In the first part of this article, we reviewed a challenging question that my 10-year-old son asked me (one which I think many others throughout human history have asked). We saw that the effect of free will was that we could choose the right path or the wrong path. Without the freedom to choose, our relationship, praise, and love for God wouldn’t mean anything. We are not “programmed” to only make good choices, so that expressions of our will have meaning. With that privilege, though, comes the opportunity to make really bad choices, if we don’t choose to live a life that will lead to joy, fruitfulness, and harmony.
Later, my son also asked, “Why wouldn’t everyone want to go to Heaven?” I wish I had a good answer for that. However, my history of failures, shortcomings, sin, and downright rebellion confirm that – while I really want to go to Heaven – I am clearly not righteous enough to get there on my own. (Thank God for Jesus’ sacrifice, giving me a second chance that covers over everything sinful in my life! See 2 Corinthians 9:15.)
I’ve heard speakers ask the rhetorical question, “Would there be sin in the world if Adam and Eve hadn’t eaten the fruit?” Most of them, being honest about what they know of their own shortcomings (perhaps like the older participants in the events of John 8:9), say something like, “If they hadn’t eaten the fruit, I would have”. These wise speakers understand that the proclivity to make bad decisions lies within each of us, and we find ourselves – because our selfishness, our desires, and our pride – doing what we know to be the wrong thing.
So, while our finite minds can’t fully understand a transcendent God, He has given us enough information – through His creation, through His word, through His example, and through His inspiration – to at least understand that He doesn’t force us to do anything we don’t want to. Because of our selfish, prideful choices, there is sin in the world, but that’s what happens when we exercise our free will in directions opposite of what God asks us to do (directions He gives us for our own benefit, at that).
While God offers us a path to eventual righteousness (typically not perfected on this side of glory, I’m afraid, so we must rely on Jesus’ righteousness), and living in joy with Him forever, He has chosen to not “program” us to do so. Maybe some people wish He would have, but none of them are God. And, in our limited knowledge, power, wisdom, and understanding, none of us are entitled to make that decision for Him.
The good news is our time in this fallen world is limited, and we can look forward to something better. The rest of the world (the parts of Creation that didn’t get to choose whether or not to reject God’s instructions) is just as ready as we are for something better.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
Romans 8:18-22 NASB
So, I regret to say that you – and I – can still choose to sin. We can do so because we don’t trust God; because we don’t believe Him; or because we just don’t want to. But, that’s our choice.
Instead, though, I hope that you will choose to follow God. I hope that you will seek to live according to the righteousness that is defined by His character. Even though you’re not perfect (nor am I), it is my prayer that you will accept the sacrifice of Jesus for every choice – past, present, and future – that you’ve made to ignore God’s direction. Living in God’s family is rewarding, joyful, and abundant – both here during the short span of our lives on earth, and in eternity with Him forever.
If you have any questions, drop me a comment, or contact me directly.