So, therefore, without violating the nature of created realities, or reducing man’s activity to robot level, God still “works all things according to the counsel of His will”…But surely in that case what we think of as our free will is illusory and unreal ? That depends on what you mean. It is certainly illusory to think that our wills are only free if they operate apart from God. But free will in the sense of “free agency” as theologians have defined it – that is, the power of spontaneous, self determining choice referred to above – is real…How God sustains it and overrules it without overriding it is His secret, but that He does so is certain. – JI Packer, Affirming the Apostles’ Creed.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
The first part of this verse tells of the divine sovereignty over our lives as a Christian, while the second part tells of our human responsibility in living our lives by faith in the Son of God.
Here-in is the paradox and profound mystery of our relationship with God. This paradox of divine sovereignty with an element of human responsibility runs through-out the whole Bible and men have argued over the centuries but are none the wiser.
We have argued over this same paradox in the following topics : predestination and free will; faith and works; Jesus being fully God and f ully man; and the dual authorship of the Bible.
So how do we live ?
We will live our lives acknowledging our full dependency on God; yet we are obedient and diligent in discharging our given commission making full use of the faculty of our minds.
We can easily see the danger of holding either extreme of the paradox. In the example of salvation, we will end up believing the hyper grace false gospel on one extreme or legalism on the other. The correct stand is that one is saved by faith alone and his or her faith is evidenced by works. Eph 2: 8-9 is not complete without Eph 2:10 just as in Gal 2:20 with 2 parts completing the same message.