A question that plagues the honest Bible reader. Our culture reacts by saying, “Of course!” However, the Bible gives a different picture. If God is God then he is free to do as he wills, how he wills. The problem for people is accepting the fact that they are shot through with sin and only a supernatural work can save them…not their intellect or moral striving. In an excellent article, Doug Wilson treats this question (it takes about five minutes of your time and is well worth it!!).
Now the reason we have a problem with God’s control of free actions is that we do not want to say that men are nothing more than puppets. But the assumption of “puppetry” is a false inference. When one creature acts on another creature, his use of freedom displaces the freedom of the one he is acting on. When Hamlet kills Claudius, the freedom of Hamlet removes the freedom of Claudius. But when Shakespeare acts on Hamlet, this does not remove Hamlet’s freedom, it rather creates it. In other words, the actions of Shakespeare on the characters does not have the same effect that the actions of one character have on another character. In the same way, the relation of God’s will to my actions is not a relation that is bound by the rules of the universe because it is the relationship of the Creator of that universe with a creature within it. I cannot displace someone else’s choices, and leave him in full possession of those choices at the same time. To try to explain it would be to try to explain a contradiction. But the error that is made when this is assumed to be true of God’s relationship with us is the error of making God tiny, as though He were simply the biggest subset within the universe. But He is not.
[HT: Jim Hamilton]