One of the main arguments against the Calvinist position on the sovereignty of God in an individual’s salvation is that the Calvinist position violates the principle of free will. After all, God gave every person the right and ability to choose Christ or to reject Christ, right? If God chooses who will be saved, then that reduces a person to a mere robot, doesn’t it?
The concept of free will assumes that people are endowed with the ability to make either righteous or unrighteous moral decisions. The problem, though, is that there is no such person. Each one of us is a part of fallen humanity. Our nature is corrupted. After all, the Bible states, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12, ESV).
If by “free will” one means the ability to choose according to one’s inclinations, one’s proclivities, then every person does have free will. Notice, though, that one will choose according to one’s inclinations, and our inclinations run contrary to God and righteousness: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV).
Left to ourselves, none of us would choose Christ. Were God to leave us to our own inclinations, we would all reject him. It is his changing our hearts, changing our inclinations, which leads us to repent of our sin and believe on Christ. The apostle reminds us that all of salvation is by God’s grace, not our efforts or even self-generated faith: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV).