BibleGodGod’s WillMeaning

If God loves us so much, why did he give us free will when he knew we would mess things up?

By January 29, 2020 No Comments
Kambrea submitted this question: “If God loves us so much, why did he make a book of things that we can and cannot do then give us free will when he knew we were going to fail at it?”

Here’s a response.

Thanks so much for your great question on our Room For Doubt website or in our app!  Since it’s proper to think that God knew what was going to happen after He created the universe and us, your question is quite natural to raise.  We already have an article that deals with parts of this question here: “Why the Forbidden Fruit?”. Please read that for a fuller answer.

Meanwhile, here are a few things to think about.
(1) God not only loves us but He wants us to love Him.  That requires that we have the freedom to do so.  He created rocks, mountains, and seas, but it’s pretty clear that they cannot “love” God in any sense that we can imagine.  We have the capacity to love God because of our freedom. Without freedom, what would it even mean to “love” someone? How would that even be possible?
(2) If God decided to give us freedom—which I think He did—then perhaps even God Himself could not have prevented us from sinning in this world.  If He always prevented our sinning, then He would destroy the very freedom that He gave us in the first place.
(3) If God knew all of this, then (as your question goes), why did He do it this way?  I would offer three considerations :
  • God knew that He had a plan to make things right—to save us.  This plan included God sending His own Son to die for us!  Why would God set it up so that His Son would have to die a terrible death in human flesh?  Because there was apparently no other way for us to be saved from the clutches of the Evil One—from Satan.  Just before His death, Jesus prayed, “If it is possible, let this “cup” [of suffering on the cross] pass from Me” (Matthew 26:38-39).  But apparently it wasn’t possible.  I take this to mean that there was no other way.  Even God could not, or would not, save us without the blood of His Son being shed on the cross.
  • I also believe that there was no other way because God was resolving an even bigger issue—the cosmic conflict with Satan and his angelic followers.  Somehow, God’s giving us human freedom, knowing that we would mess things up, was necessary to provide His ultimate response to Satan—Satan’s eternal destruction.
  • To bring this down to our level a little more, think of a married couple who want to have kids. Why would they want a child when they know that the kid will do naughty—sinful—things? The point is: Even if we (or God) know in advance that our children will sin—and maybe even rebel against us—we often still make the choice to have kids. We want to love them and be loved by them. So we are willing to deal with it when the time comes.
This doesn’t answer everything that we might want, but it helps me make some sense of what God is doing, and why. Hopefully, it will help you and others as well.

 

Dr. Rich Knopp, Program Director, Room For Doubt; Professor of Philosophy & Christian Apologetics, Lincoln Christian University.
Rich Knopp

Rich Knopp

Program Director of Room For Doubt and the presenter for Room For Doubt’s seminars and workshops at conventions, conferences, colleges, Christian camps, and churches. He provides and manages the content on the R4D website and mobile app and writes the scripts for the program’s animated videos.