The Weakness of the Law is the Flesh

Romans 8:3-7 (NKJV) 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

This week we have been discussing the power of choice and its relationship to walking in favor. They are related because God cannot bring favor to someone who does not choose to obey his voice, walk in his ways or keep his commandments. There are many who would say that I am talking about “law” since I mention keeping commandments. This is not true at all. Law was never the point it was always a means to an end. The point was always relationship. Obeying God’s voice, walking in God’s ways and keeping his commandments is about relationship not law.

When we are walking in relationship with the Lord, he will lead us into favor and blessing. That is why Deuteronomy 30:15 defines the choice to keep his commandments as choosing life instead of death. This is not about obeying a set of rules or keeping some arbitrary standard. It is about life and death.

Yesterday we looked at the first two verses of Romans 8. These verses tell us that there are two major forces at work in the earth defined by two laws. Again, these are not “legal” statutes. They are descriptions of forces that are at work in the spirit. We know that there is a “law of gravity.” This is not a legal statute that mandates the penalties for disobeying the standard of gravity. It is a statement of truth that describes the way the force of gravity works. The force is there whether we understand the law or not. It is always influencing life on earth.

The law of sin and death and the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus are the same. The law of sin and death describes the force of sin and death. There is not one statement of this law. It is stated throughout the bible. We might sum up the law this way. Whatever is separated from the life of God is spiritually dead by nature. Spiritual death is spread by sin and sin produces spiritual death. Spiritual death produces physical death. Physical death ultimately results in the failure of the physical body, but it manifests in the negatives of the human condition throughout the span of physical life.

The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus is also described throughout the bible, but could be summed up this way. Whatever is connected to God is spiritually alive. This life ultimately produces eternal life in the presence of God, but manifests in this life as all good things related to the human condition. We have access to this life by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When a person chooses relationship with Jesus through the Gospel, they are born again and this life becomes their nature. To access the power of this life, they must choose to obey the voice of the Lord, walk in his ways and keep his commandments.

The default law is the law of sin and death. As Christians, we can overcome this default law by choosing to walk in life. If we do not actively choose life, sin and death will be the result. That is not to say that we will not go to heaven when we die physically. It does mean that we will not be able to access the wonderful benefits of walking in the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus while on earth. It also means that sin will continue to have dominion over us bringing with it all the negatives of human existence.

The legal statutes given to Moses for Israel were the only vehicle available to man before the ministry of Jesus to allow him any kind of access at all to the law of the spirit of life as well as any protection from the law of sin and death. Romans 5 tells us death ruled in the earth from Adam to Moses. Before the law, there was no consistent way for man to meet the requirements of relationship with God.

There were some who did so because they were exceptional. Abraham was such a person. However, most people had no way to curb the sin nature that had come upon man through the fall of Adam. Once the law was put in place, it served two functions. It gave Israel a code of conduct that reflected the standards of God. It still does that today.

The more important function of the Law of Moses was to give Israel a vehicle by which they could minimize the effect of the force of sin and death and gain limited access to the force of the spirit of life. There was a built in problem with this system. It depended on the flesh. Man had to keep the law with his flesh. Man had to perform the sacrifices with his flesh. However, the force of sin and death’s greatest affect is in the flesh. The Law of Moses had to use the flesh to control what is the law of sin’s greatest area of expression, the flesh.

God had something better in mind, but he needed a people he could work through in order to bring that to pass. He made covenant with an exceptional man, Abraham. He then gave Abraham’s descendents the law so he could continue to work through them until the fulfillment of his real plan in the Gospel of Christ.

I say all of that to say this. Romans 8 3-7 reveals to us that the Law of Moses could never work because of the weakness of the flesh. God did not leave us to this weak system. It did the job God needed it to do. It brought man to Christ. Now relationship with the Lord through Jesus is possible. We can be born again. The laws of God, the law of the spirit of life, can be written on the heart of any person who chooses to submit to the Lordship of Jesus. (Jer. 31:31)

How do we access this force of the spirit of life under the New Covenant? How do we find the power to choose to walk in holiness and righteousness if it is not by keeping all the statutes of the Mosaic law? How do we control the tendency of our flesh to go after anything that pleases it even if that thing is bad for us? How do we live a life that is pleasing to God without an outward law to follow? How do we maintain our standing with God when we fail and give in to sin if there are no physical sacrifices to offer? We do what these verses tell us to do.

We understand that what the law could not do, God did by sending Jesus to die and become the sacrifice for our sins. When we receive him, it changes us inwardly. The force of death that came because of Adam’s sin is taken out of our innermost being and the force of life replaces it. Life becomes our nature. We walk in the law of the spirit of life that comes from relationship with Christ Jesus by allowing that part of us that is now full of this life to govern our behavior. When we fail, the blood of Jesus does not. We come to God in repentance and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from the affect of our failure.

The next verses give us a major key to being successful in this process. We must keep our minds on the things of the spirit. If we fill our minds with the things of the flesh, we will allow the law of sin and death to dominate us. If we set our minds on the things of the spirit, we will access the inner man and walk in the benefits of the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Our behavior will follow our thinking. Our thinking will produce behavior that releases life by causing us to obey God’s voice, walk in God’s ways and keep his commandments.

Finally, we need to know that we are not at the mercy of the flesh. We are Christians. We have been born again and that means we have the life of God within us. We do not need an outward law because we can obey an inward one. This inward law will release the power of life. This power is the power of creation and it will change your world. (Verses 8-9)


No Choice is the Wrong Choice

Romans 8:2-3 (NKJV) 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,

This week has been about the power and necessity of making choices. If we want to walk in God’s blessing, not to mention his favor, we must make the right choices. Yesterday we looked at the need to decide what we want. Jesus tells us in Mark 11:24 that it is what we desire that we will receive when we pray. What is it that you want from life? If we do not answer this question, we can make no choices and we will not walk consistently in God’s favor.

One aspect of the answer to this question is what things we want. We must decide what specific things we are trusting God for in order to have faith to receive them. For instance, if we are praying for a better job we should decide what job we want and believe for that. This implies that we consider what God wants us to do, but what we want is also important. If we are praying for a car or house, we should be as specific as possible while understanding that the will of God is the final determiner. Many times in the area of things, the will of God is general. God wants to give you what you desire.

The more important aspect of this question goes deeper than things. What do we want from life is important to determine. We also need to decide what kind of Christian we want to be. I find that there is a general malaise in the church today. Many believers are content with a “normal” life that fulfills their religious obligations but is not too radical in belief or practice. I do not believe that is what God wants for his people. God wants us to choose to be radical in our faith, our love and our obedience. The rest will take care of itself.

Today I want to talk about a very human tendency. That is the tendency to make no choice at all. It is usually easier to go with the flow. Whatever life hands us is what we will do. Whatever is convenient or simple is the course of action we choose. This tendency is dangerous for the believer because no choice is the wrong choice.

Today’s scripture is full of revelation on many levels. I believe Romans 7 and 8 are two of the most important chapters in the bible. I want to focus on one aspect and that is the law of the spirit of life and law of sin and death.

The word law appears in these verses numerous times. Although it is the same word, it has two different meanings. When Paul speaks of the Law being weak through the flesh, he is talking about the Law of Moses. When he speaks of the two laws mentioned above, he is talking about the kind of law that describes a force or principle.

Let me explain. We have laws in this country that govern many aspects of life. One area with which we are all familiar is traffic laws. We have speed limits posted that tell us how fast we can go. If we go faster than the posted speed limit and a police officer catches us, we get a ticket. This usually results in a fine and sometimes more severe consequences.

There are also physical principles involved when we go too fast. Things like friction and the stability of the car. All of those things have laws that describe how they work. The police do not enforce these laws. There are no tickets or fines for violating them. However, if you do violate them you will crash the car and may even die.

The law of the sin and death and the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus are like those laws. The Mosaic law set forth in books like Leviticus is similar to traffic laws. They are of a more spiritual nature than traffic laws, but they are rules set forth by God that have legal consequences. If you break them, you must offer sacrifices or suffer a legal penalty. The two laws in Romans 8:3 are more like the laws of physics. There are no written penalties or sacrifices. There are cause and effect consequences that will either be a great blessing or cause great destruction.

There are certain laws in nature that function by default in our world. One such law is gravity. We do not have to do anything for gravity to work. We do not wonder if we will get out of bed and float away. Gravity is always working. If we try to fly by jumping off a building gravity will pull us back to earth. It does not matter how much we believe it will not we will still fall.

There are other laws of physics that are available but they only work if we apply them. Two such laws are lift and thrust. If we push and airplane wing through the air at a sufficient speed, thrust on the wing will create lift and we will overcome gravity. Gravity is the default force but it can be defeated.

What does this have to do with favor or making choices? The law of sin and death is the default force in the earth since the fall. That will not change until all those who will come into the kingdom of God have come in. Romans 8:23 speaks of a time when our bodies will be redeemed. This cannot happen until the end of the age because we need our cursed bodies to peach to a cursed world.

We can overcome the law of sin and death. We have access to the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. We do not have to be limited by the law of sin and death. However, the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus must be applied. One of the more important ways we apply this law is by making choices. When we choose life, we apply the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. When we chose to obey, we apply this law. When we choose to walk according God’s ways and standards, we apply this law.

When we choose to do none of these things, the default law goes into effect and we are dominated by sin and death. When we make no quality decision, we are deciding to be subject to the default law. It is not because we are evil or because God is mad at us. It is because that is the way it works. We can say that it is unfair that it takes an airplane for us to fly but that would be foolish. It just does.

In Deuteronomy, we read that God has given us the choice between life and death. Then God says, “Please, choose life.” In Christ Jesus, he has given us access to the power of God that can overcome the default law of sin and death. We can soar above sin and death. All we have to do is apply the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. How do we do that? We choose the Word of God, the will of God and the voice of God in every situation. We meditate in the Word until faith arises. We apply that faith with the words of our mouths. We keep doing these things until the day we leave this world for the one where the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus is the default.

This may sound hard and it can be. When we choose to make the application of the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus our lifestyle it will get much easier. We must “study to show ourselves approved unto God.” (2 Tim. 2:15) We must diligently seek the Lord so he may reward us with the fruits of the law of the spirit of life. (Heb. 11:6) We must choose to put on the new man and put off the old man according to the writings of Paul. This must become a main focus of our lives.

If we cultivate that focus, we will soar above the law of sin and death. If we make the wrong choice or no choice, we will be held to the low life of sin even though much more is available to us because we are children of God.

What do You Desire

Mark 11:24 (KJV) 24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

The last two weeks we have been talking about the role choice plays in our ability to walk in the favor God wants us to have in 2013. When we use the term favor, we mean God’s ability to cause people to do for us or be favorably disposed towards what we need. This may be favor with a group of people or favor with just one key person. Either way, favor will enable us to do things and have things that we need for our own lives or for the work of the Kingdom of God.

In our study, we have seen that Israel was blessed and favored when they obeyed God’s voice and kept his commandments. From Deuteronomy 30 we see that God exhorts Israel to choose life. The way that they could choose life was to keep God’s commandments. Moses tells Israel that these commandments are in their hearts and in their mouths. This is not the law but relationship. This is the New Covenant that is prophesied in Jeremiah 31. It is the covenant you and I walk in as Christians.

We do not live under the law but we do live under the constraints of relationship. I have been married for more than 40 years. My wife and I do not have a list of “do’s and don’ts” written down. We simply know that in order to maintain relationship there are things we can do and things we cannot do. There are things my wife does not like and because I love her I do not do those things. There are things I like and because she loves me, she does them.

If we love God, we realize that there are things God wants from us and things he does not want. There are things that please him and things that do not please him. There are things he knows will hurt us and others that he knows will benefit us. This is not law this is relationship. Relationship is the place where we will find favor.

Our eternal condition is a matter of choice. We can choose to believe that the sacrifice of Jesus is for our sin or not. We can choose to yield to him as the Lord of our lives or not. This choice determines where and with whom we spend eternity. God will not violate your right to choose. This extends to rest of life as well.

God has filled his book with promises. These promises cover every important aspect of life.

2 Peter 1:3-4 (NKJV) 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

These promises come with two kinds of conditions. First, they come with the condition of relationship. They apply to those who are in covenant relationship with the Lord. In the New Covenant that means those who are born again. If you do not meet that requirement, the promises of God do not apply to you.

Second, many of them come with specific principles that must be applied in order to activate them. For instance Luke 6:38 assures us that God will cause what we need to come to us. However, to activate that promise we must first give of our substance. There are many such promises in the bible. Favor is a product of these promises.

This brings me to the point of today’s post. Mark 11:24 brings a question into the discussion that we must answer if we are going to choose. That question is, “What do you want?”

In this verse, Jesus gives us a powerful revelation that applies to the idea of choice. He tells is that it is what we desire that will come to us when we pray. If we do not know what we want, we will not choose to receive it. We will not fulfill the conditions because we will not know what they are. We will not be committed to do what it takes to obtain the prize because we do not know if we want the prize.

I have been in the ministry more than thirty years and I have learned that people will only do what they want to do. I am not only talking about selfishness or serving the flesh. I am talking about good things as well. When God gave us this right to choose, it was understood that you cannot choose what you do not want or what you do not understand.

Either we will allow the flesh to dominate our desires or we will yield our desires to the Lord. We can change what we want. We can choose to want what is right instead of only what is good for us. That is what Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed, “Not my will but thine be done.” He changed what he wanted so that it conformed to what God wanted. We can do that as well. We can choose to lay down what would be good for us and choose to want what would be good for others or for the Lord. However, we must do that in order to choose.

When I was first saved, I wanted to go to college and be a teacher. The Lord began to deal with me that I was called to ministry. I had no idea what that meant but I was quite sure I did not want to do it. I struggled with the Lord over this. I wanted to be a teacher. He wanted me to be a minster of the gospel. I had a small scholarship to go to college. He was telling me not to do that. I had to choose my own path or trust that God knew me better and change what I wanted to conform to his will. I had to make that choice. No one could make it for me.

I decided, with much wrestling, to choose God’s plan for my life. Once I made the choice, I was able to do the things necessary to walk the path the Lord laid before me. It has not always been easy. I have not always enjoyed the things I had to do. Nevertheless, once I made the choice I could deal with whatever was necessary.

What would have happened if I had chosen to walk in my will and not the Lords will? I really do not know. I am sure the Lord would have blessed me as best he could, but I would have missed my destiny. I am grateful that I never had to find out.

What do you want? This can apply to things we believe God for in life. I cannot have faith for something if I do not know what it is. I must know what I am praying for and have a promise to stand on. If I do, I will maintain my faith until I see the answer. There is a broader interpretation that I want to lay before you today.

Do we want to be real Christians or just live on the fringes of our relationship with God. Do we want to be all that God wants us to be or do we want to get as much as we can out of our Christianity. Do we want to serve God or the flesh? Do we want to please the Lord or just not get him too angry?

We must first make these choices then the rest will become clear. When Jesus chose the will of God in Gethsemane that made most of his other choices for him. When you choose to put the Lord and your relationship with him first and foremost in your life, than most of the other choices will be automatic. You will choose to obey the Word of God. You will choose to submit to his will and to his ways. You will choose to obey his commandments. All of these things will be a given.

You must choose. What do you want out of life? Do you want to be a victim or a victor? Do you want the best or just good enough? It is up to you and all of heaven will back your choice.

The Gift of Choice

Deuteronomy 30:19 (NLT) 19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!

I have quoted this scripture a number of times over the last two weeks, but I am having a hard time getting by its significance. I can hear the heart cry of the Father in this verse. Please choose life! That is the will of the Lord for each of us. That is what our Father invested the blood of his only begotten son Jesus to buy. He gave us the right and privilege to choose life.

Heaven is waiting to see what our choice will be. Once we have made our choice, all of the power of heaven is ready to back our decision. Earth also waits to see what you will choose today. Both Jesus and Paul called Satan the God of this world. He is watching to see what choice we make. If we choose death, he will enforce that choice in our lives. God will not go against our choice. If we choose life, he will use all of his powers of deception to convince us to renege on our decision so he will once again have access to us that he might destroy us.

We spent some time last week pointing out the role choice played in salvation. God made choices and man made choices. Finally, Jesus made a choice as the son of man. He chose to identify with our sin. After a great battle in the realm of the spirit, Jesus, the son of God, rose from the dead. In that moment, he made a great declaration.

Matthew 28:18-19 (NKJV) 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Jesus the Son of God has won the authority with which Satan held man captive. He has stripped the devil of his power to keep man separated from God. The only thing left for any person to obtain eternal life is the same thing that Jesus did to win man’s right to freedom. Man must choose.

Think about the significance of this truth. Your eternal destiny is determined by what you choose. No one can choose for you. God will not force you to choose life, but the devil cannot stop you from choosing it. Once you make the choice there is nothing that can keep you from heaven. The choice is available right up to the moment of death. Should real revelation come to a person just before they slip into eternity and they activate their will to choose life, they will live forever in heaven. Personally, I would not take the chance of waiting that long, but it is possible.

Once a human being crosses the threshold of death without choosing life, they are considered to have chosen death and will spend eternity in torment and separation from the Lord. It is completely up to you and me. It is a matter of choice.

What is the choice we must make in order to receive eternal life? I believe this is something that seems to be a bit lost in our current presentation of the Gospel. We sometimes make it seem that the choice is for a better, more pleasant lifestyle. We may emphasize that the philosophy that Jesus preached is superior to any other teacher. We may even think in terms of religious requirements and choosing to be a better person. None of these things represents the basic choice we make to receive eternal life. Paul stated it very simply and directly.

Romans 10:8-10 (NKJV) 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Our choice is twofold. First, we must choose to accept that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in his death burial and resurrection is the only payment for our sin. The term sin implies both our sin nature and the sinful acts we have committed. In the great Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 53, we see this twofold aspect of sin.

Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV) 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

Jesus paid for every action you have ever taken that was against the law of God. He paid for every sinful thought and word. He also paid the price for Adam’s nature that came upon mankind because of his fall. The acts, thoughts and words are our transgression. The nature that caused us to commit these things is our iniquity. Jesus paid for both with his sacrifice.

It is almost too hard to believe that eternity could hinge on such a simple thing. Jesus paid the price to open the way for you. The only question is will you choose to accept that payment for your iniquity and your transgressions. If you say yes to that choice, Romans 10 tells us that you have believed unto righteousness or right standing with God.

There is a second part to the choice we must make. We believe in his sacrifice and that makes us right with God, but for full salvation to be realized there is something else we must choose. We must confess with our mouths that Jesus is now the Lord of our lives. He is the absolute ruler of my past, present and future. My life no longer belongs to me. When I accepted Jesus’ death as the payment for my sin, I died to my own life and agreed to live for him.

Galatians 2:20 (NKJV) 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

That choice releases the New Birth into the heart of a person. Anything less is simple religion. While religion is useful to a degree, it will never result in the change of nature that God requires in order to enter heaven and eternal life.

If you have made that choice, you have life. You will spend eternity in heaven with the Lord. Nothing can stop that from happening. Your physical body will die, but you will not. If you have not made that choice, you cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven. That is what Jesus told Nicodemas in John 3. This is not a choice to be made lightly. We must consider that we are giving up our life for his life. It is a very good trade for which you will be eternally grateful.

Once you have made this initial, must important decision to choose eternal life, there are choices you must make every day to walk in the benefits of the life Jesus has provided for you. This decision is not just about where you spend eternity. That is the most important part of it and it must be understood. However, there is much more that the choice for life makes available. Each one will require you to choose just as salvation requires a choice.

We will look at what this life really is and what choices you must make to walk in it, but for today remember this. You can choose. You have not only the ability but also the right to choose. Do not let today go by without examining the choices before you. As today’s verse exhorts us, “Choose life!”

The Choice is not too Difficult

Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (NKJV) 11 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.

We are looking at the role choice plays in our quest to walk in the favor that the Lord wants to provide in 2013. We have seen that choice is at the heart of all aspects of man’s relationship with God. We have studied Deuteronomy 28 and found that the blessings of the covenant are dependent upon obeying the voice of the Lord and walking in his commandments. In Deuteronomy 30 the Lord sets before us a choice. We can choose life or death, blessing or cursing and the Lord encourages us to choose life.

According to Deuteronomy, the way we choose life is to choose to obey the commandments of God. This is not living by law. Law is impersonal. It simply sets standards and established rules to which we must adhere. If we obey the law, we stay in the good graces of the lawgiver. If we disobey the law, we are punished. The Law of Moses given to Israel was an outward thing. That is why it needed so many elements. That is not what we are talking about here.

Deuteronomy continually speaks of the voice of God, the ways of God and the commandments of God. The Law is simply about doing some things, not doing other things and the penalty that one must pay to stay in right standing according to the Law itself. The voice, ways and commandments of God assume we are in right standing and give us parameters to live by so we can take advantage of that standing.

They also provide parameters so that we will not step out of the covering of God and into a position of vulnerability. If we obey God’s voice and keep his commandments, we are in a protected and favored place. When we choose to disobey his voice and ignore his commandments, we make ourselves vulnerable to attack from the enemy. Since we have chosen to step into his domain, the Lord will not violate our choice and we will reap the consequences.

We live in a society that does not like parameters or consequences. Our media and education systems celebrate relativism where nothing is absolute. Bad behavior is excused as not the fault of the perpetrator. Personal accountability is looked on as too difficult for most people. America, which was built upon “rugged individualism”, is sliding towards a social structure where we do not take care of ourselves but expect others to provide for our needs.

My grandson asked me to coach his 8-10 year old basketball team. I do not think that we should pressure upon 8 to 10 year old kids to win. However, I do think that we should keep score and someone should win and someone should lose. The kids always ask me, “Did we win.” I am busy coaching not keeping score and I usually do not know.

Some will say that they should just play for fun and learning the game. Both things are true, but winning is fun. Learning to play the game right will lead to winning. Losing is not fun, but life is full of losing and winning. When they play with no accounting of the score, they do not learn to win. They also do not learn how to lose. Both are valuable lessons. Nevertheless, that does not fit with our feel good social structure.

You might say, “In the end they all had fun and they all feel good.” I say that in the end, they all feel the same and that is not life. You should learn to have fun even if you lose. You should also learn that winning is better. These are old-fashioned ideas I know, but I have a greater point to make.

God tells us that obedience has rewards and disobedience has consequences. He is not in heaven with a big hammer saying, “If you do right I will reward you but if you do something I don’t like I will hit you with my big hammer.” Rather he is saying, “You have a whole backyard to play in. Don’t play ball in the road where there is traffic. It is dangerous in the road!”

God speaks to us and shows us his ways in order to protect us. He gives us the choice to obey or disobey because that is what it means to be an adult. You will never rise above the choices you make. The problem with not learning accountability is that life is full of consequences and when you make the wrong choices, you will suffer them. If you make the right choices, you will have good things. This does not happen because you are rewarded for not making God mad, but because you are choosing actions that lead to the good things available to you.

The question is whether this is just too hard for us. Is obeying God’s voice asking too much of us? Are his commandments too difficult to understand? Is keeping them unrealistic? The answer under the Old Covenant was yes. That is why God gave them the law. However, we live under the New Covenant. The New Covenant is completely different in nature. In today’s verses, we find that his commandments are not far off, they are in your heart and in your mouth. Jeremiah God speaks of the nature of the New Covenant.

Jeremiah 31:31-33 (NKJV) 31 “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah– 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

This is our covenant. The law is not just in a book. We do not need rules for every aspect of life. We do not need a list of sacrifices that must be offered when we break the rules. The Law still exists. God has not changed his standards. However, God has written those laws on our hearts. He has paid for the transgression of the law with the blood of Jesus. We can keep God’s commandments as well as hear and obey his voice because we have been born again. We are New Creatures in Christ. It is our nature to walk with God and to obey him.

That does not change the fact that we live in a world that still has a devil. We still live in a flesh body. We still have to renew our minds so that we can be transformed into his likeness while living on the earth. There is still danger, sin and temptation. God wants us to have life. He tells us the choices we need to make in order to be safe, favored and blessed. He lets us know that if we choose to ignore what he tells us, we will be subject to danger.

Brother and sister, this is not “rocket science”, as the saying goes. God tells us that some things are sin. The next time you read that word, do not see, “God doesn’t like that.” Instead, see, “Danger!” When you read a commandment of God, do not see, “God just wants to limit my fun in life.” Instead, see, “God is showing me the keys to victory and blessing.”

When God tells us not to commit adultery, it is because adultery will hurt us and faithfulness, even if it is hard will result in blessing. When God tells us we should not do certain things, it is not because it will annoy him if we do them. It is because it opens the door to bad things while obedience keeps us safe, prosperous and favored. Think about it.

Choose Life

Deuteronomy 30:19 (NLT) 19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!

This week we are looking at one of the most important factors in whether or not we walk in the favor God desires for us in 2013. We are looking at the role choice has in our Christian walk. We have laid the foundation by showing the role choice plays in every aspect of relationship between God and man. God chose to create and man chose to rebel. God chose to redeem man. God chose to make covenant with Abraham to open the way for the plan of redemption. Abraham chose to accept God’s covenant.

In the incarnation at the birth of Jesus, God chose to take on human form so that the price for sin could be paid. Jesus, in his humanity, chose to submit to the will of God and bear the penalty for man’s rebellion even though he did not carry the stain of sin. Once Jesus was raised from the dead, man had the opportunity to choose eternal life by partaking of the sacrifice Jesus paid for sin. No one forces an individual to receive Jesus. If a person so chooses they can spend eternity separated from God and in torment. However, we can choose life.

We can see clearly from this that God has based everything on choice. From God’s perspective, man’s right to choose is inviolate. Once any human being chooses to receive Jesus as Lord and savior, no power in hell or on earth can keep that person from heaven. God backs up the choice with all of his power.

Since this is true in the area of the salvation of our souls, why would it not be true in other areas of relationship? I believe it is. In today’s scripture, we find that God takes choice in all areas of life very seriously. Earlier in the week, I quoted this same verse from the NKJV bible. In that version it says, “I call heaven and earth as a witness against you.” Why would he say, “a witness against us.” He would say that so we would understand that if we do not have life it is our own fault. God has provided the choice. He will not make the choice for us.

In Deuteronomy 28, we found that God provided a whole list of blessings that are related to the covenant we have with God. I believe favor is a part of that package. However, to access those blessings, Moses tells Israel that they must “obey the voice of the Lord and keep his commandments.” In chapter 30, Moses continues this theme making it even clearer. God wants his people to choose life. Under the New Covenant, he has paid for the ability to choose life with the blood of Jesus. The only thing that remains is for us to make the right choice.

Once someone makes that choice, all of the power of God goes into effect to enforce the choice and bring it into manifestation in the earth. On the other side, all the power of the enemy is applied to make you back away from choosing life. The great deceiver will try to convince you that nothing will ever change. He will try to get you to settle for something less than the life God desires for you. Do not give in to this deception. God is behind you when you choose life. If you do not back down you will see this life manifest in your circumstance.

The question that is probably on your mind is, “How, with my circumstances and limitations, do I choose life? I want life. I want the power of God involved in my circumstances, but I don’t know how to access it.” The answer is so simple it seems that there must be more to it, but there is not.

Deuteronomy 30:15-16 (NKJV) 15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.

God has given us the way to choose life. We choose life by loving God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments. It is just that simple. When we do those things, we choose life and the power of God will enforce our choice. When we do not do those things, we choose death and we tie God’s hands. He will not violate your choice. The implications are too great.

We must understand the nature of God. He is absolute. He is absolute love. Nothing can make him stop loving. Adam committed the sin of high treason and God’s response was to put a plan in motion to redeem him. Man rebelled against God and gave himself to sin as a child of “wrath” according to Ephesians 2:3. God’s response is recorded in John 3:16.

John 3:16 (NKJV) 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

God cannot “not” love. God is also absolute in his view of justice. He cannot allow sin to go unpunished. Therefore, he could not simply forgive Adam’s transgression. Somehow, justice had to be served. The problem was that justice in this case required eternal death and separation from God. Man could pay that price but the result would be unacceptable. If God violates absolute justice, he goes against his own nature and he cannot do that.

The solution was choice. God provided man with the right and ability to choose life. The ultimate expression was salvation through Jesus Christ. We can make that choice but for it to be a choice, we must not be forced to make it. Once it is made, our choice must be upheld. To override that choice in one area would invalidate it in all areas. Jesus paid the price to uphold justice. If we choose not to accept that payment, we will pay the penalty ourselves eternally. If God does not honor the person’s choice, the whole system falls apart.

This is true in salvation but it is also true in every other are of choosing life including the release of favor. We can choose healing and the power of God will back our choice. We can choose prosperity and the power of God will back that choice. We can choose righteousness and holiness and the power of God will back our choice.

However, we can choose sickness, poverty or sin and the power of God will not violate that choice. We are at the mercy of the devil if we chose death. Although there are other elements involved that affect how and when life will manifest in our situation, the way we begin choosing life is to obey God’s voice as we hear it, and keep his commandments as they are set before us in the Word of God.

I must point out again that I am not talking about law. Law is the regulation of the flesh by the flesh. The commandments are the revelation of God’s nature. The same could be said of the life principles laid out in the pages of the bible. To do those things is not law, it is aligning our lives and circumstances with the nature of God. It is applying truths that release life where death is attempting to reign.

Obeying God’s voice is submitting to relationship with our Father. Law is impersonal. It does not take into account who we are or what our particular circumstances may be. The voice of God is infinitely personal. It implies that the Father knows us and speaks to us specifically in terms of who we are. That is the direct opposite of law.

If we choose to ignore God’s voice and violate his principles as set forth in his Word, we choose death. This death may not manifest immediately but it is a cancer that will eventually destroy us. Jesus died to give you the choice. What will it be? Life or death? The choice is yours and both heaven and earth are watching to see what you will choose

The Power of Choice 2

Hebrews 2:14 (NKJV) 14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,

Yesterday we began looking at the role choice has played in the relationship between man and God. It begins with God’s choice to create man. For man to fulfill his purpose, he had to have the ability and the right to choose to love God or not love God. Therefore, God built a choice into man’s environment by placing two trees in the Garden of Eden. One tree represented the choice to love God and one represented the choice to reject God.

We then follow this powerful force through two more choices. Man chose to reject God and sin, making him a child of the devil instead of his true Father, God. God was left with another choice to make. He could simply destroy man and start again or he could rescue man. Although the choice to redeem man from his sinful state would require a great sacrifice, God chose to do it anyway.

One of the most important milestones of God’s dealing with man in the Old Testament was the covenant between God and Abraham. Once again, we see that choice is at the center of God’s dealing with man. God chose to offer a covenant to man and man chose to accept that covenant. Once both these choices were made, it opened the door to the real fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 and the full redemption of man.

The first choice of the New Covenant was foreshadowed in Genesis 3:15. God himself took on the form of flesh. He chose to limit himself to the same physical body in which all of humanity lived. It is impossible for us to imagine what it is like to be limitless and all powerful, but God made a choice to lay that aside and become just like all other human beings except for one thing. He was not born with the nature of sin.

In the course of his ministry, he came to the day of crucifixion. Before he goes to the cross, we find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. As we watch this drama play out, we hear Jesus tell his disciples, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.” It may bother some people to think that Jesus did not want to go to the cross but that is the only conclusion we can come to as we watch him in Gethsemane. Listen to his prayer.

Mark 14:36 (NKJV) 36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”

What is happening in this scene? Jesus is making a choice. He chose to submit what he wanted to the will of God. I do not know what would have happened if Jesus had said, “Father, I have not sinned and it is not fair of you to ask me to do this. I will help humanity in any other way that you ask me to, but this is too much.” Thankfully, we do not need to know what would have happened because that is not what he said.

I believe that God knew what he would say. Jesus was God in the flesh. Yet in his humanity, I believe he had to have the right to say no. The wording of his prayer tells me that he had the right to say no. Relationship to be true must be based on choice and Jesus makes his choice in Gethsemane. It is so difficult a choice that he sweats blood resisting the desire of his flesh to avoid the cross. In the end, he utters some of the most important words ever spoken on behalf of humanity. “Not my will but thine be done.”

Once Jesus makes his choice, everything changes. He is in complete control of every situation he faces from that moment on. We see him at his arrest, at the mock trial before the high priest and before Pontius Pilot. Not once does he appear in distress. On the contrary when brought before Pilot, Pilot appears distressed.

The city is in an uproar. As the Governor, Pilot knows that he risks an uprising that would be a disaster for his career. As chaos reigns all around him, Jesus tells Pilot that he is not really to blame. This is God’s will and Jesus is at complete peace. How could that be so? It is so because Jesus’ choice has released something in him that sustains him through the trial.

Over the next days and hours, the result of Jesus choice leads him to beatings, insults and crucifixion. He spends 3 days in the grave. During that time, he suffered in ways that make the physical beating and death pale in comparison. In the grave, he suffered the separation from God that was Adam’s because of sin. At some point, which we do not really know or understand, God said, “The price has been fully paid.”

When this declaration was made, the bible tells us that Jesus “spoiled” powers and principalities, defeated Satan and led captivity captive. (Colossians 2:15 & Ephesians 4:8) Finally, in Matthew 28 we read these words.

Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV) 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

The power of choice has led from the creation of man to the fall of man. It has caused God to declare to the devil that he chooses to redeem man no matter the cost. The power of choice has opened the door via the Abrahamic covenant that leads to the birth of the savior, Jesus Christ. The power of choice in the life of Jesus the Son of Man has enabled him to suffer the penalty for the sin of all mankind. It has also empowered him to defeat the enemy of humanity, cast off the power of sin and death and, as we read in Hebrews 2, destroy him who had the power of death over people, the devil.

Through the power of choice, God has once again opened the way for man to be what he created him to be. After the fall, man had no choice but to serve the devil. He could choose not to sin on any given day, but eventually he had to sin. Sin was his nature.

Romans 5 tells us that death ruled man until the law came through Moses. Under the law, the absolute rule of death was broken because man now had specific choices he could make. However, this was not good enough. Man could not come into the presence of God as God had intended in creation. Man could not choose to love God as his family. Man could not live in God’s presence forever. The choices Jesus made changed all that.

When Jesus was raised from the dead and made his powerful statement in Matthew 28, he proclaimed to all people of every race and tongue that they once again had the choice given to them in the Garden of Eden. In Eden, they started out as God’s children and had the right to choose to reject that relationship. After the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, their natural state was separation from God but Jesus gave them the ability and the right to choose to become God’s children once again.

The power of choice produced man’s existence. It caused man’s fall from grace. It provided the way for man’s redemption. Today, it is the only way for any person to be saved and ensure heaven as their eternal home.

Romans 10:8-10 (NKJV) 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

If choice is the vehicle that produces the ability for man’s relationship with God, what other power does it have in the life of the believer? More tomorrow.