• Joseph Durso

Fatalism, Freedom, and the Sovereignty of God

Gospel Perspective

The Best Perspective is through God's Eyes

According to the Cambridge dictionary, fatalism is "the belief that people cannot change the way events will happen and that events, especially bad ones, cannot be avoided."


Fatalism differs greatly from the Sovereignty of God because it does not consider that God works through providence, who neither sets aside human responsibility nor sin causing slavery.


In James 4:2, we are told, "You do not have because you do not ask." This scenario is not fatalism because God's perfect will is that His people ask, but it is the providence of God! The providence of God allows for such things as the unanswered prayers of the saints that, if they prayed, would produce an alternate outcome. Don't try to explain it; just let it be what it is. We can quickly lose our way when we want to know everything. God cannot be understood perfectly; He's too big!


The idea of freedom to choose Christ or reject Christ is not Biblical. Sin is rebellion against God and His laws; we want to be in control. Death in Christ results in freedom from sin. Therefore, slavery to sin is not possible apart from death in Christ. A life lived before death in Christ is not freedom but slavery. Therefore, the so-called freedom of the will does not exist outside of Christ.


Do you not know that the one to whom you present yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of that same one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18 and after being freed from sin, you became slaves to righteousness.


By this terminology of presentation for obedience, God means such a one is a slave to the one whom he presents himself. In the first case, the presentation is of sin to oneself; secondly, it is of .obedience to righteousness. By nature, we present sin to ourselves, thereby becoming its slave. Paul says, "...though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were entrusted." In a slave state, we became obedient from the heart. How? He tells us, "to which you were entrusted." This obedience happened to us; we were entrusted to obedience by God. For this reason, He said, "But thanks be to God."


In this Biblical context, God teaches us that there are two forms of slavery, slavery to sin and slavery to righteousness. Before our death and resurrection by identification in Christ, we could only be slaves to sin. Biblically, slavery to righteousness is the freedom to do what is right.


Neither fatalism nor free will can save anyone; they are demonic philosophies that enslave. We are instructed in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, "...the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying arguments and all arrogance raised against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive..." May that be true of us also.


A false understanding of Divine Sovereignty results in captivity to fatalism. The thinking goes like this. God is sovereign; therefore, we need not worry about anything. Of course, we are told to be anxious for nothing, but does that mean there is no accountability to concern the believer? Not in Paul's mind.


2 Corinthians 5:9-10. "Therefore, we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive compensation for his deeds done through the body, in accordance with what he has done, whether good or bad (in Greek worthless).' There is no double payment for sin; the Father will never review the sins paid for by His beloved Son.


A godly person fears (a holy reverence) God that he might be displeased. A godly concern is not anxiety; it is a deep, deep desire to please God. It never takes God's sovereignty for granted, as if we will be found blameless. We never want to look into Jesus' eyes while our wood, hay, and stubble are being burned up, 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. We avoid fatalism when we have as our ambition to please God and do not take gold, silver, and precious stones as a given.

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Gospel Light I agree with the Westminister Shorter Catechism, which begins by asking the question. What is the chief end of man? And the answer given is simply this: Man's chief end is to glorify God