Plenty of people believe they can live without God—including some former Christians who are now atheists. Part of this way of thinking may stem from religion, which puts forth multiple requirements to fill in order to please God. In the Old Testament, the people blocked themselves from God’s blessings through an attitude that indicated they thought they could obey the law through their own efforts, without His help. This mindset still exists today; it is called secular humanism, in which the world exalts the “self-made man.” However, anything good that happens to us is by God’s grace and mercy, not by our own performance. Failure to acknowledge this is sheer arrogance. To achieve any level of success at all, we need God.
A. In the Old Testament, God objected to the people’s mindset that they did not need Him.
1. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death (Exodus 19:8-12).
a. The people were afraid of God; they did not want to hear from Him because it was too painful for them. Moses had to relay everything God said back to them.
b. “We will do” reflects the people’s attitude that they did not need God to fulfill the law. This mindset still exists today.
c. The laws that God gaveonly one person—Jesus—would be able to keep.
2. And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me…An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee(Exodus 20:1-5, 24).
a. Godbrought the people out of bondage; they were not released because of good behavior. They did nothing to qualify for or deserve deliverance.
b. God told people to keep allof the commandments or they would be punished.
c. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all(James 2:10).
d. The only way God could bless the people was through the sacrificial system.
B. Although God is powerful, He chose to give us the freedom to make our own choices.
1. Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it (Isaiah 46:9-11).
a. God is as unique as our fingerprints; just like no one else has them, there is no one else like God. Nothing in existence is like Him.
b. God cannot be compared to Buddha, Mohammed, or any other figure the world has elevated to the status of a god.
c. God makes things happen simply by declaring them. In the beginning, the world was made by His Word. Whatever He spoke He saw come to pass (Genesis 1:1-29).
d. The reason God knows the future is because He plans it, and then accomplishes it. Everything He predicts hasto come to pass.
2. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live (Deuteronomy 30:19).
a. God declared the choices before us, but He gave us the freedom to make our own decisions. He also clearly told us the correct choice to make.
b. Adam and Eve were free moral agents. If God had made the decision theywere supposed to make, all of creation would have ceased to exist. God could not interfere with their choice.
c. Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3).
d. We must not blame God for something He “let happen.” We may be responsible for causing something to happen because of the choices we make.
C. As free moral agents, we must choose wisely. We need God’s help in this area.
1. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Romans 8:5, 6).
a. People with mindsets that go against God’s Word do the things of the flesh. People with mindsets that agree with the Word chosethat way of thinking.
b. The choices we face are either life or death.
c. We become spiritually-minded by getting in the Word.
d. It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life (John 6:63).
2. What may look harmless to us may be just the opposite. The world does not see the end of the wrong path in life. We must not make the world’s way ourway.
a. There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death(Proverbs 14:12).
b. There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again—it leads straight to hell(Proverbs 14:12, MSG).
D. The choices we make in life determine what happens later. God wants only good for us.
1. Predestination is not the same as God’s foreknowledge of the future. If predestination wastrue, He would not have given us free wills.
a. Sometimes the path of least resistance is the wrong way. By taking the more difficult of the two routes, we allow God to prepare us to receive what He wants to give us.
b. God wants to change us, not necessarily the circumstances.
2. We cannot blame God for bad things; we must understand that He is good. There are certain things we should know about His nature:
a. God is not the author of bad things; the devil is.
b. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17).
c. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10).
d. Some people claim they prayed but God did not answer them. God is always listening and talking to us; however, we will not hear Him if we are not on the same frequency. We must tune in to Him and seek His Word.