Humans seem inclined to make something complicated out of something that is intended to be simple. God is far more complicated than our minds can imagine, and He knows the heart, intents and limitations of humans (Hebrews 4:12-13). Furthermore, He has a message for all of mankind about how to live a good life.
Most adults can make choices, but it is based on both good and evil, and so those choices are not always wise. Sadly enough, when such knowledge is abundant, the will to do what is right by God’s definition is often missing. How often do we know what we should do, but we don’t do it? To our shame, God says He will make the wisdom of mankind as foolishness (1 Corinthians 3:19).
People do know what is right at times, yet still make the wrong choices. Even pagans like Belshazzar and Nebuchadnezzar knew about the God Daniel worshiped (Daniel 5:22; Daniel 2:47), but pride, vanity, stubbornness, carelessness, deceptions and peer pressure played a part in their denial of what is right and their choosing not to obey God. The same is true for us.
God is looking for those who will know and obey Him (1 John 2:3). He is hoping people will see the love, goodness, hope and future He offers and simply do what He says. God has done everything He can do to help us understand His love. He provided a Redeemer and Savior when mankind had no way back from sin. He directly taught the law of life and good to humans and to all the world through Israel at Mount Sinai. He presented the holy Ten Commandments and preserved them in the Bible for thousands of years. He worked miracle after miracle (Hebrews 3:9). He appeared to people at times. He became flesh to show us we can live and not sin; and as the sin-free innocent Lord, He took upon Himself the payment for our sins (Romans 6:23).
God asked what more He could do (Isaiah 5:4). He will not force people to make the right choices. Yet only when God opens our minds to understand can we know His truths (Luke 24:45). It is the heart (attitude towards God) that allows us to understand.
How to become receptive to God
A child has a humble heart and is teachable (Matthew 18:4-5). Paul noted that Timothy had understood the scriptures as a child (2 Timothy 3:15). Paul also noted the difference in how a child may know or think and how that thinking needs to mature (1 Corinthians 13:11). “Oh, that they had such a heart in them…,” God says (Deuteronomy 5:29). The hard hearts of humans are often softened through pain and suffering, but that is not what God prefers. He wants us to obey Him because only He is our Creator and Father and holds eternity in His hands. He wants to bless and give good gifts to His children.
What is God looking for? He seeks people who grasp the beauty of His offer of eternal life and forgiveness through the blood of Christ and who repent of their sins. He wants those who resist sin and choose good (His laws) for the rest of their lives. Consistently choosing His way as we live among wicked people and are confronted by Satan does take a strong will. It does sometimes take suffering to loosen the chains that have bound us for years. Bad habits and the influence of the mind of Satan in our decisions and choices do need to be eliminated. That may take some suffering.
Jesus, who never sinned, always obeyed God and fought the temptations that so easily assail us (Hebrews 2:18). Sometimes He, too, had to struggle with His situation through fervent, heartfelt prayer and tears, but His struggle was much more concentrated than ours because Satan knew who He was and viciously tried to thwart Himis strugg. That battle was the biggest one on Earth; we had already lost our battle with Satan in the Garden of Eden. God, through Christ’s victory over Satan by His sacrifice, shows us the path and makes a bridge for our return to His good graces and our freedom from sin. The reward is eternal life – a body that never ages or is sick and a position as a king or priest (Revelation 20:4). More than this, He planned for us to be His children and become like Him in every way (1 John 3:2).
It all started with Adam and Eve
God created a wonderful world. He created humans and spent time with them. He planted a beautiful garden and told them to take care of it, and He told them about the only tree that they must not touch or eat of its fruit. Clearly Adam and Eve were taught of God’s way of life starting with the fact that He and only He is God and the Sabbath is His day. Similarly they knew about the sanctity of marriage, honoring your Father, not believing a lie and more.
If Adam and Eve would have done what they were taught, they could have eaten of the tree of life that was also in the garden and available to them. Nobody can come up with a simpler command than to tell someone not to touch a certain tree or eat its fruit. You cannot eat the fruit without touching the tree and they did both. When they chose to disobey God and follow what their eyes and thinking assured them was a “better way,” they sinned and lost the opportunity for all the gifts God offered, and sin entered into all of mankind from Adam onward (Romans 5:12). Why oh why are we humans like that?
God is looking for those who respond to His calling and are willing to obey Him. He realizes that humans need to know His expectations. What God asks is not impossible or He would not ask it. We humans can understand if only we will because God did not make His commandments impossible for us to obey or understand (Deuteronomy 30:11-14). The problem is us! God is disappointed when people turn away from Him. When God put the choices before Israel and told them of the blessing and cursing that naturally came from obedience or disobedience, He also encouraged them to work for the blessings (Deuteronomy 28; Leviticus 26).
When we read the instructions God gave for Israel to live by, it is clear that a loving God would never give laws that the people could not keep. They could keep His laws, but refused to obey. They would not obey Him (Deuteronomy 28:62) and that is a long way from could not obey Him. As Israel would have obeyed God, their obedience to God’s laws would have led them to gain a deeper and more spiritual appreciation of God’s laws which automatically result in a joyful and successful life – that would have come if only they had begun to obey Him in the letter of the law. The laws God gave were good and for the good of each person as well as the nation (Deuteronomy 4:40).
The choice is ours
God has done all He can do to provide the light and knowledge that humans can absorb. Now He is watching to see what we choose to do. The formula is simple: see what God calls sin and offensive to Him, repent of that with all your heart and soul, accept the gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ and then keep His laws and do not practice sin for the rest of your life. His laws are not difficult (Matthew 11:30).
Will we obey Him and live – respecting the pain we have caused our loving Father and accepting His offer of the cleansing blood of Christ? Will we resolve to struggle never to sin again – or will we turn away and spurn His offer and stay in darkness?
Once most humans have suffered enough, their stiff necks will be stiff no longer. Most will have had enough of self-inflicted pain, misery and sorrow, and will turn to God and His promise. He will mercifully hear and listen (Jeremiah 23:23-24). There have always been a few sinners who have heeded the call of God and repented. Humans like you and me have responded and succeeded. Even those carrying loads of sin can be forgiven (Isaiah 1:18).
Just obey. It is simple. He tells us how painful sin is and then, as a loving parent, He lets us choose. We will learn that He is right – He is always right.
To learn more about how Christ’s sacrifice makes us right with God if we choose to obey Him, request our free Bible study aid The Road to Eternal Life.