CHOICES

CHOICES Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Out from man’s heart come his desires. Out from his desires come man’s choices. Out from man's choices comes man's destiny. Our will stands apart from this cycle and determines its direction.

Each day we are choosing life or death. Each day we should ask God to guide our choices.

CHOICES

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15)

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

Out from man’s heart come his desires. Out from his desires come man’s choices. Out from man's choices comes man's destiny. Our will stands apart from this cycle and determines its direction.

Each day we are choosing life or death. Each day we should ask God to guide our choices.

There are three great branches of sin.

There is worldliness, embracing the spirit of the world and trusting the world for survival and security.

There are the lusts and passions of the flesh and soul. These are alien compulsions that reside in our flesh.

And then there is the area the Spirit of God is emphasizing today. This is the realm of our self-will, our personal ambition, the kind of choices we make; whether we seek deliverance from worldliness and our lusts and passions or whether we yield to them; whether or not we obey God’s written and spoken Word..

I have written somewhat extensively concerning worldliness and the sins of the flesh. The present essay will be confined to the third area, the area of self-will.

Sometimes self-will is expressed as rebellion, or as disobedience (closely associated with unbelief).

I haven’t found too much written on the subject of death to self-will. There may be any number of resources, however, that I have not come across.

I wonder if those who stress a continual imputing of righteousness to the believer, no matter how he or she behaves, include disobedience to God as one of the areas covered. That would be something, wouldn’t it? No matter how often we disobey God, He still imputes righteousness to us because we have made a profession of belief in Christ. Would today’s "imputers" go this far, do you suppose? Perhaps they would, since they are behaving blindly in any case.

I can’t think of an instance in the entire Bible where God said if we continue to disobey Him He continues to love us with unconditional love. Do you know of such a passage? I can show you many passages where disobedience brings punishment.

"If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; But if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 1:19,20)

If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. (II Thessalonians 3:14)

As we have stated, our choices determine our eternal destiny. Our choices spring from our desires. Our desires have their origin in our heart.

The Bible advises us to guard our heart diligently.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

Our desires come from our heart.

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalms 37:4)

The choices we make in this world will determine our eternal destiny.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8)

The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (I John 2:17)

The man who does the will of God. The will of God!

"Your Kingdom come," we pray. "Your will be done on the earth as it is in Heaven."

There is only one legitimate will in the universe, and that is the will of God.

The Lord Jesus does the will of God. He delights to do the will of God.

It is taught today that our salvation depends on our beliefs. If we hold to correct doctrine we will go to Heaven, we suppose.

Such a belief is far more Gnostic than it is Christian. Eternal life is related to belief only as our belief causes us to obey Christ each day of our life. If we do not obey Christ, if we do not keep His commandments, then we do not love Him. If we do not obey Christ we do not truly believe in Him. We just have a religious head knowledge, as is true of numerous members of the Christian religion of our day.

The Lord Jesus told us if we would be a disciple, a Christian, we must lay down our life, take up our cross, and follow Him. I do not know how many believers of our day have done this, because most preaching seems to be about grace, the "rapture," and Heaven. I have not heard much about laying down our life, taking up our cross, and following Jesus each day. Have you?

Out of our heart comes our desires. Out of our desires come our choices. If we believe the Word of God, then we have a desire to do what the Word declares. The Word declares that we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. If we truly have a desire to do what the Word declares, then we are going to choose to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus each day of our life.

Let us say we do not choose to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Then it is true that we do not have a desire to do what the Word declares. Or else we do have the desire but we are so spiritually bound we cannot brings ourselves to obey the Word.

What do we do then? We make a choice. We choose to pray to God to give us the strength to do what the Word commands.

Every one of us from time to time needs to pray that God will work in his heart so he desires to serve Christ. Then he needs to pray that God will help him choose to do what Christ commands.

Now, why have we said all this about our desires and making choices? It is because it is on this basis that we will be judged in the Day of Christ. In fact, we are being judged today on the choices we are making, because judgment already has begun in the house of God.

We have been forgiven our sins because of our faith in the blood atonement made on the cross of Calvary.

We have received the Holy Spirit and know what it is like to pray and worship in the Spirit.

Now God is urging us to move forward. The next move of the Spirit is obedience to God.

Multitudes of believers have received Jesus as their personal Savior. However, many of these believers have never received Jesus as their personal Lord. They do not recognize the fact that we are to be slaves of Christ.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romans 6:22)

How often have your heard the above verse preached?

When the Apostle says "you have been set free from sin," the context of his words in the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans reveals Paul is not speaking of being set free from the guilt of sin, but from the actions of sin.

When Paul says "you have become slaves to God," he means, from the context of this chapter, you no longer are sinning but are obeying God.

When Paul says "the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life," Paul means eternal life is the result of obedience to God.

How often is it taught that eternal life is something handed to the believer because of his or her profession of faith? The truth is, eternal life is the result of walking in daily obedience to God.

When someone reads Romans 6:22 he has a choice to make. He can come up with all sorts of excuses, some theological and some proceeding from his fear, or unbelief, or spiritual laziness, or desire to keep sinning, why he does not have to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles in order to have eternal life.

He chooses to continue in sin. He chooses to believe his statement of faith excuses his conduct.

All of us are going to be judged according to our choices.

When we come to Christ, our past sins have been forgiven.

God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement,  through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— (Romans 3:25)

In fact, Christ has made an atonement for the whole world.

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:2)

Those who are being made holy have been made perfect forever, as far as sin is concerned.

Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:13)

So the forgiveness of our sins is not an issue, in terms of the above two passages.

If such is the case, where do our daily choices fit in this picture?

Our daily choices will determine our destiny, our place in the Kingdom of God.

Our choices particularly will affect what happens to us in the Day of Resurrection. In the Day of Resurrection we will receive the results of the choices we have made during our lifetime.

I know there is much confusion concerning the role of judgment. A few Scriptures of the New Testament sometimes are employed as axioms to prove the believer never can be judged. However, Paul on several occasions stated if we continue to live according to our sinful nature we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

When a student is holding fast to the perfect atonement made on the cross it is difficult for him to understand how God then could judge a believer, giving him or her the results of his or her choices, whether good or bad.

The answer to the puzzle is this: the judgment of our sins indeed was completed on the cross. This God has stated. What God is looking at now are our choices.

For example: God, through the Apostle Paul, has commanded us to present our body a living sacrifice that we may prove the will of God for our life.

God has forgiven the sins we committed before we came to Christ, and now God expects us to obey Him.

Many believers in America are simply too busy to conscientiously present their body as a living sacrifice each day. The result is, they do not know what God’s will is for their life.

God may have entrusted the American believer with many resources (talents) that God wants the believer to use to build the Kingdom. But because the believer does not present his body as a living sacrifice, he is unable to be certain concerning God’s plan for his life. He is not sensitive to the will of the Spirit, being pressed with numerous responsibilities and opportunities each day.

So he goes through life without using his talent to build the Kingdom of God. He may attend church, he may give of his money, he may serve in some capacity. But he is not sensitive to the moment by moment prompting of the Spirit. He is a member of the Christian religion but is not responding to the Head, to Christ, as a member of Christ’s Body.

What does the Word tell us about His destiny?

The Word tells us his resources will be removed from him and given to another who has been diligent. He himself will be deemed a lazy servant and will be thrown into the outer darkness.

I understand some of my fellow ministers will say this is impossible because his sins have been forgiven by God’s grace and he no longer can be under condemnation. They are mistaken. This is not how grace operates. Grace does not cover the laziness and disobedience of a believer who did not serve Christ with his resources.

Let me tell you how grace operates.

Let us say our busy American believer suddenly realizes he is too involved in the world. He no longer can hear the sweet voice of the Lord. Yet his financial condition requires he work at two jobs, and he is exhausted most of the time. He has no time left for prayer and reading the Bible.

He now can choose to come to the Mercy Seat for help in his time of need. He can choose to pray and ask God to give him the opportunity to pray and read His Bible.

God will hear this prayer. God will send help from Heaven until the man finds himself once again in daily communion with Christ.

He has repented of his worldliness. He has chosen to turn. God has forgiven his past behavior and has enabled him to press forward.

This is how new covenant grace operates. It brings to the believer’s attention that he is not living as a disciple. It encourages the believer to ask God to help him turn from his unprofitable course and get back to the Lord. All the resources of Heaven stand ready to assist the individual who turns from his worldliness, lust, and disobedience, and now is willing to deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Jesus.

At the Judgment Seat of Christ, the primary issue is not the sins dwelling in our flesh that press us to behave in an immoral manner. The primary issue is the choices we made. We were born in sin. We inherited a sin nature. We did not desire this to be so, it just happened to us.

We cannot deliver ourselves. God sent the Lord Jesus Christ to help us. Through the Lord Jesus Christ we can choose to turn away from wickedness and become the slave of righteousness, as Paul teaches.

It is important to understand we cannot deliver ourselves, and Christ will not deliver us apart from our choices and our cooperation. We can’t do it alone and Christ won’t do it alone. Man accepted Satan in the beginning and it is necessary man be the one to expel Satan from the creation. God sent Christ to enable man to expel Satan from the creation.

We can do nothing apart from Christ. The longer we serve the Lord the more clearly we understand we can do nothing apart from Christ—I mean absolutely nothing!

Pretty soon, like the Apostle Paul, we are counting all things of our life as garbage. Christ removes from our personality everything that hinders our perfect joy in the Lord. Then He takes the remainder and brings it down to death, and then up again in Himself, now made new in Him. This part of our life now has become our possession for eternity. Nothing enters the new world of righteousness except that which God makes new.

Our daily life consists of a multitude of decisions, most of them quite minor. Each one of these decisions requires a response of some kind, even though the response may be only mental agreement or disagreement.

We choose how to respond to each decision. We can make a habitual response, or shrink away in fear and dread, or do something we know is wrong but are driven by passions beyond our control, or scheme how we can evade responsibility or outwit someone.

None of these choices is profitable in the Kingdom of God. The correct manner is to hold the decision before the Lord, always committing everything we do to Him. We need His approval, His wisdom, and His strength in every area of life.

Whenever we do not seek the Lord concerning some decision, there is loss for Christ, loss for us, and loss for mankind because we are not revealing in our body the life of Christ.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5,6)

In all your ways acknowledge Him!

There is no issue too small or too great. Christ sees and understands us, and is desirous that we interact with Him continually.

This is what Paul meant when he spoke of living by the power of Christ’s resurrection and sharing in Christ’s sufferings. This is what the Lord Jesus meant in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John when we said we are to eat His flesh and drink His blood, and live by Him as He lives by the Father.

Choices! Choices! Choices!

We have such limited strength, such limited wisdom and knowledge.

Christ has galactic strength, and unlimited wisdom and knowledge in every area of life.

We have known Christ, we have known the Holy Spirit, and now Christ desires to make the Father known to us.

The Godhead is One and operates as an Entity. Yet the Three are unique in Personality. Christ is our Passover Lamb and our Bridegroom. The Holy Spirit is our Helper.

To come to know the Father we must learn stern obedience. Even Christ obeys the Father.

In all I have said about choices, if you will stop to think about it, obedience is implicit. We must choose to obey God, and to obey Christ which is the same as obeying God.

The need today is for believers to set aside their own life and choose to be totally obedient to God. We choose to be obedient. When we choose to be obedient, God works in us to will and to act according to His pleasure.

Our present life on the earth is largely an arena of testing. God continually is testing us. He wants to know what is in our heart.

Doesn’t God know what is in our heart? This is a theological perplexity, because most of believe God knows everything. Yet there are passages in the Bible that lead us to believe God places people in situations so He might be assured of what is in their heart.

God is bringing us to a wonderful new world in which, if we are not totally obedient to Christ, we will have the ability to wreak havoc—particularly if we are placed in a high office in the Kingdom. God very wisely is testing us now so there will be no surprises in the future.

Look how Jesus Christ was tested in the Garden of Gethsemane! His perfect obedience made Him eligible for all authority and power in Heaven and upon the earth.

This is why the promises of glory are to the overcomers, the victorious saints. God has called us and chosen us. Now we have to be proven faithful, and some of the tests we are called on to endure are very severe indeed.

"My soul is sorrowful unto death," The Lord cried in His hour of testing. The same will be true of us at some point in our experience, if we have been chosen to be of high rank in the Kingdom.

He who overcomes, as Christ overcame, will take his place on the highest throne of the universe. Stupendous treasures have stupendous price tags! Remember that the next time God permits Satan to bounce you up and down like a rubber ball.

God does not expect us to be perfect in ourselves. He understands our frailty. All God is asking for is that we make the right choices.

I tell people if they don’t want to serve God, and don’t want to want to serve God, and yet something in them tells them that the result of serving God is something they desire, then they should tell God as clearly as they can that they don’t want to serve God, and they don’t even want to want to serve God, so would He please make them want to want to serve God. Here you are getting down to the roots of someone’s personality, someone who is bound by many things—perhaps with numerous inherited chains.

God will hear that cry from the deepest dungeon of the personality. It will not be long before the want to want to has changed to a clear want to serve God. Soon the right choices will be being made. Christ can command the legions of Hell to depart, and they shall!

My point is that God does not expect us to be able to imitate Christ. God understands our spiritual weakness. All God asks us to do is to choose to do what is right, to choose to obey what the New Testament commands. And when we find we cannot do these things, to ask for Divine wisdom and strength. This anyone can choose to do.

You know, the Bible tells us that when we are sick we should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over us.

We cannot heal ourselves. But we can call for the elders of the church and have them pray over us.

But let us say we are too embarrassed to do this, or do not believe we will be healed. It does not matter! We are to go to the Lord and ask Him for the strength to call for the elders of the church. This is a choice we make. God will do the rest. He may heal us instantly while we are so embarrassed we just want to leave the assembling.

God is real. He knows every detail of your life. He desires to bring you to total joy. He has the power to bring you to total joy. All God asks of you is that you choose to do what He says. And when you find you can’t obey Him, then ask for the strength and desire to obey Him. He will hear that prayer and answer you beyond your expectations.

The original sin was disobedience. God had placed the first two people in a perfect situation, in completely joyous circumstances. His demands on Adam and Eve were minimal.

Satan, the disobedient cherub, enticed Adam and Eve to disobey God. The result of that one act of disobedience has been thousands of years of agony and insanity.

Christ has made an atonement for the sins of the whole world, as we noted previously. Then He poured out on His Church the Holy Spirit of God so we might have comfort and help while Christ no longer is walking among us in visible form.

Now the foremost issue is that of obedience to God. The prior centuries of the Christian Era emphasized forgiveness. Now the Spirit is telling us that the return of Christ to the earth is at hand. Those who are to return with Christ and install the Kingdom of God on the earth must have learned total obedience to God; for it is certain Christ will not bring with Him church people who have been forgiven and have tasted of the Holy Spirit, but who have never learned strict obedience to God.

The coming of the Kingdom of God will result in the doing of God’s will. Therefore those who are privileged to work with Christ in setting up the Kingdom on the earth must themselves be perfectly obedient to God. Can you see the logic of this?

Now, how do we learn total obedience to Christ?

We learn total obedience to Christ through our choices.

When we get up in the morning we choose to call on the Lord immediately. We had asked Him previously to get us up at the place and time of His choosing so we could do His will.

While we are dressing we are asking His help with every detail.

If there is food for breakfast, we ask Him what we should eat and how much.

We ask for His help as we go about our daily work. We pray without ceasing.

We aside time each day for prayer and Bible reading and for communing with the Lord. We ask for the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit so we may build up our fellow members of the Body of Christ.

We remain sensitive when we are speaking to people so what goes out of our mouth builds up the other person. We gain control over our mouth so we do not utter useless, foolish words.

We seek the Lord about gathering together with fervent disciples. Sometimes in America it is difficult to find an assembling of fervent disciples, though there are numerous churches. We have to pray about this.

We choose, choose, choose to look to Christ about everything. When we feel checked about something we pause and look instantly to Christ to see where the danger is.

This is the type of believer who is qualified to be raised from the dead and caught up to meet the Lord in the air, ready for the Calvary charge of Armageddon.

All of us have a choice today. We can choose to remain at the spiritual level where we are, or we can choose to press forward in Christ. God is not expecting heroics from us. All God requires is that we keep pressing forward, pressing forward, pressing forward. This is a conscious choice we make.

It is helpful to get by yourself somewhere, and tell the Lord that you do not want to remain as merely a member of a Christian church. You want to know Christ intimately and continually. You want to interact with Him on a moment by moment basis. You want to be His slave, the slave of righteousness.

It is necessary to make this commitment clearly and out loud whether by yourself or in the presence of brothers and sisters in the Lord. Then keep your promise to the Lord. Ask Him to help you keep your promise, and He will do this.

We have entered a new era of God’s dealing with His churches. The past has brought us to where we are today. The tares of wickedness are coming to maturity. So is the wheat of righteousness, of Christ. Make sure you prepare yourself for all God has for you.

He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so I may show him the salvation of God. (Psalms 50:23)

When you keep praising the Lord and looking to Him you honor Him. By so doing you are preparing the way for God to show you His great salvation.

Choose to do this right now.