Freedom to Reject God

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A friend of a friend on Facebook recently opined that, once a person has the Holy Spirit, God takes away their ability and/or freedom to reject the Holy Spirit.

Many people think this way. I don't, but I don't want to give it the short shrift I think the idea deserves.

Paul speaks over and over of the freedom we have in Christ [Ro 8:21; 2 Co 3:17; Ga 2:4; 5:1; 5:13] and Peter also speaks of our freedom [1 Peter 2:16]. Paul would also quote elsewhere, “All things are permissible” and add the caveat, “but not all things are profitable.” The person on Facebook, however, is arguing that once a person comes to Christ, he or she is actually less free than they were before salvation. Specifically, the freedom to reject Christ is no longer a possibility.

I've had this conversation before and, invariably, the person on the other side of the argument says something like, “But why would someone reject Christ?!?!”

Good question, except that it's completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand. The only way it's apprapo is if you except the position that a saved person CAN reject Christ. Otherwise, it's like wondering whether your shoe would fit if your foot suddenly became a sports car.

The question is whether, upon receiving Christ (getting saved, receiving the Holy Spirit, however you want to express it) you have the freedom to reject Christ. Take a look at one of those Galatians passages from earlier (2:4-5 specifically), “Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.”

Paul says this freedom he has in Christ is current. He also says he did not yield in submission, which says to me that his freedom in Christ was something to be guarded. Now, let me say that I don't picture Paul walking around with a worried look on his face, afraid someone was going to snatch away his freedom. Paul, as we can read over and over, was a guy full of joy who lived triumphantly.

One of the insinuations which is often made when discussing this topic is that I believe my salvation can be taken away. I don't. Assuming that the word “take” means something, it means that my salvation was removed against my will or against my knowledge. No. That doesn't happen with salvation. But God gives me the freedom to reject him. This is what Paul was warning against in Galatians; it's what Joshua warned against in his farewell address.

If I am sitting at a booth out in front of the grocery store selling copies of my novels, I might use the phrase, “Here, take one.” Yes, I have encouraged someone to “take”. It wasn't against my will, but it was against my standard policy. But they're my books and I am free to do with them as I will.

Salvation is God's. He has willingly said to us, “Here, take this.” He will never ask for his gift back. But he gives even those of us who have welcomed the Holy Spirit the freedom to give the gift back of our own (stupid) accord. The only way he could do otherwise would be to give us less freedom than he gives the unsaved.