- From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove
What does God say about our dilemma?
Merriam-Webster defines a dilemma as: “a usually undesirable or unpleasant choice.” So, a dilemma only gives us two bad choices to pick from.
Some of us see the choice God calls us to make as a dilemma, a dilemma of our own making. Our pride creates this dilemma, which will decide our eternal future. The dilemma is to live in our sins and face eternal death, or to swallow our pride and reason with God. Honestly reasoning with God will lead to our accepting Jesus as our savior, signaling the beginning of our transition away from willful sinning, Heb 10:26, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,” For willfully remaining in our sins is evidence we have not truly accepted Jesus as our Savior, Matt 7:21, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” God is creating His eternal family, and He is looking for volunteers. These volunteers have to be willing to spend eternity loving God and the rest of His family. So, willfully remaining in our sins will automatically disqualify us as volunteers, since it is evidence that we do not yet love God. We have this life to reason with God and learn what it means to be a volunteer.
Understanding sin might be of help. God has offered us a way that leads to His peace and joy, Jn 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” God’s peace comes from our living the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” When we are living this way, we no longer need laws. Living any other way leads us away from God and can be defined as sinning. So, the volunteers God is looking for will be willing to live the fruit of the Spirit for all eternity.
Our fallen human nature desires instant gratification more than the seemingly nebulous future eternal life God promises, and our foolish desires cloud our decision-making process, dragging us into addictions. Paul describes this problem, Rom 7:14-25, “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” When we reason with God, He provides a way to escape these addictions, 1 Cor 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
When we know God’s true nature, we can accept His help in overcoming our natural desire to sin. Accepting Jesus as our savior transforms our dilemma back into the choice God has offered. This can only happen with God’s help, Gal 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” It is the realization that Jesus loves us enough to die for us, which frees us from the chains of our dilemma. This same freedom, which we used in the Garden of Eden to allow sin into our lives, now leads to our conversion from slaves of sin to children of God, Rom 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
God knows we have a fallen nature and are lost, Ps 103:8, 14, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” So, He sent Jesus, in the form of a man, to show us how to deal with the temptations and pains of this world. He wants us to understand that the pains and sufferings of this world are a small price to pay for the creation of His eternal family, 1 Pet 5:10, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” and Rom 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” His plan provides a way for us to escape if we want to. To access His plan we must believe in Him and accept the fact that we need to be patient enough to allow His timing to work out, Rom 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” We can’t walk away from Him every time something bad happens.
In Matthew, God uses divorce to explain how the hardening of our hearts leads us away from His Word and His plan for our lives, Matt 19:7-8, “They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” God wants us to understand that when we follow His way, we can avoid the pain and sorrows caused by our own selfish choices, which are the result of our ignoring His Word. Divorce is one example, and it causes pain and sorrow for everyone involved, the divorcing couple, the children, the parents, and the friends who love them. It is particularly sad because it is avoidable. God tells us to treat marriage as a joining of flesh, Gen 2:24, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” one flesh that should not be separated, 1 Cor 12:21, “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.” When we understand this, we learn to live together, and divorce is no longer needed. This is how all of God’s principles work. We must first believe He loves us, so we can learn that His advice is for our benefit, then we learn to love Him and His Word; and it changes our lives, 1 Jn 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.” and Jn 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” and Jn 14:21, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” Eventually, this leads us to love others, allowing the flames of selflessness to dissolve the conflicts that lead to divorce, Jn 22:39, “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
We can create all kinds of excuses for not reasoning with His Word, for not believing in His Word, and for not believing in Him. But, all of these excuses are merely our hollow attempts to somehow justify our willful ignorance, Eph 4:17-18, “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:” Our ignorance will not save us on the day of judgment, Jn 12:48, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” we will have already sentenced ourselves to this life only, giving up the eternal life He invites us to enjoy.
He never asks us to blindly accept what He tells us, but instead asks us to reason with Him, Is 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” He already knows what will happen when we come to His Word with an open mind, a questioning mind. Honestly reasoning with His Word lifts the veil, which had empowered our ignorance, and frees us to see the truth for what it is, rather than the lies some people tell us it is, Jn 8:31-32, “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” We will be free from the dilemma we seek to avoid and finally able to make the decision we were created to make. If we just read five pages a day, we will finish the Bible in a year. The year will pass, whether we read those five pages, or not. However, if we do read them, we will come to know the truth, and it will set us free, Jn 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
We can see the choice God has give us as a dilemma, or we can reason with our Savior and begin the transformation process, which leads us to His eternal family, Rom 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
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