At creation, God gave both angels and humans the ability to choose.
GOD could have created beings that automatically did exactly what He wanted all the time, without having to think. Some would have us believe that's how GOD's sovereignty works, that He somehow created a bunch of stuff and remotely controls it from heaven, predetermining every situation.
But that's not what GOD wants—just a bunch of robots. Rather, GOD wants beings who will realize His goodness and beauty and want to choose to love and obey Him.
It may seem obvious, but it's important to acknowledge that GOD granted both heavenly and earthly beings the ability to choose for themselves.
We could pull almost any passage from Scripture to illustrate this truth. Here are two.
GOD Warned Cain
With Cain and Abel, both brought an offering to GOD. However, GOD was not pleased with Cain's offering. This is particularly interesting when you compare the Hebrew and Greek versions of this text in Genesis 4.
The Hebrew (Masoretic Text) reads as follows:
2 ... Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
6 So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
(Genesis 4:2b-7 NKJV)
But the Greek (Septuagint) brings further clarity:
2 ... Now Abel was a shepherd of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 Now in the process of time Cain brought a sacrifice to the Lord from the fruits of the ground. 4 Abel also brought a sacrifice from the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. The Lord respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his sacrifices. So Cain was extremely sorrowful, and his countenance fell. 6 So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you extremely sorrowful? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 Did you not sin, even though you brought it rightly, but did not divide it rightly? Be still; his recourse shall be to you; and you shall rule over him.”
(Genesis 4:2b-7 OSB)
We can make several observations from this text:
- Cain and Abel both knew to bring this offering to GOD. However, there is no indication that GOD told them to do it. It may have been voluntary.
- Cain knew that GOD accepted Abel's offering.
- Cain knew that GOD did not honor his offering. According to the Greek, this was because Cain didn't divide the offering correctly. Perhaps Cain didn't give the firstfruits to GOD.
- GOD cared about Cain's reaction and spoke with Cain, advising him.
- Cain had the choice to do well or do wrong.
After this, Cain murdered his brother Abel. Cain chose poorly and was punished, banished to live as a nomad.
Satan Chose to Rebel
We have previously seen that GOD called creation "vey good" and this included the creation of the heavenly beings, including Satan.
But in time, Satan chose to lie and murder. Jesus said:
44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
(John 8:44 NIV)
So, yes, it is quite clear: Heavenly creatures and humans were gifted free will, the ability to choose what to think, speak and do.