“Free will is the ability to choose.” No, it’s not. The ability to choose only shows you have a will. Your will might be free, or it might not be.
Looking at the diagram above, suppose you choose option A. There is a reason you chose A, and that reason was determined by one of the preceding desires. You don’t choose your desires, at least not in the moment of choice. You can shape your desires over time through ongoing actions, but in the immediate moment of choice your strongest desire will determine which option you chose.
Your desires may be evil, and if they are, you will choose to do evil things. You may have good desires and evil desires. If so, the strongest of those desires will determine your choices.
If a man’s desires are only evil, all he can do is chose to act on one of those evil desires: the one which appeals to him most in the moment. This man is not able to chose good. He is a slave to evil.
If a man has good and evil desires, the potential to do good and evil is present, but he will still act out his strongest desire in the moment.
If a man has only good desires, all his choices will be good. This man is free.
Only through Christ can you become one who desires only the good. It is a process of a series of deaths and resurrections. It is not easy and is sometimes painful, but it is necessary.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” ~Roman 12:2
There is a technique in blacksmithing called the convenience bend. If you’re working on a piece, you might find you can’t get your hammer at a particular spot because another section of the piece is in the way. No problem. Just bend it out of the way, work on the section needed, and afterward bend it back.
Usually, when bending the obstructing piece out of the way, you must deform the piece from what it is intended to be, and you might even undo some of the forging already done. That can be bothersome, especially when you tend to think linearly and you hate straying from the straight and forward path. To have your work at a place you want it to be, only to have to put it out of shape again, goes against the grain of most people’s thinking.
But it’s a good lesson for life though, isn’t it? How often do plans play out in a non-linear fashion? How often do you have to temporarily veer off the main course in order to stay with the main course in the long run? I find it’s quite often.
With blacksmithing, you know what you’re starting with, and you know what you want to end up with. However, you are not assembling a bunch of prefabricated parts — the work piece itself is changing shape and will go through several different manifestations before being complete. That is hard to do. What shape does this iron need to be now in order to get it to the shape it needs to be next? This challenge of sculpting is the reason the trade of blacksmithing has always been occupied by artists.
And such is life. You might know what you want, but you might not know how to get there.
Sometimes you just have to move forward blind, try new things, and make a few convenience bends.