Man cannot believe just what he pleases
I was reading in Gregg Thompson's Primitive Preacher recently and came across the following reminder of how important it is to recognize that true faith comes only from God, for "without faith it is impossible to please Him." Not by good works, not by intellectual assent, not by a reluctant recognition of facts can we please God. Even our best works, our best efforts, our best service--as Thompson points out--are sin in themselves if they are not works of God-given faith. - JH
"Our subject today is one of vital importance; one in which we should all feel a great interest, for without faith it is impossible to please God, or to come to him; Heb., xi, 6. Any service on our part that is not the work of faith, that is done without faith, or, "is not of faith”, is sin; Rom., xiv, 23. This destroys every hope of the mere nominal professors, or them that put on the outward garb of Christianity, while they are destitute of the faith of God's elect. Christ tells us that, “He that believeth not shall be damned;" Mark, xvi, 16. He shall suffer the endless burning.
Man can not believe just what he pleases, or believe against clear and unquestionable testimony, for truths may be so clearly demonstrated or proven to the mind that we are irresistibly forced to acknowledge them and believe them, when there is no love for them, and in our hearts we wish they were not true; Isa., liii, 3; James, ii, 19. This faith may confess the truth, but hate it at the same time. But the faith that is of God, and wrought in us by the same power that raised up Christ from the dead, is called "saving faith," and is wrought in us by the Spirit of God, and by it we receive Christ as he is revealed in the gospel, our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. This faith has hope and love for its companions, and is manifested by our humble and faithful obedience to the laws, and to Christ, its author and finisher."