Lesson 2

The Power of Choice

(Genesis 2-4, Deuteronomy 30, Hebrews 11)
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Introduction: Too many choices! Have you ever heard someone say that? Wegman's is a new grocery store in my area. I've never seen anything like it. The different kinds and amounts of food to choose from seem almost sinful. Some people in the world do not have enough to eat, and this store seems to have not only every kind of food, but an astonishing variety of each food. Milton Freedman is an economist who wrote a book entitled "Free to Choose." He argued that a free people in a free economy will prosper. Thus, Wegman's, with its overwhelming number of choices, is the direct result of a free economy. Wegman's felt sinful. Is this idea of a free people making free choices sinful? Or, is free choice at the heart of God's Kingdom? Let's jump into our study of the Bible and find out!

  1. First Freedom


    1. Read Genesis 2:15-17. Would God get sued by a products liability lawyer?


      1. We have a deadly product which looks like many other beneficial products. The product is not labeled, God only gave an oral warning. It has a deceptive, even attractive title ("knowledge of good and evil"), and not "killer tree". The dangerous fruit looks good ( Genesis 3:6). It is not hidden away or fenced off, it is ( Genesis 3:3) in the "middle of the garden." Does God have any defense to putting this deadly poisonous fruit tree where it can easily harm someone?


    2. Read Genesis 3:9-12. Does Adam have a complete and absolute defense against any charges God might bring? Not only can he claim the things I just mentioned, but now God's agent (the woman) gave him some fruit and encouraged him to eat it.


      1. Should we also sue God for punitive damages (damages intended to punish a knowingly reckless defendant)?


    3. If God were the manufacturer of chain saws, the purpose of the chain saw is to cut wood, not your leg. The manufacturer does everything, within reason, to make sure the chain saw is used only for its intended purpose. What is the intended purpose of this fruit tree in the middle of the garden? (It can only have one intended purpose, to pose a test of human free choice.)


      1. With all of the obvious steps that God could have taken to make it more difficult to eat the fruit, why did He not do more? (God is the intelligence of the universe. He obviously decided not to do more. The only reason I can think that He would do this is to give humans absolute free choice.)


    4. What did God value more than free choice?(Whatever else is included in free choice, nothing seems more important than it. God and humans suffered terribly as a result of being given free choice. Can you hear Adam and Eve saying, "If You loved us, you would not have allowed this to happen?")


      1. Some people say that religion should have nothing to do with politics. Some suggest that communism or some sort of socialism is most consistent with Christianity. What does Genesis teach us? (God's system of government maximizes individual freedom. Although God created a rescue plan for our freedom to choose, there was no obvious safety net in Eden to keep us from choosing sin.)


  2. Choices and Consequences


    1. Read Genesis 4:1-2. Cain was the first human who was birthed. How did Eve view Cain's birth? (A cooperative venture with God.)


    2. Read Genesis 4:3-7. What choices were given to Cain?


      1. Did Cain possess the power to master sin? (God says "you must master [sin].")


    3. Read Genesis 4:8. Is this premeditated murder? (It seems so, because Cain asked Able to go out to the field.)


    4. Read Genesis 4:9-14. What are the results of Cain's choice? (His brother is dead, and Cain's life is ruined.)


      1. Why did God not protect Abel? Recall that Genesis 4:4 tells us that God looked on Abel with favor.


      2. When Eve and Adam heard of this, how do you think they felt?


        1. What went through Eve's mind when she thought back about how God blessed her with Cain ( Genesis 4:1)?


        2. Would Adam and Eve blame themselves for this tragedy? Did they bear part of the blame? (Yes. They introduced sin into the world.)


        3. Would Adam and Eve have preferred, at this point, not to have had free choice?


          1. What had free choice cost them?


    5. Read Deuteronomy 30:10-14. Is it possible to keep God's law? (This text says obedience is "not too difficult" or "beyond [our] reach.")


      1. Read Romans 3:10-12 and Romans 3:19-20. How do you reconcile Deuteronomy 30 and Romans 3? They seem to contradict each other!


    6. Read Deuteronomy 30:15-19. Does this help us to understand the apparent conflict between Deuteronomy and Romans? (Romans makes clear that no one can, through human effort, meet the perfect standard of righteousness required by God. On the other hand, Deuteronomy teaches us that we all have free choice. We can choose life or we can choose death. We can choose to "walk" in God's ways or we can choose to live a disobedient life.)


      1. Do these choices have consequences? (Deuteronomy 30:16 tells us that obedience helps us to "live and increase." Deuteronomy 30:18 tells us that if we disobey we will be destroyed.)


      2. Notice again Deuteronomy 30:19-20. Who else benefits from our choices? (Our children! We previously observed how the choices of Adam and Eve impacted the lives of their children - who themselves made choices.)


  3. The Rule of Choice


    1. The media and some Christians scoffed when a prominent American television evangelist pointed out that the recent devastation in Haiti might have something to do with the long-standing practice of voodoo by some Haitians. Is that a reasonable statement, given the texts we have just studied? (Yes.)


      1. What about all of the Haitians who are devout Christians? Can they suffer because of the choices of others? Or, do earthquakes have nothing to do with the choice of anyone?


    2. Read Luke 13:1-5. What does Jesus say about suffering and sin? (Sin will kill the wicked in the end. However, bad things that happen to us during life might not be the result of our sin.)


      1. How can Jesus disagree with what Moses was inspired to write in Deuteronomy 30? (I think this is like English grammar - there are exceptions to the rule. The general rule, noted by the evangelist, is that our choices have consequences for good or for evil. But, sometimes bad things happen which have nothing to do with the choices that we made. Jesus warns us against thinking that we are more righteous because we have not suffered.)


    3. Read Hebrews 11:32-34. Are these heroes of faith? (Yes. This is the "faith chapter" of the Bible and these are some of the heroes.)


      1. How did life turn out for these heroes? (It turned out great. They won!)


    4. Read Hebrews 11:35-38. Are these also heroes of faith? (Yes. But, their names are not even mentioned.)


      1. How did life turn out for these heroes? (It was lousy - the worst ("sawed in two")!)


    5. Read Hebrews 11:40. How do you explain these outcomes in the face of our study about choice and the results? (The normal rule is that choosing God makes our life better here on earth. Sometimes this rule does not apply, and we cannot conclude someone is a sinner just because they suffer. But, there are no exceptions to the rule when it comes to eternal life. Choosing God brings eternal life. Choosing evil brings eternal death.)


    6. Friend, will you choose eternal life today? Why not, right now, ask Jesus to be your Master and ask that the Holy Spirit guide your life into right choices?


  4. Next week: Celebrating Spiritual and Physical Fitness.

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