Will We Have Free Will in Heaven?

We’re told in Scripture that in Heaven there will be no sin and no evil of any kind. This leads to the question of human free will, because Adam and Eve were free to choose between good and evil, and as humans alive on earth now, we also have the ability to choose between good and evil. So, it seems that if we have no ability to choose evil in Heaven, then we will have an inferior freedom to what we have now. Is that the case?

Only if you can argue that a freedom to do evil is ultimately superior to a freedom to only do good. Adam and Eve were given the ability to choose evil as a test. The testing continues today, as each human being is allowed to choose good and evil every day of their lives. Why does God test us? Because giving mankind the ability to choose evil is the greatest way to teach us how awful sin really is. The testing grows us. Consider what James says in his letter to the church:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.… Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:2–4, 12)

Eventually, though, the testing must end. In Heaven the results of our earthly testing will be confirmed. Those who chose God will be given the ability to only choose good, which is a far superior form of freedom then the ability to choose good or evil. Theologian Norm Geisler, in his Systematic Theology, Vol. 3: Sin/Salvation, explains the difference between these two kinds of freedom:

It is important to note that heaven is not the destruction of true freedom but the fulfillment of it. On earth, we choose whether we want to do God’s will or our own; once the choice is made, our destiny is sealed at death (Heb. 9:27). Then, if we have chosen God’s will instead of our own, the freedom to do evil vanishes and we are free to do only the good. Since the freedom to do evil is also the freedom to destroy oneself, it is not perfect (complete) freedom.

The essence of true freedom is self-determination; true freedom is the kind that God has (and, in eternity, believers will have), namely, the self-determined ability to choose only the good. Likewise, in hell, evil persons no longer under the influence of God’s grace will be solidified in their will to do evil.

Heaven, then, is the completion of our freedom, not a negation of it. All true believers yearn to have the Lord’s Prayer fulfilled: “Your will be done, [O God,] on earth as it is in heaven” and “lead us not into temptation” (see Matt. 6; Luke 11). Therefore, when God brings us to heaven, where this will be true, He will not have eliminated our freedom but instead fulfilled it. In summary, the loss of the ability to do evil is not an evil of any kind; it is, rather, a profound good.

God has perfect freedom, and God is not able to choose evil. When we are in Heaven, we will finally have this same kind of freedom. The ability to choose evil, then, is a lesser form of freedom that will be discarded once we’ve joined God for eternity.

  • Kevin

    “Those who chose God will be given the ability to only choose good” I’m not sure I buy that. My semi-heretical-though-potentially-logical take on it is that having drank sin for the duration of our lives here the thought of evil will so revolt us that if given the choice between good or evil we will choose good. If there is a curse in heaven it could be the memory of our prior sinfulness that never deteriorates.

  • John Peters

    In heaven we will have the freedom to be what we were created to be; people who freely choose to have a loving relationship with God. In this life we see part of the consequences of sin but we don’t always see how sin harms our relationship with God and others. Once we see that clearly in heaven and are free from the sin nature sin will have lost all it’s appeal. I see how Bill’s point as a logical apologetic but we cannot forget that heaven is more about relationship than geography.