Friday, April 24, 2009

Mailbag Friday!: Job, the Devil and Free Will

Time is a train,
Makes the future the past,
Leaves you standing in the station,
Your face pressed up against the glass.

A: Hey [ ], I got a question..

In the book of Job the devil makes a wager with God over Job .. Is the devil limited in his powers because God limits him? Why didn’t He destroy the devil? Does God control the actions of the devil?

B: Hi [ ],

The devil is a creature, albeit a pretty strong one, considering he was once Lucifer, the greatest of the angels. As with all suffering whether inflicted by the free will of the devil or humans, God permits it for various reasons. As a creature, the devil is limited in his powers. God does not destroy him because we are still on earth and are still struggling for our salvation (which God helps us with by His grace, if we trust and rely on Him, which is part of the struggle). We are still in the period of testing.

As for the book of Job, [here is a good book]:

The Trial of Job: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Job

A: ...God permits it but doesn’t He know the outcome? I always get confused when it comes to the free will stuff...

B: It is one thing to say God has foreknowledge (knowing what will happen) and another that he intervenes and "overrules" our free will. God wants us to struggle and come to him of our own free will. This does not mean he does not know the future (He is outside of time).

A: So He knows what I will be doing later today?

These are things that are outside my comprehension…

B: Yes. Think of a parade. Each part of the parade is an event in time. You see the parts of the parade one at a time as it passes you by. God is above the parade so he sees it all at once. Make sense?

A: So he knows the end of the parade.. and what I’ll be doing later today ?

B: Yes.

A: Then how is free will explained when he knows my death and what ill be doing at 6:00PM?

B: Just because he knows the future does not mean he will control our decisions or what we do. That is up to us.

A: We may control our actions but he knows our ultimate decision? So is it sort of predetermined?

Jesus willingly died on the cross but God knew it will happen because it was planned out ?

B: No it is not predetermined in the sense that we are doing things because we are controlled. It is foreknown because God knows the future.

A: These things are beyond my comprehension for good reason...

I honestly don’t get it.. I feel like there is some element of control .. not like robot control but a push/guidance control .. If He wants the best for us, and we seek Him, wont he guide us to that best thing? …

B: ABSOLUTELY! We are called to put on the whole armor of God (Eph 6:16).

But that does not mean He will overpower us. If we resist him to the last breath and resist his grace, he will not overpower us and cancel our ultimate choice.

A: I think I get it...I still feel confused...but I think I get it...
*U2, Zoo Station

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