Question: The Bible clearly shows that the choices we make will alter our destiny. For example, God appeals to wrongdoers, saying: “Turn back, please, every one from his bad way and from the badness of your dealings . . . that I may not cause calamity to you.” (Jeremiah 25:5, 6) This appeal would be pointless if God had already fixed each individual’s destiny. Moreover, God’s Word states: “Repent, therefore, and turn around so as to get your sins blotted out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the person of Yahweh.” (Acts 3:19) Why would Yahweh ask people to repent and turn around if he knew beforehand that they could do absolutely nothing to change their destiny?
Response: Left to ourselves, our choices would only lead us to perdition. None of these Texts you cite show the moral ability of man to follow Christ, apart from the Holy Spirit. They are simply imperatives - God telling us what we OUGHT to do ... not what we are ABLE to do. You have to read into the text to and presuppose another meaning - that any time God give a command it automatically means man has the ability to fulfill it ourselves, in the flesh. But this is to forget the whole reason for Jesus coming. Did He not come to be the Savior for the very reason that we are NOT ABLE to live a sinless life and live? Are we not sinners in need of grace? God commands us to love him with all out heart. Does this mean we are willing and able, of ourselves, love him with all our heart?
Take the time to meditate on Roman 3:19, 20. The purpose of God's command is NOT to show our ability but reveal our inability ... to expose our sinfulness:
"Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since THROUGH THE LAW COMES KNOWLEDGE OF SIN."
Why is it that no human being be justified by the law? Because none can do it or live by it. Our sinful nature makes it an impossibility.
Lastly, the appeals to fallen sinners to obey are not pointless at all since the purpose, as shown above in Romans, it to show man his spiritually bankrupt and impotent condition, and when he becomes emptied of all hope in himself, God has finally brought him to a place where the gospel can actually work in him - those full of self-righteousness will never come to Christ. The power to obey the command to believe the gospel, therefore, comes from without, from the Holy Spirit, not from within. "It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus...so let him who boast, boast in the Lord." (1 Cor 1:29, 30) "What is impossible for people [faith and repentance] is possible with God." (Luke 18:27)
The person who asked the question also asked "Why would Yahweh ask people to repent and turn around if he knew beforehand that they could do absolutely nothing to change their destiny?"
Interesting he has to ask a question rather than point to a text which gives an answer to the question. Those who believe like this demonstrate that they are drawing conclusions based on extra-biblical logical inferences ... and not getting their answer from the Text itself. This is the train of thought ... "Why would Yahweh do this ... it must be THIS reason." But that is to get doctrine from reason rather than Scripture..
FInally, it is a gift of grace itself that carnal men are willing to be obedient and humble enough and call out to Jesus for mercy... Humility is not a natural characteristic of the unregenerate as we are all naturally self-righteous and want to work our way to God. (1 Cor. 4:7; 1 Cor. 15:10)
This question originally came as a result of the following post I made:
"Man has a will and he makes voluntary choices, but his will is captive to sin. God may command fallen creatures to be Holy, but apart from grace, apart from the Holy Spirit joining us to Christ, His commands meet deep resistance and are beyond our capacity as fallen beings. We have squandered the riches God has given us and now owe a debt we cannot and will not repay. The nature of debts is such that even if you cannot repay them, you are still responsible to repay them. That is why God can justly call us to do many things we are morally unable to do. Thus inability does not alleviate responsibility. To believe that simply because God commands something it can be done, is to miss the whole point of the gospel. As Augustine once said, "To will is of nature, but the will ARIGHT is of grace."