“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” (Prov. 16:9) The ability to sin is proof of our free will from the Lord, especially when seen in the light of His supreme Sovereignty over all of His creation. Man does not need a sin nature, the original sin that each of us is born with to sin, Adam is the proof of this, obedience or disobedience are conscious choices that we make, each of them well thought out and debated within our minds, some over a relatively long period of time, some almost seemingly instantaneously. In either and every case, we are accountable for our actions. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Prov. 14:12)
These two verses are not in contradiction to each other, the Lord does not direct the steps of man towards the second death, again, proof of our free will. The decisions we make are made by our heart’s desires, and those desires can seem right to us, but here is where free will is exhibited the most, in that moment when we make the decision to complete, as it were, our heart’s desire. Sin is not achieved unless an action is taken, Adam did not sin until he acted, yet the man who commits lust in his mind only is guilty of sin. “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:15) This is not an “it’s different for each of us” scenario, we all have the same common temptations, yet one may sin inwardly with no visible external action, while another may not even give pause to his thoughts, they may not even contemplate the action they are preparing to take. So, does our first verse in Proverbs 16:9 speak only of the saved individual, and the second in Proverbs 14:12 speak only of the lost?
When the Lord wants a man to accomplish something, whether that man is saved or not, that thing will be accomplished, the Almighty who has said to the great sea, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.” (Job 38:11) He has no problem altering the thoughts of any man. The proof is in the many times that we read where the Lord hardened an individual’s heart, yet He does not always do this. If the way that seems right to a man is the way that is leading him to eternal separation from the Lord, that is completely up to the discretion of the Almighty to intervene in that man’s life, and to begin to direct his steps. “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matt. 22:14)
The Lord directs the steps of all that He calls to His Son, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44) Yet here is the one main defining moment for every person that who has ever been born, will that person be chosen, and what are the relevant reasons for that choosing. This is the basis of nearly every religion, this is why we have free will, and at the same time God is Sovereign, this, no matter how refined and knowledgeable the answer may seem from any who offer it, is the unanswerable question. Who does the choosing.
The statements are easy, if it is God that is choosing, then He is not only choosing some for eternal bliss, but some for eternal damnation. If it is up to each man to make a conscious decision based on all the relative information, then God is in a sense not Sovereign, for the decision to enter into heaven or not is left in the hands of man. Can one deny God when they are called by Him, and if this is true, then the inverse must be true, the Lord can deny a man who has accepted Him. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37)
This infers ownership, who has made the decision to become a slave, and who has been forced, as it were, into slavery. God said of Pharoah, “Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.” (Romans 9:17) If you can answer this question, you will be the only person ever born throughout all of history to have the answer to what has been brought up in this letter to you today, “Did Judas Iscariot have a choice in the direction of his life?”