Why didn’t God make us without being capable of sin, always choosing good—just like the final state of the redeemed? If God can guarantee a sin-free existence for believers in the afterlife, why not do so from the start? In reply, our earthly freedom to choose between God and no God, to embrace God’s grace or resist it, sets the stage for the afterlife. These choices shape our character, spiritual condition, and, ultimately, our destiny; we set our spiritual compass to head in one direction or another. Whether we decide as a child or late in life, like the criminal on the cross (Lk. 23:39-43), the freedom to move toward God or away from him is an earthly prerequisite to our final outcome, which is the ultimate fulfillment and realization of our desires.
- Some hold that this freedom is sealed in the afterlife: once we’ve set our course to embrace or reject God’s grace, this freely made earthly decision is made permanent, and we get the desire of our heart-either with God or away from him.
- Or perhaps God simply foreknows that no redeemed saint enjoying his immediate and unshielded presence will ever freely decide to turn away from him, though theoretically possible (as happened with rebellious angels). God’s foreknowledge guarantees this ongoing sinlessness. These suggestive alternatives are only tentative, which is only fitting since, “It has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 Jn. 3:2).
— Paul Copan, from Loving Wisdom, kindle location 2163