Positive and Negative Volition
Volition is the ability to act within a sphere of freedom and in accordance with one’s desires. There are three categories of volition in existence: God’s volition (Isa 46:8-11; cf. Gen 1:1-31), angelic volition (Psa 103:20), and human volition (Gen 1:26-28). God’s volition is absolute, immutable, and always operates in concert with His divine attributes. And, according to His sovereignty, He created intelligent and moral beings—angels and people—with the ability to obey or resist His directive will. In fact, Lucifer and a third of the angels exercised their volition against God and caused a bifurcation in the angelic realm (Isa 14:12-14; Rev 12:7; cf. Matt 25:41). Two thirds of the angels exercised their volition to stay with God, and these continue as holy angels to do His will (Matt 16:27; 26:53; 1 Tim 5:21; Heb 1:14). As Scripture reveals, Satan persuaded Adam and Eve to disobey God, and this brought sin and death into the creation (Gen 3:1-8; Rom 5:12; 8:20-22), with the result that every person is born with a sinful nature and proclivity to sin (Jer 17:9; Matt 7:11; Rom 7:18-21; Gal 5:16-17; Eph 2:1-3). However, God has dealt with the sin problem through the life, death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus (John 3:16; 1 Cor 15:3-4), who paid our sin debt (Col 2:13-14), and liberates us who have trusted in Jesus as Savior (Rom 8:1-4), so that we might not be controlled by sin, but will pursue righteousness (Rom 6:5-13; 1 Pet 2:24).
The tendency of people who operate on negative volition is to “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18), and to operate by a worldly wisdom that is not “from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic” (Jam 3:15). The vast majority of humanity will not choose a relationship with God nor a walk with Him (Matt 7:13-14).
When God’s Word is dethroned from the mind of the believer, other forces will dominate for the worse. God’s desire for the Christian is to develop his/her character so that righteousness, goodness, grace and love flow easily and with continuity of expression. If the character is good then the behavior will be good, for it follows that a person with an honest character will easily and consistently behave in an honest manner, and a person with a loving character will easily and consistently behave in a loving manner. But good character does not automatically occur in the life of the Christian, nor does it happen overnight; rather, it matures over a lifetime as we make many good choices to walk in step with God and let His good Word transform us from the inside out. But we should be aware that it is possible to abuse our liberty and make bad choices with the result that we weaken the will and forfeit our freedoms (the addict knows this to be true). Not only that, but bad choices and abuses of freedom bring harm to others within our periphery; for this reason, Scripture states, “You were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Gal 5:13).
Unbelievers who love their moral depravity will naturally stand against those who are children of God and who love righteousness. This is why Scripture states, “Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you” (1 John 3:13). Those who set their wills against God will not listen to the Christian who comes with His message; however, they will listen to their own. The apostle John tells us about those who walk in darkness, saying, “They are from the world; therefore, they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them” (1 John 4:5). That is, there are those who operate from presuppositions and values that are cosmocentric, which exclude or pervert serious consideration and discussion about God, refusing to give Him any say over their lives. When confronted with divine revelation, the person who is negative to God either denies His existence (Psa 14:1), or reduces Him to the status of a creature (Rom 1:22-25). And the person who is negative to God can be simultaneously immoral and religious (2 Tim 3:1-5).