Even as the guns of war grew still, emotions seethed. The hate, of course, was the most perilous. One Southern innkeeper told a journalist that Yankees had murdered his soldier sons, torched his house, and taken his slaves. "They left me one inestimable privilege - to hate 'em. I git up at half past four in the morning, and sit up til twelve at night, to hate 'em. . . . A planter said "I have vowed that if I should have children - the first ingredient of the first principle of their education shall be uncompromising hatred and contempt of the Yankee. Day by day and hour by hour does the deep seated enmity I have always had . . . for the accursed Yankee nation increase and burn higher." Jay Winik, April 1865 : The Month That Saved America (p. 351-352)
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore,we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5.6-10
It's true that before God saved me I was His enemy. I was a sinner at enmity with God. If that is biblically true, then how did one who was opposed to God willingly become reconciled to God? Did the Southerners who hated the North really want to be a part of the Union they hated? The Southerners quoted above may have become a citizen of the United States, but it was not their choice.
Reading the New Testament leads a Christian to worship. Reading and understanding your position before God as a sinner leads you to bow in reverence, worship, and be in awe at the God who is mighty to save. God's mercy and justice are more amazing than my free will. I don't have a problem recognizing my inability to save myself. The problem develops when believers make this issue divisive. Even when I struggle through difficulties in God's Word, I trust His plan over my ability to work out that which I don't understand. More specifically, God does not need me to make up an excuse for why all people aren't saved. My free will does not solve all the problems associated with people who do not respond to the Gospel. Free will diminishes God. It minimizes God's omnipotence, and depicts Him as following the choices of man. This is not a biblical view of God. God works all things according to His will, not mine.