When I was a young boy I had a wooden dog that I pulled with a string. That dog followed me everywhere when I pulled it along. It did whatever I made it do. It never disobeyed, never rebelled, never caused me any problems. Years later I got a real, live dog. Sometimes this dog would follow me, lick me and want to be with me, but other times it would disobey and cause difficulties and problems. The real dog wasn’t nearly as well behaved as the wooden dog. But guess which dog I loved best? Yes, there’s something special about a dog choosing to want to be with me, not ‘having’ to follow. God wanted those who followed Him to do so because they made that choice, not because there was no alternative. So God chose to make the beings He created have a free will choice to follow or not.
Some time before He created human beings, God created angels. He chose to create angels, and then human beings, with free will. He didn’t want them or us to follow Him because we had no choice, because we were like robots. God wanted His created beings to relate to Him, to enjoy and to follow Him because we choose to. Thus His plan was to create angels and people with the ability to make free will choices.
However, God knew that creating us with a free will choice would lead to a problem. Humans would use that choice to sin and rebel. Then, because God is holy and nothing sinful can be near Him, He would not be able to allow us in His presence. So, creating us with a will to choose would mean that He would have to condemn us to hell when we used that free will to sin. That would cause Him to lose our fellowship and presence with Him. But that is what He wanted in the first place.
That’s when the plan was made to remedy the problem caused by our free will. God Himself would come to earth to die on the cross for our sins. He would become a man and be our substitute, thus enabling all who received this free grace gift to be with God forever.
Now man could have a free will choice, and still have fellowship with God. The only way to have both is through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We call this “salvation” because it saves us from the consequences of losing fellowship with God. This great gift is available for any who will receive it by putting their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.
This was a great plan, made before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). But it would lead to an ongoing battle. We would constantly have to struggle against the tendency in us to sin, the impact of others who would tempt us to sin, and the influence of angelic beings who used their free will choice to rebel against God and oppose His kingdom. Warfare was inevitable.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Sin has been described as “meeting a legitimate need in an illegitimate way.” Sin is looking for ways to meet our needs for peace, pleasure, comfort, support and satisfaction. Instead of waiting for God to provide for our needs in His way and time, we try to find a way to do that ourselves. Satan’s lie that maybe God won’t do it, or that God is withholding something good from us, still is successful today. He does the same thing today, putting doubts into our mind about why, if He loves us, God would allow pain, suffering, injustice, poverty, rejection, lack of mate or children, lack of job, etc. When we face trials or painful situations then doubts of God’s goodness abound.
But God has proven His goodness by leaving heaven and going to the cross so we can spend eternity with Him. His goodness is no longer in question. We may not understand His plan or His timing, but we must trust that a God so good He would literally die for us certainly has our best interests in mind, whether we understand His workings or not (Matthew 7:10).
Thank God for the free will He gave you to choose to follow Him. Make choices today that would please Him. Choose to obey Him and love Him. You have a free will, and the only thing you can eve give God is your choice to serve Him. It’s the best gift we can give. It’s the only gift He wants from us!
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)