You have probably heard the joke about the 500-pound gorilla. What does a 500-pound gorilla do? Anything He Wants To. This is a part of what we talk about when we mention the freedom of God.
To define freedom in relation to God we would want three aspects for our definition.
a. God cannot be hindered. No matter how late you sit up thinking of a way to mess up his plan, there is no way that you ever will. He has an overall plan for all of time and all of mankind. He has planned in all the dumb things that you might come up with to thwart His plan.
b. God cannot be restricted. You can’t build a fence around Him. You can’t set up a force field around Him. You can’t set up a situation where He can’t do what is correct.
c. God cannot be controlled. Not even Abraham when he was dealing with the Lord for the sparing of Sodom was controlling Him. Abraham was flat pushing his luck, but was not controlling God. There is nothing that we can do that will control God. We can’t get Him into trouble with our prayer life. We can’t set up a situation where He must act because of our command or prayer.
God Can Do Literally Anything He Wants To.
He is His only limit. He can do whatever he wants, whenever He wants. His desires, plans and will are the only control that is placed upon Him.
He is free from the creation and His creatures. He is independent of us and all that we do. In relation to this I was reminded of a fact of life that is constantly plaguing our household. We are not independent of our belongings. The more nice things that you get, the more things you have to fix. There are times when my list of things to fix is longer than things I want to have.
Again, I would like to think of the animal world for a moment. The animals of the field are active only on the prompting of their instinct.
They cannot rise above their environment. They are limited to activity within the confines of where they are. They cannot decide to move into town and rent a condo — they are limited to live in those areas where they can walk and run.
Man on the other hand can in his activity rise above his environment if he desires to do so, and has the time, energy, and talents to do so. Man can determine his own activities up to the limits placed upon him by His creator. Man is free for the most part within those limits.
What are some limits that God has placed upon man that would limit his activity?
a. Government, and the laws that usually come with government.
These are established and ordained by God. Romans 13:1
b. Natural laws of nature certainly control us to a point. I cannot determine to fly to California for the winter unless I have money for a ticket. I can’t just walk outside and fly there on my own.
c. Conscience sets certain limits upon the individual. There are things that my conscience just won’t allow me to do. The conscience may be formed partially by our environment when we were growing up.
d. Marriage sets a certain set of limits upon the individual. Someone has suggested marriage isn’t a noun or a verb, but that it is a sentence. I won’t comment on that.
e. Economic and geographical limits may hamper some activities the man might desire to do. I have many things that I would like to do, but without the finances, I am limited. Man is free to do as he desires within these limits.
God on the other hand has none of these limits.
Believers are free within the same limits. God however gives the believer a little bit of liberty that the lost do not have.
a. We can fellowship with God in prayer and share our burdens with Him as well as seek His help and counsel.
b. We have the Word of God that gives us freedom from guilt. It also gives us a certain set of restrictions that the lost do not have.
c. We also have church leadership placed over us and they may set restrictions upon our activities through the ministry of the Word and discipline, if needed.
d. The Lord, His Word and will should also set some of our limits as well.
God on the other hand has no limitations.
Definition: God has the ability to rise to any level He desires above His environment.
In short you might say, “If He’d rather do it Himself — He can most surely do it Himself. To show this we need to look at a few references (Take time to read these: Job 23:13, Daniel 4:25, Psalm 115:3).
APPLICATION OF THE DOCTRINE
1. It refutes two wrong concepts of God.
a. Fatalism: The idea that fate is the force that determines the outcome of all things. This would be the idea there is a plan that is in effect and there is absolutely nothing that can change that plan, and that it will take place as planned.
If your room mate trips on your dirty clothes laying on the floor — that is fate. Nothing could have been done to avoid it. If your room mate dies due to the fall, that was fate. She would have tripped there even if the dirty clothes hadn’t been there.
b. Pantheism: God is locked in nature and can do nothing except within the laws of nature. We know this to be in error for we know that God has done things outside the laws of nature in the past. The miracles of the Old and New Testament are good examples of this.
Besides, how can God make something out of nothing if He is locked inside of nothing. That would say that God does not exist.
2. God has chosen to limit Himself in several ways that we need to consider.
a. He has limited Himself to operate within the laws of nature for the most part. It is only on special occasions whereby He sets the laws of nature aside. (He is free to do so at any time, it should be emphasized.)
b. He has limited Himself to work with mankind. He is locked into completing that which He has started with man. His plan of glorification and His side plan of redemption are on course and must be completed.
He has also limited Himself to work within time, which was a new experience for Him when He created.
c. He has limited Himself also in the area of working through man. He has chosen US to be His ambassadors to the lost world around us. Meditate on that one for awhile. The God Of The Universe Limited Himself To Mess Around With Us. To trust us to do a good job.
The saddest part of this point is that very few generations have actually done the job that they were given to do. The missionary effort in many generations has been miserable at best. Today we are seeing the decline of missions and very little is being done about it. The Third World countries are becoming the prominent hope of missions in the future. These countries are sending out more and more missionaries each year while the major countries of the world are sending fewer and fewer.
3. The freedom which God possesses is our guarantee that all will come to pass as His people have prophesied through the ages. If He were not free to do as He pleases, then He would not be free to do as He has promised.
4. This doctrine has application to the local church. Not only is God free to do as He pleases in His own realm but He is free to do as He pleases in the realm of the church.
Example: If a pastor has a rich family over three weeks in a row some of his members may decide that he isn’t being fair. They have never been to the pastors house. Jealousy can crop up. It may be that the rich man is a new Christian and this is how the pastor has decided to disciple the man.
Do not fall into the trap of judging people on surface observation. God may lead the pastor to do many things that you do not understand. Example: God gives gifts as He so chooses. He may give one person several gifts and another person only one. I spent some time in a church that had a pastor that was an excellent preacher but a mediocre teacher. Not that he was bad but he wasn’t as good as others. When this pastor would see gifted teacher beginning to have a ministry in the church the pastor would get jealous and run the teacher off.
God Can Do As He Pleases In The Church. God gives gifts as He pleases. God gives looks as He pleases. God gives brains as He pleases. God gives money as He pleases. God gives personality as He pleases. God gives homes as He pleases. God gives cars as He pleases. God gives abilities as He pleases. God gives etc. as He pleases.
5. God decides to take some believers home much sooner in life than others. It is His choice, not ours.
The following quotation comes from the days of the Boxer Rebellion in China. All foreigners were fleeing for their lives and many Christians were being martyred.
“Before giving a brief account of our deliverance on that awful journey in 1900, I wish first humbly to submit the following, for well I know there will be those who will read these pages whose dear ones were NOT delivered but whose lives were given up for Christ in glorious martyrdom for His Name’s sake.
“When in Canada, following the experiences now to be recorded, we were faced with the question, put in various ways — ‘How can you say as you do, that it was by God’s power and grace that you were all brought through? If this were so why did He not deliver the hundreds of missionaries and native Christians who were even then being done to death throughout China?’ Truly a vital question, which could not be lightly set aside. Humbly and prayerfully we pondered this ‘WHY’ in the light of Scripture. In the twelfth chapter of Acts we read of Herod’s succeeding in putting James to death by the sword, and directly after comes the story of how Herod was hindered in carrying out his intentions to kill Peter who was delivered by a miracle. Then who could read that marvelous eleventh chapter of Hebrews with its record of glorious martyrdoms and miraculous deliverances without being thrilled. In face of these and many other passages, while still unable to answer the ‘WHY’ we saw our Almighty God used His own prerogative to glorify His name whether in the glorious martyrdom of some or in the miraculous deliverance of others.” (Goforth, Rosiland, “GOFORTH OF CHINA”; Wheaton: Zondervan Publishing House, 1937)
6. This point of application may encourage you. God can change any of the attributes or talents that you have for the better. (He may change them for the worse also — I used to have dark curly hair, but now am on the gray, fringe area, so to speak.)
Looks for example: We had a girl in our 4th and 5th grade class that was UGLY. Some one really beat her with a big UGLY STICK. In fact we all suspected that she took ugly pills on the side. We called her flea bag and she didn’t argue with us usually. BAD. (No, we were not nice to her.)
One evening in my Senior year of High School this beautiful girl in a neat car pulled up beside me and told me she wanted to talk to me. We talked for some time before she said who she was. GUESS WHO????? (She never mentioned how she had been treated as a youngster — she was nice to us.)
Money for example: Mark Anderson, I have been told, of the Hyles Anderson college in the Chicago area, dedicated himself and $2000 to the Lord’s use and seven years later he was a millionaire serving God and giving and giving and giving.
Personality for example: Many ministers that I have been privileged to know were at one time quiet, withdrawn and shy individuals. Now they are outgoing servants of God.
7. Ryrie has one application and I would like for you to consider it for a moment. He suggests that God can never become indebted to us. He does as He chooses. In short, no matter how great you are, He is not obligated to bless you or do anything for you.
God Can Do As He Pleases. God Can Do As He Wants. God Can Do As He Desires.
In closing this section we must consider some questions that Isaiah asked. “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counselor, hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding?” Isaiah 40:13-14
Of course the answer must be a resounding, NO ONE.
God Is Self-Conscious
Personality begins to appear in a child as they become conscious of themselves. One of the traits of a growing child is the different levels of self awareness. Most parents will say that the baby begins to take on personality very early in life. A baby will cry out of instinct however it isn’t long before the baby becomes aware that it is them that is crying, and then they become aware that mom comes when they cry. Soon they have mom and dad trained quite well.
Another item of maturation is the idea of babies playing with their feet. They have no idea, for sometime, that those things belong to them. They just play with what is handy. Those two feet stick up, so why not play with them. Many children react when they realize those funny looking things are theirs.
Man is for the most part conscious of himself, but not necessarily completely conscious. We are not aware of many things in our lives. We may have personality traits that have not surfaced as yet. We may have talents in areas that we haven’t explored as yet.
God is conscious of Himself in a most complete way. Exodus 3:14 “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” God is that He is, and He knows that which He is.
There is nothing about God that He does not know. There is no personality trait that will emerge in the next 100 million years that He did not know was there.
1 Corinthians 2:10,11 states, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, except the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but he Spirit of God.” This text shows that man cannot know God completely. It does show, however that GOD KNOWS HIMSELF COMPLETELY.
APPLICATION OF THE DOCTRINE
1. We are dealing with a God that knows all there is to know about Himself and we can be sure He isn’t going to change His mind because He just found out that He is a just God.
2. If He is totally conscious of Himself, then He is totally conscious of me. That should put me at peace about who I am. I am that which He has made me. I am just exactly what God wanted me to be this day, at this hour, at this moment.
I’m going to pick on the ladies for a moment or two and try to bring these two items together into one big application.
It is not only aimed at the women, but to the men as well for this may help them to help women that come to them for counseling in their ministry.
I have known of seven or eight women that have walked out on their husbands in recent years. These are Christian women. I have heard of others as well. Their reason for leaving is, “I need to find myself.”
I find in talking to the husbands that the wife does not know who she is. She doesn’t know what her identity is. This line of irrational thought is very frustrating to the husband that has just received total responsibility for caring for the family from a woman that he has known for a number of years, which suddenly doesn’t know who she is.
Most of these women are unsatisfied with being who they are so they set out to find themselves. They think by going out into the world they can make themselves over into what they want to be.
I tend to think that part of this is due to the media telling them that the housewife is a foo foo that is foolish for fooling with food for fuddy duddy hubby. The media demands that women be professional businesswomen, and a total knockout looks wise, or she is a flop.
 Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A. (n.d.). DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.