Freedom and Permissions

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The Lord wants nothing more than to bring happiness to everyone. But He knows that we cannot be happy unless we are free to choose between loving what is good or loving what is evil. So, the Lord protects our freedom while leading us toward the greatest happiness that we will accept.

The Lord never wills for bad things to happen, but He does allow or permit them—for the sake of human freedom and to keep evil under control. Evil deeds are permitted so that we can recognize evil and then freely reject it and turn toward the Lord.

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Discussion ideas

  1. The Lord wants us to be free to choose our path in life. People are led and taught by the Lord from early childhood, and their freedom is never taken away (see Divine Providence 164:5).
  2. People are free to do what is good or what is evil. Leaving a person in freedom to do even what is bad is called “permission” (Arcana Coelestia 10778). The Lord permits or allows many things to happen that He does not will.
  3. From our natural perspective, it can be difficult to see how the Lord can be all powerful when there is so much disorder and outright evil in our world. To help us understand that the Lord can still be in charge and yet not have a particle of evil in Him, here are a few more teachings about the Lord’s Providence:
    The Lord’s Providence looks toward our eternal happiness, having “in view what is eternal” (Arcana Coelestia 7007:4).
    The Lord foresees and sees all things, though some things arise from His permission and some from His will (see Arcana Coelestia 1755).
    One reason that evil is permitted is so that we can recognize it and reject it. “Without permissions a person cannot be led by the Lord away from evil and so be reformed and saved. For if evils were not permitted to break out, a person would not see them and therefore would not acknowledge them, and so could not be brought to resist them” (see Divine Providence 251).
  4. How can we become truly free? The world tends to view freedom as the absence of natural restraints. To become truly free, we need to follow the Lord. Spiritual freedom is to freely accept the Lord’s leadership.

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True freedom—spiritual freedom—is not the absence of all constraint, but rather the free acceptance of the Lord’s leadership in our lives.

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