Monday, October 29, 2012

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Blaming God for Our Choices

“Either you are going to look to God and say, ‘Thy will be done in my life.’, or God will look to you and say, ‘Your will be done in your life.’ ” I heard Grant Jeffrey, a Bible prophecy teacher, make this simple and yet profound statement today. He was speaking to the point that God has given man free will to make his own choices from the very beginning. The one choice that has top priority in each person’s life is whose will are you and I going to choose to follow in our journey through life, remembering that life means not only here and now but on into eternity?

God meant man to have a direct and personal relationship with Him from the very beginning when He created the first man and woman. He gave them an environment of complete perfection in which to grow and thrive. Everything that He had created was handed over into the hands of mankind to exercise dominion over it, which meant to care for and direct the growth and development of everything down to even the smallest detail of naming everything. For a while Adam and Eve did just that. While doing so, they also had the ultimate personal relationship in that, besides having one another, they also ‘communed’ with God, visiting and talking with Him as they went about their daily lives. Remember how the Bible says that as God was in the process of creation, He would look at it and say, it was good? Because God had created it, all was good and without any seed of corruption. All was glorious and ‘good’ as it was meant to be.

When God gave man dominion over all the earth, He had first given them only one limitation. He told them NOT to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Had they remained obedient to God, they would have remained ‘good’ and without corruption. For a time, they lived according to God’s will without having to consider that there was any other possible choice. It would not have entered into their minds to do otherwise. Can you even imagine how glorious your life would be if you never had any thoughts or desires that were anything but good and righteous? They knew only how to be and do ‘good,’ and did not know what evil even was. It wasn’t until they chose to go against God’s will that they themselves opened the door for evil, sin, to enter, bringing corruption not only into themselves, but also over all the earth.

True ‘good’ is that which is totally righteous and there is no spot or blemish in it. True ‘good’ is that which is totally encompassed within the will of God. The moment that the knowledge of evil entered into mankind, he could never be totally ‘good’ and righteous again. The Bible says that, compared with the righteousness of God, any righteousness that we might think we have is as filthy rags before God because His ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours. In God’s eyes there is no such thing as just a little bit of corruption, just as there is no such thing as being just a little bit pregnant. Just like the picture that Jesus gave us of the leavened bread, once there is even a little leaven in the bread the whole loaf is made corrupt. From then on, no matter how he might try, mankind could not rid himself of that sinful nature. The term good then can only be applied to Jesus, for He alone is without sin. Man is not free of sin; therefore, the only point that may be arguable about us is to what degree, for or less, are we wicked, unrighteous.

God did not intend for us to know sin. He intended for us to only know that which is good and right, that which is acceptable in the sight of God. Once we had opened that door of knowledge of evil, we now made ourselves subject to the power of doing that which is evil, or wrong in the sight of God. None of us, not even the smallest baby is free of having the knowledge of evil. If one has that knowledge then one is forever plagued by the power that it has to entice us into its snare and make us its captive or servant to do that which is evil over and over again. That’s why, apart from God, man has no hope of redemption, purpose or value. We might as well be, like the Bible says, a blade a grass that sprouts up, withers and dies, except that, unlike a blade of grass, man has a spirit. That spirit, whether in a body or out of the body, has an eternal destination - Heaven or Hell.

We often hear statements like, “He is a good man,” or “I’ve done my best to be a good person.” The truth of such statements is dependent upon whose yardstick one is using to take the measure of a man. It’s this manner of thinking that leads to the erroneous belief that if I try my best to be a good person, following biblical morals, that I will then have earned my title of good; therefore, I will be deserving of going to Heaven. However, we would be far from right.

Many times I have puzzled over the meaning of the word wicked. On the surface, it seems to apply only to those who choose to live a life that is fraught with evil and horrendous misdeeds. Here again, we must consider what yardstick or rule is being used to make the comparison that would determine the concept of good and wicked. If I am only going to compare myself to another human being, perhaps I may be able to declare myself more or less wicked than someone else. But for the purpose of determining whether I am devoid of wickedness, sinfulness, and therefore all good and deserving of a place in heaven, if I am honest with myself, I would have to admit that what the Bible says of me is true, “All have sinned and fallen short of the mark.”

People will often single out persons like Gandhi as an example of a ‘good’ man. Making this assumption, because he appears ‘good’ in my eyes, he must also be good in the sight of God. This assumption would be leading us to an erroneous decision. Don’t miss the point here. I am not setting myself up as judge and jury to say that Gandhi is not in Heaven; God is the one that determines that. However, I am saying that God is the one who has set up the plan and requirements of who will or will not enter the Kingdom of God. That plan has never been based on what we consider to be right or fair, for our ideas change with every little whim that happens to float into a given person or society. Isn’t it a good thing then that God’s ways never change and that He remains the same yesterday, today, and forever? He is not a God of confusion; He doesn’t leave anything up to chance or happenstance. For that reason, we are able to put total trust in Him. We can have the assurance that what He says, He means, He does, and He does not waiver. His promises are never revoked, and His counsel will forever stand. We can depend upon Him to keep His word forever and ever. Isn’t it sad that some people will choose to reject God simply because they perceive their own opinions or ideas of what is right and wrong to be more ‘fair’ than God’s thoughts and ways as proclaimed in His word? God is not hampered with any ideas of what is fair, instead, He is focused on what is either right or wrong. There is no inconsistent thinking or behaving within Him. He doesn’t play around with ideas of ‘situational ethics’ or ‘values clarifications’ as man does. Man plays mind games in order to make the situation fit his own opinions.

We set ourselves up to be little gods when we think our ways and thoughts are higher than His. This is the root of true confusion and lawlessness in the world for our thoughts and ways can never reach the standard of God’s. The truth of this fact has been acted out time and time again in history, and yet we never seem to learn that lesson. Every time a society marginalizes God and His Word, the results have been tyranny, not freedom. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

If you and I are responsible for the choices that we alone have made, how then can we possibly blame God for a bad ending to the story? Yet that is what you hear time and time again. God has made a plan for us to escape eternal damnation in Hell, a place created for Satan and his demons, never intended for mankind. What did He require of us? Didn’t He say we must be born again, believe on Him, and we would have eternal life? Didn’t Jesus say that His Father’s house had many mansions and that He was going there to prepare a place for us that where He was we might be also? Doesn’t that make it clear that He wants us to be with Him to live forever and ever? It seems only reasonable that if I was given a free ticket to go home, but I refused to take it, I would have no one to blame but myself for the fact that I was lost, alone and without a home. If I was a child stuck in a room where a fire had begun, and I refused to take the hand of my father and follow him into safety, would it be reasonable for me to blame him for my death? Neither of those scenarios would make any since to a reasonable person. However, the statement that is often repeated is, “I can’t believe that a loving God would send anyone to Hell.”

That sin nature entered into all of mankind after the knowledge of evil entered the scene. Every man that is until the Holy Spirit came upon Mary, impregnating her with a seed that had no corruption from mankind in it. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, meaning that He was man but totally righteous, totally God filled, totally God personified. Once again, God was on earth and mankind could walk, talk, and commune with Him as Adam and Eve had done in the Garden of Eden before sin, the knowledge of evil, entered into the world. Remember, the angel of the Lord said about Jesus, His name shall be called Emmanuel, meaning God with us. Finally, Jesus, the Lamb of God, came into the world that through His sacrifice, our debt would be Paid in Full, so that we might once more be redeemed and made right with God. Though our righteousness is still as filthy rags, God has made it possible for us to be covered with His royal robe of righteousness through His shed blood that would wash away our sins. But in order to receive that royal robe, each individual must be willing to receive and wear it.

Being able to enter the Kingdom of God was never dependent on any level or idea of goodness that we ourselves could attain through good works or anything else that we might do. Our salvation has always depended upon what God has done for us, not what we have done for Him. He sent His only Son to be sacrificed as payment for our debts, a debt we could never repay. Jesus declared that debt as Paid in Full as He hung on the cross and declared “It is Finished!” There is no other name by which we can be saved. He is the only one that could pay the price. He is the only one that arose from the dead in a glorified, appearing to many over a period of forty days so they could witness for themselves that He had kept His Word and demonstrated that He truly was who He said He was – The Son of God. He is alive today and sits at the right hand of God the Father. Had he not risen from the dead, never to die again, He would have been no different than Gandhi, Mohammed, Buddha or any other false god. Believers would have no foundation for their belief and trust in Him.

God has made it clear that the only requirement that we must fulfill to become a child of His is to be reborn through faith in Jesus Christ; to acknowledge and believe on His Son as the only one through whom we can be saved. There are those that would proclaim there are many paths to God; but I direct our attention to God, who is the ultimate and only authority. Has He not said: (I John 5: 10 – 12) “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son. And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and He that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”

As for those good works done by mankind, of what value are they? They may be of temporary short lived value for the here and now. However, apart from God they have no eternal value. We are not saved by our good works. Does this then mean that I can just have faith in Jesus and then live my life as though He did not exist? God forbid! If we love the Lord, we will have evidence of that love that we bear towards Him. If you love your earthly parents, don’t you want to show that love by doing things that you know would be pleasing to them and make them happy? The answer is, of course you would. Everything that we do, we are to do as if we were doing it for the Lord. Because He has first loved us so very much, isn’t it then reasonable that we should want to do good works, not to exalt ourselves, but rather to give all honor and glory unto Him? Does it mean that we will never sin, or do wrong again. No, we are still human and we do fight against that old sinful nature; however, it should mean that we will not purposely set out to practice to do those things that are not pleasing in His sight. If my life as a Christian looks no different than the non-Christian, I definitely need to examine my heart to determine if I am truly a follower of Christ, doing the will of God, or am I just a culture Christian, a Christian in name only and not in actions. None of us starts out our Christian life fully grown and mature, but there should be some evidence that we are being changed more and more into his image as we journey towards maturity in Him. That doesn’t happen by accident, but only as we subject ourselves to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit by the power of His Word. We can’t grow if we never spend time in His Word that we may learn how He thinks and then truly apply it to our lives. That’s what is meant by acquiring, or ‘having the mind of Christ.’ Becoming more Christ like is a daily process, and full maturity will not be reached until we see Him face to face and He has finished that good work that He has begun in us.

Just as Adam and Eve were given the choice to obey God, you and I are also presented with a choice that no one else can make for us. Each individual has to come to the point of decision in life – am I going to choose to surrender to God, repent, ask Him to come in to be Savior and Lord of my life, or am I going to choose to be lord of my own life? There is no in between. You and I are responsible for the consequences of what choice is made. I can choose to put my faith in Jesus the Son of God, receive the covering of His royal robe of righteousness, that I may be redeemed, resurrected into a new body as He was, and have eternal life in Heaven to be a part of the family of God for eternity. On the other hand, I can choose to make myself lord of my life; God gives me the freedom to do so. He never forces anyone to believe on Him. If I choose the latter, I have taken myself out of God’s will completely. What is God’s will for you and me? Doesn’t the Bible tell us that it is not the will of God that any should perish, but that whosoever would believe on the Son of God would have eternal life?

Finally, saying that a loving God would not send anyone to Hell is a true statement in that He is not the one that sends any person there. Consider the following choices that are given to us, that of going to a marvelous place or one filled with darkness and eternal torment. All provisions for going to the marvelous place have been provided for you and I as follows:

(1) You have been given an invitation to go to a special event.

(2) A gracious and merciful person paid the price for your ticket providing your safe passage to the event. He only asks that you receive the gift and that you believe in what he has done for you.

(3) Not only has he given you a special pass, but he has also provided a special cloak that will make you presentable and acceptable before the king.

(4) At the door, there is even a list with your name on it to confirm that you are welcomed.

(5) When you get there, your very own private accommodations have been prepared for you with much splendor.

(6) There are many loved ones there expecting your arrival with joyous anticipation.

The moment of decision has come. The choice is up to you; are you going to accept all that has been provided for you, or are you going to turn it down? Your name does not get blotted out of the book until, or unless, you don’t accept the gift that is being offered. Remember the alternative choice to go to the dark and tormenting place? If that’s your choice, you have to make all your own arrangements and provisions to go there. Since the choice was up to you all along, how can God possibly be blamed for the choice you made if it was for the latter destination? Yes, you can choose be lord of your own life and in so doing you will never have to be responsible to anyone or anything. Realizing that it was you, and only you that is responsible for making that choice, is it really God that has been unfair, or do you and I condemn our own selves? Is it not written: (John 3: 16 – 18) “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but him that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in name of the only begotten Son of God.”


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