Every life has to make a crucial decision. It is the most important decision you will ever make. No, it isn’t your major in university or the person you are going to marry. It isn’t even the church you will attend. The biggest decision you will make in life is whether you will follow God’s Word or choose any one of the countless other paths in life.
This decision doesn’t stop to weigh all of the ins and outs of each path. There are no reconnaissance missions to scope them out for a distance and bring back a report on each one. No graph exists to organize the bumpiest roads from the smoother ones. You won’t find a color-coded report highlighting roads with more or less traffic on them. It’s a simple choice. You can choose God’s road or any other road. The only road with a unique destination is the one God calls us to. All of the others, regardless of promised joys, successes, accomplishments, or gratifications, all end up together.
My purpose here, though, isn’t to draw lines between the roads. God’s Word does a very clear job of that. Instead, I think we need to be reminded about the reality of the decision itself. We may find it uncomfortable to talk about, and we might even try to imagine that it doesn’t exist. But this choice is real, and we have to keep making it everyday.
God is a God of choices. The most basic choice we can make is whether we will hear and obey His word for our lives, or choose to do something else. If we go back and look at Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we find they had a choice whether or not to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. There was no wall around the Tree, no gate, and no contingent of warrior angels. The only thing preventing Adam and Eve from eating the fruit was God’s word of direction.
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
(Genesis 2:15-17 NIV)
Each day they woke up and ate from other trees in the Garden. Every day they had to choose to hear God’s direction and refuse to eat the fruit. When the serpent came to tempt Eve, he caused her to doubt God’s word and lean towards her own desire for the fruit.
He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” … When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. (Genesis 3:1, 6 NIV)
What was Adam and Eve’s sin? It was not eating, for they were made to eat; God even told them to eat. It was not speaking to the serpent, for the conversation seems perfectly natural and without fear of punishment. The sin was choosing to eat the fruit God had declared was forbidden. We don’t know how long they continued to follow God’s direction between His speaking it and this day, but here they chose a different path.
Sin is a Choice
Sin is not some mystical occurrence that randomly appears and messes with our lives. Sin is the choice to live in opposition to God’s word. “Opposition” does not mean standing on a street corner and denouncing what God says, but choosing to do the opposite of what is said. Scripture tells us we have thoughts, temptations and desires. These are not sin, but the building blocks for them. According to James, sin is “birthed” by these.
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. (James 1:14-15 NLT)
Sin is the result of the choice to give in to thoughts, temptations and desires. Paul encouraged the Corinthians by reminding them how to avoid sin. There is always a way of escape. We have to choose to move in the opposite direction.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV)
Choosing Sin over God
Unfortunately, not everyone wants to escape sin. Some even refuse to believe what they desire is sin. This is becoming increasing true for those living a homosexual lifestyle. In an effort to reconcile the love and grace of God with the desires inside of them, many assume that God would not really make them choose Him over their “hearts” or the way they were born.
One person in this midst of this difficult search is singer/songwriter Vicky Beeching. Beeching grew to superstar status as a worship leader and songwriter, and now serves as a religious adviser to several news outlets. Last week a quote of hers found its way onto Twitter.
It is true that we are all created to love and be loved. We are especially created to be loved by God. Yet God requires us to choose between pursuing Him or pursuing sin.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not specific to homosexuality. The man who chooses to live in and tell lies and tries to call himself a Christian faces the same dilemma. The woman who gossips, the teen who steals, the preacher who abuses, all of these face the same problem. Will they follow the Word of God or choose to continue in sin? The Apostle Paul tells believers they are dead to sin if they are truly in Christ.
We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:2 NIV)
Sure, they will still miss the mark, but those sins of “missing” God’s are not the same as those “ignoring” God’s direction. We cannot have both sin and God, living in the way of the flesh and the Spirit (see Romans 8:5-8). A choice must be made. And if we decide that we don’t want to choose or that we cannot choose, a lack of purposely choosing God’s Word is a decision against it.
Is that a hard pill to swallow? Indeed it is. Does it have tremendously difficult ramifications? That’s an understatement. But nothing can erase the choice before us.
God is a God of choices. He only offers us the work of Christ, He doesn’t force it upon us. He can only present His word to us, He cannot make us follow it. He wants us to; oh, how He wants us to. We have to choose.
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. (2 Peter 3:9 NLT)