November 10, 2018

Free to Choose

My understanding is that when sin entered our world, humanity lost all power and desire to love God or even seek Him (see Romans 3:10ff). Salvation changes that. With faith and new life in Christ we can choose whom we will serve. The constant barrage of choices can be confusing, deceptive and dangerous. Without the guidance of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, we struggle to make godly choices.

The Bible is filled with examples. For instance, this passage warns me not to be friends with the world’s system of thinking or I will become an enemy of God. It also says that I need to resist the devil, implying that I need to know how he is trying to influence me. I’m to be sorrowful over sin rather than smug that I did it, and humble in my attitude rather than proud.

“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:4–10)

Not all choices are obvious. Not all ungodly choices are blatantly sinful. Sometimes the enemy lures me into busyness that is good but it keeps me from following God’s plan which is better.

Years ago, John MacArthur preached a sermon on knowing the will of God. He went through the verses that plainly state it, then pointed to Psalm 37:4 which says: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” His point was when God is our delight, He puts the “I wants” in our heart, or in other words, we can do whatever we please because He is giving us those good choices.

In my pride, I’d like to think that I can make good choices on my own, but I know that is not how it works. The old nature is dead in sin, but still vulnerable to Satan’s lies, the world’s lure the flesh’s lusts — and these ‘choices’ often are presented to my pride. Again, the key to making good choices is humility. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit myself therefore to God . . .

Lord, every day is filled with choices, opportunities to admit that I cannot do the right thing without You at my side. I need You. Even though You have granted me a renewed ability to choose (like Eve had before she ate that forbidden fruit), I must rely on Your grace to make the godly decisions.

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