In a few words, the Bible reflects the mystery of the interrelationship between the freedom of our thoughts and the enabling, limiting, and over-riding will of God.
The extent of our freedom is something that is beyond our ability to understand even though many have tried. Naturalistic philosophers from a number of different schools have reasoned that the freedom of the human will is an illusion, that what we think and do are predetermined by laws of nature.
Then there are the philosopher-theologians who reason that if God knows the end from the beginning, that means he has to predetermine by his own will all that happens so that he can know what will happen.
Seems to me that such thinking is as contrary to Scripture as other forms of philosophy that attempt to reason away the wonder of God-given freedom and choice.
On the other hand, it appears just as contrary to the Old and New Testament to conclude that we are as free as we feel. For openers,
1. Sin in the form of any number of habitual behaviors robs us of our freedom. The Apostle Paul talks about having a “will”, but not being able to live up to his own ideals because of the principle of sin in our flesh (Romans 7:18-19).
2. God, in turn, predetermines the times and boundaries of our lives (Acts 17:26).
All of which shows how important our thoughts are. Even if we can’t understand where our own freedom really begins and ends, the Bible does not lead us to believe that human will, responsibility, or accountability are just an illusion.
Am convinced that any philosophy, with or without biblical prooftexting, that suggests that we don’t have a will that is both free and limited, does not do justice to our God.
What we think and choose today (far more than the circumstances of our lives) seems to be a big part of what this phase of our eternal journey is all about.
At the very minimum choosing to say, “Lord, help me, in this moment, to pray, to think, and to act in a way that honors and shows my love for you and others” might reflect that most important and real freedom of our lives.
If even those choices are influenced positively by the prayers of others in our behalf, then our choice to ask God to help us, by his Spirit, to live up to those good desires, by his grace, is a freedom we need to treasure.
Can we figure it all out? I don’t think God wants us to. Why else would he inspire a statement like, “The thoughts of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord” (Prov 16:1).