Reading a question on this site I suddenly realized that I do not know what 'free will' means. I cannot find a definition in other questions asked and my philosophy books clouded the whole issue. Augustine says a lot but also seem to think I already know what it means. So I thought I would look in the Bible but can't find the term. Where in the Bible can I find a definition or explanation?
In "An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith" (ἔκδοσις ἀκριβὴς τῆς ὀρθοδόξου πίστεως), Book II, Ch. XXX (§44), John of Damascus wrote,
which I translated as,
The word "Freewill" doesn't exist in the Bible but the concept does exist. The Bible doesn't spell out the term "Freewill" clearly and hence doesn't provide any clear definition of what freewill is.
The Freewill theology has a long history, at least 2000 years ago, discussed by philosophers. Many Christian theologians have studied this and made many theories on it. One of the first being Augustine and many debates were held among theologians on the topic of Freewill.
There are many instances from the Bible to explain what freewill is. Let's see few examples.
It is clear from this verse that anyone, who believes in Jesus Christ is promised an eternal life. This means that we are given freewill to accept or deny Jesus Christ.
Another example is Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit. God gave them orders not to eat the fruit and told them that they will die as a result, but when they were about to eat it, God did not stop them, though God was aware of it because He is omnipresent. God did not interfere in there choice making. God allowed them to choose death, even though God knew that it would result in the death of His one and only Son Jesus Christ.
One of the freedoms God gives the Christian is the ability to surrender to God and obey Him rather than the flesh. If we are not free to obey God, then we are said to be under bondage to sin. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1).
The phrase "free will" does not exist in the Bible, but the verse above does give us an indication of how God sees our liberty or lack of it. If we do not make choices according to faith in God, then we are not really free; we are a slave to our compulsions.
Man apart from God does not have the free will to live the life of trusting in the Creator God. We may talk about the ability to choose (free will), but God considers all men under bondage to sin until those chains are broken through surrender to Christ.
"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. ... whoever commits sin is a slave of sin" (John 8:32, 34b). The word of God will point the way to one's true relationship with God, and with that truth, one turns from trusting in self and sin to trusting in God; shackles of conformity to the world, our culture, old habits, thinking patterns, worldviews, are all broken. See Paul set free here in Philippians 3:4-9.