If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me (Mt. 16:24) Man’s free will is inviolable.
The exact magnitude of man’s ethical freedom
becomes clearly evident in the above verse. Our Savior invites man to follow Him; however, He gives man the freedom to decide on his own about
this most-significant matter: whether he will
follow Him or turn away from Him and take his own path.
Christ came to save man, and yet He does not
forcefully impose on man’s free will. Christ invites man to take an active part in his salvation, but He does not at all affect his free will. If man was not a free and independent being, he would never have been treated with such respect and never have been granted the great honor of
collaborating with the Savior for his own salvation.
In such an instance, man would not have been
permitted to make his own decisions; rather, as a passive and inert body, he would be pulled toward salvation and would accept [without a choice] the action of Divine Grace as it carried out his salvation. Truly! How honorable and inviolable
man’s ethical freedom is!
What an autocratic free will he possesses!
If we study the history of redemption, we will see the Son of God becoming man in order to save man. We will see Him voluntarily journeying toward the Passion in order to take away the sin of the world, to bear our bruises, to fulfill the great mystery of dispensation, and to reconcile man with God; nevertheless, never in the least forcing Himself upon man’s free will.
Behold, the closed gate of Paradise was opened, and the fiery sword that guarded its entrance was
removed, and the voice of the Lord calls and invites man (who had been previously shut out)
to enter through this gate into the place of rest; man, however, is left free to decide if he will enter or not. This freedom that permits man to act as he desires, to follow his own principles, and to
remain unaffected by even God Himself testifies to the absolute character of man’s ethical free will (which emanates from his ethical composition), and to man’s extraordinary value and the exalted position that he received within the creation. What a great honor, indeed, has been imparted to man on account of his inviolable ethical free will!
Simultaneously, however, how clearly are we
reminded of our obligations. How clearly are we informed that we are also obliged to value and
zealously covet [this ethical freedom], without at all permitting our ethical free will to be subjugated
to or our ethical freedom to become dependent
on the various shameful passions and sinful desires.