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Bible Search
December 2, 2018 We Are our Choices

 

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 30:4-10; 15-19.

 

{i. Introduction] There are some things about ourselves with which we have no choice. Although there are some traits that we may have that can be changed, we are born with certain traits that will never be changed. We hear a lot about transgenderism these days. Despite what some people may feel or what some people may desire, we are born either male or female. No amount of cross-dressing, no amount of surgery, can change that. Our chromosomes determine our gender (XX for women and XY for men). A person who is born male will always be a male and a person who is born female will always be female. Someone may pretend to be the opposite sex but God calls that behavior an abomination (Deut 22:5). Likewise, we are born with certain racial or ethnic characteristics that are genetically determined. A person ought to accept their biological gender, their race, and their ethnicity and even take some healthy pride (defined as a positive ownership of one’s heritage, seeking to model the best characteristics of that heritage) in them.

 

We have no choice about our past. We cannot change the past. However, these things – our gender, our race, and our past – are only a few things. Not only are they few, but they are less important than the things that we can change. By and large, once we are saved, who we are, where we are, and where we are going depend upon us. God is still sovereign. He opens doors and closes doors of opportunity. He reveals his will and he graciously provides incentives, but he has ordained that what we become in this life, and even the next, depend in great measure upon ourselves.[1]

 

We are the choices that we make! If you are not satisfied with who you are or where you are in life, do not look to blame another person, or some institution, or the government. Look to your own choices and begin to make different choices, choices that will be to your benefit, not choices that feed your pleasures or passions.

 

[II.] Foundationally, we must choose to fear God.

 

Because they hated knowledge

and did not choose the fear of the Lord,

30    would have none of my counsel

and despised all my reproof,

31    therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,

 

 

and have their fill of their own devices. [2]

 

Proverbs 1 is Solomon’s sage advice to his son (verses 8, 10, and 15). Yet it is, at the same time, for any simple person (vs. 4) to get wisdom and for the wise to get more (vs. 5)! Are you a simple person? Then this proverb is for you! Do you think yourself wise? Then this proverb is for you!

 

Half way through this proverb the writer transitions from the good King Solomon to Wisdom personified. That is to say, Solomon is still the author but he writes as if Wisdom is a person beckoning people to give heed. But, personified wisdom is just Christ (I Cor. 1:30)! Therefore, Proverbs 1 is Christ’s word to his own children![3]

 

See in verse 29 that the fear of the Lord is something that we can choose. There is a common misconception that says that our emotions are something that are beyond our control. There are people that live that way. Whatever emotions rise up within them then those emotions become the driving force in their lives. Contrary to popular opinion, our emotions are under the direction of our will. We can choose to not love and we can choose to not fear. We can choose to love and we can choose to fear. Rather than our emotions controlling our will, our will must control our emotions. And, our will must be directed by our mind. We were designed to be thoughtful creatures, not impulsive creatures. Our thoughts ought to be patterned after God’s thoughts. As the great theologian, Cornelius Van Til, has said, “We must think God’s thoughts after him.”

 

Do not miss that the fear of the Lord is something that we can choose.

 

Verse 29 also says that the “simple ones” (vs 22) hate knowledge. This doesn’t mean that they had bad feelings about knowledge. It means that they did not have a love of knowledge. They would rather pursue things that bring pleasure and comfort instead of knowledge. God’s children should love knowledge and seek wisdom, not pleasure. (It is not wrong to seek pleasure. Many peoples’ problem is that they seek inferior pleasures, temporary pleasures, rather than the more noble pleasures found in God.) Wisdom itself is a sublime pleasure. But seeking the pleasures of the body rob us of our time to seek the nobler things.

 

Our foundation of knowledge is the fear of the Lord.

 

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and instruction. [4]

 

Once we choose to fear God we will both have a foundation for knowledge and we will discover that we love knowledge.

 

[III.] We must choose good over evil. Once we have come into covenant with the Lord, that is, once we trust in Christ and repent of our sins, we must choose the good. The unregenerate person will fail most times to make the right choices. Even the times they seemingly choose the good their motives are not to give glory to God and so they cannot choose the good.[5]

 

In our Deuteronomy passage we ought to remember that the Lord is speaking to his covenant people under the prior covenant. He is speaking to his own people who were redeemed by the blood of the lamb and came out of Egypt, which is a type of the world.

 

9 The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10 when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. [6]

 

The Lord delights in prospering his people. It was true under the Old Covenant and it is still true under the New. But there is a condition. We must obey the voice of the Lord. We ought to keep his commandments. And we must turn to him with all our hearts and all our souls.

 

Do you know that God’s own children can go astray? Of course, they can! Maybe you have experienced going astray yourself after coming to the Lord. Indeed, the entire Bible is a book describing God’s people going astray under both covenants.

 

Sometimes our going astray is obvious and blatant. We might fall into some sin that we know is a sin. Other times our going astray is more subtle. We become more like the Laodicean church in Revelation that left their first love. Do you love the Lord? I am not asking if you have good feelings about Jesus. Just about everybody does. Even some atheists have good feelings about Jesus. I am asking if you love him. When you love someone you obey that person if they are right. Of course, Jesus is always right! Our love for him is shown to be love by our obedience to him.

 

Whether our going astray has been a fall into a known sin or a subtle drift into self-satisfaction, we should turn once again to the Lord with our whole heart. Then the Lord will prosper us!

 

But turning is a choice, is it not? We must choose!

 

Deuteronomy 30 continues:

 

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days,[7]

 

We can choose life. God Himself is our life. We can choose blessing. Christ Himself is our blessing.

 

Are you making choices that lead to life? Or, are you making choices that lead to death?

 

  • Holding fast to the Lord by obeying him leads to life in our human spirits.
  • Loving knowledge of the Lord leads to life in our souls.
  • Making healthy choices in the foods that we eat, how much we eat, and being physically active leads to life in our bodies. God desires us to be healthy.[8] He commands that we not overeat.[9] He desires us to eat healthy foods.[10]

 

In that great and wonderful book, Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, the main character, Christian, finds the road uncomfortable and notices a path that parallels the road he is on. The path is smooth and nice. So, he decides to hop over a gate and go along this path even though the Evangelist had warned him earlier not to leave the road. He ends up being captured by the Giant Despair and being held in the prison of Doubting Castle. His life is changed for the worse by one decision!

 

You see, who we are, what we are, and where we are going is because of our choices! We must choose the good things over the bad things. We must choose the healthy things over the unhealthy things. We must choose life over death.

 

[IV.] We must choose those things that please the Lord and not those things that just please ourselves. Having children in ancient Israel was considered to be under the blessing of God. Not having children was considered a dishonor. As such, eunuchs were not looked upon with favor. But consider what the Lord says through Isaiah:

 

For thus says the Lord:

       “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,

who choose the things that please me

and hold fast my covenant,

5    I will give in my house and within my walls

a monument and a name

better than sons and daughters;

       I will give them an everlasting name

that shall not be cut off. [11]

 

Eunuchs who kept the Sabbath days holy and who chose the things that please the Lord would be better than his sons and daughters! The Lord places a very high premium on pleasing him!

 

Those who choose to please the Lord will have a name that will never be cut off!

 

There are consequences in our own lives as well as the lives of others because of the choices we make. Eli was a priest serving in Israel during the time of the Judges. But he consistently made decisions that made his life easier. He did not discipline his children and he ate more than he should have eaten. When you do not discipline your children they will go astray.

 

Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord. 13 The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, 14 and he would thrust it into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot. All that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15 Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give meat for the priest to roast, for he will not accept boiled meat from you but only raw.” 16 And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.” 17 Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt. [12]

 

Not only did his sons treat the offerings with contempt but they slept with the female servants of the meetings. When he heard about it all Eli said was that he got a bad report about them (vss. 23-25). He did not remove them from their positions.

 

God was sorely displeased with Eli. In verse 29 the Lord says:

 

Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’[13]

 

The Lord was displeased because they were fattening themselves! The Lord then removes Eli’s lineage from ever serving again as priests. Eli himself would die by falling out of his chair and breaking his neck. The Bible tells us that he broke his neck because he was so heavy (4:18).

 

There are consequences to our smaller choices because our smaller choices add up!

 

Only those who have been born again can habitually choose those things that please the Lord. They can do this because the Spirit of Christ has come into them and empowers them!

 

You can choose those things that please the Lord!

 

[V. Conclusion and Application]

 

  • The privilege of choosing means that we are responsible for who we are.
  • Our own choices determine what we look like on the outside to a great extent.
  • Our own choices determine what we are on the inside.
  • The privilege of choosing means that we will determine where we are going.

 

The Lord has made the greatest decision for you! He has chosen you out of the word to be his own. You belong to the Lord. If the most momentous decision has been made in your favor, by the Lord’s grace towards you, can you make the smaller decisions? You can! He has empowered you. But, you still must decide day by day.

 

Make those decisions that please the Lord.

 

There is a decision for you to make this very hour: Will you decide today, even now, to make your choices on what pleases the Lord Jesus and not merely what pleases you? You are your choices! Become what God wants you to be. You can choose to be an Eli or you can choose to be a Samuel starting today.

 

 

[1] In theological language, it can be said that justification is monergistic (our initial salvation depends solely upon the grace of God working towards us and in us) and that sanctification is synergistic (our conformation to the image of Christ depends both upon God and ourselves as we seek to live for him).

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Pr 1:29–31). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Jesus is our Elder Brother but he is also our Father (Isaiah 9:6), yet distinct from the Father in the Divine Trinity.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Pr 1:7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Romans 3:12

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Dt 30:9–10). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Dt 30:19–20). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[8] 3 John 1:2; Acts 3:16; 4:10; I Tim 4:8.

[9] Deut 21:20; Proverbs 23:21; Philippians 3:19; Hebrews 12:16; Numbers 11:4.

[10] Daniel 1:12-16. The many food laws in the OT were primarily for the purpose of teaching the Israelites to be separate from the nations around them, thus signifying  sanctification. However, nutritionists have observed that the very foods that were prohibited under that covenant also happen to be less healthy than the ones that were permitted. This is probably not a coincidence. Moreover, our bodies are temples and we are commanded to not harm our temples (I Cor 3:16-17). It is a scientific fact that eating poor foods causes harm to our bodies in the long term.

[11] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Is 56:4–5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[12] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Sa 2:12–17). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[13] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Sa 2:29). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.