“And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’” (Genesis 2:16-17)
As a creation of God human beings are free, though there still are limits. Eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil was prohibited. Evil entered human history when human beings refused to obey God’s command. The misuse of human freedom is frequently the direct cause of human suffering; suffering may sometimes be a divine punishment for sin. From the beginning death has been understood as the consequence of disobedience to God. Only later, was it clearly revealed that the ultimate form of death is spiritual death, the separation from God Himself.
Divine commandments and the gift of freedom to choose whether or not to obey established the basis for the moral consciousness. Commands without the freedom to choose turn people into automatons. Freedom without divine guidance provides the basis for an utterly unstable life and society. Our ethical freedom carries responsibility. We must consider limitations God sets on us so we will not infringe upon the freedom of other people or take God’s rights to ourselves.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY:
Precious Abba, we human beings are good and bad, strong and weak, loving and hateful, and yet You love us in spite of ourselves. You see us as we can be, not as we are now. You have provided for us everything necessary for happiness and good lives, but we at times seem to not be sure what that means. We know we love and worship You, though not all. We know we are supposed to reach out to all around us with the salvation message, and yet sometimes we just don’t. Help us to keep a straight pathway, Abba, that we will not fail You or disappoint You. Let Your Spirit stay strong within us and let our efforts for You to be a living example of Christ, working through us and that others see Him through our efforts. It is in our Lord and Savior’s name we pray. Amen
THOUGHT OF THE DAY:
“Jesus is the Rock and our Rock doesn’t roll.”
“So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that yo will possess.” (Deuteronomy 5:32–33)
Each person is free to make moral choices. Those choices should be made within the responsible boundaries of what God has declared as moral and immoral. Persons and societies outside God’s people offer choices which mat entice, but such choices are not options if we trust and follow God. Ungodly society tempts God’s people with immoral sexual practices. No human logic can make it right for us to go beyond God’s limits in our sexual behavior. Sexual relations with members of both the primary and extended family were practiced by the inhabitants of the land that the Israelites were to possess. God instructed His covenant people not to do them. Engaging in such sexual activities is not only destructive to family relationships but also destruction to one’s relationship to God. This type of misbehavior can be, was and still will destroy inter-family sexual involvements by adults as well as with children.
“Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by crime! The violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, and your destruction of animals will terrify you. For you have shed man’s blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.” (Habakkuk 2:12, 17)
The prophets could not understand why the sovereign Ruler of the universe did not act to establish His righteous order. Sometimes our theology does not square with current reality. We have to join the prophet on the watch tower praying and waiting for God to act. Once again, God operates in His time and not our own. Violence and bloodshed may bring short-term results to those who impose such methods. God will ultimately reject and punish such methods, but it will be at the right time.
Second Thought of the Day:
The term depraved normally describes something that does not measure up to a standard. When applied to the human mind, this refers to a mind that does not measure p to God’s standards. The human mind makes the free choice to ignore God and follow its own wisdom. In so doing, it lets fleshly lust dominate rather than the spiritual drive to know God. Such an intellect leads people astray, causing the rejection of God Himself and leading to wholly irresponsible behavior. God gives people freedom to choose. We know what is right and choose what is wrong. We encourage others to do the same. Sin dominates our life. This is human moral and intellectual depravity. We need help. Our wisdom is just not sufficient, without divine direction.
“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil, they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1:28-32)
Humans rebel against moral limits. God responds to continued rebellion by letting people carry their moral freedom of choice to absurd limits. Evil becomes standard operating procedure for such people. Even in the face of death resulting from their rebellion, they continue devoting themselves to immorality. They lose the ability to distinguish right and wrong, being deaf to God’s voice.