W.E. Best on “Slavery of the will”

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“There was a radical change in Adam’s will in the fall, and he was enabled to return to God by another radical change. It was not Adam who sought God, but rather God who sought Adam. The enslaved will cannot of itself love God. Men who love God, then, do so because God first loved them (I John 4:10).”

“The carnal mind is at enmity against God (Rom. 8:7). The grace of God alone can change the will that is enslaved to sin and cause it to become enslaved to Jesus Christ. True freedom is found only in this slavery: “For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant” (I Cor. 7:22). ”

“The facts are that the will of every unsaved person is enslaved to sin. He is free to go in only one direction. Like a waterfall, he is free to go down. Sinners are free to act according to their depraved natures. Man has neither the will nor the ability to come to Christ: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…” (John 6:44). “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40).”

“Adam retained his intellectual capacities after his fall, and continued making natural choices. Every sinner chooses natural things. Nevertheless, he cannot make spiritual choices because he is depraved, is an enemy of God, hates God, and his will is not inclined toward God. He hates the light and will not come to the light lest his deeds be reproved (John 3:19-21).”

“The naturally hard heart must be removed by God and replaced with a new heart (Ezek. 36:26).”

“No person desires salvation in vain, because God who gives the desire also satisfies.”

“Man did not lose the faculties necessary to make him a responsible person in the fall. He did not lose his reason, conscience, or freedom of choice; but he did lose his moral freedom, the power to make spiritual choices. Man is not a free moral agent because he cannot choose between good and evil. He chooses only evil.”

“In regeneration, the hardness that prevents the will from acting in the direction of God is removed (Ezek. 36:25-27). Therefore, by the power of grace, the will that was once inclined to evil is now inclined to God. God’s operation on the enslaved will is not forced from without. He makes the will tender and pliant from within. The Holy Spirit is the efficient cause, and the human spirit is the recipient of the Spirit’s involvement in the will’s inclination toward God.”

“Augustine denied that fallen man has the ability of himself to come to God. He made some important statements concerning the human will: (1) Man’s liberty before the fall was the potential to sin or not to sin. (2) Since the fall, man has liberty to sin but no ability to do good. (3) In heaven, man will have liberty to do good but not evil.”

“God is a free agent, but He cannot do evil. He does as He pleases but can do nothing contrary to His nature. Choices can be made only according to one’s nature. Therefore, man outside of Jesus Christ can make no positive spiritual choices.”

“Satan cannot recover lost blessing by an act of his own will; neither can man. No provision was made for Satan’s recovery, and no provision is made for the recovery of fallen angels. Fallen angels are reserved in chains awaiting punishment (II Peter 2:4; Jude 6). When God elected some of the angels, He kept them from falling. He did not, however, prevent all mankind from falling in Adam. Some from among fallen mankind were chosen to be saved. Therefore, there is hope for the elect in Jesus Christ from among mankind, but there is no hope for the fallen angels.”
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Wilbern Elias Best (1919-2007) was the pastor of Kingwood Assembly of Christ in Texas until his death last year. The quotes above are from his book called FREE GRACE VERSUS FREE WILL. Every sentence in the book is full of substance and yet the ideas flow with ease. Do read the whole book if you can.

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