Always A Choice
Who holds me captive? Who paralyzes me? Who causes me to lose my focus? Who keeps me spinning my wheels instead of moving forward? I do. When I mess up, I choose to do nothing, or I choose to ask for forgiveness. When I say the wrong thing, I choose to carry that around with me, or I choose to make it right. When I wrong God, I choose to pray to him and repent, or I choose to allow that to separate me from him. When I face a challenge or a decision, I choose whether to seek God’s will for me, or I choose to charge forward with no pause. When I am angry, I choose take that anger out on others or myself, or I choose to take it to God and let him take care of it. When I am sad, I choose to become depressed, or I choose to praise God and dwell on his promises. When I have been wronged, I choose revenge, or I choose to trust God to handle the situation for me. When I am confused, I choose to talk to everybody but God, or I choose to take it to him first. When I am lost, I choose to seek direction in this world, or I choose to follow the road God has made for me. When I am hurt, I choose to feel sorry for myself, or I choose to draw from that hurt and help others. There is always a choice. Who sets me free? Who gives me life? Who gives me purpose? Who helps me move forward? That would be God, but the choices are up to me.
God has pre-counseled me through his commandments. If I live by them, I walk by the Spirit; I am being led by the Spirit (Galatians 5.16-25). I show my love for Christ by obeying his commandments as found in the gospel (John 14.15,21). I walk in love by obedience to his commandments (Ephesians 5.2; 2 John 1.6).
God’s commandments…they are the focus of Satan’s attack in deceiving us. Satan seeks to get our focus off of what God said to why God said it, thereby questioning God. He did so with Eve and continues with us. Eve knew what God had said. She had a choice; so do we. In tempting Jesus (Matthew 4), Satan sought to have Jesus tempt his own Father to deliver by an act of disobedience rather than by trust. Jesus chose trust.
Satan’s words come from Psalm 91. However, the context bears out that God’s protection is conditioned upon trust. Psalm 91.9-10 states, “Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place - the Most High, who is my refuge - no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.” This is what it means to trust (Psalm 91.2). Compare Psalm 91.14: “Because he has loved me, I will save him…” What will God do for the one who trusts in him? “For he will give his angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways. On their hands they will lift you up, so that you do not strike your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91.11). To love is to obey. God’s protection is clearly connected with obedience.
False doctrine is characterized by the minimizing of obedience, stressing trust and belief apart from obedience. Truth is recognized by the setting forth of obedience to doctrine (Romans 6.17-18). There is a “form of doctrine” that must be delivered in order to be born anew (John 3.3-5). It must be obeyed, from the heart. It is not by a prayer. Prayer is for one who has obeyed the applicable commands of the gospel as a sinner. Once born anew, you then have the right to pray and address God as your heavenly Father because you have become his child.
The simple proof of all this is seen in the fact that Jesus died for all (John 3.16), yet is the author of salvation to those who obey him (Hebrews 5.8-9). You obey him by obeying the commandments that he gave. Your attitude toward God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit is revealed in your attitude toward the commandments and your obedience. This is how you evidence your humility, your submission, your meekness/pureness of heart, your mourning of sin, your poverty of spirit, your desire for mercy, your hunger/thirst for righteousness, and your desire to have peace with God. All are connected with God’s word (commandments) which are for our good always, as Moses said (Deuteronomy 6.24-25).
Grace from God is connected with instructions as to how to live (Titus 2.11-12). Love from God was shown through teaching God’s commands (John 15.22-24). Jesus was hated, not for his acts of healing, but because of what he taught. He taught commandments (John 12.49-50). Those words (commandments) were given to the twelve apostles to be preached “into all the world” (John 17.8). The apostles preached those commands (1 Corinthians 11.23; 14.37). Compare the choices between those in Berea to those in Thessalonica (Acts 17.11).
The greater fear we will ever conquer is when our trust in God is so strong that we obey him. Knowing beforehand that friends and family will reject us, yet choosing to be one with God in a covenant relationship: That is following in the footsteps of Jesus. Of all the choices we make, none is greater than choosing to obey the words of God. Obedience is a choice that has everlasting rewards.
Remember, there is always a choice. Who sets me free? Who gives me life? Who gives me purpose? Who helps me move forward? That would be God, but the choices are up to me.