Question: "Do human beings truly have a free will?"
Answer: If “free will” can mean that God gives humans the opportunity to make choices that genuinely affect their destiny, then, yes, human beings do have a free will. The world’s sin status is directly associated with choices made by Adam and Eve. All accounts of the fall of mankind indicate it was as the result of a wrong choice. From that point on, individuals have had the opportunity to choose to follow God or to experience the consequences for not making that choice.
Even in light of God’s choosing Abraham and his descendants, God held individuals accountable for their choices. In the Old Testament, individuals outside of the chosen nation (Israel) were able to choose to believe and follow God (examples: Gentiles that left with the Israelites at the Exodus, Ruth, and Rahab). Therefore, He who chooses (elects) also allows individuals to choose. The Book of Romans is famous for explaining salvation and the sovereignty of God. It uses words like chose, predestined, elect, etc., yet it also holds people accountable for not choosing.
In the section where Romans discusses the sinful depravity of humans, God bluntly states that those outside of salvation are without excuse--“no defense.” This is specifically in light of the rejection of general revelation, showing His existence through His creation (Romans 1:20-21).
In other passages we learn that (1) individuals are expected to choose to believe (John 3:16; Romans 10:11; etc). (2) Individuals have a choice to be foolish or wise (Matthew 7:26). (3) The Scriptures are given to provide instruction for salvation – obviously to be chosen or rejected (2 Timothy 3:15; John 20:30-31). (4) Jesus established the choosing of obedience as a sign of our love for Him (John 14:21).
It is God’s will that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9), therefore, it must be someone else’s choice that separates individuals from God. God says we will reap what we sow – we can choose to reap differently (Galatians 6:7-8).
The multitudes of directives given by God assume that the hearers can make a choice to obey or disobey. It seems logical that God could only hold us accountable if we indeed have free will to choose. Therefore, a just God would not declare expectations on those who are not free to choose. It would be unjust for God to then punish those who had no choice in their actions. God, in His absolute sovereignty, created the human race with ability to make genuine and free choices.