A topic of great discussion and one that usually ends in highly religious and spiritual arguments is the idea of free will versus God’s will. Many people from all walks of life and a variety of spiritual beliefs know and understand that the higher power they so firmly believe in has a will for their lives.
At the same time, God has gifted us with free will which is ultimately our ability to choose and decide on the ultimate path our life will follow.
While the answer is not straightforward, the major difference between God’s will and free will is God’s will is a divine concept of God’s omnipotent plan that is unwavering and unchanging. Free will, however, is one’s ability to act entirely on one’s own accord without a thought of outcome or fate.
Let us unpack these concepts further and see how they exist in relation to each other.
What Is Free Will?
As humans, we are constantly told that we have a choice in every matter. Ultimately, we have lived under the constant notion that life is made almost entirely of choices and decisions that shape and mold the path we will follow.
These choices and decisions all have consequences, whether good or bad, and the consequences of every decision would either need to be considered by ourselves or completely ignored. However, the ability to make these choices and to have free will is a luxury that humans are afforded. In fact, it is considered such an amazing thing that countries and nations pride themselves in allowing citizens to enjoy this free will without any impeachment and restriction from the law.
This ultimately comprises the philosophical and the scientific element of free will in that, as humans, we have the mental and physical capacity to make choices of our own accord with no influence or threat looming over any decision we make.
It also makes up a societal construct that forms the basis and underlying foundation of human trust. Free will, at its foundational value, creates certain moral standings and moral expectations. For example, someone who commits horrendous crimes has the free will to choose to do those crimes – in fact, everyone in the world has the choice to commit crimes or not.
However, society expects that, even with free will, people will have a higher moral standing and an innate moral compass that deters them from committing crimes. However, given that one can never be too sure about someone’s choices and decisions, laws and legal repercussions have been put in place to condemn criminals.
Beyond morality and societal standards, free will has a strong basis and foundation in spirituality. Many religious beliefs, including religious beliefs like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, it is the understanding that free will means the ability to make one’s own decisions and one’s own choices.
In other spiritual beliefs, free will poses the opportunity to achieve what you want out of life and it gives you the opportunity to seize what may be owed to you in life. In simpler terms, and from an emotional perspective, it creates the idea that as human beings, we have the ability to choose not only our successes and failures in life but also how we approach each day and how we approach the things in life that we have no control over.
You may have heard people tell you that your life is what you make of it, that you can choose whether to focus on the positive or the negative and that if you choose to focus on the positive, you will notice the positivity that life has to offer. And all of this is true only because of free will.
Now that we have established what free will is, let us look at what is God’s will.
What Is God’s Will?
Forming the foundational concept of many religious beliefs, in order for someone to know and understand what God’s will is, they must first believe in God, following basic principles of theism or the idea that a creator exists, and that this creator, or higher power, is actively involved in the creation.
Once the belief in God, or a higher power, has been established, the will of God can be understood. In religions that are based on the belief of God or many gods, it is the understanding that this creator has your entire life planned out and God’s will for your life will always come to pass through God’s infinite sovereignty.
The Difference Between God’s Will And Free Will
The concepts of God’s will and free will may seem directly opposed to each other, because how can one be truly free to make their own choices and decisions if God’s will always come to pass? However, the complexities that exist between these two concepts are undeniable.
You see, free will cannot exist without God’s will, and God’s will, while it does always come to pass, cannot be vividly seen unless free will submits to God’s will.
What this means is that the creator of the universe and all humanity designed us with free will in place. In so doing, we were designed to have a choice, even to believe in a deity or not. However, once a belief in a deity or a creator has been established, it may be easier for the individual to allow their free will to easily fall in line with God’s will.
Once someone has free will that submits to what their belief states God’s will actually is, we find the other elements that were previously mentioned (morality, societal standards, science, and spirituality) will automatically be adhered to through free will.
For example, if someone believes in Biblical principles they may believe and hold strong to the idea of loving one’s neighbor, treating others the way one hopes to be treated, and not stealing or killing one’s fellow man. In so doing, God’s will is transmitted and achieved by people using their free will to follow the principles as laid out by God.
The same holds true for other religious and spiritual beliefs. One’s mere belief in a specific religion or spiritual system and deity immediately aligns their own free will with what one may expect God’s will to be.
God’s Will Prevails
With the gift of free will comes the understanding of how to use it and use it responsibly. God’s will always prevail and usually happens in the form of our choices self-correcting, or us dealing with the circumstances of our will if it may not align with that of God’s will.
To make our spiritual life more fulfilling, we can set our lives on the path of actively seeking God’s will in our lives. Knowing and understanding that we have free will but choosing to seek God’s will in our lives is one of the greatest ways of achieving spiritual health.
To seek God’s will on your own, you may seek to pursue God, commit your life and your plans or your decisions to your deity or to the spiritual higher power in which you believe, understand the possible outcomes for every choice and decision you may make, and actively seek religious works to better understand what God’s will is not just for you, but for the greater humanity – after all, every decision we make influences not only us but other’s in this world too.
Pursuing God’s will comes with self-sacrifice and using your free will for the greater good and will of the deity in which you believe. Having free will is a phenomenal gift given to humankind by its creator, and it is extremely important to understand that free will is a great power to hold – and with great power comes great responsibility.