Thursday, April 22, 2004

Choices and Consequences: Cause and Effect

Comments On 2nd Quarter Lessons 2004: #3

Most of us are familiar with the terms cause and effect. We learn them early on in our science classes. If I want water to flow out of the faucet – effect – I must turn on the faucet – cause. Consequences work the same way. If I want a certain outcome – effect – I must make the correct choice – cause. Unfortunately, very seldom do we really think through the consequences of our thoughts or actions. Conveniently forgetting that all choices have consequences, we sometimes choose what we want, and let the chips fall where they may.

Sometimes we repeatedly make the same decisions, choosing the same things, while expecting different consequences. That is insanity. Someone once defined insanity as repeating the same process and expecting different results. In essence, sinners are insane. They expect good things, but in the end all they get is trouble followed by death. That is not to say that those who choose to follow God will not suffer or be persecuted. But in the end, victorious, they will receive eternal life. The things they suffered prepared them.

Sometimes we forget what Paul calls the “Mystery of Iniquity.” We look at other sinners with their apparent happiness and success and think, “I’ll do what they are doing.” Then, comes the trouble. Then, we blame God. But, God tried to warn us. We chose not to listen and heed His warning. We either chose to go our own way, men’s way, the world’s way, or the Devil’s way. In the end it is all the Devil’s way. For those who are not for God are against Him. There is no middle ground.

But you say, “how can we tell which is God’s way and which is not?” Isaiah 8:20 answers the question. To the law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. But what is the law and what is the testimony?

The law is the essence of how God thinks, personified in the 10 commandments, and evidenced in the life (and Word) of Christ. When Christ was tempted, He responded, “it is written.” The Word and the Spirit and the water, these three in one are the life giving force. As the Holy Spirit brings life to our innermost soul through the memorized Word, the Law and the testimony of Jesus (the spirit of prophecy) our character, and therefore our thoughts, motivations and decisions are purified, and interwoven with His.

How do we know when we stop observing His law? It is when we find ourselves thinking as did the arrogant rich young ruler, “ All these I have observed (or kept) since childhood?” We may be sure we’ve stopped observing His law, when we accept and follow the world’s advice and methods instead of God’s to advance our careers, choose a school, find a mate, or locate a suitable home. We stop observing God’s law of love when we make alliances with partners who do not partner with Him. Their success in business or marriage ventures is insufficient criteria to pattern after them. Despite the apparent relative success of worldly standards or methods to establish or accomplish goals, when we use them, we fall short of the mark. To negate praying and waiting on God to perform His will, we stop observing His law.

The lesson talks about not following other gods (idolatry), practicing witchcraft, and implies that engaging in spiritualism or New Age religion is wrong. For many of us, this is not the issue, rebellion is. Choosing our own way is about rebellion. We read in I Sam. 15:23: For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the Word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being King.

And, It is because of rebellion that God will reject us. He will allow us to suffer the consequences of our own sinful choices. And in the end, we will taste His consuming wrath. But, if we accept His loving warnings and repent of our sinful ways, He will preserve us as His beloved remnant, and bring us to our Promised Land to live with Him eternally. Which Consequence do you prefer? Choose accordingly.

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