We wrote yesterday about the wonderful gift of choice that the Lord has given mankind, but I can imagine that someone might say, ‘Yes, but then He gave the ten commandments and took choice away. We were given ‘choice’, we don’t now want to be told what to do and what not to do, we want to be free to choose to do whatever we like’.
I think if we look at the commandments more closely we can see that it was, in fact, an act of love on the part of God to give these commands to mankind through the Jewish nation. God knew that with the devils involvement on earth, mankind would inevitably be led to make some very bad choices as did Adam and Eve. Through the ten commandments He gives mankind a golden template for a right living and a healthy society.
God was saying “you have freedom to choose, but you need some guidelines, so here are Mine, you can’t do better than follow them”. If we look at them and then imagine a society where they were adhered to by everyone, it would be a very good place to live, because they deal with all the selfishness that, in its many manifestations, spoils our world. An ‘expert of the law’, who spoke to Jesus, understood this when he summed up the law in the words “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbour as yourself” Luke 10:27.
Another question that then might be asked is ‘If God has given us free choice why does He punish people for disobeying the rules He has set, doesn’t that negate the offer of choice?’ Well, no actually, He lets us know that we are free to choose, but also that there are consequences attached to every choice. ‘Freedom to choose’ does not equate with having everything I want and nothing that I don’t want.
So God, out of love for His people, also gave them a way to find forgiveness when they had failed to live as He wanted, so that they could come close to Him without being in big trouble. The Israelites had their sacrifices and detailed instructions on how to keep themselves ‘cleansed’ when they had ‘sinned’ by making bad choices, but God had something much better planned for us.
In Jeremiah 31:33 He said “I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be My people”. We know the fulfillment of that word is found in our new life in Jesus. He paid the price for all our sins, and He also writes His law on our hearts, and gives us the Holy Spirit as an indwelling guide, helping us make our choices as we travel through life with Him.
Let us thank Him for His wisdom in not leaving us without guidance for our choices, and even more let us thank Him for writing His laws on our hearts and in our minds and for giving us the Holy Spirit to help us to ‘know’ in our spirit what choices are pleasing to Him. Jesus also gave us a new and even greater commandment “to love one another as I have loved you” John 15:12.
This new commandment seems even more impossible for us to keep, but we have His new life within to help us, even with this new commandment. Furthermore, because of His indwelling presence, all His commands can begin to turn into promises. With the Holy Spirits help ‘We will love the Lord our God with all our heart mind soul and strength and we will love our neighbour as ourself’, and we will even grow in learning to love our brothers and sisters in Christ the way He has loved us. Wow! Thank you Lord.