I am a Catholic and I have yet to find a priest who can explain free will to me. God knows everything. He knows exactly what you are going to do and when you are going to do it. He knows exactly what decisions you are going to make. Yet we have free will. I know when I have to make a decision/choice about something, I have to think about it and it is MY decision/choice but it seems to me that if God already knew what decision/choice I was going to make, it was already planned. The decision was already made for me. But then, I can’t believe that when someone decides to kill someone, God already made that decision for them.
This is a great question. I agree with you that it can tend to be somewhat confusing, but the truth remains that freedom of choice is an eternal gift that our Heavenly Father will not violate. I believe it to be true that our Father knows us intimately and knows how we will react under each circumstance in our lives. This knowledge, however, does not take away our right of choice.
Our beliefs are different from that of Catholicism in that we believe that we are spirit offspring of our Heavenly Father and have likely dwelt with him for thousands of years before Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden to begin the mortal family.
The Bible teaches that “… we are the offspring of God…” and that he is the father of our spirits: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:16-17). In another passage is states: “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9)
We are definitely sent here to prove ourselves and to see if we will learn and learn to live God’s will. To think that there is no choice would be going against the purpose for this mortal probation. The scriptures that admonish us to follow Jesus explains the eternal consequences if we do or if we do not. Heavenly Father’s knowledge of our character and even an understanding our future, does not overshadow the daily choices we make. We pretty well know how our children will react in given circumstances, but that knowledge does not dictate how they do react. It is a little like praying: Heavenly Father surely already knows our hearts and our desires, but still asks to pray to him and ask. He just does not answer prayers that are not offered nor force us to righteous action.