All men were created in the image of God, yet all men are fallen sinners, what we have inside of each of us is a part, an attribute or similarity of God Himself. Our natures since the fall of Adam have been modified, we have the propensity, even the desires, to do those things that we know are contrary to the image of God that rests within us, we have the ability to sin.
This is not what we call our free will, both Adam and Eve, Satan and all the fallen angels, the angelic host and even our Lord while He was here amongst us, have the free will to do as they choose, and we are no different. We have the ability to perform both good and evil works, this is why for those who are pursuing Christ, life is very difficult at times, especially if you came to Him after part of your life was spent in the world and the desires of the flesh, in the pursuit of pleasures for the self. We have known the “Pleasures of sin for a season,” (Heb. 11:25) and a part of us always will, and to have to relinquish that old man will remain for the entirety of their lives just that, a have-to item, not a want-to desire.
Free will is the ability to make our own decisions, the image of God that we are all made in is the determining factor that begins the debate within us as to whether or not that thing we want to do is in accordance with the will of the Creator. Our conscious is that debatable area within us that finalizes the decision process, these are the books that were opened, (Rev. 20:12) this is the continual battle between us and God, this is the beginning of servitude or sin. It is why works are the driving force behind all religious tenants, it is why emotions drive so many individuals, it is why we feel we must, instead of allowing God to work through us.
Those who will not “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness,” (Matt. 6:33) have no place left to seek but unto themselves, even if they are following another, they are doing so only for interest that will in one way or another benefit themselves. Paul recognized this in his day, “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.” (1 Cor. 1:12) We were created in the image of God, and it is in His image alone that we are to portray ourselves to the outside world, and desire to emulate within our own lives.
“Be ye holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) Be like me.
“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” (Gal. 4:4) Jesus Christ is who we are to emulate, He is the standard that we are to set for ourselves, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Gen. 1:27) This goes against our very nature, and not just our sinful, inherited nature, but against the very core of who we are, ask Adam before the fall, when he had no sinful nature, ask Satan before he said, “I will,” (Isaiah 14:14) it is not in who we are to glorify, to lit up, to serve, we have free will, we are gods. (1 John 4:6)
It has always brought a chuckle to my mind, “Here is the woman I have created for you, she is the exact opposite of who you are, now, live with her.” We have within the limitations that God has placed upon His creation the ability to do anything we want, any and almost every desire can be fulfilled, all that is available can be grasped by all who will but simply apply themselves, yet we are told to serve, to walk in humility, to be holy. It goes against every fiber of our being to submit, thus is the path of the born-again believer, the willful desire to die to self solely for the glory of God, not to make himself better, to seem more righteous, to obtain any favor, but simply out of love for He who is the only One deserving of it.
I do not believe that we will ever completely understand the love that gave itself for us, the love that allows each of us to accept it or not. There is no repayment for that love, there are no works that can be done by anyone that could show gratitude enough for it, it is either accepted in great humility, or it is never recognized for what it truly is. The desire to be Christlike is not enough, no work that we do will bring us to where we should be, in quite servitude with nothing more than a willing heart whose only purpose is to see the name of Jesus Christ lifted up should be our path. We are pilgrims who just want to go home, until then, serve as you are called to, with no thought to self, let His glory be your only pursuit.