinity will be like for humanity?

    Thanks.

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    1. Religion is always culturally embedded. Culture is really another way of saying certain suppositions and ways of thinking. Most of it is invisible to us, absorbed like the air we breathe, essential to our social interactions but so fundamental it remains unspoken. So it’s only natural we feel more comfortable with the predominate religion of our culture.

      This is probably why you get bogged down with Hinduism. It’s difficult to access because it’s culturally foreign. Judging it with Christian suppositions gives misconceptions about the meaning. You need to reach a threshold of understanding to enter its conceptual territory. Persistence and slow absorption of the information is the only effective method.

      To give a concrete example of what I mean, consider your question what will the future path to divinity be like for humanity. That question is loaded with invisible Christian suppositions.

      Christianity has a linear view of the entire creation, it came from nothing and is moving in a linear temporal progression toward a divine end. Which means it’s undergoing a transformation from the not-yet-divine. To bridge that gap between the divine and the mundane requires something external to ourselves. Our salvation is entirely dependent on God and was embodied only in Jesus, whose appearance was a historical event at a singular point in time. Humanity is the only form of life eligible for salvation since animals and plants don’t have souls.

      The Hindu disagrees with all of that. For them the creation is an endless cycle, an expansion followed by a contraction like an eternally beating heart. The divine is ever-present everywhere, heaven is right where you are standing and the only defect is in your vision and ability to see it. The means of salvation lies completely in your hands and you’re surrounded by many saviours who can help you in your quest. You are divine and that will never change, your salvation consists not of transforming what you are, but uncovering your true self which is presently hidden from your view. All sentient life has a soul and is evolving toward the ultimate state of their existence. The human form is the only species from which we can attain liberation, so it provides a valuable opportunity which shouldn’t be wasted on frivolous pursuits.

      All of which means for the Hindu, the question itself is malformed. There is no future path for a collective humanity but only for individuals; this world isn’t God’s plan but ours; and the idea there is, or ever could be, a real separation from divinity is the illusion that creates our need for salvation in the first place.

      Which leaves both the Hindu and the Christian in the same end position. What remains is our common problem of how to gain the experience that will give us the ‘powers of discernment to distinguish good from evil’. Or rephrased in Hindu terminology, to distinguish illusion from truth.

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