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Do we really have free choice?

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If God gives free chioces, why do those who don


Steve Answers:

At first glance it might appear that God doesn't give us free choice at all. If the options are choose God or die, that's not much of a choice, is it?

Free choice seems to predate the creation of our world. It goes clear back to Lucifer in heaven. Revelation 12 provides several verses on this topic:

"Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels under his command fought the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle and was forced out of heaven. This great dragon-the ancient serpent called the Devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world-was thrown down to the earth with all his angels" (Revelation 12:7-9, NLT).*

Let me paraphrase and comment on these few verses. When youthink of the word 'war,' free choice probably doesn't come to mind. It's morelike 'force' and 'might' to the point of either death or surrender. Sometimespeople go to war for the cause of free choice, but during the war it's aboutwho can beat whom.

The war in heaven was about who would be God. The dragon(Lucifer, Satan, the Devil, the Serpent, etc.) lost. As a result, God forcedhim out of heaven. If I were God, I would've ended it all for Satan right then.But because God puts a premium on free choice, He kept Satan alive and free tomake his case, so the rest of creation could have the choice to either followGod or Satan.

Besides being deceptive, notice what else Satan-this created being who was given free choice and continues to exist by God's power-has been doing.

"The accuser has been thrown down to earth-the one who accused our brothers and sisters before our God day and night. . . . The Devil has come down to you in great anger, and he knows that he has little time" (Revelation 12:10, 12).

That sounds pretty serious to me. The concept of 'free choice' doesn't come to mind when I read about an 'accuser' who works full-time. Mix that with some anger, no, 'great anger,' and you have a recipe for coercion, destruction, attacks-anything but 'free choice.'

When people hear the term 'free choice,' they sometimes think of making choices without consequences. For example, if I have the freedom of choice to kill my sister when she makes me mad, does that mean there are no consequences for me? Or if I have the freedom to steal $1,000 from a bank, are there no consequences?

Let's put this example into the life of a typical teen. If I have the freedom to talk behind the back of my friend, is there no consequence? If I have the freedom to surf the Internet and fill my mind with pornography, is there no consequence? If I have the freedom to move from pornography to having sex with someone, are there any consequences?

In the United States we have many freedoms to be able to choose all kinds of things that many people never get to choose. But that doesn't mean we're also free of consequences. I've seen broken hearts, broken lives, broken relationships, broken toys, broken schools, broken families, broken trust, broken churches, broken plans, broken hopes. When you have thefreedom to choose, there are consequences that come with that privilege.

Because we're born with a sinful nature, our natural selfishness keeps pushing us to make choices with bad consequences. We seem totally helpless to stop hurting ourselves in this way. It's like we've been born on Satan's side, and we can't get away from him-we don't seem to have any choice. Does this sound like what Paul was talking about in Titus 3:3? "Oncewe, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled by others and became slaves to many wicked desires and evil pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy. We hated others, and they hated us."

Does that sound like freedom of choice to you? It sounds like a rat race down the tubes to me. Paul continues in Titus 3:4-7: "But then God our Savior showed us his kindness and love. He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us because of what Jesus Christ our Savior did. He declared us not guiltybecause of his great kindness. And now we know that we will inherit eternal life."

You can find similar messages that Paul wrote in Colossians 3:1-10; Romans 6:4-14; and Romans 6:20-23. You can also read all of Galatians 5, which can be summarized in verse 13: "For you have been called to live in freedom-not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love."

Because God gave me a fresh start with the freedom to choose something besides just being selfish all the time, I chose Him. It was great. But I found that I continued to face many choices-would I stay with God, or would I slip back into total selfishness? Finally I just told God, "I'm choosing You for the next five years, and after that we'll see whether or not Iwant to do that again." But it didn't work. Within a day I was again faced with whether or not I'd be choosing God in my life.

With Satan, it's not like that at all. All you have to do is choose him once, and he's willing to take away all your choices from that point on. Some people actually prefer that (if you can believe it!). But with God, you will continue to choose, virtually every day of your life. Your power of choice is crucial to God.

It's like this-we aren't born with the freedom of choice. Out of God's goodness and kindness He gave back to us the freedom of choice. So your freedom of choice is a gift from God, the Creator of life. What you choose to do with it will determine your consequences. You can choose life with God, or you can go back to your no-choice life of being dominated by Satan. There isn't a middle ground of just being yourself. Either way, God will honor your choice.

Some say, "With the options we face, there really isn't muchof a choice-choose God and live, or don't choose God and die."

I agree that the choice seems obvious. But the truth is, Satan gives you no choice; God does. So what will you do with the choice God gives you?

*Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.



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