“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:37,38).
FREEDOM OF THE WILL MEANS WE HAVE A CHOICE TO MAKE CONCERNING GOD: SHALL WE SUBMIT TO HIS WILL OR NOT? As our Creator, God is our Sovereign. We were created to live within the protective boundaries of His authority, but we have rebelled against our King and tried to set up our own kingdom. In this “kingdom of self,” the rule is “Not Thy will but mine be done.” Free to choose, we have often chosen our own will over God’s.
We make a choice between God’s will and our own every time we decide between two courses of action, even in the “little” choices we make daily. With every decision, we either say “Yes” to God or “No.” We either submit to His will or refuse it.
But this is also true in a larger sense. The longer we live, and the more our “little” choices begin to multiply, a pattern begins to emerge. Over time, we develop a character, a clear tendency to obey God or disregard Him. As one decision gets added to another, we find ourselves moving either in God’s direction or away from Him. Our lives begin to be either a “Yes” or a “No” to God.
When we stand before God in judgment, God’s verdict will simply be an acknowledgement of the choice we have made — either to submit to His rightful sovereignty over our lives or to reject that sovereignty. His pronouncement of eternal blessing or condemnation will not be arbitrary; it will be the only verdict He can render, given the choice we have made while we lived.
When we were young most of us had some older person give us this advice: be careful what you want in life, because you are liable to get it. If this is true in life, it is even more true in eternity. At judgment, God will simply give us what we have said we wanted, as evidenced by the choices we made. The saved will be given their hearts’ true desire, God Himself, and to the condemned, God will simply say, “All right, have it your way.” As George MacDonald said, “The one principle of hell is, ‘I am my own.'”
“If you insist on having your own way, you will get it. Hell is the enjoyment of your own way forever” (Dante Alighieri).